What’s Worth Your Money and What’s Not
When you get your first adult job and are finally out from under the watchful eyes of Mom and Dad, as I will soon be, it is incredibly difficult not to let your financial independence go to your head. Money may be tight, but even so, the prospect of making one’s own money and having the freedom to spend it as one sees fit is exciting for many young people. There will be many large purchases in life that are more or less inevitable, and then there will plenty of other purchases, also expensive, that, while not exactly essential, are part of maintaining a fulfilling lifestyle.
Unless you come from a financial background like myself, you may not have been taught financial smarts. Most people are at least aware of how much they have in their checkings and savings accounts and know at least how much they can spend to have a comfortable lifestyle. While financial expert will advise you to avoid debt, the vast majority of Americans (80%) actually live with some amount of debt, usually attributed to mortgages. Outside of a mortgage, however you should know how to manage your money so that your finances are always in the positive and not the the negative.
When you’re just starting out, it can be difficult to determine where to divert your finances. Should you splurge on a designer sofa that will last for years or find one at a discounted price from a yard sale or IKEA? Should you put out extra for organic foods or quality healthcare products? A lot of these questions come down to a matter of choice and your current financial situation; however, there are certain things in life that are almost always worth the splurge and others that are just a waste of money. Here is a brief list of what’s worth your money and what’s not.
- Bedding- Humans spend approximately one third of their lives asleep, so if you’re going to be spending that much of your life in bed, it should be comfortable. Spending a little extra on sheets with a high thread count will prove worth it in the long run, since they’ll last longer and feel much better against your skin.
- Travel- If you have the means to travel, you should. Of course, traveling is a luxury and you should be judicious about how often you travel and how much of your income is going towards it so splurging on first class may not be the best use of your money, but paying for a nonstop flight and vacations that will expand your cultural awareness and create lasting memories may be.
- Quality food- I’m not saying you need to buy all organic food, but being health-conscious is a long-term investment in your life. Eating cheaper food such as fast food or discounted meat jeopardizes your health.
Not worth it
- Bottled water– Not only is plastic bad for the environment, but you can save a lot of money drinking tap water. If you’re worried about contaminants, invest in a filter.
- Regular meals out- be careful about how much you’re eating out. It’s nice to treat yourself, but if you find that too much of your paycheck is going towards eating out, set a limit for yourself, like one lunch out a week.
- Name-brand drugs- Generic brands use the exact same ingredients for a less expensive price. The only thing you’re paying extra for with name-brand medicine is the name.
- Premium gas- Unless your car actually requires premium gas, you’re wasting your money paying for the more expensive stuff.
- New college textbooks- The college bookstore will always charge an exorbitant rate for new textbooks (some go for $200-$300), so whenever you can, you should buy them used online or from a friend, as long as they’re in useable condition.
- Extended warranties- In most cases, extended warranties on pricy appliances aren’t worth it. According to Reddit user BagOnuts, many of the in-store warranties that are offered don’t cover the most common causes of failure and are just a way for the retailer to profit. Do your research first to determine if it’s really worth it.
- Phone accessories from retail stores- Retail stores jack up the price of phone cases and screen protectors, so it’s better to purchase them online.