Photo: Jill Krasny
Some 10,796 days ago, I made my debut on this planet. Who would have thought I’d spend more than a third of that time blowing money on senseless crap?Not me.
My twenties have been heady, exciting years, filled with house parties, excessively loud concerts and a whole lot of late-night falafel binges that my waistline probably could have done without.
See that picture? That’s me at 21 not giving my finances a second thought.
The plastic red cup probably says it all: The future felt like a given. Expansive, limitless. But here’s the thing, life happens and you never know when you’ll have to pay for it.
In the past seven years, I’ve learned the hard way. And now that the big 3-0 is looming closer, I’m feeling more than just the fleetingness of time—I’m determined to align my spending with my long-term goals.
In knowing it’s never to late to start planning ahead, particularly when it comes to your budget, here I am, revealing my God-awful, early 20s spending habits here so you can realise you’re not alone in wanting to change, and that it is possible.
Here’s what I’ve vowed to ditch for good in 2012:
Bellini brunches. Brunch is a thing in New York the way the Rachel was a haircut in the 1990s. Except at $30 to $40, it put a huge strain on my wallet, and for what? A couple hours of laughs, sugary cocktails, and overpriced eggs that I would have been better off preparing at home. Lather, rinse, repeat and I was blowing $160 per month.
Books. Don’t get me wrong, I adore reading books. I just don’t see any reason to pay $15 or $30 for them when I can just as easily swap them with friends, download them to my e-reader from Project Gutenberg or visit my local library. In the words of Mandi Woodruff, BI’s Your Money reporter, “The last book I bought was Mindy Kaling’s. It was $30. I felt like an idiot.”
Tattoos and piercings. You wouldn’t know it from looking at me, but not so long ago, I was the office hipster patrolling Los Feliz in Los Angeles with a piercing in my nose, another in my chin and a questionable neck tattoo that resembles the Toyota logo (yep, it’s a Taurus sign).
Not only were these impulsive splurges, the nose ring garnered dirty looks when I worked on Wall Street and the chin piercing (that was in college) had to be removed and repierced two times, due to infections. Not a good look for my wallet, and it looked pretty stupid in pictures too.
Tchotchkes. When my great-grandmother passed, legend has it her children found a sealed-off drawer that was packed to the brim with key chains. Well, the apple didn’t fall too far from the tree and as a kid I was constantly begging my parents for “just another” souvenir to commemorate my travels. Hotels and cruise ships notoriously mark these up, so it was no wonder my dad was shooting me dirty looks each time he bought one.
Facebook. While this isn’t a money waster per se, it’s certainly a time suck and I’m almost convinced that every time I log on I could be learning a new skill that would boost my career or pursuing a hobby that would make me happier.
Taxis. Unless it’s 3 a.m. and I’m stranded in no man’s land or the subway is down, hopping in a cab whenever I feel too lazy is no excuse to fritter away $10 and $20 each time.
Arena concerts. Price gouging a la service fees, $15 snacks and a bland, commercial ambiance feels pointless in a city teeming with so many bands and fun, free events. The city comes alive in the summer when public spaces open up to host round-the-clock events attracting world-class performers.
Thinking about ditching some senseless expenses? See the pros and cons of renting your own place >