Five Smart and Five Regretted Choices Made In My 20s While I Was Broke

I was broke in my 20’s. Like food bank, selling plasma, no family net, sh*t was real, broke. And even though it was rough, I had an awesome life. I eventually crawled out of broke, started to work for myself, got a job, got laid off, and then travelled the US in a van making art. I met amazing people. I lived the freakin dream. I wasn’t maximizing my profit potential and that’s fine. Guess what: you’re only young once.

While all this was happening, my responsible interior dialogue was playing out against my scarcity one, which led me to make some very smart decisions with my very limited resources — and, like everyone, some mistakes as well.

Things that were so smart I could kiss my younger self:

  1. Saved 10% of my money, like even when I was on unemployment, and even when I was making $800/mo. I essentially tithed to myself.
  2. Saved my tax return money.
  3. Formalized my small business by getting an EIN and a DBA, and took it seriously, even when I was making $200/mo.
  4. Used my small business registration to open a SEP IRA and put $50/month into it.
  5. Was fastidious about credit cards: I used them regularly in a rotation, paid them off every month, and managed to fix my credit score before I needed to have it fixed.

A few not as smart things I regret:

  1. I didn’t raise my freelancer graphic design rates for years and missed out on earning more from my very skilled labor.
  2. I didn’t put any money in a ROTH IRA, and now I understand that the low taxes I was paying then are over, and I would have saved a lot of money if I’d done that.
  3. I didn’t critique the stories I was telling myself about money or my mindset at all, and spent a lot of energy feeling sad and cranky about the injustice of wealth inequality.
  4. I carried around shame from my upbringing. (Guess what – none of us controls where we come from!)
  5. I didn’t spend my savings on dental care, I just suffered. Welp I can now confirm: dental care never gets cheaper or less painful 🙁

Looking back, my worst decisions were all based in fear and scarcity, including not believing in my value as a talented web developer! Gah. If I could go back, I’d tell her:

Keep having fun, fix your damn cavities now, and make your money work and your working make money.