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From getting laid off to having $2.26 in the bank—4 money experts share what they've learned from this decade

Justin Govender | Twenty20

The past decade has been a roller coaster for many millennials. Many in this generation wrapped up college, embarked on (and lost) jobs, moved to new cities and even bought homes and started families.

Through it all, they've picked up valuable financial, and life, lessons. To commemorate the ups and downs of this past decade, we asked several of the money experts CNBC Make It regularly turns to for advice to share a few of the biggest lessons they've learned over the past 10 years.

Here's a look at where they were in 2010, how they're finishing the decade and what they learned in the intervening years.

Tiffany Aliche, "The Budgetnista"

Tiffany Aliche: Debt-free does not equal wealth

Started off the decade: In 2010, Aliche moved back home with her parents at 30 years old. "I lost my job in 2009 during the recession and could no longer afford my mortgage, so I lost my home too," she says.

Ended the decade: Aliche now runs four companies and has 30 people that work with her. "There are a lot of calls and Slack," she says, adding she's also a personal finance personality (The Budgetnista), so on any given day she might be on the news, taping a segment for a TV show or being interviewed for a podcast, radio show, blog, magazine or newspaper.

Biggest money lesson: Debt-free does not equal wealth. "The recession left me shell-shocked and I started to throw all of my money toward my debt," she says. "I felt like debt was the reason I struggled so much after losing my job."

After Aliche aggressively paid off her credit card debt, she started in on her student loans — only to come to a realization. "I could use my money to get out of debt as quickly as possible, or I could create a moderate debt pay down plan, then use the excess money to learn, earn and grow wealth via my business, The Budgetnista," Aliche says. She chose The Budgetnista.

Eight years later, she's running a multi-million-dollar business, paid off her student loans, paid off her parent's house, purchased her dream home and even bought an investment property in full.

"When you focus on debt-free, that's all you get, no debt," she says. "When you focus on wealth, you get opportunities, debt freedom, savings and money in the bank."

Erin Lowry says it's important to invest while paying off debt.

Erin Lowry: Invest and negotiate

Started off the decade: Still in college. "I graduated in May 2011, so 2010 was the end of my junior year, start of my senior year of college," Lowry says.

Ended the decade: On the road. "Everything has changed since 2010 because I'm outside the collegiate bubble now. I'm married (to the same person I was dating in 2010!), I live in New York City, have a dog and an actual career," Lowry says. Earlier this year, she was on the road off-and-on for six weeks for a book tour for her second book.

Biggest money lessons: Invest and negotiate your pay. "Those are both lessons I didn't build or even learn about while in college. Arguably, they're two of the most important ones to learn for building wealth and financial security," Lowry says.

Another important lesson Lowry learned: Be open to new opportunities. Allow yourself the flexibility to pursue the unexpected in your life, she says. "It's easy, especially early on in our lives and careers, to get extremely focused on where we 'should be' or what we should be doing, which can keep us on a fairly rigid, traditional path," Lowry says. "Outside of living in New York City, my life looks nothing like what 20-year-old Erin had envisioned in 2010." And as it turns out, that's OK.

Grant Sabatier says building a relationship with your money is the key to having more of it.
Source: Grant Sabatier

Grant Sabatier: Time is more valuable than money

Started off the decade: Broke. "In August 2010 I had to move back home with my parents because I only had $2.26 to my name," Sabatier says. "After bouncing around four jobs after college, I was 24 and couldn't find the right fit. After getting laid off in early 2010, I eventually ran out of money by June."

Ended the decade: After saving over $1 million in five years, Sabatier is now running Millennial Money, a community where he shares the secrets of his success and encourages others to do the same. "Now I wake up every day and can do whatever I want, which is usually writing and reading. I get to share and connect with hundreds of thousands of people around the world through my website Millennial Money. No two days are the same, which I love," he says.

Biggest money lessons: Time is so much more valuable than money. "You can always go out and make more money, but you'll never get back this moment," he says.

Another big lesson: Saving is an opportunity, not a sacrifice. Your savings rate — the percentage of your income that you save — is the most important number in your financial life, Sabatier says. "There's a direct correlation between the percentage of your income that you're saving and the number of years it will take you to reach financial independence," he adds.

Farnoosh Torabi

Farnoosh Torabi: Progress is sometimes disguised as failure

Started off the decade: Hustling. "I remember being really grateful that I'd managed to stay gainfully self-employed after getting laid off in 2009," Torabi says. "That year, I turned 30, published my second book "Psych Yourself Rich," took a stab at some live anchoring for a national network (I didn't love it), and began hosting my Yahoo!Finance web series Financially Fit, which went on for more than three glorious years. And, oh, I got engaged! (Buried the lead.)"

Ended the decade: With more layers. "I'm married, have two children and have the benefit of a partnership to support my sometimes hectic life of tackling multiple projects at once," Torabi says. These days, she mainly works from home, plus the occasional coffee shop or co-working space. "It's definitely one of the perks of the last 10 years and something I hope will never change!"

Biggest money lessons: Progress is sometimes disguised as failure. "There's forward momentum, even in your failures, because you have the opportunity to learn and apply your knowledge to the next endeavor," Torabi says. "And you'll be stronger because of it."

You also have to be your own greatest advocate. That's true in all realms of life, Torabi says: your health, relationships, pursuit of happiness, security and finances. "I started saying this back in 2010 and it's still true today: Nobody cares more about your money than you."

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