9 Bad Money Habits I Wish I’d Avoided in My Early 20s

Are you satisfied with how you handle your hard-earned cash?

Or maybe you’re plagued by some pesky financial habits you’re ready to kick to the curb?

Like many who stumble upon the power of compound interest a tad too late, I wish I’d grasped its potential in my teenage years or early 20s. 

Had I known then what I know now, my financial decisions would have been far wiser.

It’s true; we all have our share of regrets.

But the consequences of poor money habits can be especially crippling compared to other life choices. 

If you haven’t taken a hard look at your spending patterns, I hope my hard-earned lessons offer some food for thought.

Remember, there’s no better way to master the money game and seize control of your finances than through education. 

Dive into these phenomenal finance books that you simply must read, and don’t miss these eye-opening debt quotes I wish I’d known in my early 20s.

I’m proud to say I’ve now kicked my destructive money habits to the curb. 

It all started with a stripped-down budget, transforming me into a financial minimalist. 

My life is now simpler, more focused, and, above all, under control. 

It feels like I can finally breathe!

Contrary to what I initially believed, budgeting isn’t dull or tedious.

Instead, it’s now a breeze, thanks to my minimalist approach. 

Gone are the days of filling out 50 columns on an Excel spreadsheet—now I manage fewer than 10!

Here are the financial faux pas I wish I’d sidestepped in my early 20s:

Learning from Financial Mistakes: A Journey to Financial Freedom

Financial freedom is not just about accumulating wealth; it’s about breaking free from the habits that hold us back.


1. Impulsive Travel: Escaping Stress at a High Cost

Living in a bustling metropolis like London made it all too easy to hop on a plane for a European escape.

Whenever stress reared its ugly head, I’d book a flight and “run away.” 

I rationalised that a break in an exotic locale would help me clear my mind and start fresh upon my return. 

While it did work, the price tag was steep—especially since I often relied on credit cards.

2. Dining Out or Ordering Takeout: Convenience Over Budget

After convincing myself that I was too tired or too lazy to cook after work, I often opted for eating out or ordering in. 

I also loved treating friends to dinners and exploring new cuisines together. 

Ironically, I truly enjoy cooking!

Now, it’s been ages since I’ve dined out or ordered takeout. 

Plus, I’ve recently discovered the benefits of fasting—for both my wallet and my health.

A One-Day Starvation Secret Got the Nobel Prize

3. Relying on Credit Cards: Falling into a Debt Trap

Initially, I expertly managed my credit cards, but soon I found myself trapped in debt.

To regain control, I embraced a cash-only 30-day challenge, using cash for all transactions and leaving my credit cards behind.

This exercise forced me to reconsider each purchase and made me acutely aware of my spending habits, ultimately empowering me to regain control of my finances.

Curious about the role of credit scores and myths in your financial life?

Don’t miss our post on Debunking Credit Score Myths: The Real Impact on Your Credit for insights to help you make informed credit decisions.

4. Window Shopping: The Lure of Retail Therapy

I used to meander through busy streets, wander into fancy shops, and browse through colourful makeup displays. 

Then I’d walk out with a couple of items I didn’t really need. 

Now, I avoid high street shopping altogether.

5. Impulse Buying: Choosing Convenience Over Savings

I used to grab the first thing that caught my eye, prioritising convenience over price. 

Now, I carefully research and compare prices before making a purchase, often realising that I don’t need it after all.

6. Upgrading Phones Annually: Gadget Obsession and Vanity

I was once obsessed with having the latest gadgets, even though my current devices worked perfectly well. 

Now, I cherish everything I own, only replacing items when they’re truly beyond repair.

7. Living without a Budget: The Perils of Financial Spontaneity

As a spontaneous person, planning never came naturally to me. 

Budgeting felt like a constraint on my free-spirited ways, sucking the fun out of life. 

But now, with a minimalist budget, I feel grounded and in control.

8. Emotional Spending: Finding Comfort in Material Things

Eating out, ordering takeout, window shopping, and impulsive travel were all forms of emotional therapy for me. 

It’s important to mention this separately because it highlights how I wasn’t truly passionate about the things I bought.

Here’s what I mean:

When most people buy a new outfit or pair of shoes, they excitedly try them on at home and admire themselves in the mirror. 


I’d find the items still in their shopping bags days later. 

I’d wash and store them away without much thought.

Now, with my focus on personal development, I no longer turn to shopping as a form of therapy. 

Instead, I cultivate inner peace and contentment.

9. Bank Fees and Late Fees: Ignoring the Cost of Negligence

I used to brush off occasional fees of $5, $10, or $20 as insignificant. 

But the truth is, I was carelessly throwing away my hard-earned money. 

Now, I’ve set up direct debits for all bills and keep a close eye on my accounts.

Final Thoughts: Embracing Better Money Habits for a Brighter Financial Future

These lessons have taught me that mastering the money game isn’t just about earning and spending—it’s about keeping your money. 

For too long, I clung to the excuse that I didn’t have a financial role model.

But with countless resources available today, ignorance is no longer a valid reason. 

I now dedicate myself to learning as much as I can about money, making spending more challenging, mastering the money game, paying off debt, and building a financially independent life.

Ready to take full control of your financial life and stop blaming your upbringing?

Dive into our post on Breaking Free from Financial Ignorance: Stop Blaming Your Parents and Take Control.

It’s time to empower yourself with the knowledge and tools you need to create a solid financial future.

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