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For most of my 20s, a single trip to urgent care or a big car repair would have devastated my finances. But I actually get a lot of letters from twentysomethings who are way more responsible with money than I was at that age!

Here's a letter I got from a 23-year-old who's already maxing out their Roth IRA each year. They aren't contributing to their 401(k) because their employer doesn't match, so they're worried that they won't be able to retire.

I think this person will be in great shape to retire if they're already maxing out their Roth IRA, assuming they continue to prioritize saving and investing. Because he or she is starting so early, their money will have so much time to compound over time.

It made me wonder: What lesson about money does everyone wish they'd known in their early 20s? Or if you could go back to your early 20s, what would you do differently?

For me, it would be to treat paying off high-interest debt as the best investment you can make. When you're paying 15%+ interest rates, getting rid of that debt is your top priority. If I could go back in time to when I was 23, I would put every extra cent toward getting out of debt faster. Then I'd start maxing out a Roth IRA once I was out of debt.

Tell us what you would do differently with your money if you were starting over with a blank slate at 23!

Robin Hartill aka Dear Penny is a certified financial planner and a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder.

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In my early 20's, I wish I didn't use credit cards. I ran up (what felt like to me!) a decent amount of debt and it took me a few years to pay it off. Then I ran up CC debt again. And finally got out from under it AGAIN, and since that, only use what I pay off monthly. Wish I had done that from the very start. Lesson learned!

Also wish I would have started contributing to my retirement earlier, and left it there.

For me, it would be to save money consistently year in and year out. Thinking back, my parents did teach me about investing in stocks, 401(k)s and Roth IRAs. It all kind of went over my head at the time, but I did contribute to all three to an extent in my early 20s. My downfall was not keeping this up through the rest of my 20s and 30s. I'd likely be looking at semi-early retirement if I was doing what the 23-year-old in the column is doing.

Hindsight is 20/20, however – I did get hit hard by the Great Recession of 2007-09, which happened to be right when I was getting into the job market after college. This resulted in years of job hopping and under-employment. I don't think I fully recovered financially until about 2015. Ugh.

I liked the advice you gave her and wow she’s more financially mature than I was at 23! I barely contributed to retirement at that age because I didn’t have a clue about it. I bought my first home at 23, and I loved my studio condo in Northern Virginia. I wish I knew the importance and how to budget at that age, because I was paying a mortgage/condo fees yet still going out to clubs/bars/happy hour. (Those were fun memories!) I also wish I was educated on credit cards because I just kept swiping them. Again, lots of lessons learned.

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