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25 May 2013

Things Every 21-Year Old Should Do Now! (Before It Is Too Late!)

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"Not just 21 but anyone in his or her Twenties"

Part One:

You are young. You are beautiful (even if it is only a matter of opinion). You party a lot. You have great wild friends. You have a new job. Yes, you are 21! Live and let live. YOLO! But…

Yes, there is a “but,” and like most of my friends say, “buts” are very important. Pun intended.  People love the “and” but they often ignore the “buts.” You take care of the “but,” you can have the world in the palm of your hand.  You ignore the “but” and it gets so big even J.Lo will be embarrassed to look at it.  Yes, I know most of you twenty-something’s are saying, “Uh, like, who’s J.Lo?”

My point is being in your twenties is awesome but it is also a period when all the important missteps are committed.  And these seemingly minor errors will inevitably make our thirties and forties miserable.  Homework to all you young people: observe all the late 30-something and 40-something around you for a week. Some of them looked older than their real age and they appear to be perennially cranky and disappointed.  They did not get there by accident. It all started in their twenties.  Imagine yourself when you are 40 and beyond, would you look like a sad depressed 40-year old with high blood pressure or would you be an excited 40-year old packing your bags to go surfing with your lover or friends (if you are single) or your spouse and your kids (if you chose to have kids). 

One thing I used to love when I was in my twenties was that I looked so good even after a long night of partying. The one thing that I hate about that age was I was so dumb.  Luckily, experience is a good teacher. So for all you young people out there, here are my pieces of advice so that you still look and feel like 22 even when you are twice as old as that.

If you are one of the lucky few Filipinos who are employed and you are not the breadwinner, then your early twenties is the time you start saving.  I think even if you are one of the breadwinners in your family, try your best to save as well.  Twenty-something individuals have all their earnings for themselves.  I remember I spent all my earnings during my twenties.  My parents were still young and healthy and they did not ask me to contribute to household expenses, except on special days when I was tasked to buy the Christmas cake or graduation gifts for some relatives. 

You do not have to save much money in your twenties; even as little as 500 pesos every month can make much difference by the time you turn 35.  If I had saved 500 pesos a month when I had my first job at age 21, I would have had a minimum of 84,000 pesos by now.  If you can save more than 500 pesos a month, that is even better. 

Do not spend your savings unless it is a matter of life and death. When the emergency is over, start saving again.  If you have already rewarded yourself with a new iPhone, that's it. Be happy. Do not get rid of your old phone just because a new model is in the market, but if your surname is “Aquino,” then by all means, do this.  Believe me, once you are old and broke, that cool Prada shirt and hip new gadget that you bought when you were 23 will become outdated and laughable to the younger generations. In contrast, your huge savings will always stay scorching hot! Money has often gotten bad press but no one has hated anyone who has earned his millions by working honestly. That is why we love Oprah and we hate that certain First Lady.

In case, you have enough savings to buy the latest gadget, resist the temptation to use your savings.  Remember that this saving is for your 35th birthday or you can try to extend it to your 40th birthday.  A thirty-five year old person who has much savings on top of his monthly salary can do so much. He does not have to stay in a job that he hates because he has run out of options.  He does not have to worry about his children’s education and so on.  He can start his own business or even retire early if he really accumulated so much money in the bank. 

Bottom-line, the earlier you save, the more you will have when you turn 35 or 40.  Some people say that life begins at 40, but even so, once you turned 40 and you want to start again, you should at least be many steps ahead of your 21-year old competitors. 

Like my grandparents used to say, “Young man, you are only as tall as your savings! Choose, save or those silly-looking pricey rubber shoes!”

Part of a series
of articles
However, we also have to accept the fact that we live in a different age.  The idea that all you have to do is get a college degree, find a stable job and save works during the Industrial Age, say, the last century.  Now, times are different.  Savings alone is not a guarantee. The “money gods” of our age can help but be greedy. Too much money changes people. Financial experts eventually miscalculate and boom! Suddenly, we have a financial meltdown. All our savings gone! Our banks collapse! That is why apart from monetary savings, we also have to invest on something that does not lose value, “intelligence,” and in some degree, skills but skills become outdated too.  All of these, young people, will be our next topic.


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