What 11 successful people wish they'd known about money in their 20s

Even the wealthiest, most successful people are prone to making money mistakes.

Billionaire and investor Mark Cuban misused his credit cards at a young age, while personal finance guru Suze Orman once found herself deep in debt after overspending on fancy clothes and cars.

We asked several successful people what money advice they wish they had been given in their 20s, and drew insight from LinkedIn’s “If I Were 22” series, in which top minds share what they wish they had known at 22.

Here’s what they had to say:

You need a plan for your money.

Craig Barritt/Getty
Alexa von Tobel.

Alexa von Tobel, founder and CEO of LearnVest.com, author of 'Financially Fearless:'

'Not having a financial plan is a plan -- just a really bad one! Given what I see as a general lack of personal-finance education, it can be all too easy to wing it with your money.

'I was lucky enough to learn this lesson while still in my 20s, so I had time to put a financial plan into place for myself (and start LearnVest to help people nationwide do the same!).'

Buy high quality.

Jemal Countess/Getty
Kate White.

Kate White, former editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan, author of 'I Shouldn't Be Telling You This:'

'I was a great saver in my 20s -- my dad had persuaded me to save for retirement, which seemed insane at the time, but I'm eternally grateful. But what I didn't know and wish I had is that it's so much smarter to buy a few great quality items -- in terms of clothes, furniture, accessories -- rather than a bunch of cheaper stuff.

'Oh, sometimes you get a great bargain -- I have two Pier 1 prints hanging in my living room that look like antiques but cost $US25 -- but so often cheap stuff is poorly made and falls apart in no time.

'But the right quality goods last forever and are often timeless in design, something I discovered much later when I could afford better things. I wore a Prada dress the other night that I bought 16 years ago and it still looks good. If you can swing it, go for quality and you'll save in the long run.'

Understand the power of investing.

Clif Bar & Company
Kevin Cleary.

Kevin Cleary, CEO, Clif Bar & Company:

'In my 20s, I wish I better understood the power of investing. At the time, I had fewer expenses, more free time, and a long investment horizon -- it would have been the perfect time to learn about investing.

'While I was disciplined about saving money, I missed the opportunity to leverage my money over the long haul.'

Learn to manage the money you have now, no matter how little.

Debbi Fields
Debbi Fields.

Debbi Fields, founder, Mrs. Fields:

'Looking back now, I know that I would have greatly benefited had I initiated an investment strategy as a young adult. I was so busy trying to save every dollar and living paycheck to paycheck that the idea of wealth creation was never really a consideration.

'Not thinking bigger than my bank account was my error -- I could have set up a simulated investment account, joined a club, or learned about the buying and selling of securities.

'The key to managing money and building a nest egg is learning how to manage small amounts and grow them wisely over time. It can start with pocket change and grow beyond anything you imagined! The key word here is 'imagined' ... You have to add a zero or two to your net worth and direct your attitude and financial strategy toward getting there.'

Chasing money will cripple your career.

Quidsi
Marc Lore.

Marc Lore, founder and CEO, Jet.com:

'In banking, the core motivational driver was personal financial gain, cultivating a fiercely competitive environment,' he writes in LinkedIn's 'If I Were 22' editorial package.

'Over my six years in finance, I learned to approach my career as an individual sport, where I was judged by the size of my bonus and how quickly I was promoted. One morning I fell to the floor of my office, feeling an electric jolt in my chest as a result of stress. Although it was not a heart attack, the message was clear. I had worked incredibly hard to get to the top but I was there alone -- and it was un-fulfilling.

'At 22, I evaluated my first job based on what I could get out of it. But I have since learned that you can achieve much greater success if you focus on what you can give. Ultimately, I have realised that success is not a measure of your salary, title, or degree, but the impact you have others and the collective happiness of the people you touch.'

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