Advancing age brings with it a lot of things – responsibility, wrinkles, memory loss, grey hair, worse hangovers – I’ll stop before things get too depressing.
One thing we can look forward to with age though is wisdom, or, as it’s also known, learning from our mistakes.
But why not learn from other people’s?
For all the smart cookies out there, here is the money advice your more age-challenged friends wish they had when they were young.
Get out of debt (or don’t get into debt in the first place)
It’s really easy to sign up for a credit card and convince yourself that’s you’ll pay it off in full each month.
It’s really easy to accept the bank’s generous offer of an overdraft or higher credit limit to help you go on that holiday, because you’ll definitely pay it back within two months of return.
What’s harder is to accept that you can’t start building any kind of savings or financial security while you have creditors and their interest rates looming over you.
There is zero logic in having savings when you also have bad debts (like car loans, credit cards and personal loans), so do future you a favour and get out of debt. Quickly.
Use it, wear it, make do… Or do without
One of our generation’s biggest downfalls is our incessant consumption.
We just buy so damn much either because we convince ourselves we need new things or we just plain want them.
But before you impulse buy the latest iPhone, this season’s must have accessory or a new jumper because your favourite one has a hole in it, remember these three things: use it, wear it, make it do or do without.
Those four mantras can rebut almost any unnecessary purchase and help you keep a level head before forking out cash.
Let them eat (homemade) cake
Think about how much money you spend on food, both what you eat and what you end up throwing away.
We end up wasting so much money on brightly coloured, cleverly marketed snacks, people forget how much healthier and cost effective it is to make your own meals and snacks at home.
Better yet, take advantage of supermarket sales, buy and bake in bulk and utilise all that mismatched Tupperware and freezer space taken up by near empty bottles of vodka and freeze as much food as you can.
Having a well-stocked fridge of produce and readymade meals will greatly increase the chance you will actually eat at home or take your food to work, vastly cutting down your everyday expenses.
Fun doesn’t have to be expensive
At the risk of sounding like every mum ever, fun doesn’t have too expensive, and doesn’t even have to be outside your own home.
Now I’m safely in the second half of my twenties I have discovered how much fun I have when I invite friends over for dinner and cook at home, with a few cleanskins and lots of Settlers of Catan and Cards Against Humanity for added value.
Picnics become the best parties, and the Bondi to Bronte walk is a preferred activity with my girlfriends over a pricey brunch.
Yes, I still indulge in nights out, but it’s good to realise that you can enjoy these the same, if not more, when you space them out with some more low key and cost effective activities.
Invest in your health
Our generation will live longer than any before us, so, like any investment, it’s best to start healthy living early to reap the best rewards.
If you have regular checkups, go to the dentist and sort out that niggling pain before it becomes chronic, you will save yourself a lot of money and grief further down the track.
So, smart cookies, heed the word of your elders and learn from their misguided ways.
Go forth and conquer what remains of your twenties before you royally stuff it all up and end up thirty and living in your high school bedroom.