If you could go back in time, what financial lessons would you teach your past self? Here are some of the things we wish we knew about money a decade ago.

If you had the opportunity to talk to your past self, what would you teach them about money? Would it be how to use a credit card properly? Would it be advice on saving money? Or would you convince yourself to invest in Bitcoin and wait 10 years to get rich?

We asked our Instagram followers what they wish they knew about money 10 years ago and here are some of the top answers.

Building interest is essentially free money (kind of)

Earning interest is, in many cases, essentially free money. When you put money away into a savings account, you slowly build up interest based on how much money you’ve saved. In many cases, this isn’t much especially when you account for inflation. During some periods like a recession, you actually won’t generate much income at all.

However, there’s one fact about interest that we all learned a little too late; the more money you save, the more money you build. If you don’t have anything else to spend your money on or invest your cash into, then leaving it in a savings account is a sure way to gradually build up interest. Even if you don’t make a huge profit from it, it’s better than leaving it alone and watching its value drop due to inflation.

Improve your credit score by making smarter financial decisions

Your credit score is something that a lot of us probably didn’t learn about until we started looking at borrowing money, loans, or getting a credit card. However, once we did learn about it, it made complete sense. Banks and lenders don’t want to give money to people who won’t pay it back, hence why a record of our financial history is kept and referenced whenever we need to borrow money or use credit.

Credit scores are calculated differently depending on the agency. In the UK, we have Experian, Equifax and TransUnion credit scores. Each of these agencies will give you a different kind of credit score, so you can think of it as a different scale to measure the same thing. For example, a “Fair” credit score would be 721 to 880 for Experian but 380 to 419 for Equifax.

Keeping a steady score isn’t just about avoiding debt though. In some cases, borrowing money and paying it back on time with interest can actually improve your credit rating. Think of it this way; if you borrow money and pay it back in full before paying back any interest, then lenders can’t really make money from you. Instead, it’s much better to make frequent payments and stay as close to the loan’s full term as possible.

Learning to save money takes a lot longer than you think

Saving money is a concept that many of us understand now. A decade ago, it probably wasn’t even on our minds. That’s because we had no idea that emergency expenses could cost so much, and we probably had others to rely on for maintenance costs and expenses around the home. Saving money is probably the last thing on your mind if you’re living with your parents and have a part-time job. But fast forward 10 years, and it’s clear that saving money is extremely important.

Perhaps one of the easiest ways to start saving money is to first be hit with a massive emergency expense. This could mean losing or breaking your glasses and needing to pay for a replacement. Or it could mean your laptop breaking and having to spend money on a new one. These kinds of expenses suck because it’s unplanned, expensive and urgent. However, we need to accept that bad luck happens and we need to prepare for it.

Facing financial adversity really helps you wake up to the importance of saving money and always having some kind of backup plan. It’ll make you realize that you probably spend a lot of money without first thinking about it and that you likely have a lot of stuff that you really don’t need. The savvier you are with your money now, the better off you’ll be in the future.

Should you have invested in Bitcoin?

It’s easy to look back 10 years ago and see just how cheap Bitcoin was in the past. That doesn’t mean we should invest in cryptocurrency now, but it’s a great example of how investing in the future can be a really smart decision.

Much like many other purchases, some things just go up in value over time. For example, the figurines and comics you bought when you were young are probably worth something to collectors these days, especially if you keep them in good condition. There’s no guarantee that they’ll sell for a lot, but there’s always a value attached to the things we own and invest in.

Bitcoin is one of many things that we could have invested in 10 years ago. As a new technology, it had a lot of potential and the people that believed in it made a huge profit. Another great example is Tesla’s shares. When they started trading in June 2010, their shares were just $17.00 USD. 10 years later, Tesla shares peaked at $880.00 USD. This isn’t a massive growth like Bitcoin, but it does show that making investments like this can be a solid way to increase your wealth.

Being smarter with credit cards

10 years ago, we probably all thought of credit cards as “extra money” that we could spend on things. For instance, if you really wanted to buy an expensive item, you could use credit cards to spread the payment over many months or even years. Unfortunately, as we now know, interest can pile up and make purchases cost a lot more money. As such, it’s important to be a little smarter when it comes to using credit cards.

For example, a big benefit of using credit cards is to take advantage of all the rewards and bonuses they offer. This can include cheaper flights, coupons, or even gift cards. If you don’t use these, then there’s really no reason to use a credit card if you can already afford the purchase. It’s also a good idea to use credit cards to take advantage of the 0% APR introductory periods when possible. This can be an option to pay back debt or pay for something expensive as soon as you’re accepted.

But credit cards aren’t the only solution when it comes to paying for large expenses. There are options such as Zilch; a zero-interest and zero-surprises way to spread costs. As one of the fastest-growing companies in the UK buy-now-pay-later market, Zilch is spreading like wildfire and becoming one of the top methods to pay for big expenses with zero hidden fees. It has excellent compatibility with retailers such as Amazon, eBay, Matalan, and Boohoo, and Zilch’s custom systems ensure that you don’t overborrow by monitoring your affordability with its smart AI-powered processes. This makes Zilch a game-changer in the BNPL market.

And remember, with Zilch, there are no hidden fees for you to pay overtime, anywhere.