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Things I wish I could say to my younger self

It’s normal for us to want the best for future generations and those we’re close to. Often that involves thinking about what we would say to our younger selves and offering a few words of wisdom.

My eldest is a senior manager in the NHS, the other a professional cricketer, both in their twenties. Whilst times have changed, I know things might be different for them both, particularly since they chose different careers to me, but some key principles should still apply where it comes to looking after one’s money. 

Save money for when the kids are older

Turning 18 is an expensive time and getting into the habit of saving will really help them. It may be university fees, a first car, a house deposit. Saving early and regularly will really help. You may want to consider longer term as well; my kids are 29 and 26 but it doesn’t look like the bank of mum and dad is closing any time soon.

Save up for things that you want

Buying things on credit can lead to the majority of your monthly income spent on servicing debt. Planning for major purchases by saving regularly is a much less stressful and prudent.

I started a new 10 year savings plan every year whilst serving; I used to do it when I got my salary increase every year. Paying direct from my salary meant I never missed the money going out. After 10 years I was able to go on some lovely holidays, and buy other treats. It also paid for my wife and I to go on a cruise to the Far East to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary; our best holiday ever and it earned me a few brownie points.

Don’t spend (all of) your pay rise

One habit I inherited from my Dad was to try to avoid the temptation of spending all of your pay rises. You obviously have to be practical with the impact of inflation and extra mouths to feed at home, but it’s worth a try. After all you managed to exist without the extra money, so it’s worth seeing if you can do without. Having that money deducted from your salary (like you can do with Metfriendly products) means you can avoid temptation and build up some extra reserves you may need further down the line.

Build in thinking time

When you are shopping for a major purchase go out with no means of payment on you. If you then decide to buy something the trip home to collect your credit or debit card gives you time to consider if the purchase is really necessary. Remember it’s the job of the salesman to persuade you to buy things you don’t need and can’t afford!

Know what you are spending

It is difficult to make sensible decisions when you have no idea how much uncommitted income you have available. Regularly review your spending and also make sure you are not spending too much for goods and services. I now have a fully formulated financial plan… I earn it and my wife spends it. This seems to work for us, or at least that is what I am told!

Make sure that you have enough money without overtime to survive for the month

It is prudent to do this as overtime is not always guaranteed. Also you have more flexibility in what you do with any extra you receive.

Clear and then cut up your credit cards. This is possibly the single most important piece of advice I could have given myself.

Memories are more valuable than possessions

When I look back from 25 years in the future I can’t remember much about the latest mobile phone or flash car I bought. What I do remember are the things I did with family and friends. My boys were 4 and 1. Take lots of photos (easy nowadays with the current technology built into mobile phones) and store them in more than one place. I lost 700 photos when, pre-cloud, the laptop I was storing them on broke beyond repair. I can confidently say that I was not the favourite person in my house after that.

Time moves faster the older you get

Do you remember the time when you were 6? The summer school holiday seemed to last forever. I can say that now that I am 60, whole years fly by in rapid succession. I can’t believe that it is over 10 years since I retired from the Job.

Don’t waste your time. It is your most precious possession.

Nick Walter, Field Officer, Metfriendly

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