We sometimes forget that even the wealthiest, most successful people weren’t always on top of the world.
“Every master was once a disaster,” T. Harv Eker writes in his bestseller, “Secrets of the Millionaire Mind.” “No one comes out of the womb a financial genius. Every rich person learned how to succeed at the money game, and so can you.”
Business Insider asked CEOs, self-made millionaires, and bestselling authors what they wish they’d known about money from the get-go.
After years of experimentation, successes, and failures, here’s the financial advice nine successful people would give their younger selves:
Put aside more money than you think you can and learn to live without it.
Lewis Howes, lifestyle entrepreneur, business coach, author of 'The School of Greatness':
'Money comes to you when you are ready for it. Start creating auto payments to your savings and investments early on, even if it's $10 a month -- and then, each year increase the auto payments to something that feels uncomfortable, and stick with it.'
Have a cash cushion.
'Before investing or starting a company, make sure you have enough money saved for at least six months to pay bills or anything else that might come up financially. It's important to have a cushion of six months financial back-up before you invest or if something doesn't work out in your favour.'
Start building a nest egg.
'Start saving for retirement! It's never too early to put money away towards an IRA. Teens can even contribute money earned from baby-sitting or other jobs, and doing so can go a long way towards building up a sizable nest egg.'
Don't go into debt unless you know it will pay off.
Elliot Weissbluth, CEO of HighTower:
'Don't go into debt unless it's to make a long-term investment that will pay off in the future, like a home that will increase in value over time or an education that increases your earning power.
'Fortunately, I figured this one out as a college student shopping for a new car. The temptation to take out a loan and buy a shiny new model was there, but once I did the maths and saw the true cost of the payments and interest, I couldn't justify borrowing so much money to buy a vehicle that would start to decline in value the moment I drove it off the lot. I bought a used Jeep instead, learned how to fix it up, and discovered a new hobby of working on cars.'
Don't accept every credit card offer.
Farnoosh Torabi, personal finance expert, bestselling author, host of the daily podcast, 'So Money':
'I would insist upon my younger self to be more thoughtful about credit. I opened up random credit cards in college just to win the silly shot glasses and tee-shirts. I opened multiple store cards to get the 20% discounts, all without really understanding the importance of paying bills off in full every month. As a result, my credit score suffered and I even got denied additional credit at one point due to a late payment incident.'
Bet on yourself.
David Bach, best-selling author, founder of FinishRich Media:
'In business and life I would tell my younger self to 'bet on yourself to win.' You're going to have big dreams against huge odds, with a goal of being of service to millions of people, and many people will laugh and tell you why it can't be done by you (and they will all be wrong).'
Learn the ins and outs of investing even if you don't have money to invest.
Steve Siebold, self-made millionaire, author of 'How Rich People Think':
'I should have invested more time in my 20s studying equities, even when I didn't have money to invest. It would have prepared me better when I entered the stock market later on.'
Figure out what you're passionate about and find a way to monetise it.
Jennie Enterprise, founder of Manhattan's CORE: club:
'Invest in your passions and talent first and manage your own world of ideas by developing a monetisation strategy.
'I was fortunate enough to discover my passion and have a clarity of purpose early in life. I've always had an obsessive, unwavering commitment to creating a business reality that both inspired me and propelled me to view life's obstacles as an exciting metaphorical chess game. For entrepreneurs, these puzzles are gifts for us to solve, not pitfalls to be avoided.'
NOW WATCH: Money & Markets videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.