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Things I Wish I Knew About Money in My 20s

There are a lot of things I wish I knew about money. Some are things that I still need to learn. Others are things I’ve learned the hard way and just wish I’d known sooner.

As I head into my forties, it becomes increasingly apparent that life would be simpler if I knew certain things earlier. In particular, there are some things I wish I knew about money in my twenties.

Don’t get me wrong. I knew some financial basics even then. I was aware of budgeting, saving, and other common personal finance details. However, if I had known a little bit more then I would be in a better position now.

Things I Wish I Knew About Money and Education

Sometimes it feels like I will be paying off my student loans forever. I do have grad school debt from my thirties. However, the debt from my undergrad loans in my twenties is what really gets to me. That’s because I could have taken advantage of so many other programs to reduce the debt load.

I did make some smart choices that I would recommend to others. First of all, I did my initial two years at a community college. Not only was this the most affordable option but it also gave me a great small-school education. Second, I finished the rest of my degree at a state school, so at least I wasn’t paying out-of-state tuition.

That said, I made some mistakes:

  • My degree didn’t really lead me to any type of career, so it wasn’t much of an asset.
  • I didn’t take enough advantage of scholarships and other free money.
  • I took out the maximum possible from my loans.

There are so many other options for funding education. I wish I had known more of them back then. They include:

  • Working while attending school to reduce loan costs.
  • Looking for small savings opportunities such as getting ebooks instead of physical books.
  • Free education including unschooling, hacking an education, and on-the-job training.

Spending money on education isn’t a bad thing. However, I’d advise all young folks to learn as much as they can from others about how to save money on schooling.

Other Things I Wish I Knew About Money in My 20s

My school loans hang over me most. However, that’s not all that I wish I knew about money in my 20s. Here are some other key things:

  • How to begin investing even at a young age.
  • The value of creating passive income streams as early as possible.
  • Free and cheap experiences are just as memorable as more costly socializing.
  • Roommate hassles are worth what you can save on rent by sharing housing.
  • You can get paid to travel. Do it.
  • Invest in a few high-quality items that will last a lifetime. Cheap isn’t valuable if it needs to be replaced.
  • Money isn’t evil. The more you know about it, the more empowered you are.

What do you most wish you knew about money at a younger age than when you learned it?

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