If You Have Savings In Your 20s, You're Doing Something Wrong

I don't have any savings, but I also don't have any wants.

I don't know about you, but I like to enjoy my life. I like to go out to eat, buy clothes I don't “need” and spend money with friends on memorable nights out.

This goes back to a piece of advice a very successful friend gave me: “Don't save money. Make more money,” he nonchalantly stated, pushing me into a taxi.

Unlike most things people tell me, this advice did not go in one ear and out the other; it stayed with me and changed the way I look at everything from my career to my savings.

Before this piece of advice, I was frantic. I was always doubting and always feeling guilty. I lived in the most exciting city in the world (also the most expensive) and had yet to experience it.

I was trying to save, which meant trying not to eat. I wasn't going out with friends, had yet to go to a club and had never seen the inside of a taxi.

I couldn't enjoy my life because I was too busy worrying about my bank statement. I was too busy watching my savings instead of savoring my youth.

Why did I feel so guilty about spending money on myself and my life?

When did our 20s start to feel like our 40s? When did we get weighed down with the same pressure and stresses as a woman with four kids and a second mortgage?

We don't have kids. We'll be renting for the foreseeable future, and we have no problem eating McDonald’s when we're skint.

I've recently figured it out: This pressure, this third-party stress, is ingrained within us. It's this looming doom our parents carved into our unconscious, only to come out anytime we make an impulse purchase or have to spend the night without Netflix.

But like most things our parents have ingrained in us, we must consciously work to push it out. Because while they may have the best intentions, they don't always have the best insight.

They want us to save because it provides us with a safety net, but that's exactly why we shouldn't. Their need for us to have a safety net is just a giant metaphor for the difference between our parent's generation and ours.

They were getting married at 20 while we're just getting our first apartments. They were saving for kids while we still want to be kids. We're on different schedules, different paths and totally different savings plans.

We're taking our time growing up, refusing to be shackled by mortgages and diapers. We're not trying to live with safety nets; we're trying to live on the edge.

When you're too worried about your bank statement, you're not making your own

When you live your life around your retirement fund, you may as well retire now. You can’t make a mark on the world if you’re too cheap to live in it.

Refusing to give yourself the luxury of enjoying your money negates the whole point of making it.

When you’re saving for yourself, you’re refusing to bet on yourself

People who are saving in their 20s are people who don’t set their sights high. They’ve already dropped out of the game and settled for the minor leagues.

Your 20s are not the time to save; they’re the time to gamble. $200 a month isn't going to make the dent that a $60,000 pay raise will after spending all those nights out networking.

When you have something to bank on, you have nothing to reach for

When you have nothing to lose, you have everything to gain.

You'd be surprised at how cautious people get with just a few thousand in the bank. This isn't the time to safeguard — it's the time to bet all your chips and hope to make it big.

When you live your life by numbers, you strip yourself of poetry

What memorable experience does money in the bank give you? How well-rounded can people become sitting at home, watching their limited funds gain interest?

Life is to be lived, not watched from the inside of your rent-controlled apartment.

When you die, you can't take your money with you

When you're acutely aware of your mortality, it makes spending money that much easier. Those who don't plan for the future aren’t planning for their death.

When you deprive yourself, you don't learn how to TREAT YO SELF

It’s good to be cautious and plan for unexpected events. It’s also good, however, to learn how to release and destress. Everything works out, and if you’re smart, able and had a job once, you’ll have one again.

Don’t waste your youth worrying about expenses when you should be worrying about experiences.

When you care about your 401k, your life is just “k”

When you’re 40, you’re not going to look back on your 20s and be grateful for the few thousand you saved. You’re going to be full of regret.

You’ll regret the experiences you didn’t take, the people you didn’t meet and the fun you didn’t have because you were too worried about a future that came and went.

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Lauren Martin

Freelance Contributor