How Bad Spending in My Early 20s Improved My Savings and Health Today
My early 20s were a financial nightmare.
From expensive clothes and dinners, to racking up a $700 phone bill in one month at college (sorry, Mom) it was a difficult, but quick learning curve when it came to understanding my savings and spending habits.
Now that I think I finally have a true understanding of how to manage my money (carefully and slowly making better choices), I’m starting to see how health and finances go together. They’re like peanut butter and jelly, or quinoa and tilapia if you’re into that.
Here are a few ways my early 20s taught me that saving money could improve my overall health:
1. Early 20s Meant Drive-Thrus. Now, I Cook At Home.
I was very guilty of sneaking a late night drive-thru stop on my way home when I was in my early 20s. It just seemed easier than cooking for myself. When I reviewed my monthly account statements, I was spending over $100 a month on fast food on top of my regular grocery shopping.
Now I enjoy discovering new meals via Pinterest or cook books and embrace the joy known as meal prep. Finding healthier alternatives for my favorite meals is easy and fun, too!
Example: I replaced all of my “white grains” with whole grains. Whole grain pasta and bread gives meals better flavor and isn’t loaded down with unnecessary sugars.
2. Early 20s Meant P-A-R-T-Y with my money. Now, I Find Free, Local Events.
Late night drinks, going to the movies, or practicing retail therapy were a quick way to drain my month’s expendable income in two days.
Now I get outside to check out my local parks, hiking trails, and campgrounds. My friends and I created a weekly routine of checking out free, outdoor events—which included concerts and community movie nights.
Spending more time out in greener pastures not only saves money, it keeps you actively exercising, provides Vitamin D your body needs, and stimulates brain function.
Your local community is probably buzzing with events that will encourage you to get outside and meet new people! Check your online local community listings or search for your city’s chamber of commerce events page.
Volunteering is also a great way to get involved, improve your health, and learn new skills!
3. Early 20s Meant YOLO. Now, I Use My Insurance and Save for Doctor’s Visits.
I embraced the acronym YOLO (you only live once) in my early 20s. If I woke up and felt like my face had hit a brick wall (not a medical term), I would sleep it off and hope to feel better for the next day. Simply because I didn’t want to pay to see a doctor or even walk into an Urgent Care center. I would spend $20-$40 on over-the-counter medicine I was only hoping would cure what was wrong.
Now, I utilize my medical insurance and take advantage of my check-ups. It might be easier to say than do for some, but visiting your doctor for yearly check-ups can mean avoiding health catastrophe in the future.
The Long and Short of It: Better Savings Habits Encourages Better Health
When I started managing my money better is when I’ve felt my best—less anxiety, I sleep better, and I have the energy to do more recreational activities after work that doesn’t include making popcorn and watching TV every night.
That’s how I see savings and health. How do you see it?