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Published on 1 Mar, 2024
I made A LOT of dumb decisions in my 20s

I would have wasted $200,000+ on alcohol and alcohol related activities.

Oh well.

I don’t regret it.

I have lots of fond memories (however they’re a tad blurry).
Although I let alcohol lead me astray from time to time, thankfully I made some smart decisions with my money in my 20s that has allowed me to live a very different life compared to most in my 30s.


Do you feel like it’s too late for you to turn your financial situation around?

If you’re in your 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s or even your 70s – I want you to know that it’s never too late to make a change.
All it takes is a commitment and seven to 10 years of focused work.
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     1)  Avoided Uni Debt

I was fortunate to fall into a mechanical engineering cadetship when I was 18 where I worked full-time and studied part-time.

I was earning while I was learning (to be honest I wasn’t learning much… mostly drinking & partying).

One of the best parts of this arrangement was I didn’t have to pay ANY uni fees!

The deal was once I graduated I had to give back four years of service to the company (which I did and then some).

This was an incredible opportunity that I didn’t truly appreciate at the time.

It meant I didn’t have $50,000+ of Uni debt to pay back once I graduated.


     2)  Paid Cash for my First Car

What was your first car?

When I first got my drivers licence at 16, I drove around in a red ‘Mazda 121’ that my Mum won in a competition back in 1992.

We called this little car ‘The Bubble’.

This WAS NOT the kind of car that you would pick up chicks in. I always felt a little embarrassed driving around in this.

When I started in the workforce I was able to save money to buy my first real car.

Rather than getting a brand new car with a big loan, my Dad made me an offer too good to refuse.

“You save up half and I’ll pay the other half.”

Dad has always been frugal with the small things but generous with the big things.

The Ford BA Ute cost $13,000 – I saved up $6,500 and my Dad covered the rest.

This is the only car I’ve ever bought.

Now I don’t even own a car!

Kaci and I share the car she bought a few years back.


     3)  Paid with Cash not Credit 

I don’t recall being taught credit cards are bad, but I inherently knew buying things with money you didn’t have was a bad idea.

If I wanted something I would save up for it.

This stopped me falling into the consumer debt cycle that young people often fall into.

Do I believe credit cards are evil?

I used to.

But I have since changed my tune.

They can be used strategically if you are financially savvy and disciplined.

However, a credit card IS NOT a right, it’s a privilege that must be earned.


     4)  Said ‘NO’ to Gambling

Why do so many people fall into this trap?

Most of my mates and the people my age were into gambling (and still are).

I was never interested in playing the pokies, betting on the horses or placing bets on Sportsbet.

I couldn’t think of anything more boring than sitting around in front of a pokie machine or watching horses run around a track on the TV.

Plus I knew the odds were never in your favour… it seemed dumb to throw money away.


     5)  Had a High Savings Rate

Thanks to my Dad I’ve always been a good saver.

I remember as a kid I loved counting things. I would pour out the coins from the money tin and stack the silver and gold coins into towers.

I enjoyed watching money grow.

During my 20s I would save 50-60% of my income.

A high savings rate is something you can control in the early days when your expenses aren’t as high.

When you get into your 30s and beyond, a high savings rate becomes much harder. Because you have more financial responsibilities – such as raising children and a fat mortgage to repay.

     6)  Compounded Money in the Stock Market

When I was 24 I read the ‘Barefoot Investor’ and learned about how I could compound my money through stock market investing.

In December 2015, just before my 25th birthday I bought my first $5,000 parcel of shares on the stock market.

From that moment I was hooked.

I grew my portfolio to $100,000 in two years – mostly due to my high-savings rate and some speculative stocks that went bonkers.

Unfortunately I went on to lose $40,000…

I made dumb mistakes that most young investors make – FOMO, trying to get rich overnight, speculating rather than investing.

I learned the lessons from my mistakes, and now at 33 we have a portfolio worth over $350,000.


     7)  Ditched TV for Books

Do you value education over entertainment?

If you study the lives of successful men and women you will find they are readers.

‘Readers are leaders’‘The more you learn the more you earn’

The ‘Barefoot Investor’ was my gateway to becoming a voracious reader.

I read all the books I could find on money and stock market investing. I gave up watching TV in the mornings and started filling my mind with books.

This helped me reprogram my mind for financial success.


     8)  Said ‘NO’ to a 30-Year Mortgage 

Most young people are brainwashed into thinking they have to buy a house.

I never fell into that trap. Especially after I learned about Stock Market investing. I didn’t care about owning my own home.

I wanted freedom!


     9)  Joined Financial Forces with my Partner

One of the biggest financial decisions you’ll ever make is who you choose to spend the rest of your life with.

Kaci and I had been together for five years before we made the decision to combine our finances and start working as a team.

It was a tad scary at first, but I quickly realised how much more effective it is to have two people working towards a shared vision than two people pulling in opposing directions.

If you’re in a committed relationship and you want to work better with your partner then I strongly recommend checking this out.


     10)  Invested in ME 
My love for reading led me down the path of personal development.

At 26, I invested $4,000 to work with my first ever personal development coach – Mike Campbell.


At 27, I invested $9,000 out of my own pocket to get a degree in Corporate Finance (for a while there I considered becoming a Financial Advisor – but I’m not a fan of traditional finance).

At 28, I invested $30,000+ to study coaching & $15,000 USD into my first business coach.

This is where I learned new high-value skills – coaching, marketing and sales.

Because of the strong financial foundations I’d built with the other nine money moves I’d made and my new skills I was able to retire from the traditional workforce at 29 and enter the online business world full-time.

Do you know any young people who need to read this message?
If you do, be sure to forward this newsletter to them.

Happy Friday,

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Financial Habits Mentor & Host of the Podcast 'Money Mastery with Marshy.


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