Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Talking to a 16-Year-Old ... You

The thread appeared on a message board that's completely unrelated to finance, but I read it anyway. The topic went like this:

If you could go back in time and have a talk with yourself at 15 or 16 years old, what would Adult You tell Teenage You about life?

My first response to this question, of course, was that it's a moot point: It doesn't matter what I'd tell my 16-year-old self. Because I wouldn't have listened. I mean, I'd have pretended to listen. And I could take a test shortly thereafter and ace it. But odds are that none of it would stick. I'd go right back to buying CDs, computer games, and car-stereo equipment.

Still, it is something of an interesting exercise, if not a thoroughly original one. (Robert Kiyosaki, if you're reading, feel free to chime in here.) So if I could shred the space-time continuum, what might I go back and tell my high-school self? (As far as money and overall life issues are concerned, at least.)

  1. All the folks who tell you you can't make any money doing things you love to do? They're wrong. Can't find an opportunity? Create one.

  2. The mishandling of money and debt will cause more people more grief than just about anything else in their lives. It will be all around you, and while some people will spend a great deal of effort creating appearances, the truth and pain will be visible just beneath the surface. Learn from your own mistakes, but better yet, learn from the mistakes of others.

  3. Work hard. Learn hard. Look for problems and find ways to solve them. The bigger the problems you solve, the bigger your paychecks.

  4. We trade our time and our lives for money. Make sure the tradeoff is worth it.

  5. Load up on Microsoft stock.

And some snippets from the message-board banter:

NEVER trust your parents. They will lie to you and cheat you. Make sure you file for financial aid for college; don't believe your father when he says he will put you through school. Be happy. Always believe in yourself and your dreams. Never give up. You'll get there.

Uplifting, ain't it? And this gem:

Sixteen-year-old self, listen well. Heed two things:

1. Stop chasing women. They are nothing but heartache and a financial burden.

2. Invest in yourself. Learn and use your money to apply to things you learn.

I don't know about his #1, but I'm all for #2. And finally:

Nobody looks after your best interests but you. Not your parents, not your friends, not your educators. Nobody but you. It's not that these people are using you; it's just that they don't know you through and through, and they have their own biases that have nothing to do with you. Therefore, if you don't aggresively make the world your own, it will own you. You cannot be shy and wait for things to work out in a way that makes you happy. In all things you must be aggressive.

I dunno. The poster in question probably copy 'n' pasted that one in from somewhere else. But I suppose I'm willing to give the benefit of the doubt. And I'm certainly too lazy to go Googling for the original source, if there is one.

So how about you? Any useful nuggets you could have stood to hear back then?


— Posted by Michael @ 7:42 AM


I think often about this question. My advise to self:
STAY HOME November 30, 1979

To find out why-

** Comments Closed on this Post **

Thoughts on my personal finances, goals, experiences, motivations, and accomplishments (or lack thereof).

My financial life began turning around when I took responsibility for it.
— Dave Ramsey


Start (2005-12): ~$21,900
Currently: $0
[About Our Debt Paydown]


Savings Goal: $15,000
Currently: ~$15,115
[About Our Liquid Savings Goal]