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What financial advice would you give your younger self?


According to research, most people wish they’d started saving earlier in life. This got us thinking.

If we could go back in time and give our younger selves a lesson in money management, what advice would we pass on?

“Look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves?”

“Pay yourself first?”

“Never spend money you don’t already have?”

These are just some of the nostalgic, money management tips that many of us can probably recall having handed out to us by our parents and grandparents. But did they really sink in? Did we truly understand them at the time? Now we’re older and we’ve experienced life a little more, those money mantras perhaps make a lot more sense!

To find out which financial lessons people most wish they’d taken onboard earlier in life, we carried out a survey, asking the question “what financial advice would you give your younger self?”

Here, we reveal the pearls of money wisdom that we uncovered.

Understand the value of compound interest

When we’re young, time is on our side. And that time is something that could be used to maximize the benefits of compound interest.

By starting (and sticking to!) a regular savings habit early enough; even if we’re talking about saving just small amounts, the interest on interest that those savings will earn will have the chance to grow into something significant over the long term. That represents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for anyone to get a head start on securing their future, so it’s a lesson that your younger self would definitely benefit from!

Start your pension as soon as you start work

When you start your first job, retirement probably seems a long way off and not something that’s at the top of your list of financial priorities; especially if you’re paying back a student loan or trying to save a deposit for your first home.

But starting a pension as soon as you can is one of the best pieces of financial advice you can give your younger self.

The earlier you start, the longer your money has to grow. You won’t miss a small deduction from your salary each month and, in addition, you get free money from your employer and the government to bolster your pension savings.

So, it’s well worth working out a way to juggle your financial commitments so you can start contributing as soon as you start earning.

Credit cards are not free money!

Another important lesson that our younger selves would do well to pay close attention to is how to manage credit cards. It’s easy to be enticed into making a few luxury purchases when you’re armed with a bit of plastic and a credit limit. But things can quickly spiral out of control.

The number one rule that the younger version of ourselves would do well to take heed of is to make sure we pay off whatever we spend on our card within the billing cycle. At the very least, we shouldn’t fall into the trap of only making the minimum payments, as this is the fastest route to racking up interest, leading to a financial hole that can be difficult to get out of.

Start saving up before the bills start piling up

When you’re single, your pockets jingle! Do you remember that period in your life when you were young, free and single and you didn’t have any major financial responsibilities to worry about, such as paying off a mortgage or covering the cost of childcare? Well, that was one of the best times to get a head start on your savings. If you think back to that time, you can probably recall having a bit of spare cash burning a hole in your pocket. But did you recognise the opportunity this gave you then?

A piece of advice one of our survey participants received from her Grandad was to put 10% of her wages into savings every month whilst she was young and had no financial commitments. Unfortunately, she never did, and only now sees how valuable that advice was!  

So, whilst your younger self would probably have been tempted to embrace an indulgent, free-spending lifestyle when you had the means to do so, showing a little bit of discipline and having a savings goal to work towards is something that could have gone a long way!

Make a budget (and stick to it!)

The best way to stay on track with a savings goal is to master the art of controlling your spending by creating a budget.

Spending without having a plan is another one of those “if I only knew then what I know now” situations and one where most of us probably fell into bad habits at some stage during our younger years.

Knowing exactly how much money you have coming in and going out each month is the key to ensuring you’ll always have enough for the things that you need, saving you from relying on overdrafts and credit cards, whilst making it easier to add to your savings pot on a regular basis.  

Take it in and pass it on

So, until time travel becomes possible, the best way that you can make the most of all this financial wisdom is to make sure you’re applying it now. It’s never too late to start good money management habits!

And don’t forget to pass it on to the next generation of savers and spenders. If you have children or grandchildren, they’re the ‘younger versions of you’ that can truly learn from these lessons!

Paragon Bank PLC is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority. Registered in England number 05390593. Registered office 51 Homer Road, Solihull, West Midlands B91 3QJ. Paragon Bank PLC is registered on the Financial Services Register under the firm reference number 604551