I read an article a few weeks ago that has really stuck with me ever since.
It was on a site called The Financial Diet, an incredible blog that opens up the conversation about money and career for young people, especially women. It’s so hard to find open honesty about that kind of thing, and yet it’s something so many of us are dealing with alone. Trying to manage money, progress in our career and basically just feel like we’re doing okay – it’s all covered.
I implore you all to have a good read around the site, but the article that resonated with me was ‘You don’t have to own anything by the time you’re 30’. It talks about how it might feel as though as you’re getting older, you should start to own more stuff yourself – a house, a car, fancy things, expensive clothes. Whatever it is, it should be yours, because that’s what it means to get older. But the point it makes is that your 20s, such a crucial decade in your development, should be spent figuring out which stuff is most important to you right then, and doing what you can to own those.
There’s no set place you should be in by the time you’re 30 – we won’t all own a house, have a mortgage, be able to browse products from prices high to low instead of the other way round.
Instead of focusing on the things we think we should own as a ‘grown up’, we should be focusing on the things we actually need right now.
As someone who has ambitions to one day own my house, a house that I love, to maybe own somewhere in a different country, to have the ability to travel wherever, whenever I want to, but for whom all that stuff seems so far out of reach right now…this really got the cogs whirring.
It’s not all about materialism either, it’s about the way we perceive owning stuff as having ‘made it’, and feeling inferior if you’re not there yet.
For example, the idea of having a deposit to put down on a house is lightyears away to me at the moment – but I have worked hard enough to be able to move out of home, rent a spacious flat and start to build my own independent life in a new city.
I thought that by now, I’d be starting to buy the things to make my house a home – the perfect furniture, art, plants, whatever. I don’t have any of that, because I don’t need it now. When the time comes that a house is mine to really make my own, that’s when I’ll look to those things.
I am lucky enough to have a car that enables me to get to work, and travel wherever I need. I own my laptop, a phone, and the equipment I need to do my job successfully.
I’ve spent my money on travel and seeing the world – Barcelona, Paris, New York, London. That was important to me, to expand my horizons. It means I don’t have as much savings as I’d like, but I wouldn’t trade those trips for the world.
A chunk of my money each month is spent on memberships to the gym and paying for my spot in two netball teams – it may seem insignificant, but improving my health and exercising more (in a way that I enjoy) is paramount to me right now, so it feels right to spend my money on that, rather than saving for something else.
The moral of the story? I’m not going to beat myself up for not being in the position I had (potentially unrealistically) hoped I would be in by now. I’m 24 – there’s lots more to come, and I just need to concentrate on what’s a top priority for me right now, then once that’s taken care of, think about the next steps.
As I’m coming to realise more and more, reflecting on my last post – it’s all about the journey. I’ll get there eventually.