what i wish i knew about money at 18

10 Things I Wish I Knew About Money at 18


When you turn 18, your entire life completely changes and a million new opportunities open up for you. It’s like you’ve spent your entire life in a house that had a room with a locked door and your parents would never let you out… well, that door’s open and you’re free to explore!

The only issue with this door finally being open is that we don’t know much about what’s behind the door before it opens. We aren’t taught a ton about money in high school, so most of us spend our 20s just trying to figure it out and making a¬†crap ton¬†of mistakes along the way.

I spend a decent amount of time reflecting on my bad financial decisions from my past and wishing there was somebody to tell me back then to be less ridiculous with my money.

So, here are 10 things I wish I knew about money when I was 18.


#1 – You don’t need to spend it, just because you have it

I got my first job when I was 16 and I had a horrible habit of not saving even a penny of my money. I ate out every single day for lunch, I went to dinner and movies with friends, and I had an amazing wardrobe but now I have nothing to show for it.

When I was 17, I bought a prom dress for $650 and paid cash. I would’ve loved that money to pay for textbooks only 5 months later when I started University.

It’s so important to understand that having money doesn’t mean you need to spend that money. When money hits your bank account it shouldn’t start burning a hole in your pocket and force you to run out to the mall. Save some, silly goose.


#2 –¬†Get Rich Quick¬†and¬†Overnight Success¬†Aren’t Realistic

When I was 18, I was obsessed with reading stories about people who got rich quick and launched these amazing multimillion dollar companies seemingly overnight. I wanted to do this for myself so damn bad and essentially got stuck in a cycle and never did anything.

I needed a real kick in the butt to understand that there are people out there that did crazy things overnight but most successful businesses are built on a long game not overnight. A business where you work hard and take your time is going to be much, much, more rewarding.


#3 – You don’t need to wait until 30 to start saving

When you’re a kid, you think that 20 year olds have¬†everything together¬†and you assume that they have a house, kids, and a savings account full of money. When I finally grew up, I realized that 99.9% of 20-something’s aren’t like that and most of us don’t have¬†anything in our savings account.

I wish I would’ve thought about this at 18 and started saving when I had NO expenses and a¬†decent income. I thought “I’ve got all this time to start saving, I’m young #YOLO”¬†and this is one of my¬†biggest¬†regrets. I could’ve been in such a better financial place if I would’ve started saving.


#4 РYour credit score does matter

Fun fact, I didn’t¬†truly¬†understand the importance of a credit score until I started this blog. I knew I had one, and I knew it did¬†something but I really wasn’t sure what it was for.

If you’re in the same boat, check out this post we wrote that will totally help you understand a lot more about credit scores and how they work!


#5 – Bank Fees Were Created by The Devil

Banks have¬†more¬†than enough money from interest to survive, they don’t need your $15 a month too! There are¬†a ton¬†of awesome banks out there that have lower fee or¬†no fee¬†bank accounts.

Unfortunately, when I was 18 I used a really popular Canadian bank that charged $14.99 for a basic bank account, no frills. All banks should have a kind of free banking option that you can go for instead!


#6 – Pay Yourself First

I had a¬†horrible¬†habit of spending every single penny I got before ever thinking about how I should be saving money. The concept of¬†pay yourself first¬†was lost on me and it’s a huge thing I wish I would’ve done.

If you don’t know how this works, paying yourself first means that you put money in your savings or pay off debt¬†before¬†you buy yourself a darn thing! This is an awesome way to make sure you’re actually able to save money before you waste it.


#7 – Maxing Out a Credit Card to Drink Isn’t Cool

Just because you have a credit card, doesn’t mean you always need to use it… especially not for booze. There were numerous times in college when I’d go buy an¬†entire new outfit¬†and some new make up just because one of my friends wanted to go drinking and then I’d spend my last few dollars on alcohol.

You don’t have to go out drinking every weekend to have a good time and there are much better uses of your money!


#8 – Diversification of Income Makes Everything Less Stressful

In my first few years of employment, I was always stressed because my hours at work were very inconsistent and I was living insanely above my means. If I was working 20 hours a week I was often spending like I was working 30 and this caught up with my fast.

I wish I would’ve understood that it is possible to diversify your income and make money fly in from more than one place instead of being a slave to your day job. Get a side hustle, have a part-time job, and do anything for more money!


#9 – Money is a Tool and Should be Used as One

I used to think the only reason to have money was to spend money and boy was I wrong. I’ve recently learned how¬†powerful¬†money can be. Money can give you freedom, and freedom leads to happiness and a truly satisfying life.

I sometimes wonder where I’d be if I would’ve understand this and invested some of my money at a younger age, maybe I’d be living on a beach somewhere (bitcoin investment maybe? haha).¬†Money should be used as a powerful tool to reach your goals quicker!


#10 – You don’t need to go broke to make yourself¬†look¬†rich

This is something I still have to remind myself of today. There are so many people out there wearing their college tuition on their wrist with their expensive jewelry or expensive (and usually ugly) shoes.

I’ve been known from time to time to spend¬†hours looking at expensive clothes and shoes online and totally considered spending $500 on something I totally don’t need. I wish I understood back then that it’s totally okay to shop at walmart and forever 21, who gives a¬†hoot what other people think!


10 things I wish i knew about money at 18 | we don't learn a ton about personal finance in high school, I wish I would've learned about budgeting, how to save money, and how to live more frugally




Final Thoughts

When we turn 18, we’re pretty stupid. I won’t sugar coat that. We’re dumb. However, one of the absolute¬†best¬†ways to learn is to make mistakes, so making money mistakes at a young age can help you learn to not do the same silly things when the stakes are bigger!

Thanks so much for reading,

xo Taylor





Taylor O'Halloran

Hey! My name is Taylor O'Halloran and I'm a huge fan of saving money any way I can.I'm obsessed with dogs and I love all kinds of cheese even though my stomach hates it.  I'm a recent university graduate who just wanted to do her own thing and see what happens! Follow me on the journey!


  1. Amazing list! I can totally relate to the last point. When I was a teenager I used to read fashion magazines and took the “essentials every women needs” to heart. I felt that now in my 20s I needed to be a grown ass women and not shop where I did as a teenager. So I completely blew off hundreds of dollars at high end stores so I can get that “essential must have items”. I wish I could go back in time, slap myself and tell myself to act my wage! Forever 21 and walmart are my go to’s when I want anything to wear. Great article!

  2. Shaily says:

    These are great money saving tips! I wish I knew them when I was 18. I would have had a huge bank balance by now. But I can still use a lot of them especially the credit card one. I should work on not maxing out the credit limit of my cards. Thanks for sharing these eye-opener tips.

    1. Taylor O'Halloran says:

      Hind sight eh? Would’ve been nice if we were all taught these things!

  3. I maxed out a credit card at twenty… to go to Europe… Totally don’t regret it. These are good lessons though, I plan on teaching my kids fiscal responsibility early!

    1. Taylor O'Halloran says:

      Haha! A trip to Europe is a better reason than most people. At least you didn’t do it for booze and clothes!

  4. Yes! These couldn’t be more accurate! Dollar General has some of the cutest clothes sometimes! haha Luckily I learned about the importance of credit when i was young.. so that has always been imprinted in my brain. ūüôā Awesome tips!!

    1. Taylor O'Halloran says:

      Credit is one thing I’m just learning about now but I’m glad I’m learning it now instead of when I’m trying to buy a home or something!

  5. Ashley Roberts says:

    Student loan debt will eat you alive ūüôĀ That’s the one I wish I knew…

    1. Taylor O'Halloran says:

      Ain’t that the truth. Wouldn’t it be nice if school taught us we had other options than student loans?

  6. I’m so glad you are thinking about money at an early age. People always forget to pay themselves first!

    1. Taylor O'Halloran says:

      Thank you! I’m only 23 and money is a HUGE part of my life, especially because of this blog!

  7. I have been saying for year thats Personal Finance and Savings Management and Budgeting should be taught in school. Way more important than Trigonometry.

    ‚Ě• tanvii.com

    1. Taylor O'Halloran says:

      RIGHT?! I haven’t used trigonometry once in my post high school life! There should 100% be a mandatory money management class!

  8. Great advice! I would also advise that when shopping try to use coupons and buy things that are on sale and clearance if at all possible. You will save a TON this way!

    1. Taylor O'Halloran says:

      Totally true! I used to spend all my money on full price stuff when two weeks later it’d be 50% off. So silly!

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