When I was 18, I got my first credit card. It was great! $3000 limit, I promised not to max it out and make payments, the whole nine yards. But of course, I fell into that trap and very quickly that account was closed and past due balance sent to collections.
Then came college... While I received some scholarships my first year and grants throughout my time in college, I had no knowledge of proper financial utilization. All I knew is I was getting a large sum of money, more than enough needed to cover tuition and books. And 10 years later, I look back regretting those decisions. But they both (along with other instances) have the same thing in common and that was I had no idea how to properly manage my finances. Why? Because we as teens and young adults were never taught this!
In high school all they teach you are the basics in life: shop, home economics, math, english and of course the PE class that you either dreaded or love. But then once college hit, I was forced (and paying for!) to take classes that I had no business taking as a part of my degree and had no interest in learning or even going to class. Geology? Biology? Anthropology? What is a criminal justice major sitting in such classes and spending upwards of $3,000 for it?! Instead of forcing students to take classes that are required to graduate but have no real meaning for them why not teach them financing and investing? If I had the knowledge I do today of proper investing and monitoring my financial accounts and credit cards, I would be far better today than I was back then. To go back and tell myself "hey you don't need that full stafford amount" or if the university actively provided and marketed classes to assist students in better planning their financial future instead of forcing them into redundant GenEd classes (general education), we would have a society of not only graduated citizens with degrees but also well informed financially. Perhaps we could have avoided the recession? Or even this massive student loan debt that the United States currently sits in? I encourage those thinking about college to pursue other means that may be more favorable to them or at the very least, discuss it NOT with a school counselor or career advisor but rather someone that can attest to their path of life.
The idea of a balancing a checkbook was foreign to me back then, and that was just 10 years ago! So how simple and easy it today to use services such as Goodbudget, Acorns, Robinhood, Mint and the countless other apps out there. If I could offer just one piece of advices for those vital years of 18-21, it would be to seek out financial advice, not from a CPA or professional, but rather someone that can speak on your terms and can speak from THEIR errors and how they learned from it.