Your twenties are a time for self-discovery and creativity. You’ll graduate from college and you’ll be pushed – okay, shoved – into the real world.
You’ll learn who you are, what you want, what you don’t want and how to get the things you want. You’ll fail, succeed, make it, drop out and start all over again. You’ll get an entry-level job in an industry you love and stick with it – or start in one you hate and quit to find another.
You’ll move out of mom and dad’s house and into your first shared room in a big city, get lost on the subway and spend a little too much time getting to know your neighborhood bartender.
You’ll start a savings account, set $50 aside for a rainy day and throw out 99 percent of the clothes you once thought were cute.
You’ll stash $20s in your underwear drawer for boozy brunch specials and treat yourself to froyo when you’re melting from the heat and hot chocolate when it’s frigid outside.
You’ll complain about the cost of living, how much you spend on crop tops and how ridiculous your penchant for ordering takeout is.
And though you’ll regret spending money on a lot of things (like that lava lamp you just had to have ‘cause it was soooo 90s), there are a ton of things you should feel proud to spend those hard-earned dollars on.
1. A work-appropriate wardrobe loaded with staple pieces
Even if you work in a liberal office, there are some work-appropriate staples you’ll need to have on hand… just in case. Your work wardrobe can be fun – and should be full of personality – but that doesn’t mean it should look identical to your go-to rave outfit.
There should be a sense of professionalism to the way you look (so yes, washing your hair and trimming your beard are ideal) and if we’re being honest, you won’t find those long-lasting pieces at your cheapy store of choice.
It’s better to upgrade your wardrobe on the garments that you’ll want to have forever, instead of needing to buy new pieces year after year because they’ve stretched too thin or dry-cleaned terribly.
A basic black blazer, staple boyfriend jeans (for casual Fridays), a crisp collared button down and a gorgeously-fitted frock will keep you prepped and ready for an in-office meeting, an on-air interview and a call-back for an interview at the company of your dreams. Looking the part is important.
2. Your monthly cell phone bill
We’re not going to lie: Taking over payments from mom and dad is rough, but it makes sense. You’re the one who’s using the phone to send pictures, texts and SnapChats regularly, so you should have a hand in footing the bill.
It doesn’t hurt to stay on your parents’ plan, though, because you’ll spend way less each month, but forking over the monthly data fee and chipping in when it comes to the unlimited texting minutes will go a long way. Plus, it feels good to have ownership over what’s yours.
3. An over-the-top tropical vacation
You won’t always have the opportunity to spend a fortune on a week in Bermuda with your four best friends, so when the opportunity arises, take it.
Pretty soon, life, bills, relationships and hell, maybe even kids!, will make you rethink booking that trip and spending seven days on the beach with the best girls in your life.
You’ll only regret not going.
4. Your mattress
In case no one’s told you yet, sleep is important. Getting too much, too little or not enough affects your day-to-day routine in more ways than one – and there’s nothing worse than calling it a night on a mattress that’s too hard, too soft or too, well, awful.
It’s an investment, for sure, but crawling into a comfortable bed that fits your needs won’t just relax you, it’ll rejuvenate you, your body and your mind for the day ahead.
5. An expensive trip to a faraway city
Need a good excuse to take the trip around the world that you’ve been dreaming of for years? Here’s a tip: Take it. Buy the ticket. Get on the plane. Get lost. Learn something.
Travel, they say, is the only thing that makes you truly richer – more than monetary status and material goods.
So do yourself a favor and venture off somewhere that you’ve always dreamed of going, or maybe it’s somewhere that you never knew you’d want to get to. You’ll be richer in life, language, culture, experience and maybe even love – and money will never, ever be able to top that.
6. A brand new computer
Your college-grade system will last a few years, but it won’t always work at lightning speed. A lot of companies offer discounts to post-grads (so long as you still have your college ID) and some even offer payments on a rolling scale so that you won’t break the bank when they ring you up.
7. An upgraded apartment space
Spoiler alert: The closet you’ve been renting in your cousin’s apartment isn’t exactly going to cut it forever.
Soon enough (and soon enough may come sooner than you’d ever imagined), you’re going to crave your own space to stretch out in – no matter your budget.
It’s worth it to spend a little more on an apartment that fits your needs (and has actual bedrooms, not just closets with the racks taken down.) You’ll have a working kitchen (even if it is tiny), dedicated closet space, a bathroom and a living room. (Bonus if you have cable.)
Upgrading your space is like a segue into adulthood – you’re not totally there (messy floors and unmade beds forever!), but it’s really nice to know that you can meal prep for the week on Sunday nights, or you won’t have to tiptoe around other people’s space.
8. A decent gym membership
Joining a gym won’t only give you an outlet to relieve the stresses and frustrations brought on by work, friends and life in general, but it’ll also give you a pretty hot bod at the same time.
Depending on what you can afford, a basic membership will get you access to a “bare bones” gym (with just machines and free weights), but spending a little more than $20 a month comes with its fair share of advantages.
Not only will you be able to use sister gyms all over, but you’ll have access to group fitness classes, which instantly make working out more bearable, and you never know who’ll you meet.
Just going to the gym might mean a date with that cutie from 9:15 yoga or the dancer from Tuesday’s Zumba class.
9. Your own furniture (even if you have to put it together yourself)
Hand-me-downs from mom, dad and your Great Aunt Ann might’ve worked while you were living the college life, but when you’ve freshly moved into your first space, there’s nothing quite as satisfying as knowing that you bought the sofa you’re sitting on.
Giving way to those first adult purchases feels euphoric – it’s good to know that the things you’re using on a day-to-day were paid for out of your own pocket.
So next time someone asks if the carpet matches the drapes – take them seriously and tell them Yes, they do.
10. Paying down your college debt
Listen, it took you four (at the very least) years to accumulate such an outstanding IOU to the government and it’ll probably take you four times as long to pay it off.
Even though it’s a total downer to think about how much money you owe people and institutions you’ve never met before, do yourself a favor and start making bigger payments as soon as you can. You’ll pay down the interest and start hacking away at the number you still owe.
It’s hard to kiss your money away, but keep in mind that borrowing it resulted in the best four years of your life. So it’s worth it, right?
Photo Courtesy: We Heart It