If you’re 21 years old and newly unleashed upon the world with a degree and an ambition to jumpstart your life, maybe you should turn to strangers on the internet for advice. We kid, kind of — but you can consult Reddit for all the pointers you desire, as one eager graduate recently did in a thread that proves that flossing your teeth is just as vital as opening up a Roth IRA.
The thread, posted by u/brielleeee99, asks for “life hacks,” but what she’s really looking for is some basic financial planning advice, which redditors are happy to offer up. She says she and her boyfriend are trying to look beyond the kind of “rise and grind,” hustle culture drivel that someone in her position might find while researching the weighty question of how to get ahead.
As the title says, I am 21(f) looking for “hacks” that I can implement into my life right now, so that I can be set up for success in the future. I work in healthcare full time as an entry level data analyst (literally just graduated in April), and so far, everything I’ve read is to “grind/work” like crazy, but I want to know more. Stocks, investments, other forms of passive income, certain types of savings (RSP, TFSA, etc). My boyfriend and I are interested in real estate stuff that we can do in the future, as we’ve heard this can be quite successful. We are still learning though, so I would greatly appreciate advice from anyone. Thanks!
Redditors swooped in with some excellent kernels of wisdom that are worth your time if you’re also in her shoes.
How to gauge if something is truly necessary to buy
Redditor u/tvetus offered up a thoughtful exercise that can help you stay away from making costly and unnecessary purchases.
For anything you’re thinking of buying. Imagine if you would still buy it if it was 5x more expensive. Because that’s how much it will ultimately cost you if you don’t invest that dollar.
Focus on today so you can enjoy tomorrow
Don’t get too swept up in your quest to build for the future — and you can do that by focusing on little things in the present. This is basically what u/MamaSheeba tries to convey.
Don’t focus so much on the future that you don’t enjoy today. I don’t mean spend like there is no tomorrow, but to enjoy what you have not what you don’t!
Eat healthy, exercise, and steer clear of avoidable stress
This is more of a holistic approach, but feeding your body and mind what it needs to meet life’s demands is a pretty good thing for a young person to get accustomed to.
The redditor u/alwayspickingupcrap wrote:
Avoid avoidable stress.
Take up some form of exercise that is gentle on your joints and do it regularly no matter what.
Eat fresh, whole/real foods.
Have a consistent sleep routine in which you get enough sleep so that you feel refreshed in the morning.
Avoid avoidable stress.
Use your holidays
This is a simple pearl, but it’s an important one: Don’t squander the time off you’re afforded because you’re trying to impress a boss or advance your career. As u/alfith wrote: “Take all of your vacation days and don’t feel bad about it.”
This is important! There’s no use ignoring the time you’re legally obligated to spend away from work, and harbouring guilt about it is doing yourself a grave disservice. Your career is a marathon, not a sprint, and you’ll need the mental energy over the long haul.
When investing, play the long game
Don’t get caught thinking you’re some sage investor with a knack for predicting the rise of unicorns, because you’ll probably never be that person. Instead, set up a Roth IRA (aka superannuation) and contribute as much as you can to it, and play the long game by investing in low-risk mutual funds from now until you retire.
This is what u/Embarrassed-Cap-6825 conveyed in their entry:
Max out your Roth IRA this year and every year….just buy s&p 500 index and don’t touch it until you’re 60y/o. It should be worth more than your lifetime earnings due to the magic of compound interest. The key is you can’t touch it bc that’s when you fvck [sic] it up by panicking selling during recessions or pulling it out to pay for a down payment on a house you can’t afford, etc.
Brush and floss your teeth daily
U/Sandome garnered the most upvotes for distilling probably the most simple piece of advice: “Actually brush and floss your teeth.”
This is important, not only for dental hygiene and the health of your mouth bones but as a metaphor for the broader shape of your life. Don’t lose sight of the small stuff and don’t use ambition as a substitute for self care. For what it’s worth, u/brielleeee99, responded that she flosses and brushes “2x a day!” which is a good sign that she’s on the right track.