The Financial Advice I Wish I'd Known Then

Posted by Carlos Sera on Jan 6, 2016 8:30:00 AM

financial-advice-i-wish-id-knownOne of my favorite musicians is Bob Seger. I saw him perform live while in college and he left a lasting impression. The first time I heard the song “Against the Wind” I was living in Seger’s hometown of Detroit, and the song only elevated his status. I think it is brilliant; containing one of the most poetic and philosophical lines of any song: “Wish I didn’t know now what I didn’t know then.”  As soon as I heard it, I knew it would be part of my permanent collection of things to ponder.  While he wrote it as mid-thirties musician reflecting on his teenage years, it is applicable at any age looking backwards.     

As a tribute to Bob Seger, and to share with you the collective wisdom of a diverse audience, I asked my twitter followers the question, “What is the biggest piece of financial advice/information you wish you had learned sooner in life?”  As expected, the answers ran the gamut and I will share several with you in no particular order.

Financial Advice “I Wish I Knew”

  • “I’d say it would be… Put money into a Vanguard fund starting the day I started working. I think it took me too long to invest.  I started saving, but not investing.”
  • “The power of compounding (time, interest and assets) and that all successful people learn to develop systems.”
  • “Credit. I wish I had learned how to use credit and how it affects your life and your lifestyle.  Credit can open the doors as well as close the door to many opportunities.”
  • “It doesn’t mean you need it: Do not overcrowd your wardrobe, home or life.”
  • “How to make money in the stock market”
  • “How or when to buy a house or build equity.”
  • “Get the discipline to start saving early. Automatically have savings taken out of your paycheck and invest in index funds to let compound interest work for you.”
  • “Believe in the process, I have and I do. Financial Freedom, baby!”
  • “At the start of my trading career I was told to not listen to others and their opinions about the markets – that still holds true today.”
  • “To save 20% of my income no matter what.”
  • “The difference between a broker-dealer and a registered investment advisor. Run from advisors that are broker-dealers.”
  • “A crystal ball.”
  • “I wish I’d learned to save enough to buy cars outright rather than have car payments. Of course that is harder to do when younger and first out of college.”
  • “Luckily my parents taught me the value of saving and always doing the job price match for investing.”
  • “Save for a rainy day.”
  • “If you want to save money, quit drinking.”
  • “How to have dealt with the 2008 crash.”
  • “Contribute early.”
  • “I wish I had learned sooner to spend less, save more.”
  • “It would be to not get too used to debt.”
  • “Wish they told us about the value of money in pre-school.”
  • “If you are intentional about your thoughts about being rich, that thought can become a reality.”

Twitter is amazing.  The collective wisdom tells us exactly what we should do from a financial standpoint.

We Know Now to:

  • Save early, but don’t just save, invest wisely so that the power of compounding works as long as possible. Do this by having money automatically deducted from every paycheck
  • Avoid debt or clutter
  • Develop an investment philosophy or system that you can execute and is unique to your personality
  • Only deal with un-conflicted advisors. Advisors that are broker-dealers are conflicted because they work on a commission basis.  This may tempt them to sell you a product or investment that is not in your best interest.  Work with registered investment advisors
  • Learn to control our behavior during a stock market crash. This is the hardest of the things to learn
  • Be positive. If we intend it, it can happen

For a summary of how this might play out in a practical sense over many decades, I refer you to A Disciplinary Tale.  If you read it, you can see how the people in the tale utilized all six of these lessons to their advantage.  I wish your investments are always made with  “Against the Wind” in mind. 

Carlos Sera is a Financial Advisor in Annapolis, Md.

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Topics: finance, Behavioral Tales

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