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The piece of advice journalist Renée Sylvestre-Williams wished she had in her 20s and more


What’s the best money advice you’ve ever received?

Markets work in cycles, so if you’re confident in your portfolio, don’t pull money out of it. Between the financial crisis of 2008—when I started investing—the COVID crash in 2020 and the market volatility this year, it’s been a lot of gritting teeth and trying to resist the temptation to change things. 

What’s the worst money advice you’ve ever received?

I don’t think I’ve received “bad” money advice, but all I got in my teens and 20s was “pay off your credit card every month” and “make a budget.” I didn’t get any investing advice, which would have been more useful. 

Would you rather receive a large sum of money all at once or a smaller amount of money regularly for life? 

A smaller amount every week or month for life. I feel it would be better for how I manage my cash flow. Granted, I do have a plan for what I’d do with the money if I ever won the lottery. I play every now and then with a group of friends.

What do you think is the most underrated financial advice, tip or strategy?

You don’t need a lot of money to start investing. Open a low- or no-fee account with a robo-advisor if you’re not confident in your financial knowledge and start there. Also, don’t look at your investments every day, especially during a bear market. That will just stress you out. 

(Conveniently, MoneySense has an excerpt of Sylvestre-Williams’ new book Money Myths about how to open an investing account online.)

What is the biggest misconception people have about growing money?

That you have to be rich to start investing. Yeah, yeah, Warren Buffett—who, by the way, is not self-made—but you don’t need a lot of cash to get started. The investing platform Robinhood pretty much proved that point. 

Can you share a money regret?

I wish I didn’t spend the money I brought back from Japan when I went there to teach English nearly 20 years ago, on silly things like going out, etc., and put some of it in investments. Hindsight is a pain, but if I knew then what I know now, I wouldn’t have done that. I would have spent some of it on stupid stuff, but not the majority of it. 

What does the word “value” mean to you? 

Value is something I can get a lot of wear out of. That could be paying full price for a phone, spending more on clothes, etc. I tend to wear the same things again and again, so I will spend more on a top and wear it for years versus buying a cheaper item. Caveat: I save for and can afford to do this. No shaming people’s budgets.


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