I began making my own decisions for my life when I was 14. Certainly, my parents had a say in every important item, but before entering high school, I had the first part-time job which provided me with a regular stream of income. I made several great decisions with this money. When I was 16, I used a part of those savings to pay for airfare and living costs after making a decision to study abroad in Israel. When I got back home, during the following several years, I shared my money on family vacation and spent it on textbooks in college.
Additionally, I can say that I made a couple of great life decisions. For example, I have chosen my major early enough and finished almost all the required courses by the time I was a junior in college. I used the chance to study abroad with a program which was cheaper than a single semester at my home college. I joined a sorority, due to which I found my best friends and several jobs. Also, I took a part-time during my last year of study with a company in my field of expertise, thus saving much money on the expedited certification program that launched my career.
Several Things Which I Would Have Done Differently If There Was an Opportunity
Graduate Early From High School
I cannot say that I was happy when I was going to high school. I almost had no friends, most classes were boring, and by the time I came back home, I had a feeling like I had outpaced the maturity levels of my friends that were of the same age. Now I understand that with some planning, I could have graduated a year earlier. I had enough credits for this, but I just did not know that there was such an option. So now I have some regrets as I had a chance to save myself the trouble just by asking a couple of questions.
Consider a Gap Year or Community College
If used my opportunity to graduate earlier, I certainly would have taken a gap year to go for a full-time job or take some classes at community college. But as far as I did not know I had an option to graduate earlier and while I was a bit of snob, I did not do this. I must say that the school I attended was one of the highest-achieving in the state, and I believed that community college was for underachievers. I was convinced that it was for students, who could not get into a four-year school. Additionally, I had a desire to get out of my hometown and start over. Therefore, I never considered an option to go to a community college. Only now I got to know that it is a much cheaper way to earn the required general education credits.
Learn How to Drive
Actually, I do not have a car because I realize I am not awake early enough to safely operate a motor vehicle. Also, I use public transportation because of the financial and environmental standpoint. However, I regret I have not learned to drive while I was a teen. When you are an adult living far from parents' house, learning how to drive means you have to pay a driving instructor. It is much more expensive than having your mom or dad take you around in their car and teach you. So even though I am not going to use a car on a daily basis, I wish I would have learned how to drive while I was a teen.
Apply to Other Jobs While in College
When I was a senior in college, the company I was employed for a part-time position offered me a full-time employment after graduation. When I was working as a part-time manager, I liked my position a lot, and I gladly accepted that offer. However, I had not sufficient knowledge about that company in general. After working full-time for a couple of months, I found out that I was significantly underpaid for my city's average in that field. Actually, I am glad I have had that first job, and I do not regret taking it, but I should have had looked around more and at least tried to find something else. Now I think that I have decided to accept that offer mostly because I had a fear to apply for a job and to not find one rather than because it was the position which perfectly fitted me.
Open a 401(k) Earlier
After some time, I left that job and I have been on my current position for about two years now. But I just opened up my first 401(k) several weeks ago. I did not do this earlier I had no sufficient knowledge about retirement savings. At first, I made no investments because I could not afford to, but as soon as I started to earn more money, I could have spared some to put away for later. But I did not. Anyway, now I have opened my 401(k) and I am glad I did it.
I consider myself a lucky person. I had an opportunity to receive good education, I had a middle-class upbringing, and I have supportive parents who allowed me to make important decisions on my own. Certainly, I would not be the person I am now if I had made other decisions. However, if there was an opportunity to turn time back and do things over again, I would consider the things I know now and probably make something differently, thus making my life a bit easier.