What is it about being in your 20s and feeling like you have to listen to everyone else’s advice about what you should be doing with your life? People love making bucket lists about things someone in their 20s just has to do before they turn 30, or telling them that some things are a total waste of money in their 20s. Basically, older people just love to tell their younger selves that they’re “doing it wrong.”
But the advice you get in your 20s isn’t always the best.
It usually comes from a good place, of course. Older people see the mistakes they made when they were younger and what they would have done differently. No one wants to watch people live their lives and then regret their choices later on.
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Example: There are so many things people will tell you are a waste of cash in your 20s that aren’t actually. In fact, some of these expenses are amazing investments that will fulfill you and possible pay off long into the next decade. Yes, having a savings account is important, but really, if you have a ton of savings in your 20s are you having any fun at all? (We kid—getting your finances right is a responsible thing to do, obvs.)
Here are some things you shouldn’t feel bad spending money on in your 20s, no matter what anyone tells you.
1. Travel, travel, travel
Yes, you’re broke and not sure where your next paycheck is going to come from. Your parents just stared at you blankly when you told them that you were going to France for three months this summer or even just across the country for a wedding. You’re going to have to do it on the cheap and likely eat canned vegetables for the next year but traveling, alone or with friends, isn’t a waste of money, ever. Just pull the trigger. You can save when you’re 30.
2. Health insurance, of course
All of your equally broke friends might tell you that getting health insurance is a waste since you know, you’re 24 years old and plan on living forever. Maybe you’re lucky and have a job that gives you insurance. If you’re not, paying for health insurance is beyond worth it. Because you’re going to get sick one day and need it, and if you have insurance, it won’t cost you three grocery bills. Likewise, you don’t want to be paying out of pocket for dental cleaning if you have to, or therapy. One day, young people hopefully won’t have to make a choice about taking care of themselves or paying rent, but until then, this is not a battle you should pick with The Man.
3. Furniture, if it’s good
Although most people in their twenties all have the same IKEA furniture, it’s smart to invest in things if you are likely to hang onto them for a while. You might hear people tell you it’s not worth buying something “grown-up” because your lease is up soon or you don’t know where you’ll be in a few years. We hear their point, but having, ya know, a bed or couch that you love is worth it. You’ll end up not throwing out and re-buying cheap things if you make the investment now.
4. Designer shoes and bags
OK, we’re sort of kidding, but sort of not. Let’s not spend every paycheck on expensive boots or bags, but having high-quality clothes and bags is worth it. For one, when you can’t go shopping every season or just before a job interview, you’ll have an adult pair of heels or statement bag at least. Plus, they last forever. Spending money on good stuff is never a waste, especially if it’s the kind of stuff you can wear to interviews for jobs that will make you more money.
5. Your bills—all of them
Don’t listen to broke friends who scoff at paying back their student loans or making sure their credit card payments get made. If you have bills, pay them. Before the travel and the designer bag, naturally. Credit scores, unlike a permanent record in high school, are actually real. Take care of your debt before it spirals—it’ll feel good to have your loans and cards paid down when you blow out the candles on your 30th birthday cake. Basically, spending money on yourself, especially in the name of an easier future, is never a bad idea.