Ways I Wasted Money in My 20s

wasted money

My 20s… It was a great decade, full of fun, and lots of learning and growing. While there is so much that I wish I could go back in time and tell my younger self about the future, I really wish that I could go back to my early 20s and fix some of my biggest money mistakes!

I wasn’t terrible with my money, as I never did dig myself deep into consumer debt, but I certainly did my fair share of blowing hard-earned cash on crap and not thinking long term. I know I’m not alone in this. Here are some of the ways that I wasted money when I was young and carefree…

Clothes, Shoes, and Accessories

I’m sure this is typical of many young women with a steady income and few financial obligations. I spent a lot of time in malls in my early 20s, browsing racks filled with fast fashion. Shopping was a great way to kill time, and it always felt good having new, cute things to wear. I definitely got a temporary high from my weekly shopping sprees. But honestly?  I absolutely could have done without most of those clothes and related crap.

Dining Out

There was a period of time that I can easily recall where I ate dinner out at least once a week, usually more. I admit that I cringed a little each time the check would come, but there I was, week after week, plunking down cash on mediocre food. If only I had spent some of that time learning how to cook and experimenting in the kitchen, I could saved money and used my time productively.

Another thing I did was stop for coffee at Dunkin Donuts or 7Eleven, pretty much daily, for several years. I was usually too lazy to get up and brew a fresh pot of coffee in the morning, but if I had, I could have saved a ton. (Like over $500+ a year!)


Did you know that the # 1 social activity among 20-somethings is drinking? Okay, I don’t have any stats to back that up, but it could have been true in my life at one point. Meeting up for drinks is just what we did, as I’m sure many people do. It still happens in my 30s of course, but with far less frequency. There was a time where I could easily drop $30 at a pub with friends in just a couple of hours. Ouch. I want that money back!


You may be laughing now as the music blares out of iTunes, but it was not so long ago that we were all dependent upon CD players to provide us with quality jams. I love music (who doesn’t, right?), and before I got my first iPod, I was all about my cd collection. The funny thing is, after moving around so much for most of my 20s, I have almost none of my actual cds left! I do, however, have a nice collection of empty jewel cases.  Awesome.

It pains me to think about how much money I could have saved and invested in my 20s. But hey- you live, you learn. I’m definitely going to rock my 30s in the financial responsibility department!

What fun things did/do you blow money on in your 20s? Do you still have an awesome cd collection?

17 thoughts on “Ways I Wasted Money in My 20s”

  1. Yes! I can relate to so many of these, especially clothes! I’d constantly clean out my closet and then buy tons of new ones! Makes me a little sick to think about it now…

  2. Ryan @ Impersonal Finance

    Ugh I wasted so much money in my early 20s it makes me want to scream. I used to think nothing of just spending $100 (which I didn’t really have) on a night out. Not to mention clothes, coffees, and my stupidly expensive studio apartment.

  3. Jason @ Frugal Goals

    Big thumbs up to you!! You remind me my 20’s. I also wasted a hell lot of money by doing all these stuffs, mostly alcohol and buying CD but I was enjoying that until I met the devil of debt. That totally changed my life and now I proudly say that I live my life frugally and I love it.

    1. That’s great that you turned things around! I still see people in their 30s trying to maintain that lifestyle they enjoyed in their 20s, and it isn’t pretty.

  4. Adam @ Money Rebound

    Going out drinking was definitely my biggest expense in my early 20’s, silly amounts looking back. I remember the nervous feeling I used to get when I looked in my wallet the morning after! Maybe I should try and come up with a ball park figure of how much I must have spent but I think I’d be sick at the result. Some things are best left in the past I suppose.

  5. I wish I could go back and smack my younger self silly for the stupid stuff I spent my money on in my 20s. I was like you and spent a crazy amount on CDs. I never just bought one at a time either, it was always at least five or six. I don’t have them anymore – but many are on my iPod or phone. 🙂

    1. Same here! At one point, I was going to Best Buy every week and buying a few cds at a time. Funny to think about doing that now.

  6. I still have all my CD’s! But seriously, in college I was spending like it was going out of style. Now at 25, I’m back to reality- with a student loan, mortgage, and car payment!

  7. Thinking about all the money I wasted in my 20’s literally makes me sick. I bought all kinds of things- clothes, expensive makeup, booze, you name it. Ugh!!!

  8. Michael@Save-Invest-Grow

    I did pretty much the same thing. No financial disasters or major debt in my 20’s, but just not enough saving. Its so easy to fall into the trap of eating out and drinking because almost everyone does it. I’m happy that I figured it out in time to turn things around! I still have a few stray CD’s, but most of mine have vanished as well. Seems like such a rip off having no choice but to buy the entire album!

    1. Yeah, it’s so nice to just download a song here, a song there. It makes it much more affordable to have diverse tastes in music!

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