As you already know, being an adult is expensive. From your credit card bills to your rent, there are so many things you need to budget for. But there are some behaviours you are probably doing that are making "adulting" life way more expensive for you than you even realize.
According to The Financial Diet, many of our notions of what "adulting" is or what being a "grown up" is like, have been influenced by outdated version of maturity that we may have gotten from our parents or grandparents, as well as through pop culture and media. More often than not, these notions are irrelevant to our lives and can be detrimental to our financial health. Even for our habits and behaviours that we didn't inherit, there seems to be a huge association with "adulting" or maturity and spending more money.
But in reality, being an adult has NOTHING to do with how much money you have or how much you are willing to spend. These habits simply just make you waste money.
1. Drinking fancy booze
Who doesn't enjoy going to the bar with their squad for drinks? Grabbing a sangria here and there with their dinner? But the thing is, our generation has come to associate drinking with the notion of "adult-ness", and we have media to thank for that. TV shows like "Mad Men" and "Sex and the City" for example, almost always show successful men and women drinking at gatherings, functions, or alone. It sends out a message that drinking can make you more mature, as a woman more "empowered" and as a man, more "powerful" or "masculine". The image of a successful woman holding a martini in her hand or a man in a suit holding a scotch has become ubiquitous.
According to millennials are drinking way more than previous generations, particularly in bar or restaurant settings. Statistics show that "42% of millennials drink at least once at a bar, including 51 % of 21 to 26-year-olds", compared to only "24% of Gen X". Now, the industry isn't stupid -- they know this. The average price of alcohol in bars and restaurants have gone up, while it has gone down in retail stores. So on top of drinking more, you're spending even more due to the increase in cost. Millennials also just eat out way more often, so it's easy to tack on a drink to your dinner or lunch. ,
What's important to remember is that drinking has nothing to do with how much of an adult we are, or how social or successful we are. In fact, we really should be cutting down on our alcohol consumption if anything.
2. Dividing your weeks into "depressed weekdays" and "YOLO weekends"
Treat yo'self -- this mentality can be great from time to time, as it's important to reward yourself for your mental health's sake. However, you have to be careful with this mindset as it can be a slippery slope to rewarding yourself with whatever, whenever, regardless of the cost just because you "deserve it".
Statistics show that most North Americans have a rather anti-social weekday life, and tend to go out more during the weekends. Pretty sound, right? However, a "depressed weekday/YOLO weekend" cycle can lead us to spending money recklessly come Friday, Saturday and Sunday. This is a result of giving yourself the licence to spend frivolously on weekends because your weekdays sucked.
Not only is this cycle harmful to your finances, it's also harmful to your mental health. A way to combat this cycle is to dedicate yourself to one social activity during the work week that is low cost. In other words, hello boardgames night with the squad.
3. Having different wardrobes for different things
Okay, so if you're a fashion editor, fashionista or just call fashion the biggest passion in life, then maybe you can ignore this one. But if you aren't, you're probably buying more clothes than you actually need.
Clothing and accessory brands aggressively market the idea that you need different wardrobes for different things, when in actuality, you don't. You've read many times in fashion magazines or seen YouTube styling videos with the terms "day look", "night look", "going out look", "going for coffee look", the list goes on. This marketing tool has become so strong that we've basically become trained to view clothing as something that is disposable and should be rotated out, rather than be used to its fullest potential.
Instead, you should try to invest in functional, versatile items that can be used in any type of look! Also, it's kind of a "power move" to have a "signature look" that requires way less money and way less time getting ready.
4. Wedding parties
So you're most likely getting to that age where many of your friends are starting to get married off, and if you have a lot of friends, then you have a lot of weddings to go to. Perhaps you're planning to get married yourself.
Aside from the fact that weddings in themselves are already expensive, the wedding party phenomenon, including bachelorette trips, bridal parties, matching dresses, and engagement showers, can make you spend thousands of dollars more than you really need to. In fact, the idea of the "wedding party" didn't even exist 30 years ago. This also means that even just being part of a wedding can be extremely expensive. From buying your own bridesmaids gowns to going with your BFF bride on trips, you can spend easily over $1000.
If hosting all these different wedding party activities feels important for you and you're able to afford it, then by all means, you do you! But remember that an adult wedding is not the most expensive, it is when you do it for the price you can afford for the things that matter to you.
5. Taking initial offers
Regardless of what background you come from, there are sometimes taboos around negotiating or haggling for a price. It can be seen as "unchic" or "poor" behaviour. But whether it's a job offer, the price for a specific product, or a one-off service, prices are almost always malleable.
You should always remember your value at work, and that customer service representatives are empowered to work with you on pricing. Of course, you need to be well prepared before negotiating. Make sure you go in with facts. If you're asking for higher compensation at work, get some information on what others in your position are getting paid. If it's just a house appliance, check the prices of other competing stores. Last but not least, be ready to walk away from an offer where sales people will come after you to close the deal.
Of course there are some cases where you cannot negotiate price, but chances are, there are more opportunities that you are not negotiating where you can.
6. Overspending while on vacation
Especially in a time of rampant social media, you'll see tons of your friends or social media influencers posting about their luxurious vacation, or what "seems" luxurious at least. The pressure to spend when on vacation has never been higher. There is something "adult" feeling about being independent enough to take yourself on a vacation and treating yourself, but not paying attention to your expenses can be dangerous.
While you should be enjoying the most out of your travels, only spend where you feel it is meaningful rather than on every last thing. For example, you don't need to take a taxi everywhere just because it's cheap, you don't need to buy toothpaste, snacks, or magazines from the airport, you don't need to get a coffee every single day.
Don't spend your money on menial things, save it for the experiences that are meaningful to you.