Looking for people in your 20s, 30s, and 40s — what do you wish you’d saved for?

Ramit Sethi · June 29th, 2009

Lots of people leave comments on this site saying, “Ramit, I’ve already handled the basics, so what am I supposed to do with my money now?”

I’m working on a new post to give you a strategy to leave your friends in the financial dust.

But first, I need your help to tell me what you wish you’d saved for 10 years ago (surveys take less than 1 minute).

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  1. I am 22 and I wish I had saved money for post graduation (after college). I was broke when I graduated, didn’t find a job immediately, and had to move back home for 2 months. If I could do it again I would have saved enough for my security deposit on an apartment and at least 6 months rent. On top of that I would have developed an emergency fund of $5,000. Working for 6 years would definitely have made this possible.

  2. MoneyEnergy

    It would have been good to have saved more of my money when I was 20 or so and working three jobs at once. I wish I had’ve put more into my investments then, but I was too cautious.

  3. Krystyna

    I wish I had started a travel and house down payment fund earlier in life in addition to my graduate school fund. I was able to graduate with only about $12,000 in school loans, so I am in a better boat than many others. But now, the money that should be going towards a retirement fund is being diverted for travel and a small down payment fund. If I had saved a little more earlier on and invested that money, I wouldn’t feel like I’m robbing my future for the chance to explore the world today.

  4. just filled out the survey! been reading your blog for awhile, my main challenge is with consistent application! I’m trying to use my early 30’s (age group not money amount!) to work that out and get rid of some bad habits.

  5. David Norcott

    Ramit, I’m in my 20s and found that this survey didn’t really apply to me or capture the correct information.

    10 years ago I was too young to work. Once I got older I started working at a grocery store for minimum wage, I wasn’t saving for kids or a down-payment on a house or anything like that, and I think that’s fine. The only big thing I was saving for then was college, which isn’t even listed on your survey.

    10 years ago I wish that I had:
    -Applied to more scholarships for college
    -Been more active in my school organizations
    -Volunteered or been more active in my community
    -Built more relationships with interesting people and mentors
    -Studied abroad

  6. I wish more than anything I would have not neglected paying for my car insurance. Of course I got in a wreck which obviously set things back a little bit. I really shouldn’t have been able to buy the car in the first place, but they sold it to me! I didn’t have gap coverage either. I did however end up settling for 26% of what I owed on the car with a collection agency (the 3rd one coming after me for the same account). Now I want to buy a house and just spent over $3K to cover not paying car insurance for a few months. So I guess the biggest would be emergency fund or car down payment.

  7. ziilander

    30’s crowd. It’s really hard to save and I’m operating on cash and no credit (my credit score over 700) 10 years ago, I wish I bought stocks in google and bought a 50,000 home early then sold at the boom for 150k, but that was just wishful thinking and couldn’t tell the future. I feel people got rich quick in real estate and gambling in the stock market and they are still living off of that. I need to do something that pays me in cash so that uncle Sam can’t take it away from me. I predict green energy is the next money maker and military spending is where the focus is at.

  8. Alison

    I wish I would have saved more in the summers and on breaks so I didn’t have to work during school. I ended up relying on credit cards, and when the balance grew to be more than I was comfortable with, I left school to work full time. It is easy to look back and say now that my costs were so minimal, an extra shift or two each week serving tables would have meant I could relax a little during the school year, and I would have graduated much sooner.

  9. I didn’t save much, and I do wish I saved a little cushion… but I’m more glad that I spent $$$ on study abroad and traveling while I was there. Even if it was partially student loans. Best decision ever.

  10. I didn’t save much during my years of university but I worked very hard every summer (50hrs +) so that I could spend freely during the 8 months of school. Spring Break vacations, partying with friends and school trips far outweighed the happiness I would have enjoyed if I could look at a large lump sum of money in my account at the end of school. I still managed to graduate debt free so I know I am ahead of many fellow recent graduates. Reading Ramit’s book has shown how automating my money can help me save for the things I didn’t think I could ever afford.
    So truthfully my personality type flourishes on maintaining both a hectic work and party schedule and thus I don’t need to worry about my daily account activities as everything is automated.

  11. Cool idea!

    Out of curiosity I would also love to hear the result of a similar survey answering what people today wish thay had done 10 years ago.

    Thanks for an excellent blog!


  12. Thinking back at 31, two things I wish I would have done in college would be to study abroad and work while in school.

    First, study abroad. I feel that getting rid of our US-centric mindset will help the US compete better in the global economy. Just understanding another culture provides insights that you cannot get from a book. Knowing a second or third language makes you immenently more marketable. I currently work overseas and work with people that know 3 or 4 languages, and they are called secretaries. I am struggling just to pick up #2, French.

    Secondly, I would have tried harder to participate in work-study or gotten a part time job while in school. I worked my tail off in the summers to not work during the school year. Thankfully I had parents willing to pay for tuition (my 1/2 scholarship covered the rest and I paid for my own books and entertainment) to give me an advantage they never had, to be a debt free college grad. However, just by working 10 hours a week I could have funneled $1 or 2k a year into a Roth, or saved for a house down payment while in school. Instead, at the beginning of every summer I was nearly broke and when I left school, I may have had no debt and a good job, but I was starting from zero.

  13. DigitalSkater

    im 24. I wish someone would have told me how to put that money three ways when i was fifteen. then i wouldn’t be in this mess.
    “open three bank accounts, or three envelopes. its all the same if you’re just getting started. everytime you get money, before you do anything else with it, split it up into those. keep two savings accounts and keep adding to them. pick one to never touch. now, try to not make F*$#%-up decisions, okay?”

  14. Mike Pastore

    I wish I started to handle my personal finances properly 10 years ago. But it’s alright, although I didn’t learn how to spend money wisely in my early years, I am practicing it right now. As the saying goes, “it’s better late than never”.

    For tips on personal finance, visit

  15. Doreen Awiti

    I wish I had invest way earlier, bought lots of stocks and bonds .But its okay. I am on my way there.

  16. Martin

    Wow, this is very informative… will soon be able to invest and do the right thing with my finances. I’ll be paying attention to this blog for a while.