Your twenties are a crazy time. So much happens to you and you learn quite a lot in that span of your life. The list of mistakes I’ve made in my twenties is way too long for a blog post so I thought I’d narrow it down to a reasonable number. I write this post for those of you in your twenties who feel like they’re failing. I write this for those of you who feel like you didn’t accomplish a lot in your twenties. Sometimes the only way to learn is by failing, so here’s what I learned the hard way.
1. Get your career figured out BEFORE you have children.
I know sometimes things happen and you have children before you plan to but then there are people like me who plan to have a baby but don’t have anything else figured out first. I can’t tell you why I wanted a baby so badly at 24, I could have easily waited until I was 28 or 29 to have one. Now that I have two children and am just now getting a career in order it’s a lot harder and more stressful. If I had just gotten my education in my early twenties and had babies in my late twenties, life might be bit easier for me. Hindsight is 20-20, as they say and it holds up. I can just see my Aunt Brenda now nodding her head and saying, “I told you so.”
2. Take a homeowner’s class and financial planning class.
My husband and I had no idea what we were doing when we first started out, like most young couples. We both always talk about the things we would do differently if we could start over. Taking a homeowner’s and financial planning course is one thing we wish we had done. There’s a lot that goes into buying and selling a home. There’s also a lot of money that goes into it. We have managed to buy two homes and sell one. (The other we lost due to poor financial management.) Our parents didn’t really teach us what we should do but I don’t think it was for lack of trying. I’m sure there were one or two things that were said but we didn’t listen, or just didn’t understand. If we had taken a class and gotten the knowledge we needed to succeed we would be in a much better place, physically and financially.
3. Don’t join a multi-level marketing company.
A multi-level marketing company, or MLM, is a company that recruits people to sell something but also has those people recruit other people. When you join an MLM you usually have to pay a fee to join. That’s how they make money. Off of all the fees paid by people who join their company, and they make a share of your sales of whatever product they sell. I joined Mary Kay and the way it worked was you paid a start up fee, then you buy all the equipment you’ll need to host a “party’ as well as the products you will be selling to your customers. You have a “party” where your friends and family come and test the products for themselves and hopefully buy some from you. Then you get a few of them to host a “party” to have their friends and family come and test the products and you sell some to them and the cycle repeats. The only thing is, you have no idea if you are going to make a sale and you don’t know if anyone will be willing to host a party. It’s stressful and I totally lost money on the deal so that was short lived. Bottom line, don’t believe them when they say you can make a lot of money selling their product. You could but you most likely won’t.
4. Don’t move in with your best friend.
You might think it will be so fun to move in with your best friend but it’s not. You see a whole other side of them and they see a whole other side of you and it could potentially destroy your friendship. I moved in with my best friend when I was 21 and it did not end well. It took us 8 years to get back together.
5. Don’t buy a brand new vehicle.
In your twenties it probably seems like a good idea to purchase a brand new vehicle but that is a very deceiving notion. You think, oh I could have this care for a really long time since I’m young and it’s new and I’ll have it paid off in no time. If you’re a responsible human being and take care of your car, then yes I guess that could be true. But the fact of the matter is not every person in their twenties is that responsible, especially if they know nothing about how to take care of a car. Also, the value of a brand new car depreciates by about 20% after the first year and continues to depreciate by about 10% every year after that. Which means after just five years of ownership your car will have only be worth about 40% of what you paid for it.
6. Don’t put up with piss-poor friendships/relationships.
I was very lucky to have met my husband when I was 21. We got married when I was 22 and it’s been s great ride ever since. My friendships on the other hand have not been as sturdy. I do have a couple of longtime friends who have been really great and they will certainly last a lifetime. Some friends start off strong but then something gets in the way. I don’t have time to deal with people who don’t have time for me. I’m not saying that it was always them. I know I did and said some things that would make me unlikable. I don’t blame them for cutting me off too. You have to do what feels right in your gut. If a person isn’t easy to be around or if they don’t make you feel good about yourself when you’re around them, you don’t need them in your life.
7. Don’t use credit cards.
Having one credit card is not so bad. You could have one that you keep up somewhere for emergencies, like if you need gas or groceries and you don’t get paid for a whole week. Or you could use one to build your credit by only using about 20% of it and paying it off every month, on time. What you shouldn’t do is have 3 or 4 and rack up $35,000 in debt that you can’t run away from because you don’t make enough money to pay your bills AND all that debt. It’s a stupid mistake and it has since been resolved but it was a scary thing for a while. We have definitely learned our lesson.
8. Make as many memories as you can.
Don’t waste your youth. Use the time in your twenties to go on adventures. See the world, try new things, have fun. Once you’re in your thirties and you’re settled down with kids and a job you’ll wish you had done more in your twenties. I look back at all the wasted time where I had no responsibilities but myself and I just shake my head at myself. There’s so much I want to do now but I have obligations now and a family to provide for. I’ll get to do those things one day but it will be a while and I won’t be so youthful then. I’m not complaining, I’m venting.
These are just some of the things I would have done differently. Take my advice and make life easier for yourself. Trust me, those of us who are through our twenties just want to see the next group succeed.