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Your Take: What Would You Tell Yourself 10 Years Ago?

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Library = Hard Work!Hindsight is 20/20, we all know that, but imagine if you not only had hindsight but also a time machine. What fun that would be! If you could go back in time ten, twenty, thirty years… what would you tell your earlier self?

I would tell myself that it takes hard work, talent, and a little bit of luck to find success in this world, emphasis on hard work. When I was 18, I had a pretty high opinion of myself. I did well in high school, I got into the college I was aiming for and go into the program I wanted to. I went to college, had to adjust to my newfound freedom, and was immediately floored by the genius that surrounded me (it was Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University, I was routinely the least intelligent person in the room and I’m not being humble in the least). After all was said and done, I survived the experience pretty much intact.

When I entered college, I thought I could out-smart and out-think everyone. When I left, I knew that I couldn’t out-smart or out-think people, I had to out-work them. If I only had known that from the beginning, I probably would’ve graduated with a few more A’s and B’s. 🙂

If you had a time machine, would you tell yourself ten years ago? Don’t feel like you have to stick to personal finance tips, it’s Friday Funday, so feel free to write whatever you want!

(Photo: jhoweaa)

{ 57 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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57 Responses to “Your Take: What Would You Tell Yourself 10 Years Ago?”

  1. Wizard Prang says:

    You are the average of your five closest friends. So choose your friends wisely.

  2. MoneyEnergy says:

    I love these questions…. I would tell myself to not feel guilty about having taken time to travel before university – that in fact I could even have packed more traveling in there – and then I’d make sure to get even more involved in other activities, networking while in college. Also, I would have told myself to invest more aggressively when I did. I had the perfect idea, but I was just too cautious. Also, to save much more – I had three jobs at one point, it’s a shame I saved none of it!

  3. B says:

    You’re only FREAKIN’ 20 dude. You have a LOT of life to live…leave that girl before you get hurt in a year. Go out west for a few years and live life! Do exactly like your grandparents preached EVERY time you saw them – save some money out of every paycheck – you’ll wish you had later. SAVE FOR A DOWN PAYMENT ON A HOUSE…and for God’s sake, that girl in the darkroom in photography class in college…DO IT!

  4. freeby50 says:

    Keep putting money into retirement savings.

    Yes, buying eBay at the IPO *is* the great idea you think it is so go ahead and do it.

  5. Martha says:

    Don’t forget to call your grandparents.

    Don’t worry about the time with your friends that you may miss by going to spend a summer with the grandparents, it will be a wonderful experience that you will remember forever. And don’t worry about the guy while you’re there – it doesn’t work out anyway 🙂

    Oh, and get better grades so that when you apply to grad school it’s not as scary!

  6. Don’t invest for the next 10 years, you’ll be able to get stocks for the same price or less in March 2009.

  7. hustler says:

    Plan more fun and “mini retirements” into life instead of focusing solely on saving for retirement. Life should be fun throughout it all, not just at one point.

    • Hustler–Looks like someone’s read The Four Hour Workweek. (Strong plug!)

      But I fully agree, we have to enjoy life as we go, not just at some designated point in the future when all will (hopefully) be right in our world.

  8. StephaniePTY says:

    I was 12, almost 13, moving from a house “in town” to out in the sticks…

    1) Keep up your “by-kids-for-kids” newspaper, the Kids’ Gazette. It’s one of the more interesting things you’ve done as a kid, and will be an interesting talking point when you get older. It might be harder now that you’re not living in town, but do it anyway.
    2) Save the money you make from the Kids’ Gazette in your bank account. When you have enough, buy a video camera.
    3) Take your video camera and make movies – a ton of them. Script them out and make them. Watch old movies. Learn whether or not you really want to be a filmmaker before you get $42,000 in student loans trying to go to film school.
    4) Join drama club much earlier than the 11th grade. You want to be a stage manager. Trust me on this.
    5) Do your homework. Yeah, I know telling you this won’t make a difference, but I’m saying it anyway. There’s a billion reasons to do it and none not to.

  9. Stephen says:

    1) Save more money.
    2) Have more sex.

  10. Carla says:

    Ten years ago I was 20…

    1. Not having health insurance will cause you financial ruin, even if you are young.

    2. Find a way to finish college.

    3. Buy a house in the Bay Area if you can and sell before 2007.

    4. Travel. Dont wait until you “paid your dues”. (Having to go on permanent disability taught me that, now that molehill feels like a mountain)

  11. Cap says:

    I’d tell myself to mail a “stop having a high opinion of yourself” letter to the 18 year-old Jim Wang in east coast.. then challenge him to a death match. *cue star trek death match music*

  12. Neil says:


    I would say concentrate on the best career path rather than the most amount of money that you can earn immediately.

    Oh and keep in contact with your friends.

  13. We should reverse this a bit now, and based on what we would have told oursevles 10 years ago, try to project and think about what we should be doing NOW for the life we want to have 10 years into the future!

  14. reinkefj says:

    I’m an “old fart”. So, I’d want to go back 50 years. I’d tell myself: “Think very very carefully about the choices you make. Write down what you want when you’re my current age. (Hint: You didn’t get it because of those choices.) And, remember that in the future, the “Shouldas, wouldas, and couldas” will really annoy the ever loving out of you. Looking back you’ll say SWC!”

    Success for the current generation IMHO is: (1) ruthless financial discipline — no bad debt; (2) a life long interest in learning — education — a degree — they can’t take it away from you; (3) a white collar job in order to save big bux; (4) a blue collar skill for hard times — never saw a poor plumber; (5) one or more internet based businesses — your store is always open; (6) a free time hobby that generates income; and (7) a large will-maintained network of people who can “help” you.

    Hope it helps someone avoid these darned “Shouldas, wouldas, and couldas”! (Think the demons that come collect souls in the movie “Ghost”.)

  15. Jon says:

    Start reading personal finance blogs sooner. 🙂

  16. Jeremy says:

    Never do what the person next to you is doing… ever!

  17. I would have warned myself about my ex-wife’s intentions and taken measures to protect myself.

  18. Stash every dime you can in Vanguard and Fidelity funds. In May 2008, SELL!

  19. Mark Wolfinger says:

    Get long and sell out in Jan and Feb of 2000.

    Then buy puts.

  20. Learn and have fun!

    Decide to stop being shy now instead of waiting till college.

    Learn to overcome procrastination before you get out of college. Read ‘The Now Habit’.

    Your future wife is awesome! 🙂

    Invest in Gold.

    Try new things.

    Learn as much as you can from your dad in construction.

    Respect your parents, they are awesome.

    Don’t vote for George Bush.

    Find out who Ron Paul is.

    Look before you pull out in front of that elderly lady.

    Go fishing more.

    Go to Africa it is awesome!

  21. shivalu says:

    Save money for school. You will return to university at 41 and get that nursing degree you always wanted.

    Don’t EVER take your health for granted. In 5 years (age 40) you will be told you have MS, but it’s not as bad as you think and you really don’t need to waste all those days crying about it.

    Exercise and nutrition really are important.

    “If in doubt, throw it out.” This wisdom can apply to dubious fridge finds, out-of-style clothes, ill-fitting jobs and spirit-draining relationships.

    You are strong and beautiful.

  22. eric says:

    This post is like a kick in the butt for me to start working harder! 😉

  23. Chubby Cox says:

    I’m not really one to post on blogs but since this is cathartic…

    1. Take college seriously and graduate on time
    2. stop smoking pot
    3. Going to china, taking that wall street job, and dumping stocks in feb 2008 were good though risky decisions but you need to think about grad school MUCH SOONER. Playing catchup SUCKS.
    4. Dont go into Structured Finance stay in muni debt
    5. Dont get so drunk when you drink, it’s more trouble than it’s worth

    And finally:

    6. Save more money…How trite, I know 🙂

  24. Damon Day says:

    I would tell myself, to listen to my gut and not purchase that million dollar plot of land to develop in March of 2006. Trust the fundamentals, not emotion.

    oops, whada ya gonna do?

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