New Adults enter the real world and are forced to figure things out. Many money subjects aren’t taught in school yet when the graduate enters the real world, this New Adult has to learn how to navigate budgeting, insurance, retirement planning, investing, credit scores, student loans, housing costs, credit cards, pet expenses, and the list goes on and on.
You don’t need to seek out wisdom from a Financial Planner to get good money advice. Money’s a tricky subject and people from all professions have opinions, struggles, and triumphs in personal finances. This article hopes to provide insights from people who’ve learned a thing or two about money.
As part of my 2017 New Year’s Resolution, I was fortunate to interview 24 friends about different subjects to gather research for a future book. These people represent a wide range of professions like law, nonprofits, healthcare, marketing, entrepreneurship, and financial planning (full list at the bottom of this article).
Most importantly, these 24 individuals are role models who are defining their own paths, handling their responsibilities (I hope), and also giving back while on their journeys. This means that these hand-selected people have insights worth sharing!
When picking their brains, I asked them all this question:
What do you wish everyone (maybe including yourself) knew about personal finances?
Below are the 24 responses from the interviews. We’ll breakdown some of the themes at the end of this article. We’ll also share some resources to help address their mentioned money challenges.
1) I wish I knew how to find affordable experts for advice. It would have been better to get help early on especially with my student loans. I wish people from all levels of income could get affordable advice.
2) I’m skeptical of what we’re sold as consumers and I wish I knew more about the empirical factors that guide the money decisions of people. It seems like the necessary information is purposely hidden and there are massive conflicts of interest. I wish there was more accessible knowledge based on tangible facts rather than manipulating human emotions.
3) They don’t teach financial literacy in school and I don’t know why. Money is pretty awesome when you’re able to grow it. My father says, “money gives you choices.” Millennials will have more choices if they understand how to use and grow money. If you don’t have choices, you’re going to be pretty miserable.
4) How to save money in the most efficient way and how to navigate the tax code. If you don’t save for retirement, you’re going to stay in a lackluster facility which is less than ideal. Anyone over 50 who has kids needs to look into Long Term Care Insurance.
5) The only person driving the car is you. It’s not to the other way around. Money doesn’t drive you. I wish I knew this from the beginning when I got myself into credit card debt back in college. It took a good chunk of time to get out of this bad debt. I also think people should understand the benefits of renting. If something breaks, all I need to do is call someone to fix it. I’m in no rush to buy a house.
6) Compound interest really is the 8th wonder of the world! If I could go back, I would’ve opened a Roth IRA when I got my first job at 13. People are so busy that they don’t educate themselves and invest in their futures. They find it easier to eat out everyday than to put dollars away.
7) I don’t know where I land with saving for retirement and understanding my credit score. I wish I knew if I was doing well and what I can do to get better. I learned from my dad a few things like an IRA and a 401(k) but many people I work with don’t understand those accounts. Savings and retirement planning are two big things for people to address.
8) It’s confusing to know how brokers work and how they get paid. It seems like the industry is becoming more transparent. I’m interested to learn what goes on behind the scenes with investments. How are they created? Whos’ responsible? Who’s accountable? I’m still confused about it even after reading books.
9) I wish I knew a lot more. There are a variety of people who are more qualified to help me but I wish it was easier to compare and explore options.
10) Don’t trust the financial professionals who make it complicated. The way the marketing engine works is to make it complicated so that people blindly trust the “experts” who might not work as a fiduciary. Find the people that treat you as a relationship and not a transaction.
11) I feel ill-informed overall. Subjects like budgeting are the start to day-to-day personal finances. When that’s in order then you can handle more complicated areas like 401(k)s. It feels like people will spend more time to save $3 and they should understand the bigger picture. How can people shift their thinking?
12) No one else is going to fix your money problems. It’s not as scary as you think, so long as you have an open mind and believe in yourself. It’s SO cheesy but it’s true. Your money problems aren’t going to fix themselves.
13) Everyone needs to know short-term and long-term financial needs as well as how to create wealth. People spend money on useless items and they need to prioritize their needs.
14) Contributing to savings is extremely important. You need to have an idea on where you want to go and then pursue it. If you want to be a wandering artist, you’ll realize that rents are pretty high.
15) Don’t carry credit card debt and money isn’t as scary as it seems.
16) People should understand that financial stress can magnify things. There are pros and cons to not getting a credit card until the age of 27. This way you can train yourself to not live above your means.
17) I wish people fully understood the magnitude that a little bit of discipline can have on their finances (and their lives for that matter). Giving up just a tiny bit of money now will give you whole bunch of freedom later.
18) I would say every young person, especially teenagers in high school, needs to know to start investing money immediately (401(k), buying a house instead of renting, etc.). Some wait until later on and lose a lot of money because of it. I only bought my house at 31 and I wish I could go backwards and buy much sooner.
19) I think most people should learn credit is good, if you treat it right. For me, I wish I knew what money moves to make to guarantee big returns later. But I don’t know if you can see the future.
20) I wish everyone knew about compound interest and discount brokerage firms.
21) I wish people knew more about debt and loan management. Student loans and credit cards can be so complicated but you can get yourself out of debt by being disciplined.
22) I didn’t know anything about money by being a psychology major. Money influences so much of our society. People need to learn to be self-sufficient and not rely on their parents. Parents can provide a sense of direction though.
23) I wish everyone knew more about budgeting. I also wish people knew how to make their money work for them.
24) Bet on yourself before you ask people to bet on you. It’s okay to be terrified to get an overdraft fee. Figure out a way to make money and then take care of it.
A huge THANK YOU goes out to these people for their openness and wisdom. Everyone has a different opinion about personal finances but there are some recurring themes. I hope you learned from their responses just like I did.