An Open Letter to My Younger Selves,
It is always so easy to look back on decisions made in a negative way when they don’t turn out the way you think or hope they might. If only it were possible to educate our former self with all the experience we gain with everything we go through…maybe to write a letter to and send it back in time to yourself at an age when you could use that knowledge more than ever. Well then you end up with the time travel issue where if you change the past that might change the future – and maybe if my younger self didn’t make the same mistakes I wouldn’t be where I am now. If that happened maybe I never would have written to my younger self in the first place and everything goes back to the way it was. Time travel is difficult.
Dear 10 Year Old Scott (1991),
Hey buddy – welcome to the 90’s. It is going to be a pretty fun decade; the music scene is pretty amazing. You are going to have this desire to diversify your interest in music – that is a good thing and will serve you well later. Believe it or not, your interest in music will lead to a class in University where you’ll meet the woman of your dreams – so listen away! The next few years are going to be pretty exciting for Toronto sports as well. The Jays are going to go back to back in the World Series, and the Leafs will actually threaten in the playoffs. Don’t get too upset with Gretzky – yes he did high stick Gilmour but Montreal would have crushed you any way. You’ll come to accept that soon.
What I really want to talk to you about is money. You don’t have anyone around right now that is going to teach you much about money or saving. You’ve had a job for 3 years now and what have you got to show for it? Pretty much nothing. That isn’t a big deal – you are only ten.
The next time we are going to talk is on your 20th birthday – so by then you’ve got to get your stuff together. Pretty simple, saving is good, debt is bad. You have a couple of paper routes right now, and you’ll be continuing that for another 5 years or so before you move on. You have a unique opportunity – you have literally no expenses and you have cash coming in. In another 6 years you are going to have your first bill, for your pager. Before that happens you need to start to learn responsibility with your money.
Some of your friends get an allowance, their parents give them money to teach them the value of a dollar. You don’t have that – you are going to need to teach that to yourself. Trust me, it’ll be worth it. Also – Apple stock is at $43.00. Talk to your dad and get him to invest in this for you. You aren’t going to like their products – but trust me, you’ll like this stock! Also start setting just a bit of money aside, I know you aren’t making much delivering papers but a little adds up over time. Start with $2 a week for now – you’ll be amazed how quickly that adds up.
Talk to you in ten years!
35 Year Old Scott (2016)
Dear 20 Year Old Scott (2001),
You survived Y2K, that was a lot of bark and no bite eh? Did you follow any of the advice I gave you ten years ago? Alright, so you did the music thing – that’s a plus. What about the money stuff? No? That is disappointing but I was probably a bit early to start giving myself financial advice. You are a man now though so the kid gloves are coming off. Let’s see where you are at financially. You just finished your first year of university. You didn’t study hard enough to get a scholarship so where did the money come from? Oh right, you took on a bit of student debt – okay, not ideal but no big deal.
You’ve also got a Visa card sponsored by GM. It has almost a 30% interest rate and a $500 limit – but you got a sweet free gift on campus for signing up so you’re obviously a genius right? Wrong! You don’t need a credit card right now – you are living at home, don’t have your own car, you upgraded that pager for a cell phone but smart phones haven’t been invented yet so your bill is super low. Do yourself a favour and cut that thing up right away.
That $500 limit seems so insignificant but when you eventually stop making payments you are going to get into some trouble with the bank. They are going to take that card away and you’ll do some damage to your credit score. You’ll have lots of time to repair it sure, but you aren’t going to learn how to be smart with plastic for another ten years. So cut up that card and pay off the balance as soon as possible. You haven’t earned the right to have credit yet, it was just given to you.
Also remember that Apple stock I wanted you to purchase, well it isn’t too late. Last year the stock took a bit of a hit due to some market conditions (tech bubble), and actually split 2:1 so you can pick it up right now for like $23.00. I know you didn’t listen to me before, but please do so this time! In the next five years you are going to meet the woman you are going to marry – she’s pretty smart with money so you may want to start learning now. The next time we talk you’ll be in your early 30’s – I know, super old right?
Until then – get your credit situation back in line and start to invest – you’ll thank me in ten years.
35 Year Old Scott (2016)
Dear 30 Year Old Scott (2011),
So it’s 2011, you are getting married this year. Aren’t you glad I told you about the music class? Once again I’m a little disappointed that you didn’t listen to any of my advice regarding money. You managed to rack up $11,000 in consumer debt on your credit cards and you STILL didn’t invest in Apple. Well – in fairness you did manage to pay off that debt. That is quite the accomplishment, you should think about writing some sort of journal about that someday (you will).
It is also a bit late to jump on that Apple train – still going to be an okay investment but in the four years after my last letter the stock went from $23 to $77. Then it split 2:1 – and then grew back to more than $70 within 1 year. Currently that stock is at $400. So if you had listened to me ten years ago, and bought just 10 shares for $230 – they’d be worth $8,000 now. I get it though, you don’t like the product.
So – you only have 5 years until you and I are the same age. There isn’t much more I can teach you that you haven’t learned already. You paid off that debt and are now working on starting to save for retirement. You’ve been working for a few years now – making some decent money. Don’t put too much faith in this company though; the promises that have been made are going to get tossed out the door in a few years. I think I have proved that I know what I’m talking about by now – remember I’ve been there. So take the opportunity now to start thinking about other options. You might make less money right now, but you’ll end up being happier.
Take care of yourself…please!
35 Year Old Scott (2016)
If you could write a letter to your younger self, what would you say? If you’d like to submit your letter send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and if I get enough entries I’ll put together a post of your examples.
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