The important things a 20-year-old person need to know about money and finance

The important things a 20-year-old person need to know about money and finance

When I was 20 years old, I was sharing a 200-sq-ft Manhattan studio with a woman twice my age.

We had a bunk bed: her on the top, me on the bottom.

And I hated her.

I was working at a tech startup run by a Norwegian guy and a Canadian woman.

The company was gaining steam.

But I was miserable.

I never wanted to be at home.

I would stay out for hours and hours, walking the streets of New York, going anywhere I could think of to avoid seeing her.

I got up every day at 6, stayed out until midnight, and did it all again the next day.

Then I read a book that changed my perspective on everything.

It gave me a whole new outlook on my career, my finances, and my entire life.

I was reading that book one night at 3 a.m.

And it told me that the best time to take control of my life is RIGHT NOW.

So I did.

The next morning, I packed my suitcase.

I sneaked out before she woke up.

And I slid my key under the door.

With that single decision, my life took a massive upward turn.

My friends tell me I’m happier.

I laugh more than I used to.

And I’ve been in better financial health ever since.

If you want to learn a few of the lessons I picked up about wealth throughout my 20s, here they are:

1) Pinching pennies will never make you rich.

How many personal finance bloggers have you come across that give advice like “Stop buying $4 coffees and in 10 years you’ll be rich!”

That’s hogwash.

You don’t get wealthy by not buying $4 coffees.

You get wealthy by earning more.

Shift your focus from spending less to earning more.

That might just be the most important personal finance change you can ever make.

2) Build multiple income streams.

A few years ago, I was making a very good amount of passive income every month.

It was enough to pay all of my living expenses, plus all of my entertainment, with some more left over at the end of the month.

But one day, that income source completely disappeared.

In an instant, my business went to $0.

I was crushed.

But the more I thought about the situation, the more I realized it was a blessing in disguise.

My business had been so fragile!

Of course something was going to disrupt it.

So I rebuilt the business, but this time I did something differently:

I developed multiple income streams, not just one.

Today, the new business is making 5x what it was before.

And it’s significantly less susceptible to disruption.

Build multiple income streams for yourself, even if they’re small.

Because collectively, over time, they’ll add up to something impressive.

And you’ll be safe from disruption, too.

3) Invest in yourself, not anything else.

You might be tempted to invest your spare capital in real estate, or that hot new stock, or even cryptocurrency (whether crypto is an “investment” or not is another question…).

But you shouldn’t.

You should invest in yourself.

Think about it.

The stock market returns an average of 8–10% per year.

Real estate returns even less.

And crypto is 10x too volatile for most investor profiles (not to mention its returns are all over the map).

On the other hand, investing in yourself gives you the opportunity for much, much better returns.

If I gave you $100 today, could you find a way to turn it into $110 within the next year?

Of course you could.

Could you find a way to turn it into $120 within the next year?

Of course you could.

Could you find a way to turn it into $200 within the next year?

Of course you could.

Because achieving a 100% return (doubling your money) is not hard when you’re in control.

Stay in control of your wealth and invest in yourself.

Your bank account will thank you.

4) Get rich slowly.

We overestimate how much we can do in 1 year, and underestimate how much we can do in 10 years.

So don’t expect your riches to come overnight.

Adopt good habits, practice them daily, and your wealth will come.

Behind every overnight success story is a decade of hard work.

5) Never rely on others for your livelihood.

If you work for someone else, getting a 5–10% salary bump every year is considered respectable.

No one could complain about that.

But when you account for 2% annual inflation, and taxes that eat up half of the rest of that bump, you’re hardly left with anything more this year than you were the year before.

That’s why the real way to achieve wealth is to pay yourself.

Because when you pay yourself, you have the potential to earn much, much more.

Don’t rely on others to pay you what you’re worth.

Define what you’re worth by paying yourself first.

6) Your childhood beliefs about money are holding you back.

These beliefs come in the form of statements like “We don’t have enough money,” “Money is hard to get,” and “Money is the root of all evil.”

The specific beliefs are different for everyone, but the outcome is the same: you think about money in a disempowering way.

The first step in becoming wealthy is getting past these beliefs and adopting new ones.

New beliefs like “I attract money naturally,” “Wealth is a part of who I am,” and “Money is all around me.”

If any of these beliefs sound out of place to you, that’s because you’re still living with your old, disempowering beliefs.

When you change these, the entire world will change before your eyes.

7) Invest in others.

This isn’t a contradiction of #3.

In fact, it’s a perfect complement to it.

Because when you invest in the people around you…

You’ll reap returns that you never expected.

Connect the people you care about with each other.

Give them your time and attention.

Help them achieve their goals.

And that generosity will always, always come back your way.

And because the stakes get higher as our lives go on, what you get in return will be even greater than what you give today.

How’s that for an investment?

8) Take calculated risks.

It’s assumed that entrepreneurs are fearless risk-takers.

But the truth is that they’re calculated risk-takers.

Successful entrepreneurs weigh all the risks they might face before jumping into a situation.

Which is why they come out on top so often.

So don’t take big risks with a high chance of failure and a low chance of a massive payout.

Take small risks with a low chance of failure and a more modest payout.

If you do that enough times, you’ll watch your wealth soar.

9) Build income, not assets.

Most people believe they want $1 million in the bank.

Or a big, expensive house.

Or a bunch of stuff they can call their own.

But truly wealthy people know that none of those things are the goal.

The goal is to have consistent income, not assets.

Assets can spoil.

They can be taken away.

You can lose them in a bad deal, or they can lose half of their value overnight.

But income is reliable.

Income arrives every day, every month, every year.

Income means you hit the ground running, even if all of your assets fall away.

Sure, income streams can dry up (see #6 above).

But that’s why you build several of them at the same time.

Assets aren’t what you’re after.

The truly wealthy focus on income streams.

10) Money doesn’t matter.

Money doesn’t matter.

It’s true.

If you’ve followed the rest of my advice, you’re going to have a lot of money.

But true wealth isn’t tied to your bank account.

True wealth lies in who you’re being.

Be the person that helps others.

Be the person who gives back.

Be the person who has patience, humility and grace.

If you’re being the person you know you should be, you don’t need any money.

You’ve already made it.

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