Letter To My 21 Year Old Self

Letter To My 21 Year Old Self

Dear Young, Naive Heather,

The financial choices that you make and habits that you develop in your 20s really set the foundation for your financial future. Retirement and emergency savings are probably the last thing on your mind, but they will definitely be on your mind later. Save yourself the heartache and consider them now…

On Shopping

That friend that always has the latest cell phone and the nice Coach purses? You don’t need to keep up with her. Your true friends don’t notice or care how many different outfits or purses you have. If they judge you by the version of your iPhone, they aren’t the friends to keep for the long haul. Let go of the comparing and “keeping up,” it takes up too much precious time and energy.

Don’t blow all your money on clothes. You have no idea how much it will bug you later when you barely wore those clothes before you traded them in for new ones. Invest in quality pieces that you love and that will last a long time. Don’t clean your closet out just to fill it back up again. That defeats the purpose.

A credit card is not the same thing as a gift card. Your credit limit is not the balance to strive for. Click To Tweet

Say no to store credit cards! A credit card is not the same thing as a gift card. Your credit limit is not the balance to strive for. It may be a good deal at the time, but in the long run it’s not worth it to open a gazillion store credit cards just for a quick deal.

Have fun. Travel. Go to concerts. Try new things! These experiences will create much more lasting memories than that $100 pair of heels that you only wore once because they hurt your feet.


  • Don’t buy a brand new car for your first car.
  • Don’t drive too quickly and slam on brakes in the snow.
  • Don’t run into parked cars.
  • Don’t total the rental car while your car is in the shop.
  • You don’t need 3 new cars before 27, even if you did pay them off early.
  • Don’t back into trees.

A Bad Habit of New Cars


This one is really important, so if you’ve skimmed the rest, at least read this:

Start a retirement fund. Start a Roth IRA on your own and a 401k through work. If your employer offers any match, contribute at least enough to get the matching funds. For example, if your company will match half up to 6% (so 3%) then at least contribute 6%. You won’t regret it. Compound interest is your best friend. A little now goes a long way; if you wait until later in life, you’ll need to save even more aggressively to save up even half as much.

You can’t get this time back and time is a precious commodity. Click To Tweet

Life Can Be Short

Don’t be too hard on yourself if you don’t get it right the first time. We all make mistakes. That’s what these years are for and how we learn. It can all work out. So you had 3 car accidents in a row and your insurance is astronomical? It’s not permanent. In a few years you’ll look back and it’ll just be a blip on the radar.

Your twenties are fun years! You can’t get this time back and time is a precious commodity. While being smart with your money and saving for retirement are important, it’s more important to find a balance, a balance between saving and spending. Be wise with your money, but don’t be so frugal that you miss out on the fun experiences in these years. We all hope to live long lives and make it to retirement, but it’s not a guarantee. Life can be short, so enjoy this time!

Love Older, Wiser Heather

Letter To My 21 Year Old Self

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