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Dear 18 Year-Old Me

I got this idea from a post on Live Richly. How crazy fun would it be if I could actually send this letter back through time and warn myself of what’s coming? Honestly, my 18 year-old self would probably think it was a joke and throw it in the trash, because that’s how much I thought I knew at 18.

Dear 2001 Andrea:

I’m writing from ten years into your future to give you a heads up about some of the stupid crap you’re about to do. If you choose to suspend reality for a moment and accept this information, your future could be limitless instead of the tiny box you end up closing yourself into.

I know you’re graduating next month and SO excited about going to Brescia University. After all, you have an almost 3 year-old, so no one expected you to make it to college. However, I want to be a little radical here and suggest you go to community college for your basics. This will save you about $14,000 in student loans, and despite what you’re thinking right now, those things really do have to be paid back. You can go to Brescia after you’ve taken your general ed requirements and no one will think any less of you.

Speaking of college, don’t major in social work no matter how much your heart pulls you in that direction. It’s not enough to love your field when bills are due. You need to major in something healthcare or business related so you’ll have enough income to live on. Or at least a double major, like social work and public health administration. Seriously. You’ll thank me later.

Your boyfriend is going to get a decent job later this year and you’ll plan to marry him next spring. Please think about this very carefully. Remember those things that drive you crazy after 4 years with him, like flirting with other girls and recklessly spending money? Those things aren’t going to magically disappear with marriage like you thought they would. In fact, they’ll get worse and you’re going to be divorced before your 8th wedding anniversary. I know he’s Jayden’s dad, I know you think you’re doing the right thing, but would it hurt to wait about 2 more years? He’ll show his true colors by then.

Now, let me tell you about that credit card you got right after your birthday. The cool Capital One card with Van Gogh’s “Starry Night” on it? The one whose number I can recite right now from memory, ten years later? Cut it up right now. RIGHT NOW. You know you have a tendency to do things full force, and credit cards will end up being one of them. Before this year is over, you’ll carry that card (and a bunch of other ones) in the purse you bought on credit, to eat lunch you’ll pay for with credit, while wearing clothes you bought on credit. At the time this will seem like an amazing plan, but please believe that you’ll be paying for those mistakes when you catch up with me at almost 30.

On a similar note, start thinking about retirement as soon as you get out of school. Don’t think you have plenty of time for it, because you’re getting a late start in the working world as it is. Start immediately and don’t touch it no matter what emergencies come up. You’ll get through every financial crisis with help from Mom and Dad, but maybe you won’t need their help if you get it together.

Finally, I know you’re going to be busy with school and a million other things, but spend more time with Jayden. Use the camcorder and camera more. You’ll have a digital camera soon, so you won’t have to take film to get developed all the time. By the time you’re sitting where I am, with an almost teenager who thinks you’re a dork, you’ll regret all the moments you missed and/or failed to record.

I hope you’re still reading and will ponder all the information I’ve given you. I know you don’t like listening to anyone’s advice, but surely you’ll take your own. I’m way smarter at 28 than I was at 18, I can tell you that much, but I wish it wasn’t because of all the mistakes I made.


2011 Andrea

PS. Use your graduation money to buy Apple stock. It’s about $13 a share right now and will be $350 a share in ten years. That’s an easy $26,000 in your pocket.

PPS. The idea to get another perm is a stupid one. Don’t let Shannon convince you that perms are better than they were when you were a kid. It’s a lie!

PPSS. Wait for the iPhone 4 instead of the 3G. I know you have no clue what I mean but it will be worth it.

About Andrea Whitmer

Andrea is a freelance web developer and mom trying to maintain a sense of humor in an otherwise chaotic world. She blogs in hopes of helping others avoid the same mistakes she made in the past. Join in the discussion here on So Over This, or connect on Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, or Google Plus. You can also subscribe to new posts via RSS so you never miss out!


  1. Sarah in the Sun says:

    Andrea, I am currently in graduate school and learning to balance my life and my credit card. It's not something I talk about. With anyone. Ever. Money was absolutely NOT to be talked about in my family. So all this stuff is sort of just rolling around in my head: all the things I should have done, or should have avoided and how not to panic. Etc. . So anyways, I came across this site on BlogHer and just thought I'd say I literally feel relieved after reading this post,it's so nice to hear someone else talk about their debt and it's so encouraging to hear your successes.

  2. Hi, Sarah! Thanks so much for visiting and commenting. I also grew up in a home where we didn't talk about money – in fact, I still have no clue what my dad makes or how they survived when he didn't make much. Part of the reason I started blogging was to find some way to talk about all the things I wasn't able to share in real life. I'm glad you were able to feel some relief after reading here. I joke to the few people who know about my blog that people have to feel better after knowing all the dumb stuff I've done!

  3. Sarah and Jenny @Dig says:

    Hi, just found your blog. I have a friend who is in a similar situation that you were in. Good for you for taking responsibility and working hard to make things better. Looking forward to following your story. I'm adding you to our blog roll.Sarah

  4. Anonymous says:

    Andrea, I had to find your letter to your 18-year-old self after your comment today. Definitely some uncanny resemblances (promise I didn't lift your post and just change a few words!). And I love your PS's!! Hoping we get to have some good discussions at #FINCON11.

    • Like I said, I think we would have been great friends. 🙂

      I can't believe FINCON11 is only 2 months away! I'm so excited. Just scared the weekend won't be long enough to meet and talk to everyone.

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