Not too long ago, I wondered what I would tell my younger self about money. Here’s what I came up with. Maybe it’ll resonate with you, too.
Alright, Hogan, listen up! Before your life takes off, you need to know some stuff that could radically change your future. First, Mama Hogan was right—about a lot. Don’t forget what she taught you. Second, that SUV you think you need? Don’t get it. You’ll regret it—trust me.
I know you think you have your whole life ahead of you and you don’t need to worry about money right now, but that’s not the case. The financial decisions you make now will impact the rest of your life, so pay attention!
Start investing now. Not 10 years down the road. Not when you think you can afford it. Not after you’ve marked off everything on your bucket list. Right now. As soon as you get that first paycheck, have 15% deducted automatically. Why automated? You won’t miss it if you don’t see it. Why now? Because I want you to be able to enjoy the life of your dreams sooner rather than later. If you invest $500 a month now, you could be a millionaire by age 55. AGE 55! While your friends are still working, you could say goodbye to the corporate world for good. That’s because you invested early enough for time and compound interest to do their thing.
Stay away from debt. I know . . . you live in a debt-obsessed culture. Car payments. Credit card bills. Student loans. Mortgage debt. The people around you, from the neighbor next door to the guy in the next office, are swimming in a sea of debt. They’re drowning. I want a better life for you! Instead of paying interest every month, I want you to be earning it. All that money could be going to help your future—but only if you’re smart enough to know that debt is dumb.
Don’t listen to FOMO and YOLO. Yeah, I’m old, but I still remember what “fear of missing out” and “you only live once” mean. I know they’re real. And they’re whispering in your ear. All. The. Time. Your friends went to Iceland for two weeks. A colleague talked about his escapades in his sports car. You still dream about starting your own company. I know. I’ve been there, remember?
Yes, you only live once. But you have a lot of years ahead of you. So, if you hope to become a millionaire (and I want you to!), you need to think about the future—not just the present moment. Believe me, you’re going to do and see some great stuff along the way. I can’t spill the beans, but if you pay attention to me, you’ll get to do so much more than you could dream up right now.
Focus on the long-term prize. At your age, I know you’re impatient and hard-charging. I remember that well! But building wealth isn’t a sprint. It’s a marathon. There’s no get-rich-quick formula for reaching that magic million-dollar mark. Building your nest egg takes time. You’ll work hard now but won’t reap the rewards until later. In the meantime, don’t get caught up in the “I deserve” trap and make a bad financial decision. If you ever hear yourself say, “It’s about time I got to,” stop yourself in your tracks. Get a grip. And get focused on your goals again.
Keep talking to your spouse about money. You’re going to meet a beautiful young lady in the near future. She’s going to capture your heart, and you’ll ask her to marry you. The two of you will make your share of mistakes along the way, so let me spare you some heartache. One of the most important ways to keep that relationship strong is to communicate about your finances. Talk about your monthly budget. Get on the same page before you make a big purchase. Discuss what you both want to do when you don’t have to work anymore. Life and work and kids and social activities are going to pull you and your spouse in different directions, so make it a priority to connect on a regular basis—even if it’s just 15 minutes at the end of the day.
I know you think I’m an old man, but one day you’ll look back, read this letter, and thank me—as will your family. If you listen to my advice, your kids won’t ever have to worry about your future because you’ve already taken care of it. In fact, you’ll get to leave a financial legacy you can be proud of.
And trust me, that’s the best feeling in the world.