Life goes way too fast. I still remember my 21st birthday as if it was yesterday. Sadly, it was more than 30 years ago!
Below is a letter I wished I had received from my older self.

Dear Phil.

Happy birthday! Don’t be freaked out, but this letter is from your 52 year old self.

I know you don’t need any encouragement, but trust me, you will have a wonderful birthday party tonight. It will be pretty cold, so make sure you keep those fire buckets going. Oh, and tell your mum not to drink too much!

Now, you will do some pretty stupid things in your life. That’s OK, that’s how we all learn. However, what I want to warn you about are the two big things that I wish I did differently so you can learn from my mistakes.

Travelling is important

Travelling is more than just going to a beach, drinking and getting sunburnt. It is an opportunity to experience different cultures, different food, meet interesting people, and helps get a really different perspective on life. I am not going to spoil the fun and tell you who you will marry, but if it wasn’t for my wife travelling, I would not have met her.

Anyway, between the ages of 18 and 33, I didn’t go on too many holidays. Even then, the ones I went on mostly involved going somewhere not too far away with some friends and doing lots of drinking. Don’t get me wrong, this was good fun. But, make sure you also take the time to see what the rest of the world is like.

One of the best experiences of my life was going to live in Japan for 18 months. Not only did I live with my now wife, but I got to live somewhere completely different to where I grew up.

Another treasured experience was the months we spent travelling through India and Nepal. We were free, we got to experience really different cultures, and we also saw how good we had it at home.

Start investing earlier

The other thing I want to talk about is taking responsibility for your future. One of the keys to this is to invest early. Even though I had plenty of opportunities and was earning good money, I never saw the importance of investing in my 20’s. I never really understood, nor really cared, how finances worked.

Several times I went to buy a house, but always found a reason not to. I didn’t have anyone to show me how or encourage me.

It wasn’t until I was in my mid 30’s that I started to become more interested in money and we bought our first home. We quickly realised that while it was scary, the benefits are massive.

So start doing something, no matter how small, as early as you can. In particular:

  • Always save some of your income. It doesn’t matter how small, but it will teach you good habits
  • Take the time to understand how super works and set yours up correctly. By the time you are 60, this will probably be one of your biggest investments
  • Borrow money to invest in assets that have been shown to increase in value – i.e. property and shares
  • Get a mentor. Learn.

If you do this while you are young, it is entirely possible that by the time you are my age you will be in a position to retire.

Enjoy the journey.


Note: Although you can’t change the past, it’s never to late to start doing more of what is important to you. If you would like to discuss how we help, book a chat via the link below or call on 0417 034 252 or email at or book in a chat below and we will call you.

About the Author
Phil Harvey is an independent financial adviser. In 2017 Phil set up his company Construct Wealth to help clients best manage their finances so they focus on what is important to them. He is a founding member of the Profession of Independent Financial Advisers and a tax financial adviser, registered with the Tax Practitioners Board.

General Advice Warning
This advice contains general information. It may not be suitable to you because it does not consider your personal circumstances. Phil Harvey and Construct Wealth are authorised representatives of Independent Financial Advisers Australia (AFSL 464629)

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