Plant These Money ‘Seeds’ in Your 20s

September 21, 2017

Plant these money ‘seeds’ in your 20s…

…and reap prosperity and abundance in later life.

Most personal finance will tell you that the seeds to plant are the dollars in your savings, pension and investment accounts.

I am not convinced. How do I know?

I know because I have reached the age when:

  • people meet for coffee to discuss not their latest date but their latest malady;
  • just keeping healthy and looking half decent is a costly struggle;
  • flirting shamelessly is acceptable because people think you can’t be serious.

Yep, I am in my early fifties and many of my conversations are about varicose veins, teeth whitening and anti-ageing products. I fully expect in 10 years to be discussing… well, let’s not even go there.

This aside, I feel grateful and blessed every morning. I am grateful for my family, for my friends, for my job through which I touch the future, for my lifestyle and for the future we are creating.

Every morning, I wake up and feel grateful that this is my time; a time when creativity is valued, knowledge is a valuable and flexibility is possible.

Recently, I wondered about the things I wish I knew in my 20s and the money ‘seeds’ I wish I’d planted earlier.

I made a list. It was long and repetitive. When I looked again it boiled down to six money ‘seeds’.

None of these are about savings, pension and investments. These are my gift to you!

Seed 1: Capital comes in many forms

You know you need capital, right? I’ll never disagree with that: your 20s is the time when you are laying down the foundations of your life.

And these foundations are about accumulating capital.

Where I have a problem is that, as we humans often do, when thinking about ‘capital’ you most likely think about money.

Capital comes in many forms; three that matter most are:

  • financial capital;
  • social capital; and
  • cultural capital.

Now, here is the deal: to place yourself in a position to accumulate financial capital fast later in life, you better accumulate cultural capital which will enable you to build substantial social capital.

Put simply, this means that if I were in my 20s again I’ll spend more time at the theatre and art galleries than in the library. Thinking about it, I’d spend more time learning all there is to know about cricket: after all I do live in Britain and most conversations at high management level are about the game.

I didn’t! In my 20s I spend a lot of time in the library, hustled like a pro and kept little of the dough. I’ve read War and Peace in Russian and am in love with the novels of Thomas Mann. My boss still wants to talk about cricket.

Seed 2: You better increase the cloth

Cut your coat according to your cloth, the saying goes.

And I have grown to dislike it with passion I reserve for other areas of life.

You won’t believe the energy, time and frustration that went into trying to live my life according to my means. I only ended up with a very tight, uncomfortable and, frankly, useless coat.

It took me some time to realise that this is all rubbish; that to live an abundant life you should increase their cloth.

I know that money in your 20s is tight and simply surviving without getting in debt is a challenge. Keep your mind on increasing your income, or your cloth, and you’d have planted a powerful money seed to serve your well later in life.

Seed 3: It is about how much you keep not how much you earn

When you want to know where you stand in the game of wealth you are likely to compare earning. The more you earn, the better of you think you are.

This is what I thought. I always earned well; for most of my life I’ve earned more than most. Where did this get me? Four years ago, we had about $160,000 consumer debt.

To get out of the debt whole, I had to understand that how much I earn is irrelevant; how much of that I keep is what really matters.

As a result, in four years we’ve gone from $160,000 debt to over $80,000 new investments. Now we earn well and keep most of it.

If I’d planted this money seed in my 20s, I’d be already be working for the pleasure of it rather than the pay.

Seed 4: Life is not for money, money is for life

There is too much talk about money. Personal finance is a big business and we are bombarded by media messages about how to borrow more, what to spend it on and the threat of running out of it before we’ve run out of life.

And here is the thing: the link between our money and our lives is usually a negative one. It is a bit like, money is the goal and our lives are the means through which we achieve it.

Every time someone tells you that they want to make millions – and stops at that – they live for money.

In fact it is quite the reverse: living a happy and fulfilled life is the goal and money is the means to achieve it.

Now I have my money nourish my life. And I wish I had this one figured out when I was in my 20s. My life would have been more abundant, less stressful and, I believe, financially healthier.

Seed 5: Dream big

Recently, at a conference in Africa, I heard a political leader warn the audience ‘…to temper their dreams, because dreams can become nightmares’.

This was a transgression bigger, and more dangerous, than corruption and incompetence, I believe. Because our dreams are our future. Yes, sometimes they can turn bad and then we just have to dream another dream.

Dreaming is what gets knocked out of us from an early age; it gets knocked out by our parents (‘stop dreaming and get dressed’), our education systems and our societies.

I still dream and I dream big without fear of disappointment or ridicule.

When I told our financial advisor that we’ll pay off all our debt in three years he laughed; we did it! When I told a colleague that I’ll have a personal professorship within three years, he laughed; I got it in two and a half. And when part of my dream becomes reality I celebrate because this is so much more than my present.

Seed 6: Impossible is nothing!

I know I’m drifting into branding slogans.

I also believe this to be true: there are very few things that are truly impossible and this is likely temporary.

You can be anybody and you can get anywhere; you just have to:

  • decide where (and who) you wish to be;
  • work out the conditions to get there; and
  • pursue these with the single-minded commitment of a drug addict.

Impossible is nothing and you’ll see that things will start happening


You know, I wasn’t completely honest at the beginning of this article. The other day, I had coffee with a friend and we didn’t talk about our aches and pains; we dreamt up a new project.

I still flirt shamelessly.

Author’s bio: I am Maria Nedeva, the blogger behind The Money Principle where I show smart people how to win the game of wealth by learning and acting. My brand of money management comes with a side dish of logic, analysis and sociology.

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20 Comments on "Plant These Money ‘Seeds’ in Your 20s"


A great read. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I absolutely agree with all the points made by the author, particularly seed #3, it is about how much you keep not how much you earn. That is one of the things I often try to communicate to people.


@SavvyJames:Yes, this is a good one. You may think it is obvious but it takes sometime to work it out :).

I love what you had to say about life not being about making money, but money is for life. I couldn’t agree more. Money is great and it’s never a bad thing to earn more of it, but when you spend your entire time focused on the pursuit of money, can you really be saying your living anymore? Life is more than that. It’s about living a satisfied life. If that means earning a little less than that works for me. I’ve learned to live life with less so I actually need very little money to be happy. I’ve chosen… Read more »

@Steve, glad tt hear that the ‘money-life’ thing resonates with you. If you ever fancy writing a guest article about living life to the full and on little money, give me a shout :).

Leslie Tayne
Leslie Tayne

Great tips on how to lay a strong and solid financial foundation for the future. Understanding the relationship between your money and how it influences your lifestyle is important to having a happy and fulfilled life. Your money is for your life! Figuring out what you want and need your money for helps you determine how much you need. Always make your money work for you!


@Leslie: Thanks, glad you enjoyed the post. I do believe that many younger (and not so young) people spend their lives fixated on the otcome (money) rather than the result (contributing great value and living a great life). Money is just the means!


When our son got his first job after grad school, we sat with him and helped him decide which benefits that the company offered he should sign up for. Two things we demanded he sign up for effective day one was the retirement savings plan and health insurance. Because those things have been present since his very first paycheck, he never missed the money because he never saw it even on a single paycheck. I think he’s doing pretty well.


@Kathy: Good steps – this pretty much what happened ahen our eldest son got his first job. But does your son have a big dream? (I just rememebered that I don’t know whether my son does :)).

KK @ Student Debt Survivor
KK @ Student Debt Survivor

“It is about how much you keep not how much you earn” Absolutely true! I know people making 3 times what I make who have nothing to show for it. Literally, no savings, they don’t own a home or a car and they constantly complain about having no money!


@KK: I know; I used to be one of those. Now I hear my friends and colleagues complain that they are hard up because they can’t book a holiday and I’m thinking: get real and look at how you manage your money.

Jon @ Our Fine Adventure
Jon @ Our Fine Adventure

Great post!! Love to hear your thoughts and perspective… it was very refreshing to read, thanks for sharing!!


@Jon: Thanks, Jon! There is more of this where that came from :).

old dude
old dude

You are wise beyond your years.
Get a TV Show to showcase your philosophy.



@Old Dude: Intriguing idea! About getting a TV show. How about you becoming my agent on two continents and we’ll do it together (and I’m being serious here). As to my wisdom, yep, nothing like a crisis that almost kills you to become wise; and I’m not that young :).

Dee @ Color Me Frugal
Dee @ Color Me Frugal

Great post. I was especially struck by your last seed, that impossible is nothing. It’s so easy to get caught up in day to day struggles and forget to see the long version of life. And it’s easy (for me at least!) to get discouraged when life is hard. Thanks so much for sharing your perspective.


@Dee: Impossible is only what we had no courage to try and work out. This is what I believe and this is what thee stories of many people who have over achieved tell us. You are right about it being hard to believe this when bogged down by everyday concerns. Once beyond those (in your mind) there are no limits to how much we can learn, do and achieve.


I think it is rare that we hear from someone with your perspective on things. Most of the personal finance blogs out there are run by those strictly focused on the future, and many of the tips–although practical–are focused on the immediate rather than the span of decades. Glad to read this.


@Snarkfinance: Thanks, glad you like it. I’ve always believed that it is easier for older people to think about ‘the future’ rather than their own future. I’m not theere yet (obviously :)) but trying to emulate them. This is the difference. I also learned the hard way that either the short or the very long term thinking is not always helpful.

NZ Muse
NZ Muse

Love everything about this post. Nice to hear your perspective about increasing the ‘cloth’ – starving for passion’s sake is a noble idea, but in reality…


@NZ Muse: You see, I think that most people who starve for passion’s sake have very little imagination. Usually passion and talent are great stands on which to position ‘increasing the cloth’. Recently, I was talking to a young writer with a lot of talent who is completely broke and can’t see a way out. He was so fixated on one type of writing that he couldn’t even see that being able to write well today can make you a living if not a fortune (though some fortunes have been made as well).