How many times have we thought, “I wish knew then what I know now…”

With age comes wisdom— particularly financial wisdom. I asked a diverse group of people this question: “What do you wish you’d known about money when you were younger?” Most of their answers fit into three categories: 1) investing; 2) starting sooner; and 3) budgeting.

Invest in… Learning about Investing!

Half of the respondents wished they knew more about investing at an earlier age. Even though many noted that they had a great head start by spending less than they earned and setting up retirement savings plans, many noted that they could have learned how to make the most of their investments. Specifically, they pointed to their lack of knowledge about investing in stocks, and the importance of diversification and of investment fees.

The Magic of Compounding

The power of starting early to set aside money for retirement or join a pension plan was the second most common theme among respondents. Some highlighted that they wished they had known the importance of compound interest, and how even a small, regular contribution to an investment plan will grow impressively over time.

Cash Flow Chronicles

The third-largest group of responses fell into the category of budgeting or setting goals.  Many of us look back on our free-spending years with little thought to the future. Some respondents noted that once children and a mortgage entered the scene, they became more disciplined, but they still lamented the lost opportunity of building up a nest egg earlier.


What are the lessons for today’s younger generation?

Lesson #1: Pay yourself first

Setting up automatic payroll deductions – even small amounts – ensures steady progress. It also simplifies the budgeting process, since you can spend what’s left over. As long as you don’t go into any debt, you’ll spend less than you earn.

Lesson #2: Learn how to invest

Today, there’s an incredible amount of investing information at everyone’s fingertips. To get started, visit free sites that offer excellent, easy-to-use, and unbiased advice about the basics of budgeting and investing. One of the best places to start is, an offshoot of the Ontario Securities Commission. Investors can read about tax-sheltered investments and retirement plans, how to invest in stocks and bonds, and even learn about fintech and robo-advisers. Of course, there are also myriad investing courses, some of which are available online for free.

I have faith that the younger generation will catch on faster than previous ones!


For those wanting an in-class introduction to investing, check out my one-day workshop:

Introduction to Investing: A Workshop
University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies
November 3, 2018
Click here for more information