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6 Money Tips I Would Tell Dear Younger Me


I decided to write a letter to the dear younger me on some financial tips I wished I had known.

I love the song "Dear Younger Me" by Mercy Me.

"Dear younger me

I cannot decide

Do I give some speech about how to get the most out of your life

Or do I go deep

And try to change

The choices that you'll make ‘cause they're choices that made me

Even though I love this crazy life

Sometimes I wish it was a smoother ride

Dear younger me, dear younger me."

This morning when driving to work, this song came on the radio. I decided to write a letter to the ‘younger me’ on some financial tips I wished I had known.

1. Sleep

I slept no more than 4 hours/night since I was 17, for 15 years. It worked well in college when I was double majoring and had 7 odd jobs and worked well when I was single mother with two jobs in medical school. But I should have gotten help sooner and started sleeping more.

I recently increased my sleep by 50% from 4 to 6 hours and have become a much better person because of it.

2. You should have looked into Roth IRA when you got your first paycheck at 15.

I’ve been working since I was 10, but got my first pay check at 15. If I had been maxing out my Roth IRA since 15, I would have already been financially independent by now :)

This is why I’m maxing out my daughter Mini Wise Money’s Roth IRA this year, knowing that she will have more than 300k by the time she retires with just one time contribution of 5.5k in 2016. The power of time!

3. Cheap Education

Education is like sewage; you get out what you put in. I did not need a 400k medical education when I could have rocked the boards and matched where I want anyways spending ¼ of the money by attending an out of California medical school. I didn’t know better and applied to few medical schools (California schools + 1 Ivy League med school.)

4. Eat well

We are what we eat. Don’t skimp on food!

5. It’s okay not to be #1.

I was #1 in my medical school for three semesters. The fear of failing was worse than anything else. I could have smelled the roses so much more and enjoyed more time with my kid if I learned earlier that being #1 really means nothing.

6. Set yourself free, geographically

In my opinion, California is a stressful and polluted place to live compared to the beautiful and relaxing Tucson, AZ where I live now. But I didn’t know any better, I was a fresh off boat with all my extended Chinese family in California, but knew no one in the rest of the country. I should have known that each person’s paradise could be a different geographic location. I regret greatly the premium I paid to live in the crowded, congested, polluted cities in California where living was so stressful that little time was spent with the family I was close by. However, I will definitely visit my loved ones in California; I just don't see it as home anymore.

Explore the country, be open to where you study, train, and practice. I found my dream city Tucson, 14 years after I immigrated to the US. If I had been more open, I would have happened upon this great place sooner and saved 300k in medical education!

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