Sound advice for 18 year olds
If you would’ve told me 1 year ago that this is the direction my life would be going, I wouldn’t have believed you. I‘m almost 40 and am starting on a brand new venture with this YouTube thing and some other businesses.
I saw a challenge going around, things I would tell my 18 year old self and thought, that would be fun to do. I definitely have some things to share. Maybe it will get you motivated to do something different or maybe you are 18, 19 or early twenties and can heed some of this advice so you don’t look back and think what if. Join me in this challenge and comment below with 3 things you would tell your 18 year old self.
1. Don’t be afraid to take risks
Retiring before 40 has been in my plan for about the last 4 years but when I joined the military, the plan was four years and then college; that didn’t work out like that. I did get my masters but it was 90% online. After the first four years was over, I could get out or reenlist: I reenlisted. Not because I really liked being in the military but because I was too scared to do something new. I knew my job, the culture, the environment and I knew I would get that paycheck on the 1st and the 15th. It was the safe decision.
Don’t get me wrong, things ended up well for me. Because of the military, I have a career, my house, my degree, my family, I have travelled the world but I look back at that decision and wonder where my life would be if I had decided to get out.
The thing is, I wanted to get out. I wanted to do something different but I was too afraid of the unknown. I was afraid to take the risk. I would tell my 18-year old self, Don’t make decisions based on fear. All things involve some risk. At that young age, you can take more risks because you have more time to rebound from them from there. It’s not the smart that get ahead, it’s the bold.
This reminds me of Erin Hanson’s “What if I Fall?” poem, There is freedom waiting for you, On the breezes of the sky, And you ask, “What if I fall? Oh, but my darling, What if you fly?
I’m taking my own advice now almost at 40. I am not going to continue to make decisions because I am afraid to take a risk, of failing or because of fear.
2. Never stop learning
Never stop learning…of course, no 18 year old wants to hear this. They just finished 12 years of nothing but being in the books, but I don’t mean traditional learning. I mean never stop learning something that is different and exciting to you. Something that you’ve wondered about or something that you don’t know much about. It could even be a hobby. Take salsa lessons, learn a new language, learn to play an instrument, start learning about finances by watching my channel.
It doesn’t matter if you are in your 20s or in your 90s, there is so much you can still learn. Being a life-long learner keeps your mind sharp, keeps you humble, allows you to see the world and yourself differently, and makes you grow as an individual. Not only that but learning new things can actually improve your memory. No one knows it all and you never know what you will learn, what passion you will ignite, that will inspire you and lead you down a road you never imagined.
Your world, is only a mirror of you. I know that you think you know it all, but you don’t, life never stops teaching.
3. Start saving from your first paycheck
This one right here, start saving for your retirement from your first paycheck. When I think back at how much money I could have, I kick myself in the butt. Make that saving automatic each month and put it into a ROTH IRA, in an index fund that mimics the S&P 500 and never stop. Out of sight out of mind.
By now, if I had started investing $100 every month since the age of 18, I would have $72,000 in there. But here is the thing, I would have only contributed $24,000 and because of the power of compound interest, I would have made almost $48,500 in interest. $48,500!!! Just free money the way I see it. That’s only with $100 a month! Of course as I made more money I would increase my savings every month so I would have way more than that.
When you start saving young, it becomes a habit, second nature. The average amount in a 30 year olds retirement account is $38,400. You would already have surpassed that and like I said, that’s only doing $100 a month. So $100 in clothes, shoes or a restaurant for instant gratification or almost $75,000 in about 20 years for delayed gratification.
Start saving young and never stop! I do have a few videos on my YouTube channel to help you with this.
4. Don’t let someone else decide what your life should look like
I grew up thinking that there was only one way to make money, that 9-5 until you are 66; that’s it. It’s what I was taught in school, saw on TV and what I saw everyone around me doing so that’s what I did. I never thought owning a business, working from home, or having anything outside the regular work hours was something that was even possible for me.
It’s not until now that I am realizing that I allowed others and society to tell me what my life was going to be like. Even know being in the military, they tell me where my next job is going to be, what my next job is going to be, what my hours are going to be, who I am going to work with and how much I am going to make.
I would also add, don’t stress out so much about life. You’re only 18, you’re still learning, still need to get some experiences in you to start to get an idea of what you want to be. My oldest boys are 15 and 17 and I’ve started to get away from putting so much pressure on them about their future.
College, is not for everyone. My 15 year old told me a few weeks ago that he doesn’t think he is going to go to college, that he’s going to look into trade school. A few years ago, I would have flipped out but now, I am allowing them more of an opportunity to explore so they can make that decision more confidently. It also saves me money listening to him now instead of forcing him into college just for him to drop out in a few years.
It’s ok to not know what you really want to do for the rest of your life, it’s not ok for someone to make that decision for you. You might not know what you want but you already know what you don’t want. You’re going to have to live your life so make it a good one.
5. Don’t be so set on one thing that you miss out on other opportunities
On the other end, are those people that know what they want, how they are going to get it and by when; that’s all they see. I applaud people that know exactly what they want. It’s very rare to find people that are like that but even for these people I have advice, don’t be so set on one thing that you fail to recognize opportunities all around you.
Going back to my decision to join the military, it’s not that I was set on going to the military, it was that I made a rushed decision and didn’t explore any other alternatives. I really wanted to go to college but because of financial issues I wasn’t able to. But, I didn’t look for a scholarship, look at other branches or make any other plans to go for what I really wanted to so I took the easy way out. An Army recruiter approached me and that’s what I went with.
There are opportunities all around you. But if you are close-minded and aren’t keeping your eyes open for them, they will pass right by you. In the NY Times Bestseller book, Big Magic, the author talks about how ideas are just knocking on people’s doors to see who will open the door. To purchase the book, https://amzn.to/3shdBVs. Creativity and opportunity is everywhere, Don’t get tunnel vision and not even see the opportunities all around you.
Opportunities are like sunrises, wait too long and you will miss them. But the great thing is no matter how many opportunities you have missed, and this is for anyone at any age, another one is right around the corner so keep your eyes opened.
And Then Some
This was fun, it made me go down memory lane. This blog was not meant to be about regrets, it was advice for 18 year olds today and it even helped me out. This is all advice that I can use as I go into my next fabulous decade. I hope that no matter how old you are, you can take some of this advice and it inspires you to do something new and different.
I reached out to some of my family members when I was preparing for this video and asked them the same question and they had some good advice that’s worth sharing. Take your credit, credit cards and debt seriously: they have long term effects on you. Be mindful of who you cosign for. Don’t worry about what others think of you. Travel more. Don’t drink and drive because it will cost you a lot of money. Choose your career wisely, it’s going to be a long run. Start taking care of your health sooner rather than later.
As you can see, we are an experienced well-seasoned group! Don’t forget to comment down below with your answers!
To Your Finances,