Things I wish I had been told when I was 17

The day after the referendum, when I was feeling disappointed and anxious about the future, I sent the following text to my three daughters:

I wish I had been told that whoever is in government you need to be as self sufficient as possible to protect yourselves. The way the world is moving this is really important. Look after your health as the NHS is buggered – don’t smoke, exercise, eat healthily. Get as qualified as you can to improve your job prospects. Live within your means and have savings. Buy a property when you can and aim to pay off the mortgage asap to look after yourself as you get older. I wish I had been told this…

Rather gloomy and maybe a bit dramatic but it is how I felt and what I still believe. Regrets are pointless. There are many things I could have done differently in my life  that would have put me in a much better financial position than I am in currently. On the other hand, what I have learned in recent years means I am in a far better place than I could have been!

I was interested to read Jenni Hill’s recent post about saving for a’f**k off fund’:

I sent that to my daughters as well. I save myself for regular expenses like holidays, birthdays, the MOT, etc but this  gets spent as it is needed. I also have a separate contingency fund but it’s not huge. I would struggle to save 6 months salary! My outgoings are pretty low and my income is never going to be great! However I am doing my best to increase this fund. 

I hope my daughters will start their ‘f**k off’ funds soon so that they hit their fifties owning their own houses outright with no debts and a healthy contingency. At least they won’t look back and say ‘I wish someone had told me’…

14 thoughts on “Things I wish I had been told when I was 17

  1. I completely appreciate your point of view. I have said to Jon and other people that whatever, at whatever time, happens politically, economically etc in the country we are doing our best to be self sufficient AND self-reliant. Generally we are doing our best to rely on paying for enery as little as possible by switching to wood fuel as we have plenty of access to it, to get the hang of rearing and growing our own properly by next year, to keep as healthy as possible for the sake of our children and provide for ourselves financially along with teaching as much of this to the boys as we can. In the curretn climate I think the things to do is the best for you can for you and yours, not complain about how things are/have turned out and get on with living instead of moaning. Sorry, rant over

  2. Wow! I’ve just had a quick look on the MSE forum and am amazed at what some people class as an emergency fund!!! £11,000 in one reader’s stash!
    Our 3 grown up children are now all in their 20’s and to be honest hubby and I only started an emergency fund about 2 years ago. Although we’ve both always worked we just couldn’t afford to save with a growing family, mortgage, etc. We basically lived from pay day to pay day. Our finances improved a bit when their University days had finished and our mortgage was paid off (The youngest’s student debt is nearly £60,000 though!!). I just can’t understand how people can save much when paying mortgages or renting.

  3. great idea…don’t know if I would have listened at 17 or even 40 …but now in my mid fifties I sure wish I’d started sooner…the best idea is to enjoy your life while watching your spending and growing your savings…can’t imagine having 6 months salary in the bank…newish to your blog and really enjoy it!

  4. Hi, I enjoy your blog, too. Always thought-provoking, never preachy. My parents did give me that advice when I was a young women but I didn’t listen and I’m still paying off the resulting debt in my fifties. At least I own my home though.

      • Mine didn’t either, but they were very young parents – had me at 18 – so when I flew the nest they were still only in their 30’s and probably still sorting their own finances out. (They’re still together though 52 years later).

  5. Thank you so much for mentioning my blog. I really appreciate it 🙂
    I agree 100% with your point about being self reliant. From pensions to maternity leave, I don’t want to be in a position where my only option is to rely on the government. Of course, I’ll take their help if I can, but there’s always a risk they’ll change the rules and I’ll end up having to make do on my own!

    • Jenni, I don’t think anyone will be able to rely on the government in the future . Your blog is excellent!

  6. Greetings from New Jersey, USA. I love this post! Great advice for your daughters and your readers. Do you know that only 37% of all American cannot fund a $1K emergency?Sad reality! Luckily, I became interested in personal finance in my 20s but by then my husband and I had two little ones two feed, clothe and educate. We worked hard, made some mistakes, lived below our means for a while and made savings a priority. I remember when the recession hit in the United States, the government promoted consumerism to stimulate the economy and we did not fall prey to the tactics and stimulated our own economy instead. We cashed-flowed our sons’ college education and gifted them a no student loan education, We paid our house off and now we are working hard to find other sources of income and boost our savings as well as enjoying our lives a little bit more these days. Keep up the good work!

  7. Excellent post. I worry about the future of this country & in particular how the young will be affected. Both of my daughters are graduates but in the last 6 months both of them gave up well paid graduate jobs to travel. Eldest daughter is in Australia & youngest is currently in south America. Both of them are having amazing experiences & meeting people from all nations/walks of life & I am proud of them both for having the courage to follow their dreams…..but I can’t help but feel anxious about what happens next. They can’t travel forever & when they do come back to the UK will they find new graduate jobs, will they be able to save, buy a house etc? The young will be young, you can’t put an old head on young shoulders. Definitely going to be a lot tougher for generations to come.

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