Every financial mistake to avoid in your 20’s

It wouldn’t be your 20’s without kissing a few too many frogs, waking up fully clothed with a world-changing hangover or spending a few months living pay cheque to pay cheque (some longer than others)! They say that your 20’s are meant for post-puberty discovery – for experimentation – and for me it was exactly that. I learnt how to work hard and play harder. I learnt how to fall in love and mend a broken heart. I learnt about tax returns, lease agreements and life with bills. You know, the normal “stuff” we all have to figure out when we move out of home and find ourselves navigating adult-land for the very first time.


Among the uni all-nighters finishing off assignments and entering life as a full-time employee, I also became responsible for managing my money on my own too. Each month my account would be filled with dollars I could only dream of when serving Sydney’s drunkest behind a bar and I was spending it as fast as I was earning it. My colleagues and I used to joke about not having any money left at the end of the month as we bought a new outfit on credit and headed out for the night [still can’t believe I did that]…every month.


We’re all aware of my credit card disaster (Read: “How I beat the debt devil”) but if you can believe it, this wasn’t the only financial mistake I made in my 20’s. In fact, there were a few more, and I expose them all as a gentle reminder of what not to do…


I didn’t have an emergency fund – I argue that any “smart” money habits were simply laying dormant in my early 20’s as way of justifying my non-existent savings. And unfortunately this meant when I found myself in a money emergency, I just inserted one of many credit cards and ignored the bigger message. Seemed logical at the time!


I had a gazillion superannuation accounts – Every time I started a new hospitality gig, I would sign away a new form and not give two hoots what it was for or how it would impact my future savings. I dread to think how much money I wasted in duplicate fees and insurance *eye roll*


I treated my tax return like a bonus – When 30 June rolled around every year, you better believe that I was counting down the days until my tax return hit my account. I always planned to put most of it towards my credit cards, but in reality I would end up spending it on some ridiculous new outfit, justifying the expense as a “treat yo-self” moment!


I bought a brand spanking new car 100% on finance – I like to think that I don’t have regrets, but this is one big, huge, fat mistake that I most certainly learnt from. Not only did I put myself in more debt, but I spent close to $9K on interest. Yep, interest. What an idiot.


I had multiple credit cards – pretty self-explanatory and the only excuse I have is that idiot levels were at stratospheric heights. What 22-year-old has three credit cards?


I wrote budgets for fun – I am an OCD at heart, so planning out my budgets were something of an art form. The problem was, I never actually followed them. They just lived in their pretty lifeless form on my computer.


I didn’t invest in anything – Shares? What shares? That’s for old people or the super wealthy, right?


I bought things I couldn’t afford – My social life was quite busy. Very busy. Most weekends involved a new outfit and about 46,783 espresso martinis across 5 different bars and 7 different taxis. My wardrobe was growing faster than my poor loft bedroom could accommodate, but damn it was pretty.


I created habits I needed to break – Impulsive purchases, living month-to-month and mortgaging the future for the sake of short-term addictions. Having $50 left the week before pay day was “normal”. Having a wardrobe where more than 30% of the items still had the tag on was…also normal. And choosing to ignore my financial future was not just normal but also incredibly ignorant.


I had a champagne taste on a beer budget – The end.


Fearless Female Traders


[Disclaimer: The information in this blog is the opinion of the author only and does not take into account your personal and financial situation. If you have specific questions relating to your own financial situation, you should always seek professional advice]

2 responses to “Every financial mistake to avoid in your 20’s

  1. From Kate Lawrence››

    100% can relate to this post Bryanna! My 2 biggest financial mistakes from my 20’s were putting 2xoverseas trips on credit card and spending the next few years paying them off. The second mistake I made and is only one of a few regrets from my younger years was moving into a rental with my then boyfriend with no agreement between the two of us on rent, bills, groceries and general adult stuff. That relationship ended very badly and was an absolute mess to recover from. Almost 8 years later and I’ve definitely improved on my money story and the mistakes made in those younger years. Live and learn!

    • From Bryanna McDermott››

      Thanks for sharing your story Kate! The good thing (or scary thing?!) is that you’re definitely not alone! So many young women – myself included – only recover from our financial mistakes in our 30’s. I suppose in one way it defines our new relationship with money and in another has set us back. Either way, it’s bloody nice to hear from someone who actually reads my blogs…sometimes I wonder if anyone actually does! Bree xx

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