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7 Things I Wish Someone Would’ve Told Me When I Was 23

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I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said to myself, “I should’ve listened to my parents.” Look, I get it. It’s easy to ignore your parents, especially when you think you’ve got it all figured out after college. That couldn’t be further from the truth. You don’t have shit figured out. Well, you certainly figured out how to game the college system into giving you a degree. Still, you really don’t know shit.

Never EVER Get Behind On Your Bills.

I once went two months without paying my student loan bills so I could buy a new TV. Dumbest thing I’ve ever done. I figured it would just be like leveraging late fees and possible damage to my credit just so I could have something to look forward to when I got home each night. Unfortunately, two months turned into three months turned into four months and next thing I knew, I had to endure the shame of taking three red “OPEN IMMEDIATELY” certified mail envelopes out of my mailbox in front of my hot neighbor, not to mention a hit to my credit score and hundreds of dollars in late fees. Each time I looked at that 48-inch Samsung, I felt irresponsible. Couldn’t even enjoy the bliss of high frame-rate, 1080p glory. I was scrambling for months. I was behind on everything. Car payment, student loans, cell phone, rent, utilities. Trying to keep my budget balanced was a nightmare. I wasn’t back on a normal bill-paying schedule for another six months. It was a fucking travesty.

Never Leave The House Wearing Sweatpants.

Look, I have broken this rule a time or two. Sweatpants are great. You don’t have to fumble with a zipper and it takes minimal hand-eye coordination to put them on. That still doesn’t recuse you from wearing them in public. Key phrase: IN PUBLIC. If you’re wearing them in your car to go get Sonic while hungover Sunday afternoon, by all means, do so. No one ever made sweatpants look good in public. You could have perfectly coiffed hair, a fresh shave and lathered on the deodorant, you’ll still look like you haven’t showered that day.

Don’t Finance Anything That Costs Less Than One Month Of Your Salary.

My brother once made the mistake of financing a $900 dollar couch from Ashley Furniture. Three years, 0% APR, no money down. Sounds like a sweet deal, right? Nope. His monthly payment was $10 for three years and couldn’t pay anything more. Three years later, his $900 couch was worthless and he was paying 42 percent interest on it. Total cost of the couch? $2,100. If you can’t afford a new couch, don’t get a new couch. If you want to buy something expensive, save for three months. Don’t eat out. Don’t go to bars. Only use your car for work. Don’t buy impulsively, especially when it comes to commodities.

The Two Week/Two Month Rule.

I didn’t take health and fitness seriously until my mid-20s. One of the best pieces of advice I ever got came from my personal trainer. “It takes two months to get in shape and just two weeks to get out of shape.” Now, that might have just been his way to make sure I was renewing my gym membership, but it turns out he was right. I didn’t miss a workout after that. Well, that is until I got a promotion and started working over 60 hours a week. Sure enough, two weeks later, I was laboring up the stairs each morning and had put on five pounds. After two months of a lunch break gym routine, I was taking stairs two at a time and back at my fighting weight.

Take A Break.

Take 10 minutes every hour and step away from whatever it is you’re doing. You’re on an endless Titanfall kick? Step away. Go outside. You’re on a tight deadline and have been slaving away for hours? Step away from your desk, grab some water and de-stress. I once asked my dad why he was always happy when he got home from work. He said, “What time do you think I got home from work each day?” I replied, “Usually around 6:30, right?” He explained, “Well, I usually got home around 6, but you didn’t see me until 6:30. Always make time for yourself.” All my dad needed to be awesome was a half hour to himself each day. He would get home from work, go “change,” and lay in bed for 30 minutes before seeing his family. Same for my mom. After dinner, she disappeared for an hour or so and that was that.

“Networking” Is A Bullshit Buzzword That Doesn’t Mean Anything When You’re Unemployed.

Don’t worry about “networking” so much as building strong personal relationships. If you go straight into business when meeting someone, they’ll see right through it. When I finally started making moves in the real world, the old friends started coming out of the woodwork. LinkedIn requests out the ass, business lunch emails, guys wanting me to listen to their retirement plan package pitch, endless bullshit. What I didn’t get from any of them was a single, “Any plans this weekend? Let’s grab a drink” or “What’s up man? Been a long time” texts. If you have someone’s phone number, you should never EVER send them an email. That is unless you work with them. Don’t attend “networking events.” Those things are a waste of time. Build and invest in personal relationships and watch your life turn around.

Don’t Pay For Cable.

Shell out the extra dough for a smart TV, Chromecast, Apple TV, or a PS4 or XBox One. Or just use your laptop. Buy a $30 internet package. Go to bars to watch sports. Use your parents’ HBOGo login and watch the savings roll on in. These things will pay for themselves after three months of not having to shell out $180 a month for cable and internet.

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