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What I’d tell my 16-year-old self

As we go through life we learn a number of different things that change our perspective of the world or help us become a better person.

It’s sadly impossible to reach back in time and try to impart a few life lessons on our younger selves. Even if we could, who knows if the younger version would listen? They could be stubborn about it!

But, assuming that I could give my 16-year-old self a financial pep talk and assuming they’d listen, I’d say the following things:

Hi Tristan,

I’ve got a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to tell you a few financial things that I wish I knew when I was younger.

The first thing I want to suggest is: get a job. I don’t mean that in a “you lazy punk, get a job!” way. I enjoyed my (very) fair share of video games as a teenager but it probably would have been better to put some of that time towards working. Making your own money is great and gives you an early form of independence and it looks great on the resume because you’re already working. Plus, you can put some of that money towards my next point.

I know you don’t know what you want to do when you reach adulthood. But, let me tell you the answer to that question is investing – I love it! You’ll love it! The reason why you like playing many of the games you play is the economic element of them. Age of Empires is a lot like investing. You invest money to make money and eventually the investments pay for themselves. $1,000 can easily become $10,000 over time with literally no effort from you once it’s invested. And your future work is trying to help lots of other people invest too.

Set up a regular investing mentality so that you’re putting money into shares often. If you do this, over 20 years you will be wealthy and maybe you can retire to a Caribbean island earlier than most people.

If you put some of your hard-earned job money to work, you can really get ahead. What should you invest in? Well this is where time travel really helps! Apple, Google, Amazon, Facebook, Altium Limited (ASX: ALU), REA Group Limited (ASX: REA) and MNF Group (ASX: MNF) are all great choices.

(Oh yeah and get some Bitcoin cryptocurrency if you can as well. I know you have no idea what that is yet, but when you can, buy some and sell when it hits US$19,000.)

One last thing, don’t worry about the Global Financial Crisis (GFC). Sounds scary right? It will be when you’re living through it, but that’s why I’m telling you not to worry because Australia gets through it all okay.

Foolish takeaway

There are lessons that I can use myself in my current investing life. Setting up a regular investing plan is a great way to avoid worrying about what the market is doing in any particular month.

It’s also important to think about the long-term when financial crises happen. It’s been ten years since the GFC – it now seems like a distant memory. Another crash will happen, but that too shall pass.

If I could give another stock tip to my 16-year-old self I’d suggest buying one of these top growth shares.

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Motley Fool contributor Tristan Harrison owns shares of Altium. The Motley Fool Australia owns shares of and has recommended MNF Group Limited. The Motley Fool Australia owns shares of Altium. The Motley Fool Australia has recommended REA Group Limited. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Scott Phillips.

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