Money Advice Experts Would Give Their Younger Selves



Have you ever heard the old expression, “If I only knew then what I know now”? Like many folk sayings, this one speaks a universal truth. It’s just human nature to think that we know everything when we are young, only to realize as we grow older that we could have used a shot of wisdom from time to time. This is particularly true in the financial world, where prudent financial moves made while we’re still young can pay huge dividends in the future.

See: Steal These Money Secrets From 25 Millionaires Under 25
Discover: 50 Ways To Live the Big Life on a Small Budget

The good news is that thanks to the internet, the press in general and good old word of mouth, there are plenty of valuable financial tidbits available for the taking. Although the wisdom in these sayings can apply to everyone, they’re particularly useful for those just starting out in their financial lives. To help separate the wheat from the chaff, GOBankingRates compiled a list of helpful financial quotes from successful individuals in all walks of life.

Last updated: July 14, 2021

Building Wealth
wavebreakmedia / Shutterstock.com

‘When you graduate, go out and get that job where you get paid to learn.’

Mark Cuban is the billionaire investor probably most known for being one of the sharks on the popular TV show “Shark Tank.” However, Cuban wears many financial hats. He earned his first billions when he sold his company Broadcast.com to Yahoo, but he’s also turned the $280 million he paid for the Dallas Mavericks in 2002 into a franchise now worth $2.45 billion. In 2015, he gave Business Insider one of his most valuable financial tips for recent college graduates: “When you graduate, go out and get that job where you get paid to learn.” Rather than continuing to pay to learn, as in college, Cuban suggests that getting paid while you learn real-world business acumen is invaluable.

See: ‘Shark Tank’ Stars Share 50 Business Tips

Atstock Productions / Shutterstock.com

‘Don’t go into debt unless it’s to make a long-term investment that will pay off in the future.’

Elliot Weissbluth, former CEO of Hightower investment advisors, told Business Insider that the only type of debt that is worthwhile is that which allows you to make an investment. For example, borrowing money to pay for college can pay off in the long run, as it gives you access to higher-paying jobs. Similarly, borrowing money to buy a house or another investment that will appreciate is a way to leverage yourself to a higher net worth. But borrowing money to buy a car or to make discretionary purchases like clothes or gadgets will only put you in a financial hole.

Find Out: Best Financial Advice From Oprah and Other Big-Name Celebs

Building Wealth
kate_sept2004 / Getty Images

Have an ‘attitude that you’re buying part of a business, and not that you’re buying something that wiggles around on a chart.’

Famed investor Warren Buffett views stock market investments a bit differently than many traders do. Perhaps that is why Buffett is not just a billionaire but the sixth wealthiest person in the world, according to the latest Forbes Billionaire Index. When it comes to investing in stocks, Buffett believes that you have to understand the business the company is in, rather than technical trading terms like the 200-day moving average or resistance zones. As Buffett tells Yahoo Finance, “If you buy intelligently into a business, you’re going to make money.” Rather than getting caught up in the short-term movements of a company’s stock price, analyze the underlying business instead. Buffett also encourages investors to own businesses over the long run rather than trading in and out of them. As he famously wrote in his letter to the shareholders of his company Berkshire Hathaway in 1998, “[Our] favorite holding period is forever.”

More: The Worst Money Advice From Warren Buffett and Other Big Names

Building Wealth
szefei / Shutterstock.com

‘Have a cash cushion.’

According to John Paul DeJoria, co-founder of John Paul Mitchell Systems and Patrón tequila, a cash cushion is essential to keep you out of trouble. DeJoria recommends stashing at least six months of emergency funds to pay bills or cover unexpected expenses before you invest or start a company. As told to Business Insider, DeJoria notes that this cash cushion has to be prioritized “before you invest or if something doesn’t work out in your favor.” Most financial analysts would agree because if you don’t have an emergency fund you’ll be forced to go into debt or raid your retirement accounts to cover unforeseen expenses, which can damage your long-term financial planning.

Read: The Standard Emergency Savings Advice Was Wrong — How Much Do You Really Need?

Halfpoint / Getty Images/iStockphoto

‘Invest in your career and the money will come.’

Wealthfront CEO Adam Nash is a big believer in investing in your career when you are in your 20s. According to Nash, “Knowing what I now know about the importance your career path has in determining long term financial success, I’m a huge believer that people in their 20s should seek out opportunities at later-stage, hypergrowth companies. When you think long term, the company you join is far more important in your 20s than the specific compensation or role.” In this interview with Business Insider, Nash notes that finding a career-launching company is just as important as saving and living below your means.

See: 24 Tips To Change Your Career and Land Your Dream Job

Building Wealth
bernardbodo / Getty Images/iStockphoto

‘Learn the ins and outs of investing even if you don’t have money to invest.’

Many investors wait until they’ve actually got cash in their accounts before they start educating themselves on the market. But as Steve Siebold, self-made millionaire and author of “How Rich People Think,” you’ve got to start earlier than that. According to Siebold, “I should have invested more time in my 20s studying equities, even when I didn’t have money to invest. It would have prepared me better when I entered the stock market later on.” On-the-job training works fine for some jobs, but when it comes to investing, it could prove disastrous. If you don’t know what you’re doing before you actually start investing, you’re likely to make some missteps that could cost you real money. Get up to speed before you begin, said Siebold, and you can help avoid some of those costly errors.

Discover: Investing for Beginners: What First-Time Investors Need To Know

fizkes / Getty Images/iStockphoto

‘You’ve got to understand accounting. You’ve got to. That’s got to be like a language to you.’

This may not be the advice that young investors want to hear, but it comes straight from the mouth of one of the most famous investors of all time, the “Oracle of Omaha” himself, Warren Buffett. While Buffett’s not saying that everyone should get an accounting degree, his point is that to understand your investments and how businesses operate, you’ll need to comprehend basic accounting principles. This may seem passe in an age when anyone can buy and sell a hot stock on Robinhood in a matter of seconds, but that’s not Buffett’s style. As he told Yahoo Finance, if you want to generate long-term wealth, “You have to know what you’re reading” in terms of financial reports and projections, and the only way to do that is to understand accounting.

More: Advice From Experts That Can Help You Survive a Crisis

Building Wealth
mihailomilovanovic / Getty Images

‘There is no straight path to where you are going.’

Sheryl Sandberg, COO at Facebook, encourages those beginning their work careers to be open to opportunities. As quoted in a question-and-answer session on Quora, Sandberg said that trying to plot a straight path from Point A to Point B is a mistake. “If you try to draw that line you will not just get it wrong, but you will miss big opportunities,” Sandberg said in her entry. Sandberg further suggests that those just starting out adopt two concurrent goals: a long-term goal and an 18-month plan. Your long-term goal, according to Sandberg, should be your dream, even if it’s vague or nonspecific like “travel the world.” Your 18-month plan, according to Sandberg, should consist of concrete personal goals you want to achieve. If you can identify areas where you can improve or things that scare you, Sandberg suggests those are the things you should usually try.

Read: 45 Jobs That Can Make You a Millionaire Before Retirement

iStock.com / iStock.com

‘If the amount of money you’re saving each month doesn’t hurt, you’re not saving enough.’

Sam Dogen is the well-known founder of the financial website and community Financial Samurai. Dogen managed to save 50% to 80% of his income annually before retiring at age 34. For those looking to follow his footsteps and retire early — or even for those who just want to accumulate a healthy nest egg — Dogen suggests that the amount you save should be painful. As Dogen told People Magazine, “I got this concept when I complained to my orthodontist one day that my braces were hurting too much. He said, ‘If your braces don’t hurt, your teeth aren’t straightening! Nothing is happening!’” The point is that if you are comfortably saving, you aren’t saving as much as you could. And the more you save, the more easily you’ll be able to either retire early or enjoy a more bountiful nest egg in your golden years.

See: 10 Myths About Early Retirement

Building Wealth
ITTIGallery / Shutterstock.com

‘Compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world.’

While not known as a financial expert, Albert Einstein is usually considered the poster child for the term “genius.” However, as a physicist, Einstein clearly understood mathematics, and although his quote wasn’t specifically directed at younger investors, it’s a perfect lesson. A simple look at the mathematics of compound interest should be required reading for all beginning investors. If you can earn an 8% return on your investments, savings of $284.55 per month starting at age 25 is all you’ll need to reach $1 million by retirement. However, if you wait just five more years and start saving at age 30, you’ll need to invest $433.06 per month, a more than 50% increase. Waiting until age 40 requires $1,044.53 in monthly savings to reach a $1 million nest egg. 

More From GOBankingRates