I feel old and young at the same time. Weird age.
However, I can confidently say that I’ve matured a lot in the last few years. Here are 25 out of I-don’t-even-know-how-many lessons that I’ve learned over the years.
Disclaimer: I am not trying to give financial advice, I am just sharing my life :)
1. Stay home for dates — game nights
My partner and I used to go out A LOT for dates and we didn’t go to cheap places. We both agree that we don’t have any regrets because they were good experiences. But still, that was a lot of money that we could have saved.
After COVID started, we started staying home more and enjoy simple movie dates or game night dates.
2. Start saving for retirement as early as you can
This is especially true if you want to retire from your 9–5 early.
3. Max out your 401(k) and IRA
I currently do Roth for both.
4. Invest in good cleaning tools
This is one of my favorite things to talk about. Having good cleaning tools will keep you motivated to clean.
I love my cordless Dyson vacuum and it makes cleaning super fun and easy (yes, fun and easy). I also use this vacuum to clean the ceiling corners and get rid of any dust and spider webs.
As for mopping, I can’t stand the idea of using the traditional mop because you have to clean and sanitize the mop after every use. Someone introduced me to the Swiffer WetJet* and it was life-changing. There are several types of solutions that you can use for the WetJet but my favorite so far is the lavender scented one*. There are also pad refills* so there is no need to clean the pad.
I have a dishwasher but I don’t use it every day. There are some days when I don’t have a lot of dishes to wash, so I wash them by hand. And anyone who knows me personally is aware that I love my skin and that includes my hands. To protect my hands, I put on cleaning gloves* when I wash the dishes so that the soap won’t irritate my eczema-prone skin.
For dusting, I also use the Swiffer Duster*, which captures the dust (unlike the traditional feather duster), so it won’t fly all over.
5. Educate yourself on investment tools and terms
I’m sure you’ve heard of Warren Buffet, but have you heard of his mentor Benjamin Graham? Graham was known as the “father of value investing” and he wrote a book called The Intelligent Investor to teach others to do invest*.
6. Brand names are not worth it
Do you really need to spend $1000 on a jacket when you can get something similar for $100? The $900 that you save can grow to $6000 in 30 years if it grows at a 7% interest rate, compounded annually, which is a relatively conservative return.
Play around with this compound interest calculator to see how much you could be saving.
7. Accrue assets, not liabilities
There’s no need to get a loan to buy a new car if you only drive it once in a while. Get a cheaper car or use public transit! The only loans worth getting are the ones with a 0% interest rate or a mortgage (at least one with a low-interest rate).
Assets will give you money.
Liabilities will take money away from you.
8. Learn to cook
This one is pretty obvious.
When I was younger, I used to spend a lot of money going out with friends. But I’ve gotten that out of my system and I love saving money by meal prepping at home. There are so many platforms to learn how to cook and meal prep, but this website is a good start.
I wasn’t too motivated to cook when I was living with my parents because I didn’t want to use their old pots and pans. After doing some research (aka watching Binging with Babish), I’ve concluded that T-fal pans* are amazing. I only own 3 at the moment and I already love all 3 of them. They’re actually nonstick (even after I leave them in the sink for 8 hours).
9. Practice good dental hygiene
It’s tempting to stop brushing early or to skip a day of flossing because it can get tedious. Don’t do it! Gum disease can cause you to lose your teeth, so take good care of your mouth. Just do it.
If you have trouble brushing, a rechargeable electric toothbrush can help you time yourself*.
10. Never stop learning
Learning will not only help you in your career but also help you become a better and wiser person :)
One of the reasons I left my old job was that I felt like I wasn’t engaging my brain enough. I feel super accomplished whenever I learn a new topic, especially if it’s in coding.
11. Do strength training
For the ladies, no, you will not look like a bodybuilder unless you work super hard. This is a great starting point to learn some exercises with dumbbells and kettlebells.
Youtube is also a great resource if you want to find a workout routine.
11. Get used to being alone
It’s easy to be surrounded by people during your teenage years, but people will start getting busy and will have less time for you.
I’m an introvert, so I need a lot of time to recover after social events. Extroverts might struggle with being alone but this is a good opportunity for you to learn a new skill or hobby.
12. No shame in using coupons
I mostly do online shopping, so I usually use online coupons.
I use sites like Rakuten (referral link) and Honey (referral link), which are also browser extensions, to help me automatically apply coupons that other people have used. Rakuten and Honey also provide cashback on thousands of sites, so I get some money back on sites like Walgreens and BestBuy.
13. Buy in bulk
Share a Costco (or any wholesale retailer) membership with someone or multiple people. #lifehacks
It’s tempting to buy everything you see at Costco, but usually, I just get non-perishables like trash bags and groceries like cereal, oatmeal, dumplings, meat, and flour.
14. You don’t need a new phone every year
Every September, I get tempted to buy the new iPhone. I used to have an iPhone 6s Plus, but I upgraded it to the XR in May 2019. My old phone lost battery faster than I lose my social energy, so I had to get rid of it. My partner also gifted me a phone case for the XR so it gives me an extra reason to not switch my phone.
Yea, the new phone might have a “better camera” but you might as well use that money to get an actual camera.
15. Friends come and go
And that’s okay. I read somewhere that certain friends are there to help you through specific life journeys, not all of them. Of course, there will be some friends that will stick with you for your whole life, but even if they don’t, that’s also okay.
16. Think of chores as pest-control
I really like to keep my place clean because I would hate to live with bugs. I vacuum and mop at least 5 times a week. My parents take out the trash daily. As long as there is food in the garbage bag, they take it out. I picked up that habit after I moved out. No cockroaches or rats for me.
If you have the right tools, chores can be done quickly and efficiently.
17. Try to look for other sources of income
Whether it be side hustles, part-time jobs, royalties, streaming, and etc, just find any other source(s) of income. You can be a server or babysitter on weekends. Maybe you want to start selling something on Etsy. Or maybe can start writing a book.
That’s extra money to put away for retirement.
18. Credit cards work in your favor
They do if you use them correctly.
I keep my utilization rate low by having a high credit limit. Plus, I use different cards for different occasions. There’s one specific one for restaurants, one for groceries, one for hotels, and etc.
Don’t be scared to get a credit card.
19. Pay credit cards in full
“I have 13 credit cards.”
The immediate response I get is, “How do you handle the debt?”
Well, I don’t. I don’t have debt, so I don’t need to handle it. I never spend more than what I earn, and you shouldn’t. I wrote a whole article explaining credit cards and why you should maintain a good credit score.
There are YouTubers who talk about how they used to never pay their credit cards in full. One such channel is The Financial Diet.
20. Check your credit report at least once a year
Everyone can get a free annual report from a credit bureau. It’s a good way to check if anyone has misused your information.
Alternatively, you can download an app like Credit Karma to check your credit score daily or weekly. You’ll get notifications if there are significant drops.
You’ll be surprised to see how many people actually don’t check their credit scores. When I worked at retail banking, I’ve heard so many stories about how my clients would get letters about credit cards that they’ve never opened.
21. Don’t get comfortable
You may be tempted to stay at a comfortable job even if the pay isn’t great. Or you may think, “I won’t get hired anywhere else.”
Some people prefer comfort, but I don’t like to feel comfortable. To keep my brain active, I like to feel challenged. That is one of the main reasons I decided to go for tech.
22. Get quality sleep
I can’t believe I used to be okay with just sleeping 5 hours. No wonder I was so unproductive. I started using a silk pillowcase* and it keeps my face cool and wrinkle-free.
23. Heels are too painful
I used to wear boots to school every single day. Yea, my calves worked hard. I thought I looked super cute with boots, but I wear sneakers almost every day now. When I go to work (which is only 2 days per week), I wear boots that have thick heels, along with some cushioning, so my feet won’t start screaming in pain within an hour.
But I usually just wear sneakers. Self-love.
24. Emotional intelligence is underrated
It’s almost never taught in school, so you would have to learn this on your own. I was working part-time jobs during all 4 years of college, so I slowly learned how to control my emotions.
It is very easy to get frustrated at work and you want to yell at everyone. But don’t do it.
Tip: If you are aware that you’re irritated over something or someone at work, think to yourself if that event will be significant in 10 minutes. How about 10 days? And 10 months?
As Elsa likes to sing, just “Let it go.”
25. Stay genuine
Don’t tell lies about yourself. You’ll eventually lose track and the other party will be more cautious of you and possibly start disliking you if it was a big lie.
If you say you’ll do something, do it. If you promised someone that you’ll hang out with them, just do it. If you said that you’ll help a friend with a task, just do it.
*These are Amazon affiliate links.