I ran across this interesting question posed up on Quora the other day: What are some things you should avoid doing in your first 30 years of life?
Someone chimed in:
- Getting married
- Having children
- Addictions* that waste time, energy, and resources and keep you from focusing and working on your goals.
Needless to say, the writer got a lot of responses from these answers.
Since this is a personal finance site, I believe the question can also be refrained as, “things you should avoid spending money on in your first 30 years of life“.
Here's my list and explanations for each. I'd love to hear yours (and/or objections/thoughts on these):
- House. There are some caveats to this: you're loaded and can pay for the house outright, you inherited your parents/relatives house OR you're out of debt, make great money and can pay it off in 15 years. I just don't see any need for carrying this type of debt load so early on in your life. Added to that, there are many others who make a great case for never owning a home.
- Wedding. As one of those who waited til after 30 to wed (some might say, I wasn't marriageable til after 30), I tend to agree with the author who said to avoid marriage before 30. Now, I can think of lots of people I personally know who married before 30 and are doing quite well. I guess what I really mean here is paying for a wedding that you will be in-debt for awhile after the bells stop ringing. My wife and I were married for around $1k (about $29k less than the “average” bill today) and 5 years later don't regret having gone thrifty.
- Fancy ____. I guess you can fill in the blank here – but pretty much anything over and above the average, isn't going to make you much happier or more successful. At age 25, I opted for the fancy auto – and it left me with one of my biggest money mistakes. We can often get preoccupied trying to impress people who aren't even looking.
- $100,000 Education for a $30,000 Job. I have some fairly strong opinions on student loan debt and how damaging it is (and will be) to our society. I think it's almost a crime how easy it is to get an education loan without showing the lender an ROI or other criteria. Plus, I believe there are other ways we can be helping students get the schooling they need (so they aren't enslaved after graduation).
- ‘Stupid Taxes'. Probably all of the mentioned can qualify for paying “stupid tax” – but what I mean here is paying interest on unpaid credit card bills or other fees that could easily have been avoided.
Any others I've missed?
We had a very inexpensive wedding. I think it cost us $100 over 37 years ago. I spent $28 for my dress. No engagement ring. We spent some tiny amount on a cake and drinks for a mini reception at our apartment for family only. My parents and in-laws each chipped in $50 for our buffet lunch at a restaurant. We decided the marriage was much more important than a wedding and we used the savings for a down payment on a house, which I know you say to avoid, but it worked out for us. Now, 37 years later, we are debt free, retired and I’m sporting a 3+ carat diamond!
Thanks pretty amazing Kathy (suppose it would amount to $1k in today’s dollars, huh?) Sounds like you are owning your finances!
Great list. I do agree on some of them, but I don’t agree with you when it comes to buying a house. I think one should buy his or her own home if he or she can pay for all her needs and still have the money to pay for mortgage, despite being only under 30.
I am 26. I have been happily married for almost three years, and my husband and I are homeowners. We paid for our wedding with cash, and although our wedding cost a little bit more than yours (around $2K), I’m sure this could be explained by the fact we both come from huge families. I personally think that having a fancy wedding should never be on your list of expenditures, no matter your age. I’m seconding the fact that a marriage and a wedding are two different things.
In our area, it is much cheaper to own a house than it is to rent an apartment (or house). We are saved over $200 a month and gained a lovely back yard, a garage, and an extra room by purchasing our home. Despite doubling our space, our electricity bills have almost been cut in half. We can now line-dry our clothing in our backyard, install window film, compost, have a garden, rain harvest, have chickens, and so on – all things we couldn’t do before. We also stockpile when things go on sale- now that we have space. The amount we make renting out our spare bedroom covers our mortgage. I am also now able to have a small doggie-daycare in our home – something I never could have done in our apartment. Since I work at home anyway, this is just another (awesome and fun) source of additional income made available to us by having our own home.
Of course, most young people (that I know) want the BIGGEST and most awesome house… and more house than they need or can afford. With age, I think “being impressive” becomes less of a priority. However, I don’t think this priority switch happens by the age of 30 with most people.
Oh well. Everyone is different.
I do enjoy your blog, though :) Thanks for all the interesting content!
Thanks for the comments Amanda! $2k for a wedding is super!
I’d have to disagree on the house front, it’s more of a case by case thing the way I see it. I bought my first house at 22 and I am on track to have it paid off in 5 years (by the time I’m 27). This will allow me to begin adopting as a single parent … and have 3 or 4 kids by the time I’m 30. It would be a lot more difficult to adopt while still paying off a mortgage and I would like kids sooner rather than later.
You’re killing it Elizabeth! This is ideal – no mortgage/rent expenses.
I am 28 and have been a homeowner for two years. My husband and I are on a 15 year loan; we hope to have our house paid off even sooner. In my opinion, being a homeowner is great, because IF you pay off your home quickly you can free up cash that would otherwise be going to rent. You can then invest and save the money; which is the goal of every thrifty person, right?
Kudos to you and your husband Sandy! I think some of this depends on where a person lives too. I know homes that are going for $15-20k in smaller towns. Makes paying off a lot easier/quicker.
I bought my house alone when I was 25 yrs old. I made this decision because it was cheaper to pay the mortgage then to pay rent. I bought with the strategy that it must be rentable. So bought it near a chiropractor school (grad student only) plus near amenities that are attractive (stores, libraries etc.) that were within walking distances.
I was lucky to have secure full scholarships through college and graduate school. Having always be extremely thrifty, it made sense for me to buy a house right after graduate school.
I am probably going to be married after I am 30 yrs old, but right now I am working on saving for it (I’m 28 yrs old). Having been a life long thrifty person I agree with most of the things listed. Haven’t been married or have any dependents yet, so I hope to prepare for those financially and emotionally when the times come.
Great exception to the home-buying before 30 – when the mortgage is cheaper than rent. Very smart of you to think about having it rentable too.
Awesome start Allison!
I got married at 22, and had my first child by 25. I just can’t imagine being in my 50’s with kids still going through high school. :)
Guess you never know what life has in store for us – so might as well get on with it? :)
I bought a house and got married before I was 25. It was 2 of the best financial decisions of my life.
Well our house has gone up by about 25% in value and we have paid it off before I turned 30. And my wife and I share so many goals (both financial and non financial) that we really complement each other and have achieved things by working as a team that no one could do alone.
Now having a wedding is different from getting married as you noted. Having a wedding costs a lot of money, however we paid for ours in cash and worked really hard to avoid getting into debt for it. Certainly though that money could have been put to better use.
Good post – Interesting food for thought.
Always find it pretty amazing when I hear stories like yours Glen – having paid off a house by 30. Kudos to you both!
I couldn’t agree more, Aaron. Seems that, for most of us, anyway, that 30 is about the age when common sense starts to kick in, and we can start making smarter money decisions. :-)
If we only knew then what we know now…