Not the words you thought you’d hear—am I right? As a twenty-something, you’re always encouraged to save save save. Think of your future. You have student loans to pay off. Remember, you’ll have to start putting money towards things like health insurance. Don’t be reckless with your money. Be smart. Think ahead. The list goes on.
Now these are all legitimate pieces of advice. It is extremely important to live smart, to consider what will happen in the next few years of your life, and plan ahead. But too much planning will drive you crazy. And you have plenty of those adult years to budget your money.
You’re in your twenties. This is time to live your life.
So throw budgeting out the window for a moment and experience.
- Try all the places to eat in your small town. Or, if you’re from a big place, try food from at least five new restaurants. Even the ones you don’t think you’ll like.
Life is about experience and about trying new things, not sitting still and eating Chipotle every other day. Before you graduate, eat a meal at every single restaurant in town. And make it an event. Gather your girlfriends and check a meal off the list every weekend. Treat yourself. And stop worrying about how many hours of your minimum wage job you are throwing out the window. In a few years, even months, you won’t remember the $10.43 you spent on a burrito and a marg. You’ll remember the moments with your best girlfriends, getting tequila-tipsy at noon on a Saturday.
- Go to that place you’ve always wanted to go.
Somewhere, buried in the back of your mind (or if you’re like me, scrawled on a note somewhere in the to-do basket on your desk) is a bucket list or a Things-I-Want-to-Do-Before-I-(insert whatever works here: graduate, move, turn thirty, etc.) list.
These are the things you want to do but somehow don’t ever have the time for. Or, realistically, you get busy with the should-dos and you forget what you really want.
A silly carnival in town? The chance to see a concert and stay in a hotel for a night? Travel to a conference for the weekend? Study abroad? Go! Spend your money on these experiences. On cotton candy. On concert tickets. On the London Eye.
PSA: You’ll never ever regret studying abroad, and here’s why.
And PSA x2: Money spent on experiences will always be the best money spent.
- Show your loved ones you care.
Sure, you’re a broke college kid or a graduated-but-still-broke college kid. I get it. But one of the biggest things you’ll learn in your twenties is that you can’t do things alone. You’re going to need the support (emotional and financial) of the people around you. And that’s why when it comes to money and the people you care about—there’s no limits. Get them the gifts they truly want. Get them the gifts that will make them smile. And stop caring about the price tag. You won’t remember how much you spent by New Year’s Eve, anyways.
- Buy drinks.
Don’t be a cheap a**. If it’s Dollar Beer Night, get one. Or two. Try a new drink. Take shots with your girls. Buy a bottle of wine and sit on the porch and drink with your mom. No, you don’t have to be stupid drunk. One drink is just fine. But don’t hold yourself back because of the money. A $6.50 Just-Because Bloody Mary with your cheeseburger isn’t going to kill you.
- Buy what you need.
A fancy jacket to wear to interviews. A wax for your car. The good-for-you veggies at the grocery store. The things we really need cost money sometimes. Welcome to the real world. But don’t sit back and live with the crappy stuff just because you’re lazy and cheap! Forget the cost and instead think of the amount of times you’ll use/wear it. Think of the long-term benefits. And quit being a baby about money.
- Make memories.
You don’t make memories by sitting on the couch. You make memories by going out and doing things. And no, that doesn’t always mean spending money. But you can’t be afraid to do things just because they take a little pocket change.
Stop putting all your money straight in the bank. That’s hard-earned money. And you deserve it. Take a good chunk and make a spending fund. Say forty dollars a week, just to spend on food or drinks or admission to the local waterpark.
Quit penny-hoarding and obsessing over your bills. Your twenties are the years for living, for making memories. So go places, do things, buy stuff. Grab your boyfriend, jump in the car, and go on an adventure. Gather your friends and make plans. Stop shying away from the things you could do, and do them! And take pictures, those are always good.