First, let’s be real: I could tell myself to save money until I’m blue in the face, but it probably wouldn’t have stopped the 24-year old version of me from living exactly the way I did. I wouldn’t have listened.
Hell, after college I finally started to make some serious money. Finally, I’m an adult and capable of choosing my own direction in life. I’m the one going to work every day, and if I want to waste some money on stupid stuff, I’m damn well going to make it happen.
And, I did.
In fact, I sunk a half year’s salary on a car soon after graduation.
I bought a Corvette within months of scoring my first job. I went out to eat with my roommate for lunch and dinner every day. I spent money on the things I wanted to spend it on, just because I could. At the time, I thought that crap made me happy. And hey, I was 24 years old.
Just let me have a little fun…while I’m still young.
And so, screw it — maybe that’s the true answer to this question. We are going to make mistakes. And, the earlier in our lives that we make them, the more time we have to take corrective action and right the ship. Live large, have fun, do stupid things. Get it out of your system. Then, revise your life.
The real answer to this question is simple: “Live like a king. Spend money. Eat crap. Do it, enjoy it and then move the hell on“.
My mistakes make me appreciate better choices.
Let’s continue the honesty for a minute. I don’t know if I would be quite as undeniably happy with the choices that my wife and I are making in life if I hadn’t lived like a wasteful douche bag in a previous life.
After all, I know what going out to eat all the time is like — I felt the 50-pounds being added to my waistline (which I have taken back off!), too. I know what driving the fastest and loudest car in town feels like. I remember dropping $225 for a pair of Oakley shades without blinking an eye. I’ve systematically cheated my budget so I could buy more things.
When it came to spending money: I was virtual expert.
I know what being an irresponsible, resource-hogging putz is like. Been there, done that and have the t-shirt. I know what I’m missing, and I don’t want it back. But, I’m glad I know. My previous mistakes never tempt me to make them again. Once is good, thanks.
With that experience, I can make better choices for my future. My mistakes have allowed me to recognize the things that no longer bring me happiness. I understand that sports cars, home ownership and restaurant eating is expensive as hell. I realize that stealing from my budget ultimately hurts ME. I know these things because I’ve done them.
I’m thankful for those mistakes. If I didn’t make those mistakes then, I could be making them now. Then, early retirement would be nowhere in sight, and that’s a sad thought. Ultimately, we don’t learn from winning. We learn by losing.
And I’ve learned quite a bit.