A Letter to My 18 Year Old Self About Finances
You have just graduated from high school, congratulations! You’ve put in a lot of hard work and tireless effort to get to where you are. However, this next chapter of your life is called adulthood.
Please enjoy and do not take for granted, I beg of you, your free healthcare, free home cooked meals, and the non-existent bills you have. This upcoming summer is the last time you will be able to enjoy these things to their fullest extent.
It is great that you are keeping up with all your monetary graduation gifts and sending your thanks and gratitude. But please put each one of those gifts straight into the bank.
This is not casual spending money. This money is for you to begin your new life with and help give you a head start. Even if you do not have a goal for the money now, having money in the bank for a rainy day is a good thing, a very good thing.
You are going into your first full time job this summer as a camp counselor, you go girl. Please purchase a monthly bus pass. This is going to save you an enormous amount of money, over one hundred dollars a month worth. This pass is going provide you with unlimited access to your transit system, not only during your work week, but your time off as well. Do not unnecessarily add more expenses to your weekend with Ubers.
DON’T SPEND ANYTHING. It was necessary for me to put that one in all caps because I do not want you to have to learn the hard way. You have everything you need; a home, food, clothing, water, you are good to go. There is no reason for you to buy snacks, fast food, or fast fashion (that is going to take a turn for the worst eventually).
Please, be content with the possessions you own, and only buy what you need. The theme for this summer is save, save, save. You want something to show for the forty hours of work a week you put in. And the only investment you should make are the experiences with your friends via fairs, lunches, downtown adventures, etc. This is the last time it will ever be like this.
Go ahead and downsize your wardrobe. You are going to outgrow many of the things you already own in just a few short months. You are undergoing an impertinent transitional period in your life, and your clothing should reflect that. Now this does not mean bring more clothing into your closet by any means but do weed out pieces that are not going to grow with who you are becoming. This can be done by selling through some of your local buy back thrift store programs or consignment shops. You can make room for the eventual new and make a little cash too.
You are going to undergo a gap year instead of going straight to school. I know it is very unlike you, and a great divergence from the grand plan, but ultimately it is for the best. Aim high for the employment you seek this year. Do not settle for an everyday service job. Not that there is anything wrong with these positions, they are without doubt as dignified as any other job. However, you are too young, too bright, and too determined to have your efforts placed in a store or restaurant. Search and manifest to the ends of the earth (literally the entire world, the only limit is your thinking) until you find a job that fulfills you beyond a paycheck. You will find that earning money is always more enjoyable this way.
Lastly, you are going to make a lot, a seemingly endless, number of financial mistakes through these next few years. Give yourself grace. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Financial trial and error are perfectly normal within the confines of college and young adulthood in general. Trust me when I tell you, you will learn.
Don’t ever give up on trying to budget, finance articles, looking through bank statements, and side hustles. Even when you feel like you finally have your coin together, life will never stop sending you curve balls. So never stop learning, because financial knowledge is the best catcher’s mitt.
You’re going to do great things, I promise.
Princess-Zenita is now 21 years old, and has learned a lot about life, love, and of of course money since her aforementioned 18 year old self. In addition to writing for DDS she is an English major at Georgia State University. You can read more of her adventures as she continues writing her story at theprincessispauping.com. Princess-Zenita also asks: what financial advice would you give to your 18 year old self?