8 Men On The Best Financial Decision They Made In Their 20s

Too busy living large to think about life after 30? It’s a common story. Financial security and future prosperity are not the sexiest of topics for people in their 20s but they deserve a little thought. The choices you make now are going to have a huge impact on the life you have in the decades to come.

We asked eight ordinary guys (and we’ve asked the ladies, too) to tell us about the best financial decision they made in their 20s. Take it as a little inspiration to figure out what’s right for you.

Eddie Fahey
1 / 8

Eddie, 27, Dentist

Your teeth are the first thing people notice about you and for most of my life, mine were pretty bad. It was only when I went to college I realised that pretty girls go for the handsome boys, and most of them have nice smiles. So after a lot of poking and prodding, I got my braces put on age 21. That was my best financial decision! Two years later, my teeth and face were transformed. It also turned out to be a great promotion for my business.

I always tell people the best investment they can make in life is in themselves and their health. Losing weight, quitting smoking, fixing your teeth are all things that will pay you every day for the rest of your life, and it will make you happier.

Matt Sillars
2 / 8

Matt, 32, Project Manager

In my last year of university, I wanted to move out. My dad said rent was a waste of money and he’d recently inherited a lot of cash. So with my dad’s help, when I was 21, I bought a house. I moved in with my best pal. We put on parties; we ate cheap pasta; it was a lot of fun. Being a homeowner was also terrifying – it was a huge amount of responsibility. It’s cost me a fortune over the years, it’s caused me a huge amount of stress, but it has also provided me a safety net. And it has saved me the pain in later years of worrying about getting into the housing market. I can also BluTack as many Carmen Electra posters to the wall as I like, and no one can tell me off about it.

Paul Meade 2
3 / 8

Paul, 39, Field Support Engineer

I guess the best financial decision I made in my 20s was to enrol in an engineering diploma at TAFE at the age of 27. Once I had that qualification under my belt, it significantly beefed up my credentials and enabled me to get out of my very ordinary job and into a much better job, which led eventually to a great job. TAFE courses were very reasonably priced back then – I think it worked out to about $1 per classroom hour – so considering the effect it eventually had on my career, I feel like I got fantastic value from it.

Tony Proudfoot 2
4 / 8

Tony, 41, Photographer

I invested in my passion – I bought a digital camera. When I was 29, I had a crisis of confidence about what I had achieved up to that point. I decided to get with the digital age, and purchased a Fuji FinePix s7000. I had been a film SLR user in the past, but the switch to digital took my photography to another level – and my new digital camera very quickly brought me my first ever payment for my photography, from a rather unusual source. I attended the World Naked Bike Ride as an active participant and took my trusty little Fuji with me along for the ride, and I ended up selling the photos to a nudist magazine! It’s been onwards and upwards from there – I have become a prolific event photographer around Melbourne.

Ben Wilson 2
5 / 8

Ben, 40, Acoustic Consultant

The best financial decision I made in my 20s was buying a crappy old house and selling it. My partner and I weren’t really motivated by money, but it turned out to be a fantastic decision. We bought in an area we didn’t really like, and we bought a house we didn’t really want to live in, which was on the verge of collapse. For the next few years, we were obsessed with renovating the place to make it the sort of place we could love. Our social lives and relationship took a hit at the time, but thankfully we came out the other side with a quite a nice house and relationship intact. Meanwhile, house prices in Melbourne boomed and we ended up with a lovely house in a really desirable neighbourhood that we wanted to sell.

Looking back, it was a bit of a one-off opportunity – I’m not a great saver or financial risk-taker – and within a few years I reckon prices, time, and enthusiasm may have gotten away from me. It would be overstating things to say buying that house set me up for life, but I think it was a factor in determining my future financial situation.

6 / 8

Kristian, 40, General Manager

It was so easy to sign-up for an Amex credit card in my early 20s, delivering me a generous limit practically overnight. The Amex brand was a symbol of prestige at the time, so whipping it out to pay felt cool and successful. Within weeks the company doubled my credit limit and it quickly felt like I wasn’t even spending my own money. Only needing to pay the minimum of interest monthly, the total debt didn’t seem real for some time.

When I finally came to the realisation that I’d burdened myself with debt and had little to show for it, I destroyed the card and began a strict regime to pay down the debt. Despite making it clear to the company that I wished to cancel the card, Amex inundated me for offers of larger credit amounts and cheaper interest rates for some time. But my best decision was to live strictly within my means – no credit cards. This was very difficult when I was working casually in my 20s, but as my career progressed it became easier, helping me to be more sensible with my earnings and less inclined to spend frivolously.

7 / 8

Ibrahim, 30, Lawyer

My best decision was not buying a house. I saved a deposit in my 20s and I really thought about it, but I would have had to deal with serious mortgage pressure and live in an area that didn’t suit my lifestyle. Instead, I’ve used the money I saved to start a business selling cold brew coffee. I’ve also invested part of it in shares in small clean energy companies (partly because I think those companies might succeed in the future and partly because I think it’s important to put your money where your mouth is).

Investing in shares and a small business might be bigger risk than buying property, but it also has the potential for greater return. In the meantime, I’m not crippled by mortgage repayments for a house I don’t really want.

Cameron Swann 2
8 / 8

Cameron, 45, Administrator

I’ve never made a good financial decision in my life! I invested all of my money in seeing the world, rather than submit to the heteronormative idea of home ownership and a lifetime burden of mortgage payments. I have a wealth of experiences instead of possessions. I spent my 20s exhibiting my paintings in New York, being on a first name basis with the girl at the register of the local grocery store in VilleFranche and visiting the ruins of Cleopatra’s temple in Delos. Travel has shown me true happiness and that is more valuable than anything money can buy.

Simone Ubaldi is a ghostwriter, music journalist, film critic and has co-authored four books, including memoirs of Bon Scott and Mark ‘Chopper’ Read. She stashes a lot of her writing here.

All images supplied.

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