10 successful CEOs share the money advice they would give their 20-year-old selves

Birchbox CEO Katia Beauchamp shares how Jack Welch's autobiography helped her accept failure
Birchbox CEO Katia Beauchamp shares how Jack Welch's autobiography helped her accept failure

It's impossible to get everything right when you're just starting out, especially when it comes to money. Even the most successful people have experienced setbacks and failures.

We asked several entrepreneurs and CEOs what money advice they wish they could give to their 20-year-old selves.

Here’s what they had to say.

Chris O'Neill: Pay yourself first

CEO of productivity platform Evernote

Chris O'Neill
Courtesy of Evernote

"Pay yourself first. Take 10 to 15 percent of your paycheck and invest it in a passive investment portfolio before you spend anything else. And don't try to outsmart the market. Unless your name is Warren Buffett, chances are you are a bad stock picker."

Zachariah Reitano: Invest in what you believe in

Co-founder and CEO of men's health company Roman

Zachariah Reitano
Courtesy of Roman

"Amazon and Netflix got me through college so I would tell myself to invest all of the money I was comfortable losing into companies or technology that I loved."

Chris Terrill: Go where the jobs are

CEO of digital marketplace for home services ANGI Homeservices

Chris Terrill
Courtesy of ANGI Homeservices

"Move! Go where the jobs are — where the new industries are emerging. When you are willing to move for a job, you have leverage. I've seen peers who felt locked into a city for whatever reason and for many, it limited their options and limited their earning potential.

"Moving can obviously be hard on families and not everyone can do it, but if you can, it can be the greatest way to land the best jobs that pay the most."

Katia Beauchamp: Take advantage of compound interest

Co-founder and CEO of subscription service Birchbox

Katia Beauchamp
Courtesy of Birchbox

"I wish I knew the way money can compound and grow over time. I didn't have any sense of how to invest when I was younger."

Rahul Gandhi: Cut back on the small stuff

Co-founder and CEO of storage solution company MakeSpace

Rahul Gandhi
Courtesy of MakeSpace

"While long-term financial planning is incredibly important, I find that the best place to start is to find small ways to minimize spending on a daily basis.

"Limit Uber rides for when necessary. Ride-sharing makes hailing a car easy, but you'll eventually spend more than you realize. And keep an eye on your latte habit. Those $6 drinks add up quickly, so if you can, caffeinate at the office."

Katelyn Gleason: Prioritize paying off debt

Founder and CEO of healthcare billing platform Eligible

Katelyn Gleason
Courtesy of Eligible

"It wasn't until later in my 20s, living paycheck-to-paycheck working as a waitress in New York City, that I really realized how dramatically money could impact my career trajectory. I realized that until I paid off my debt, necessity would continue to limit my current and future career options. So I buckled down and focused all of my energy on saving until I was finally debt-free."

Jack Groetzinger: Don't buy a home unless you'll be in the area long-term

Co-founder and CEO of ticketing platform SeatGeek

Jack Groetzinger
Courtesy of SeatGeek

"Owning your home exposes you to tremendous idiosyncratic risk and is best avoided, particularly if you don't plan on living in the same place for a long while."

Joel Wishkovsky: If you launch a company, pay yourself a salary

Co-founder and CEO of eyecare telemedicine company Simple Contacts

Joel Wishkovsky
Courtesy of Simple Contacts

“If you are starting a company, make sure to pay yourself. I made an enormous error not paying myself at my first company, going nearly three years without a salary and depleting all of my savings. It’s unsustainable, it leads to bad decision making and ultimately, puts you in an incredibly precarious financial position that can be avoided.

“All of this advice about ‘don’t raise capital’ comes from people who either haven’t started a company or who have the luxury of not worrying about money to live. You can’t work on a company when you are freaking out about making rent or buying groceries. You aren’t superman, even if you feel like you are.”

Joel Wallenstrom: Avoid credit card debt at all costs

CEO and President of software company Wickr

Joel Wallenstrom
Courtesy of Wickr

"Credit card debt is a 'break glass' emergency only situation. And no, spring break in Jamaica is not an emergency."

Keith George: Invest in yourself

Co-founder and CEO of retail company CoEdition

Keith George
Courtesy of CoEdition

"Although it's true that money invested in your 20s can pay huge dividends in your 60s, your 20s are also a time to take a chance on yourself. Investing in your own ideas is so much easier in your 20s than it is in your 40s, when you are likely to have children, a mortgage and other expenses.

"So, yes, invest and save money, but also take risks and put your money and time behind your own business ideas. No one achieves their dreams simply by maxing out their 401(k)."

Don't miss: We looked at the 25 most popular cash back credit cards—here's our pick for No. 1

Like this story? Subscribe to CNBC Make It on YouTube!

Kevin O'Leary: It's crazy to rely on a joint bank account — even if you're married
Kevin O'Leary: It's crazy to rely on a joint bank account — even if you're married