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What I would tell my 18 year old self about money

Turning 18 is possibly one of the most exciting times in your life. Suddenly, you're hurtling towards adulthood and you're about to experience a lot of change.

You're also expected to take responsibility for your finances

No one is taught money management skills at school, so it’s important to do some research and get up to speed on the best ways to manage your money from the get go. At least, I wish that’s what I had done when I was 18!

What I did with my money at 18

When I was 18 I was preparing to head off to university. I was moving from a tiny island in the English Channel to the UK- and none of my friends were coming with me. It was a daunting prospect and I wanted to make sure that I was as prepared as possible for any eventuality.

I took on several jobs during the summer before university to save up as much money as possible to bring with me to uni. Who knew if I was going to be so homesick I’d want to fly back home as much as possible? Or how expensive the student union bar was going to be? Or how many fancy dress costumes I needed?

Between the ages of 18 and 21, I was caught in a cycle of working my socks off in the holidays, and then spending all my money on partying, clothes and fun holidays with friends during term time. My money would have almost run out by the end of term, but then I’d go back to working in the holidays and start the whole process again from the beginning.

I had a loose budget to make sure that I never completely ran out of money, but I was never actively managing my money, sticking to a savings plan, or even contemplating sensible financial decisions. Something I wish I had done during that time.

What I would advise my younger self

Managing money is a way to help ensure that your money serves you in the best way possible. Decisions that you make on how to manage your money at 18 can dramatically shape your future financial outlook.

Looking back on my teens, I would tell my 18 year old self to:

  • start paying closer attention to the numbers in my bank account
  • to save some money to ensure that I was looking after my future self
  • to use budgeting techniques that allow you to spend less on the things you don't love and more on the things you do.

Hopefully, you’ll also be able to manage your bank account in a way that means there’s also some money left over to go into a savings account.

I’d tell my 18 year old self to put aside some of that hard earned cash into an investment product with a trusted industry expert like OneFamily, so that I could reap the rewards of compound interest in years to come. When I was 18, I hadn’t heard of compound interest, and didn’t realise that the earlier you start investing, the better. Compound interest is when you earn interest on top of interest every year. Your money is essentially generating more money- leaving you better off in the future.

It’s now been nearly 10 years since I turned 18, and in that decade there have been a few money mistakes, spending, but ultimately a lot of learning. I went from not managing my money, to making regular saving and investing a priority- I just wish I’d done it sooner!

Start managing your money

The best time to start managing your money was yesterday, the next best time is today. So if you're about to turn 18 and you're unsure of what to do with your money, make sure you consider the options available to you so you can make some great decisions that future-you will be proud of.

Please note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and does not necessarily reflect the opinion or policy of OneFamily.

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Laura Dempster is a personal finance writer and blogger helping young people to manage their money through her website, Thrifty Londoner.

A young woman peering over the top of a book

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