Getting your first paycheck out of college is a significant milestone, what Chandler Bing might call a “Dear Diary moment.” You hold your head a little higher as you sign and deposit it on your smartphone, with the sense that this is what adulting really looks like.
But something else can often happen. Suddenly, that pair of shoes in the window you walk past every day is within reach. You trade ramen for sushi. You buy tickets, plan a trip, or indulge in fancy beauty buys. In the moment, this next-level spending is exciting. But once Uncle Sam takes his cut and the I-just-passed-GO-in-Monopoly high subsides, some purchases during this unseasoned portion of our adult lives end up as honest mistakes.
From several years to more than a decade into their careers, here’s what the Verily editors wish they’d left on the store shelf and how you can use your disposable income more wisely instead.
01. Shoddy Kitchen Supplies
“I probably spent over $200 on crappy kitchen stuff (pots, pans, pot holders, utensils, etc.). I should've just taken all that money and used it to buy one really good $149 Le Creuset dutch oven and worked my way up from there. Or, I could've bought vintage tools that simply work better. An enamel colander I inherited from my great-grandmother still looks and works as good as new." —Krizia Liquido, Lifestyle Editor
02. Unnecessary Gifting
“One of my main love languages for other people (i.e., not the one you receive) is gift giving, but it seriously adds up! I've learned you don't have to give friends a gift every time they have a birthday, or something to celebrate, or a bad day . . . I'm more choosy about when I actually send gifts now.” —Sophie Caldecott, Special Projects Manager
If you want to do something nice for a friend, consider the recipient and his or her love language. If your friend’s love tank reaches “full” after a phone call or a well-timed text, save your dough for more significant milestones.
03. Fast Fashion (and Even Faster to the Donation Bin)
“One time during a lunch break, I bought these horrendous maroon faux snakeskin loafers from GAP that I wore once because (a) they were hideous and (b) they gave me blisters. I wish I had used that money by investing in vintage items that are timeless. Sometimes I think of all the fast fashion garbage clothes I bought over my lifetime and ask, ‘WHYYYY??’” —Lilly Bozzone, Style Editor
Fast-fashion stores are about high turnover and quantity over quality. A professional wardrobe doesn’t happen in one shopping trip—or one paycheck. Take inspiration from the capsule wardrobe movement and start small. As you grow into yourself, you won’t have to worry about a rack full of regrets.
04. Anything That Wasn’t Savings
“I wish I had saved $250-$500 a month and put it toward savings, and that I had made more monthly charitable donations for those in need.” —Mary Rose Somarriba, Culture Editor
As thrilling as the here and now is, there’s a big world out there and a future in store for you. Choosing simple drugstore-accessible beauty goods and using rental services like Rent the Runway allow you to live for a fraction of the cost.
“Taxis. So. many. taxis. Ninety percent of the time it was sheer laziness, and I should have taken public transit!” —Kara Eschbach, CEO
While sometimes it can be worth it to pay for convenience, little expenses can make a big impact on your budget. It might require some additional planning, but spending an extra $4 every day because you were too lazy to make coffee or an extra $10 for a little cab ride can make a big impact in the grand scheme of things.
Consider your priorities, your responsibilities, and your money personality to spend in ways your wiser thirty- or fortysomething self will be proud of. You work hard for your money—it ought to work hard for you in return!
Photo Credit: Priscilla Du Preez