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No matter what your age, you can probably look back in life and have some things that you regret. A lot of people look at regrets as a bad thing, but they don’t always have to be. Sometimes something you regret can also be something you learn from, or something you can teach from.
I use the stupid things I’ve done in the past as teachable moments I get to share with my teenager. I feel like they bring us closer and help bond us. I see that my daughter trusts me more and is more open with me about her life when she knows that I am not perfect either. She then feels more comfortable coming to me and asking for advice.
For me, I feel like some of my mistakes made me stronger & wiser. Sure if I could go back in time and do things differently I probably would. But there’s no sense in dwelling on the past. Instead, I’d like to share my regrets with you, and hopefully stop my regrets from becoming your regrets.
First, My Thoughts on Getting Older
People say that your 20’s are the best times of your life. I partly agree with that. Sure you’re younger, you have more energy, you have big dreams, and you probably have lots of friends and a great social life.
But for some 20 year olds, life can be a little more difficult. Often times you don’t have the money to reach those big dreams, you have the energy but not the knowledge or life experience to get things done, you’re younger, but may be more insecure? Or you could be somewhere in between.
For me, I became a mother at the age of 19. And I had my second child at 25, my third at 27 and my final baby at 29. So my 20’s were mostly filled with raising a young family. Sure I had a lot of fun over the years too, but the lack of money, lack of knowledge, lack of confidence led to some of my regrets.
I could honestly say that my 30’s have been the best years of my life so far. I no longer am in the baby phase of raising my children so that means I can leave the house looking decent and not worry about being spit up or pooped on. I have a career that pays well, I am more knowledgeable than I have ever been in life, and I don’t really care what others think anymore, not in a bad way, but in a way that I’m confidant with who I am and other people’s opinions of me don’t affect that.
I also feel like I look better than I did in my 20’s. Weird right? I used to hear women say that all of the time and I just never understood it.
All of these things then lead to more self confidence. And that’s where I’m at today. Below are some of the things that got me here. You have to take the good with the bad. And below is my bad. I hope you can learn from my mistakes so that your 30’s will be awesome too!
What I Regret about My 20’s
No.1 – Not Being Good with Money
Ok, this is a big one and leads to some of my other regrets. My parents were both horrible with money and never really taught me anything about money, banking, credit, etc. High schools don’t teach it these days, so unless you have parents who do, good luck. Even in college, you’re taught to take out credit cards and student loans. At such a young age, these are horrible ideas.
My advice to you – Try working through college and paying as much as you can in cash. Avoid student loans at all possible cost. Student loans are a huge crisis in America. I listen to podcasts where people call in and they are in their 40s & 50s and still struggling to pay their student loan debt!
If you have to take out student loans, start paying them down right away. Do Not let the interest accrue!
Take the time to teach yourself about credit, about debt, weigh the pro’s and cons. And put yourself on a budget.
Interested in learning about personal finance & budgeting? Check out the The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey. This is a quick & easy read and also very entertaining. I highly recommend it if you’re serious about getting your finances in order.
No. 2 – Not Saving Enough
Yes this ties in with the first one. As a 20 year old, saving money was not something I was good at. There were a few times where my in-laws had to help us out because of our lack of savings. Get smart about this and start putting money away right now. There’s nothing worse then needing to borrow from the in-laws!
My advice to you – Start with a goal of $1000 and then work your way up to 3-6 months worth of expenses. Having that money in the bank will give you such piece of mind! If you’re a college student you may not need this much, but if you have a young family, you have others that depend on you and it is so important to be able to support them during rough times. This will boost your confidence as well, believe me!
No. 3 – Not Traveling Enough
If you are in your 20’s and you haven’t started a family yet my advice to you is to travel as much as you can. Now, don’t go into debt to do so, but set aside some time and money for travel. Once you start a family and those responsibilities set in it gets more and more difficult to travel.
My advice to you – Check out www.theflightdeal.com. Like their Facebook page so you can stay up to date when a new deal posts because they are so cheap they go fast! You can grab some great flight prices on this site! But don’t just travel to sit on the beach and relax, travel to learn, travel to grow, travel to get to know yourself. Go to a country less fortunate than yours and volunteer some hours. Go to a place where the wealthy play and daydream. These things will all help shape you. They will help you set amazing goals and also stay grounded when you become successful.
No. 4 – Not Focusing on my Future
I know when you’re in your 20’s you feel like you have all the time in the world! Well believe me, that time flies by so quickly. Focus on your future, set goals, save money for those goals, save money for retirement, get an education, read books, eat well, exercise, make friends that will last with good people, people you want in your corner not just people who are fun to party with.
My advice to you – Set realistic and long term goals and don’t let life distract you. Focus on yourself. I know that sounds selfish, but a lot of times in your 20’s you are focused on your friends drama or finding the right man in your life. Focus on becoming the best you possible and everything else will fall into place.
No. 5 – Not Finishing College
I never finished college. Yes I do well in my job without a degree. I make more money than some people do with their degree. So why do I regret not getting it? Because with out it I’m kind of stuck. A degree opens doors for you. In my position I started at the bottom and worked my butt off to learn everything I possibly could. I asked questions, did work outside of my job description and worked my way up. Now I’m at a great company with good benefits, but if I ever wanted to leave and go somewhere else or do something new, not having that degree hurts me. It limits me. So many positions require a degree. So even though I have the skillset and knowledge to do that job, some employers will not even look at me because of the lack of degree.
My advice to you – Finish school. Even if you hate it, do it. If you’re not the 4 year college type, learn a vocation. Get skilled in something you love and continue to take classes to better that skill. It will make you irreplaceable in the job market. I do however recommend a 4 year degree because it does open doors and gives you more flexibility if you realize you don’t love your job or vocation and want to try something new, your 4 year degree will help.
No. 6 – Not Spending Enough Time Talking to my Mom
This one is a tough one. And it might sound bad, but if you knew more about my childhood you would understand. My mother and I were never close. In fact I held onto a lot of anger and resentment towards her. It’s not something we ever really discussed because it would just lead to an argument.
So, I never took the time to really talk to her or know her. Sure she would call and we would have small talk and I would tell her how the kids were doing, and occasionally she would ask for help with things and I would help her out. But that was it. Well she passed away from Cancer in 2012. Now I don’t have the chance to talk to her anymore or clear the air or even share things about my kids. I let anger and resentment and my disapproval of how she lived her life get in the way of having a relationship with her. It was so bad that towards the end I wasn’t even able to really hug her. I told her I loved her, but couldn’t bring myself to hug her, and that I will always regret.
My advice to you – You only have one family. No matter how screwed up they may be. Take the time to hug them and tell them you love them. Don’t let anger and resentment fester until it’s too late.
No. 7 – Not Caring about Health & Fitness
When I was younger, I could eat what I wanted, when I wanted and never gained a pound. I had my first child at 19 and even after that I was a petite little 98 lbs. I did always want to be fit, but after taking a fitness class and having two ladies laugh at me and ask me why I was even there, that kind of ruined it for me and I’ve not been back to a Gym since.
Now that I’m in my 30’s and have had a more children I could definitely use a fitness routine. I run at home on the treadmill occasionally and sometimes take a pilates class here and there, but I lack the foundation of healthy eating and exercising. I was always so used to being able to eat what I wanted, and now that habit is hard to break!
My advice to you – No matter your weight and fitness level, start now and create a healthy eating and fitness routine and stick to it! It is so hard to establish this and get on track as you get older. Now I’m not saying don’t enjoy all of the delicious food out there, just know what your body needs and take the time to take care of it!
I Wasted too Much Time Being Insecure
Oh boy. Insecurities can definitely hold you back. I missed out on so many things because I thought I wasn’t good enough, pretty enough, smart enough, etc. Don’t let insecurity do that to you.
My advice to you – Spend less time worrying about what others think of you and spend more time on yourself. If you want to be a strong, independent woman, then become one. There’s nobody standing in your way besides you and your insecurities.
Well that about sums it up. I’m sure if I sat and thought about my 20’s I could probably come up with a much longer list! However these are the things that stuck with me, the things that shaped me. What about you? When you reflect back on your life what are some things you wish you would have done differently? We all have something!
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