50 Charlotte millionaires answer, “What’s your No. 1 piece of personal finance advice to young people?”

50 Charlotte millionaires answer, “What’s your No. 1 piece of personal finance advice to young people?”
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Recently, we asked Agenda readers with a net worth over $1 million to take our 2019 Charlotte Millionaires Survey. Within that survey, we asked “What’s your one piece of personal finance advice to young people?” Below are the top 50 responses.

While there were definitely themes that included start saving early, live within your means and contribute to retirement plans — we thought it would be best to share their unedited advice directly.

Below are the top 50 pieces of financial advice (that you’ll actually want to use) directly from local millionaires.

The net worth of each individual is listed after their advice.


“Spend money like you make $40,000 per year until you have kids.” – $20 million

“Don’t ever think you have figured out. Stay on guard and continue to question your investing decisions.” – $9.2 million

“Start disciplined saving NOW…even if it’s a very small amount. The power of compound interest is amazing!” – $10 million

“Save 10% of your income regularly at least and invest it in a diversified portfolio with discipline. Don’t pay a lot of attention to market swings. Dollar cost averaging works.” – $4 million

“Delay gratification.” – $7 million

“Live below your means and start investing early.” – $5.2 million

“Save your money. Don’t spend on eating out or extravagant vacations or clothing. Be simple.” – $5 million

“Start saving max in 401k right away and investing in 529 plans for college as kids are born.” – $3 million

“Be willing to do anything when you get your first job. Becoming invaluable to an employer is key.” – $2.4 million

“If you can’t afford it, don’t buy it. We have never paid ANY interest on our credit card but have traveled well with their air miles program.” – $3.8 million

“Best way to save a lot is to earn a lot. That means work harder. If you think you are going to work 40 hours per week and create wealth, you are wrong.” – $1.5 million

“Live well below your means. Avoid spendthrift friends.” – $15 million

“Plan ahead! By this I mean what do YOU want? Not what every one else appears to have or what you think you SHOULD want, but what is it you want to set aside money for in the future.” – $11 million

“Careful who/when you marry. Biggest financial decision you will make… how they spend, how they save and the financial disaster that occurs with divorce.” – $1.5 million

“Payoff all debts first (highest interest first) and then built savings to purchase real estate at the right time. Everything goes up and down so buy when people are selling desperately and sell when people are buying desperately.” – $1.6 million

“You need a plan and a budget, and you should stick to it — but an important line in your budget is a ‘slush fund’ that you can use for your Starbucks fix or a splurge. Just make sure you track and stay true to that budget!” – $1.7 million

“Spend less than you earn. Recognize what assets are not worth the cost (i.e. expensive cars). Maximize your 401k and IRAs no matter how inconvenient it is when you are young.” – $7 million

“Check the interest rate on your debt. Whichever has the highest pay it off first – you’re losing more in interest each month until it’s paid down. With investment – diversify, diversify, diversify. Mix it up with traditional and something that excites you. Putting money in a Roth or 401k each month isn’t exactly a thrill. Having an investment option that feels fun will make saving the money easier.” – $3.5 million

“Once you cover basic living expenses with your paycheck, save 8% in your retirement accounts, save at least 15% (and 90% of bonuses) after-tax in savings account AND other than for college, first home and first car, do NOT borrow money.” – $8 million

“Live moderately. Don’t pass up easy savings, like buying quality, timeless clothes off the clearance rack or using coupons at the grocery store for stuff that you’re going to buy anyway.” – $2.7 million

“Don’t try to invest yourself, hire professionals. It’s not as easy as it looks to take emotion out of investing.” – $4.1 million

“Start saving early and save until it hurts. The power of compound interest is a real thing.” – $3 million

“Pay off the credit cards in total each and every month.” – $6 million

Homes along Queens Rd West

Queens Road West in Myers Park

“Paying off debt gives you a 100% guaranteed return of that debt’s interest rate. And every time you eliminate a monthly bill like a car payment, it’s like getting a nice raise. Eliminating debt gives you freedom and options. Don’t become an indentured servant to your fancy house.” – $3.4

“Don’t buy bull*** – live poor until you have enough income to buy a home and nice quality things.” – $3 million

“Get ahold of your finances early. Talk with a financial advisor to get your affairs/goals set. If you don’t want to pay for an advisor going forward then at least use a robo-advisor. Automate your saving!” – $3.2 million

“Spend your pennies. Save your nickels. Invest your dimes.” – $2.2 million

“Do not go into debt. Credit cards allow you to live a life you cannot afford. That will be your downfall and will preclude financial success.” – $2 million

“It might sound boring, but it’s fundamental. Pay yourself (save and invest) first, and start EARLY in life, even if it’s just a little bit to start. Time is your biggest ally.” – $1.5 million

“Don’t spend what you can technically afford, spend what you need. Drive cars that work instead of needing the fanciest cars on the block. Buy a house within an appropriate budget and then travel, don’t be house poor! Spend money on the things that you really enjoy, but don’t waste money on things you don’t, just to keep up with so and so.” – $1.1 million

“Avoid expensive cars. get comfortable in your own space- you don’t need the next car, next neighborhood, next club.” – $1.3 million

“Ladies, when the babies come, do not give up your careers! If you can pay child care expenses & still bring home a decent amount of money (& not lose your mind), keep working! Those kids will be in school before you know it & you will be glad for the fulfillment & the money. At 50, I have many friends who are 1) bored or 2) newly divorced & financially dependent. Hang on to your ability to be financially independent. You will thank me when you’re an empty nester & have something to do!” – $3 million

“Be happy with what you have and learn to appreciate it at whatever stage you are in.” – $8 million

“Always contribute enough to your 401k to get the company match, or you’re throwing away free money. If you aren’t luckly enough to have a 401k at work don’t let that be an excuse not to save. Set up a monthly withdrawal in an IRA for even a small amount and let decades of compound interest work its magic. Just do it.” – $1.5 million

“Save 10-15% of your income.” – $6 million

“Figure out the kind of life you want to have, not the stuff, but the life; what is important to you? Then figure out what that will cost, and then pursue a career you will enjoy that can help you achieve the life you want.” – $8.3 million

“The most successful investors, on average, are dead. That is, the people who are not making any changes to their investments for a long, long time. This is followed closely by those who are alive but forgot about their investment. Be like these people: make a plan early and stick with it. Really stick with it. Don’t deviate for any reason. Don’t make excuses. Don’t skip a payment. If you have extra, invest it don’t splurge. Stick to the plan. Kudos to you if you do the math and make a good plan (there are lots of tools, you don’t need to do the math yourself!). But a halfway decent plan is better than no plan at all.” – $2 million

“Start investing early and don’t keep up with the Joneses.” – $4.2 million

“If you want to be rich, act poor. If you want to be poor, act rich.” – $1.5 million

“Try and make every month cash-flow positive and save at least $1,000/month – increase as you can.” – $2 million

“Young people rock! You can do this. Again consistently save.” – $2 million

“Put money away weekly or at least monthly. You will not miss it and over time it will grow with proper investing. Basic index mutual funds. Be patient and work for tomorrow. It really works to simply spend less than you make. Invest the difference and one day you will be filling in this survey.” – $5.2 million

“Don’t just live within your means, live below your means. Which will require that you don’t get caught up in competing with your friends and peers for status in homes, cars, name brand clothes, etc. ” – $1.1 million

“Max out your tax efficient retirement accounts as soon as possible; no one judges you for not having money to spend in your 20s so you might as well save a good amount and enjoy whatever is left while comforted that you know your future is secure.” – $1.1 million

“Save! Figure out how little you can spend and then pay the remainder into your savings accounts first. Build up your savings to handle emergencies but bucket out $ for travel and other long term goals. You don’t have to buy everything at once. And don’t compare to what others have. You have no idea how they’re really paying for everything. Live your life, not theirs. Seriously we had a friend we were envious of early in our married life and careers who seemed to have it all. He’s now jobless and homeless because of spending his inheritance and more. He frittered it away on things that weren’t lasting.” – $1.3 million

“I’m not a fan of the new “FIRE” ambitions. Save aggressively using the power of compounding interest and leave your money alone. Use a reputable professional investment firm to manage funds and don’t be pulled into new stocks promising high returns. Leave those decisions to the mutual fund managers.” – $1.6 million

“No more than $50 a year at Starbucks, cook 350 dinners in your own kitchen a year. Pay your savings account first.” – $1.8 million

“Buy a damn house! Stop renting and thinking you’re getting a ‘deal’ bc there’s crappy coffee in the lobby and some AstroTurf to call a ‘dog park’.” – $1.9

“Live below your means. Save, save, save. and save again. Learn about investing. Compound interest is the 8th wonder of the world. Just because your parents lived in debt does not mean you have to repeat the cycle. Your friends are not on your journey. You don’t have to live the instagram life they are, usually, pretending to live.” – $2 million

“Avoid the payment trap.” – $1.3 million


Agenda related story: At what age do people become millionaires in Charlotte?

Note: All information comes from a survey created by us that was linked in the Sept. 10 newsletter, to which 45,000+ people subscribe. Keeping it anonymous gave us a window into the finances of wealthy people who otherwise wouldn’t share such personal details. We had slightly fewer than 150 responses, and we weeded out a handful who didn’t use it correctly or submitted inappropriate or irrelevant responses.  

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