Let’s face it: People of all ages make some bad financial decisions. People in their 20s make some especially horrible financial decisions.
It’s a shame how much money is thrown into purchases that don’t bring people any closer to financial freedom.
I see these habits from friends, colleagues, family and, yes, even myself at times.
The bottom line is your 20s are not only about learning and experiencing, but also laying the foundation to achieve financial freedom.
Here are five Millennial purchases that cause financial struggle:
1. Buying a brand new or impractical used car
There is no reason for a 24-year-old to be driving a European sports car. Not only do you have to pay the expensive price tag, but you also have to fork over the big bucks for insurance and maintenance issues.
Cars are depreciable assets, and whether you make $30,000 a year or $130,000 a year, there is no reason to pick an investment where you can lose 15-20 percent a year.
Buying a nice, professional used car can save you time and extra money, which you can spend elsewhere.
Don’t be a fool; buy a used Prius like I did.
2. Spending money on things instead of experiences
I only buy things that will either increase my happiness or make my life easier while learning something.
The new iPhone6 or the latest FIFA game will not make me smarter, and both will probably actually make my life more complicated.
I am more likely to spend $2,000 on a trip to a new country than spend $650 for the latest phone.
I recently had a friend who bought three huge LCD TVs during Black Friday because they were on sale. No comment.
Not only does this type of behavior lead to being broke, it also leads to spending countless hours of doing nothing. Experiences are everything, and material items will get you nowhere but into debt.
3. Shots, late-night meals, shots
Everyone likes to have a good time, but there is absolutely no reason to spend $150 every night of every weekend on booze, food and Uber rides.
Not only are you hurting your health, but you are also hurting your pockets. (Your health is more important, but still.)
I have friends who can barely afford their rent but refuse to give up their weekends of alcohol consumption. If you have to start crowdfunding your Uber ride home, there is a problem.
4. Buying all of your groceries at Whole Foods
Before I start, I will say I love Whole Foods as a company. Have you ever met an unhappy employee?
That being said, you can find organic, natural and “healthy” foods almost anywhere now without having to pay premium prices.
Shopping at Whole Foods for simple items, like milk, coffee, bread and cheese will cost you almost double than your local discount store will. Don’t even get me started on the juice prices.
Maybe the company should change its name to Whole Wallet.
5. Leasing anything besides an apartment
If you can’t afford to buy it, you shouldn’t be borrowing it for a fixed cost.
The problem is there are many sales people in several industries who will avoid telling you how much something actually costs.
Instead, they tell you how little you have fork over monthly.
Consumers end up missing the big picture on how much they are paying for something.
Not only will you lose money at the end of your term, but you will also owe money for the wear and tear of the product.
You are better off saving the money and having fewer distractions in your life.
I’m not saying you should stop enjoying your life. The key is to set budgets for splurging so you can have money to spend elsewhere. Setting splurge budgets also lets you enjoy things more than usual when done in a lower capacity.
Remember: The road to financial freedom isn’t easy, and it takes time to build good spending habits. Just like anything else, once you start noticing your account balance has increased, it becomes easier.