Throughout my 20s so far, I’ve made a lot of mistakes. I forgot to write thank you emails after job interviews. I tweezed my eyebrows until they were way too thin (the horror). I thought people felt a certain way about me (good and/or bad) when they didn’t (in other words, I am really fucking paranoid). These mistakes weren’t bad, though. I learned from them. I became a better (and smarter) person because of them. After all, the best way to learn is to fuck something up big time, right? Well, not always.
When it comes to money, this is not always the case. Sure, you can learn a lot from being dead broke. You can form better money habits when you are forced to be better with money. You can really learn the value of a dollar when every penny truly means something to you. But when you continue to make mistakes with money that keep leading you down these learning paths, that’s not a good thing.
Don’t get me wrong. I love the mistakes I’ve made in my 20s. Not only do I have stories because of them, but I had fun. I lived, and I learned, and I’m not even close to being done with either of those things yet. But if I could go back and do it all again with my money habits, I would.
I try to live life with #NoRegrets, but I definitely regret all the mistakes I made with here. Here are all of the things I did in my 20s that stopped me from saving money.
1. Not making a budget.
This was my first mistake. I never tracked what bills I had to pay each month (or year). I never checked to see if there was anything I could or should cut back on. For all I know, someone could have been spending my money, and I would never have known. I should have budgeted not only for saving, but for living. For everything. In Excel, in Mint, even on my Bank’s website or app. Now that I do, I realize how easy it is.
2. Not looking at how much I was spending and comparing it to how much I was making.
Even if I wasn’t going to budget everything out and keep track of my spending habits, I could have at the very least paid attention to the fact that sometimes (okay, a lot of the time) I was spending more than I made in a single month. Eek. Now when I see how close I am to spending as much as I made that month, I cringe.
3. Going shopping when I didn’t have anything to buy.
I love to shop. It’s honestly my downfall. I love clothes. I love accessories. I love shoes. I love jewelry. I love home decor. I love everything. I love new everything. Even when I know I can’t buy new things, I find happiness in looking at potential new things because honestly, shopping brings me short-term happiness. But it hurts me in the long-term because I get upset thinking about the things I know I can’t have. If I didn’t know there were new clothes and hats and shoes and bags out there calling my name over the years, I probably wouldn’t have spent so much money on stuff! Now I only shop when I really need (or really want) something. No more looking just for fun. I would rather not know what I’m missing out on!
3. Insisting on wearing a new outfit every time I went out.
Luckily I stopped doing this around 25ish, but for years, my need for a new outfit every time I hit the bars made a major dent in my bank account. Now, I do the opposite. I literally have one shirt I wear every time I go out. The game has changed, and so have I.
4. Saying “yes” to literally everything.
Vacations? Sure. Weekend nights away? Yeah. Friday night dinner and drinks? Yes please. Saturday night at the bar? Definitely. Sunday brunch? Lets do it. Drinks on a Tuesday? I made it work. I had severe FOMO for the majority of my 20s, so even when I knew my bank account would be better off without plans, I kept my plans anyway. “No” wasn’t in my vocabulary. If only I could go back and stay in a few times, I would maybe have some extra dollars in my savings account.
5. Trying to live the same lifestyle as people who make more money than me.
In addition to saying “yes” to everything, some of the stuff I said “yes” to was not anything I should have been doing. While I no longer make “shit” money (you know, “entry-level” money), I don’t make a “shit ton” of money. There are people out there my age (and younger, and older) who make less than me, and there are people who make more than me. In fact, there are a lot of people who make more money than me. For years, I thought saying “no” to plans due to money wouldn’t have been embarrassing. I wanted to act like I was doing as well, if not better, than others. If there is one thing I could do over in my 20s, this would be it. In the short-term, I had fun – but in the long-term, my bank account did not benefit one bit.
6. Spending more money every time I would start making more money.
Every time I got a raise, I for some reason acted like I won the lottery. Vacations! Drinks! Expensive dinners! New home decor! New clothes! New apartment! Upgrading my life along with my upgraded salary did not upgrade my bank account though. Instead, it got my bank account no where. Now, I am trying to live like I did before I started making more money. So far, I haven’t changed my bad habits completely, but I’ve certainly started to turn things around.