Five women personal finance bloggers — all of whom have worked in creative professions — have joined to write this series of ‘letters to our younger selves.’ Please see the end of this post for links to others in the series.
I remember when I was 20. I thought I new it all. I was just about to graduate from college, and my big love at the time was music. I mean, I still like music, but I was obsessed with buying CD’s and going to live shows, so much so that I’m pretty sure over the years I spent at least (if not more) 10k on music-related items and experiences. The kicker is I only learned how to play my first musical instrument at 43 (yeah…I never said I was any good at it).
The idea of saving money was but a tiny blip on my radar of life. There were more important things in life to consider, like a good time. And a good time I had.
I would like to go back and smack my 20-year-old self for not being more sensible. Because in reality, I could have taken a measly $100 per month, invested it, and turned it into something spectacular by the time I reached my current age: 4…cough…well, not young.
Life seems so long at 20, and you probably think in some regard that you have it figured out too. You’re going to be the “artist” who makes it to the big time. Someone who may write for the NY Times, or will become the next Youtube sensation (just so you know, we did not have Youtube, or, ahem, even the internet, when I was 20), or maybe even Taylor Swift.
I don’t want to poop on your dreams my dearest Artist, but you might have to work a J-O-B to pay the bills, and attempt to get your music career off the ground on the side. But while you’re practicing in that dingy garage, take that $25 you were going to spend on pizza and beer, and put it into a low cost index fund in Vanguard.
I know, I know…BO-RING!), but I swear on Justin Bieber’s life you will thank me later.
Let’s say you invested small amounts beginning at age 20, working that OK-enough job and keeping your cost of living fairly low. At 45, or maybe even earlier, you might be able to have enough to walk away for good and do whatever makes your artistic heart sing.
I’m not asking you to give up on your dreams! Never! In fact, dreams are what make life interesting…and give us hope and purpose. I’m just asking for you to sacrifice…just a little, day in and day out, so that the sacrifice doesn’t have to be so great later in life.
Now, get back to practicing guitar…you’re a bit out of tune.
A much more sensible, yet still artistic Tonya.
What advice would you give a 20-something artist?
Check out these other great “Dear Artists” post from other bloggers: