If I could go back in time, these are the 7 things I wish I knew about money.
(It would have saved me a lot of wasted time and effort.)
1. Money is more behavior than knowledge
I was always searching for a magic piece of information that would allow me to make more money. But success with money is more about consistent behaviors (and avoiding bad ones), than some holy grail of knowledge.
2. Small things can become big things
Small habits, both good and bad, have enormous results in the long term. Starting a savings plan in your 20s, even with $100 a month, has huge long-term benefits. Conversely, spending too much or going over budget by just $100 a month adds up the same way.
3. Don't pretend to know where the stock market is going
Because I'm a financial planner, I get asked all the time "what do you think the market is going to do this year?" When I was younger and more naive, I thought I could make decent predictions. Now I know no one can, at least in the short term. Luckily, the long-term (10+ years) is a little more reliable.
4. Money will never satisfy
No matter how much money I make, or how much I have in the bank, money will never make me happy. What I do with it may bring happiness (if done correctly), but money itself will never satisfy.
5. Spend money on memorable experiences
I don't need more stuff. And I do want to live a memorable and adventure-filled life. I wish I would have spent more money on experiences instead of stuff in my 20s.
6. Investing money in myself is the best investment I've ever made
The best return on investment I've ever made is by investing in myself. Spending money to upgrade my knowledge (college, CFP certification, etc.) and on building my business gave me a higher return than anything else.
7. Automation is key
Keeping a good habit is so important but so hard. Automating the good ones makes it so much easier. Create auto deposits to retirement accounts. Set up separate bank accounts for different short-term goals and create weekly transfers. Don't make good habits harder than they need to be.