Money

10 (Avoidable) Money Regrets You’ll Probably Have By 25

We’ve spoken before about the things you won’t regret spending your money on in your 20s, but what about the things you will regret spending money on?

Everyone has regrets – you do things you wish you didn’t, and you spend money on things you shouldn’t. While aspiring to live with #noregrets might seem admirable, in actual fact, we can learn from these mistakes and grow into better, more mindful adults.

So in an effort to learn from the pitfalls of others, we’ve collated a list of things you probably have or will waste your funds on before you turn 25.

We have these money regrets so you don’t have to.

#1 Not taking advantage of a side-hustle while at uni

We’ve come to the realisation that working in a bar or in retail aren’t the only viable options for students looking to make a little cash while studying. Side-hustling is the way to go. But it’s not too late to get involved if you’re done with studying, either.

If there are alternative (and legal!) ways to make money outside of your current work schedule, get into it now. These things can vary from teaching, driving Uber on the side, selling your stuff online, walking dogs or even setting up a project which mainly runs itself and can continue earning you money for years. If you’re willing to put in a little time and effort setting something up from the start, you can reap financial rewards well into your 30s.

#2 Picking up the bill and expecting people to return the favour

This is probably the number one self-sabotaging money habit you need to quit ASAP. What’s a $15 pitcher between friends? A lot if you’re always the one shouting it. If you’re so high on the camaraderie of it all, you might not realise what ‘being a mate’ is doing to your bank account.

If you’re making these splurges a regular occurrence, some people will come to expect this kind of generosity from you and take advantage of it. They might never even offer to get you one back. And that’s the thing, you can’t just expect they will – because people kinda suck, and expectations always lead to frustration and disappointment, and in this case, being poor.

And if your expectations include people liking you more as a result, then trust us on this one: don’t get another round, get some better jokes.

#3 Buying discount health memberships then never actually going

“But the Groupon for a 10-class pass was such a good deal!” you cry. And while that is probably true, the point becomes moot the second you don’t go to a class. You’ve essentially thrown money into the ether for nothing but the sake of a deal.

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There’s nothing worse when life happens and you’re not making your regular classes: not only is that weekly direct debit just a sad reminder of all the money you’re wasting, but you’ll feel guilty for not going to the gym. Ugh, the worst.

Exercising is obviously important, and wanting to buy these offers means your good intentions are there – well done, you! So why not take part in the free trial period many gyms and spaces offer as a promo, to see if it’s something a) you enjoy and b) can realistically fit into your schedule?

#4 Thinking of your income as ‘disposable’

For those of us lucky enough to have it, that chunk of change left over after you’ve paid the necessities should be saved – a hard won reality we now know all too well. But the lure of buying all the things is just too exciting when you’re earning regular dough. Who wants to save if you can live like a person with a disposable income? If we’ve learnt anything from our favourite TV shows, it’s that you should always have an emergency savings account or ‘rainy day’ fund in case things ever get dicey.

Taking a significant chunk out of your paycheque and safeguarding it is always a smart option, despite how good it feels to spend like you don’t need it. The Cusp finance expert Rob d’Apice recommends saving 20% of your pay, and if you’re living at home, try putting aside 50%. Because once you’ve spent that $40 on tacos and margaritas, it’s gone forever.

#5 Not saving money during your part-time job

Those first few part-time jobs were fun, weren’t they? You were still living at home, had no bills or expenses like health insurance to worry about (bar a pretty measly phone bill) and you were starting to feel like Scrooge McDuck with your multiplying funds. In fact, with no real overheads like rent, you might even call this a disposable income. And what did we say about those? (hint: point #4).

But if we had our time again, instead of splurging on too many clothes, shoes, gigs, movie tickets and burgers (we still need some, OK?), we would have put a portion of our money into a high interest savings account. Saving money should have been a priority – even way back then, and yes, even with a part-time job.

#6 Spending way too much money on alcohol

Australia already has a very established social drinking culture, and when you’re new to the game (i.e. you’ve just turned 18) alcohol can seem like the be all and end all for socialising. If this personal story is anything to go by, drinking is carving out some serious holes in our bank accounts, so it’s quite a strategic place to cut back.

Plus, by the time you reach 25, your golden years of barely having a hangover are done. Finito. Kaput. Drinking too much will forever more be accompanied by the rudest of hangovers.

#7 Always eating out and not teaching yourself to cook

Eating out is putting a huge strain on your back pocket. A regular takeaway meal sits around $10 to $15, and if you’re feeling fancy, an up-market restaurant can set you back anywhere from $20 to $50 per person. If you’re eating out most nights of the week, that’s a hefty amount of money leaving your wallet no matter which option you choose.

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It’s time to get creative. Go to the supermarket. Buy ingredients. Make things. Just so you know, you can whip up a delish lentil dahl for only $3.35 per serve, or a proper macaroni and cheese oven bake for $2.90 per serve. It pays to have some easy recipes in your cooking toolkit, and these recipes on hand when money is tight. You can thank us later.

#8 Taking a job you’re unsure about simply because of the salary

Would you do something boring or against your interests simply because of the price tag? Usually not. If you’re faced with a job you know isn’t for you but the money is great, you’re often left with a pretty big decision to make. In our experience, sooner or later, the money doesn’t make up for having to ‘get through’ each day.

Daily unhappiness or dissatisfaction is pretty terrible, and doesn’t bring out the best in anyone. So ask yourself if it’s a stepping stone to something better, or if you know in your gut that the ends don’t justify the means.

#9 Not taking a job because of the salary

On the flip side, if the job is everything you’ve ever dreamed of but the money is underwhelming, don’t immediately bin it. In this instance, loving the work you do each day completely changes the notion of  value: you’re getting more than a paycheque, and because you’re passionate about your work, you’ll kick goals. After that, you’re on track to ask for a pay rise. Don’t miss out on a great opportunity just because of the salary – there’s always the aforementioned side hustle to take up if you’ve got the time and energy, and value is never solely about the money.

But there are lines, and if a figure is just far too low for you to live comfortably and debt-free, then you might want to get out your pen and draw up a pro’s and con’s list.

#10 Ignoring your parents’ advice (especially if their finances are legit)

More often than not, parents know what’s up. This is usually because their knowledge comes from an almost-lifetime of firsthand experience across many areas, including finances. So listen up when they ask you things like: have you gotten that high interest savings account sorted? Have you made your health a priority? Why would you get a credit card if you can’t pay off the balance?

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So have you actually taken their advice? It might be a good idea to listen to them before things get dire.


Rebecca Russo is a freelance writer, editor, community radio dabbler, occasional hiker and celebrity autobiography enthusiast. She has written for online publications including Junkee, AWOL, Fashion Journal and Tone Deaf. Find her online here.