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20 Life Lessons from my 20’s

I wouldn’t exactly call my actions from my early 20’s brilliant. In fact they were probably pretty stupid, and I guess hindsight is 20-20 (no pun intended). If you are in your early 20’s I hope that I can help you to avoid many of the mistakes that I made.  So in no particular order


  1. Don’t buy a brand new car: You want to talk about a money sink, a brand new car is it. The insurance is high, it depreciates the second your drive it off the lot and it takes a nice chunk of change out of your monthly paycheck. I’ll probably never buy a brand new car again in my life. With so many certified pre-owned vehicles on the market that are in great condition, there’s no need to buy a new car.
  2. Starbucks is evil: Well not really.  The economics of drinking coffee is really ridiculous so I want to break it down for you. Over a period for about 4 years, I drank a latte and had a pastry every day. At some point I switched to regular coffee. For the sake of nice round numbers, let’s say you spend 5 bucks a day on Starbucks.  5 bucks a day X 5 times a week=25 bucks a week=100 dollars a a month=1200 dollars a year x 4 years= $4800 that I spent on coffee. Even if you bought an espresso maker and brewed Starbucks coffee at home it would be WAY Cheaper
  3. Save 10% of every paycheck and don’t touch it: This is your rainy day fund. I honestly never had one and it was really stupid. If I had done this consistently throughout the last few years I would have had much more freedom and flexibility when things got messy.
  4. Defer your student loans for 1 year: Some people might disagree with this one. But let’s say you don’t exactly make a fortune your first year out of college. If you are stuck sending of triple digit checks to your lender, then saving for that rainy day becomes way tougher.  Once you have that rainy day fund set up,  then paying those triple digit checks every month won’t be as bad.
  5. Don’t buy shit you don’t need: You really should question things you purchase that are nice-to-haves rather than needs. I bought alot of crap in my 20’s and half  of it is probably in landfills polluting the earth.
  6. Pay Cash for all your luxuries: Credit cards are another evil that pulled me into a vicious spending cycle in my 20’s and even as late as last summer. If you want to buy anything: take a vacation, buy electronics, etc, pay for it with cash. The one exception to this is if you decide buy something like an expensive TV and the credit card company offers a protection plan, then buy it with the card, but pay it off right away.
  7. Start your personal development: In my first job out of college I had a 3 hour a day commute where I used to sit in traffic and curse all the other aS#$#holes on the road because they were there. Looking back I could have used that time for some serious personal development. Nowadays I spend time listening to language tapes, audiobooks, etc, anytime I’m stuck in traffic.
  8. Buy the following items at Costco: If it’s something you are going to use on a REGULAR basis, then buy it at Costco: Toilet Paper,Laundry Detergent, Dishwasher Detergent, Soap/Shampoo/Toothpaste/Toiletries, Paper Towels
  9. Exercise Regularly: One thing that I was really bad about in my early 20’s was consistent exercise. I’m not going to go on about the benefits of exercise, but consider it preventative maintenance on your body.
  10. Set Goals: I didn’t really focus on setting goals till I was in my mid to late 20’s and if I had done that earlier I would have saved myself alot of hell in my mid 20’s.
  11. Don’t compromise your values in relationships because you are afraid to be alone: It amazes me that people will stay in bad relationships or relationships where they are just not into the other person, in order to avoid being alone. I only know because I did it, TWICE. In the long run you not only hurt yourself, but the people you are in a relationship with.
  12. Buy things on craigslist: There’s alot of things you can buy on craigslist second hand that’s in really good condition. Furniture, household items, and more that people just need to get rid off can often be found for a bargain.
  13. Don’t choose jobs only based on the money: My first job out of college I chose over another job for 5000 dollars extra. Three weeks after I started I got a 20% paycut, and I never got paid a commission check. To add to that, it was the most hellish working environment on earth. The price of admission: a supposed extra 300 bucks a month.
  14. Get involved with your field outside of work: The truth is that climbing the corporate ladder is a really long route and you’re going to have to do some things outside of your office to get ahead. Get involved by attending events and networking with people.
  15. If your job sucks and is making you miserable, look for another one: People have a tendency to stay in jobs they hate mainly out of fear. That really isn’t going to help you or the company you are working with. Don’t be afraid to cut the  umbilical chord.
  16. Be a learner: A while back I told you that you should operate from the learning perspective. It’s not uncommon to come out of college ready to take over the world. Guess what? YOU DON’T KNOW EVERYTHING.  Be open.
  17. Work on your goals just a little bit every day: What you have in your early 20’s is something that nobody can buy much more of, TIME. So, if you do just a bit every day towards any goal, you’ve got almost 10 years to accomplish it.
  18. Meet with your boss on a regular basis: One thing I didn’t do enough of in the early part of my career was meet with my boss on a regular basis. I should have been more proactive about it. By doing this you have an opportunity to address problems before they arise, and make sure you are meeting expectations.
  19. Look for the opportunity in adversity: In my 20’s every time something horrible happened I wallowed in my misery and did nothing. No matter how bad a situation may see there’s always something to be gained from it.
  20. Don’t buy things when they are first released: I used to buy TV Show seasons the day they came out on DVD. My guilty pleasure was the TV Show the O.C. I would buy a season for 50 bucks, 6 months later it would be on for 20 bucks.

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