Money Mistakes - 3 things I wish I knew when I was 18

Ellen Marston-Darwish
Head of Service Channels & Operations
30 May 2021

3.5 mins read

The road to financial independence could be a struggle for many young adults… and I was one of them! I learned many things the hard way, but I am still glad that things happened the way they did, because it basically made me who I am today; more financially conscious and a ‘smart-spender’ – I spend my money on the things I enjoy the most but ALWAYS keeping in mind to continue with my healthy habits.

 

These are 3 of the things I wish I knew when I was 18.

 

One day, I will need to ‘handle my business’

As a student, I thought that as long as I didn’t run out of cash that month, I was fine. I never thought to save or invest money because “I’d have time for that later.” While that was fun at the time... I was in for a brutal reality check once I started working. I’m lucky my parents ‘pulled the plug’ and forced me to take responsibility for my own livelihood and finances – it’s been hugely rewarding. However, the adjustment was tough and it took me several years to get smart about money. A ‘Rainy Day fund’ sounded boring but I quickly realized I needed one (shout-out to Liv. Goal accounts for making it so much easier to save in this time & age.) However, I must admit that it would’ve been easier if I got into good habits and asked the right questions earlier on.

 

Hmm… where is all my money going?

One day, I realized I wasn’t saving money but couldn’t figure out why. So I started tracking my expenses and realized, to my horror, I was spending more than I was earning. Eeeep! Most of it was thoughtless (weekend trips to the mall, eating out every day, etc.) So, with simple discipline, I began turning things around. I also started measuring my net worth, which helped me connect the dots between spending and building wealth. Most of the time, our money is going “out” and doesn’t increase our net worth – even though it feels like it does (“This sofa is a responsible use of my money!” …not necessarily.) My Liv. app helps me track my expenses and see where exactly my money is going each month (just swipe up on your Wallet page and tap “Category.” Too cool!)

 

Choose what to splurge on (and not splurge on)

Unless we’re Lady Gaga (and we’re not because there’s only one), we can’t have the best of EVERYTHING. But have you noticed that when you buy a fancy outfit, suddenly the matching jewelry should be just as pricey? Then it’s time to buy a car, and you need the nicest model in the showroom. Whoa, let’s slow down! We each must figure out what brings us joy, and what doesn’t. Splurging on everything is a slippery slope and destroys our ability to build wealth. In my case, I’ve driven the same little Nissan for 7 years because cars don’t excite me. But, nothing makes me happier than a great vacation – so I’ll splurge on that 5* hotel stay. Carefully choosing your ‘splurges’ gives you something to look forward to, and helps you avoid going overboard all the time.

 

Bonus tip!
You don’t need to be Warren Buffet, or a millionaire, to invest. There are tons of easy trading platforms where you can start slow with a share here, an index fund there. You may think, “What’s the point if I can only put in 100 AED a month? I should wait until I have more money.” But that’s a trap! Building wealth takes time, and this will help you learn the ropes and build the right habits – with little risk. By the time you start earning big, you’ll already know how to invest ;)

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