"What is one piece of financial advice you wish you had received when you were 18 years old?"

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Amanda here, head of Ops at A.M. Money. I answered this question on a Financial Literacy panel at After School Matters’ senior send off last week, and can’t wait to hear your thoughts.

When I turned 18, I was two things:

  1. Way too excited to start my freshman year at U of I (that’s University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign for those of you who are not from Chicago)

  2. Completely broke.

So when I think about what I know now about finance, credit, loans, saving, spending, budgeting, interest, fdsifoding (oops my brain just imploded)… I had to think hard about what I wish I had known at 18. I didn’t have money to save, spend, or budget. I wasn’t ready for a credit card…

Finally I realized what I really needed as a graduating high school senior: people.

I wish I had known and taken advantage of the resources around me: the financial aid office, the writing center, and career center at U of I. I wish I had made more relationships with professors and staff members who could have helped me when s*** hit the fan. Relying on good ol mom and dad wasn’t always an option, and most of it I just had to figure out by myself.

My friend Jawann at The Academy Group teaches a class called “CEO of Myself” which frames a young person’s life as a business with a board of directors, where they are the CEOs. If I was the CEO of my life at 18, I for sure did not have a Chief Financial Office to help me manage the money issues in my life.

My advice to 18-year-old Amanda: Find your resources and network and make them your CFO.

This advice definitely would have helped my broke self build the infrastructure to make smarter decisions, research the best options out there, and ultimately start building wealth earlier.