A reader from the United Kingdom wrote to me last week:
I’ve recently graduated and landed a fairly swanky job. So naturally I’m planning an escape strategy…. Do I want to have my nose to the corporate grind-stone forever? No. Do I fancy retiring from formal work at 43? Um, yeah!
Long-story-short, I’ve just stumbled on your blog and I really like it. (I also really like Komodo dragons.) And I was wondering – what would you tell your 23-year-old self?
Any tips for someone starting with…well… financially nothing? (Not including an overdraft and a sizable student loan).
I’d love to hear what advice you have. First though, we must get to last week’s question when I asked about your summer adventures.
Reader Matthew in Michigan is brave (long road-trip with kids):
We had an awesome summer though, our first long road trip with the kids, age 12, 8 and 6 and a broken DVD player in the van. Kids surprised us and did really well the entire trip…minimal fighting! Figured they were old enough now for some long distance trips. We ended up with 3600 mile round trip from southern Michigan to Livingston, MT.
We took a 3 week road trip to see friends and family in the upper midwest. We spent a week camping and hiking in the mountains of North Carolina and we piggybacked another week-long trip and reunion on the back of a work trip. It was a great summer and we made the most of the time we had.
Reader Ann had an awesome trip and did it on the cheap:
Ahh… my best trip EVER ! Rented a house in Burgundy region of France and 3 of my adult children, and their significant others, came and stayed with us. (And it was cheap — the price for the AirBnB for a huge house was about the same as one hotel room would have been, and we used airlines points to get there and back.)
Done by Forty had a trip that I’d love to replicate:
Our big trip this summer was three and a half weeks in Northern Europe: Denmark, Germany, Sweden, Iceland, and Scotland. (We just missed you in Edinburgh, I hear! Next time.)
Reader Andrew’s is my favorite:
I had a pretty amazing set of summer travels: I went to Tokyo! The trip involved a train ride to Vancouver BC (paid for with points), and overnight there (points), a flight out to Japan with air Canada (points), and finally 9 mights at a very nice airbnb (cash) – which was discounted because they were hoping to build up reviews.
And when I got back, I went on a 2-day 200 mile bike ride down to Portland, OR.
I love trains and would love to do a long bike ride some day, maybe from Colorado to Chicago.
Advice for a 23 Year Old?
So, my 23 year-old friend asked me for advice. Here was my response:
- Learn how to invest property. Right now. Don’t mess around with silly strategies that promise to beat the markets. I love Jim Collins’ Stock Series. Bogle’s books are also perfect, especially the The Little Book of Common Sense Investing.
- Don’t be conservative: At your age, it’s silly to keep money in cash or bonds (unless you’re saving up for a near-term purchase). (Keep in mind that I’m not an investment professional. Do your own research and make your own decisions.)
- Don’t buy stuff: Forget a new car, 1000 pound handbags and all of that other stuff. Your advantage is your youth. Put that money to work.
- Don’t give a sh*t about what anyone else thinks: Live frugal and with confidence. It doesn’t matter how anyone else views your lifestyle. Play the long game. To anyone who questions your choices; it will all make sense to them when you’re 40 and have 3,000,000 pounds in the bank while they’re struggling to make ends meet.
My advice was conventional, but it is what I’d tell my 23 year-old self. I have no idea if this advice would have resonated with younger me. Since this reader is actively seeking out the information, I think there is a good chance it will resonate with her.
How about you? What would tell a 23 year-old to do?
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