The Biggest Money Sucks for Twenty-Somethings

Spending Diet update! You can track how my own savings are progressing here.

The most frustrating thing about trying to save massive amounts of money is the unavoidable fact that you have to spend money to live.  It would be so much easier to sock away money from my not-terrible job if I didn’t have to pay for costly but necessary parts of life.

Here’s a list of some of the top money sucks for Twenty-Somethings, and a few tips on how to reduce them:

Main Street #13: Room with a view
Creative Commons License photo credit: kevindooley


For most people this is their biggest living expense.  Rent can cost you between 30%-60% of your income, particularly if you live in an expensive area.

There is one really great solution to this- IF you can stomach it. Moving back in with my mom has saved me boatloads of money.  It’s not as fun as living independently, but all of that money I would have spent on rent (probably about $1000 a month in this area) now goes directly into savings. Of course this requires willing parents and logistics, but it’s worth giving some serious thought.

If that’s not an option for you, you might consider moving to a cheaper place, or taking on some roommates. A little can go a long way in this department.

Creative Commons License photo credit: twelvizm


Cars are deceptively expensive. Not only do they cost a lot to buy,  as an owner you are then stuck paying for pricey auto insurance, gas and repairs (which always seem to come at the worst moment).  Saving money would be monumentally easier if I could get rid of my car and solely use public transport for commuting. Or maybe by a bicycle and be richer AND thinner.

Unfortunately for me I have a long commute that is not conducive to public transport, so I’ll be hanging on to my car for a while still. I’m hoping to offset some of the costs of car ownership by selling my pretty black Jetta before I leave.  It’s of no use to me while I’m abroad, and I can always buy another car someday.

Credit Cards
Creative Commons License photo credit: Andres Rueda


School debts, car payments and credit car bills seem to bring down many a would-be traveler. As twenty-somethings we haven’t had a ton of time to rack up debt but we are vulnerable to mismanaging what we have.

The only advice I can give here is to pay down as much as you can as soon as possible. Yes it will deplete your savings momentarily, but you will make up for it in the money you WON’T be spending on interest. Adam at Man Versus Debt has some great advice on how to manage your debt and still travel the world.



I asked some of my buddies on #RTWSoon what the biggest savings obstacles were for them and one kept coming up:

thom_sean: FRIENDS! Easy to cut back food/phone/treats but well meaning: ‘oh come on, what difference will ONE night make?’ A LOT

shawnosaurus: Boredom

JohnnyVagabond: That’s an easy one: beer

It’s a tough one for me too. You’re young and awesome; you want to go out with your friends. All of a sudden one drink turns into shots for everybody. You don’t even think about the cost until you get your credit card statement.

Sadly the only way to combat this is that tricky thing called self-control. I do try to remove some temptations by passing on places and events that I know are going to be expensive and capitalizing on free events. I also try to avoid opening a tab at bars (even better: leave your cards at home and stick only to the cash on your person).

I know some of these measures seem drastic. But the truth of the matter is that if you are trying to massively change your life your going to have to make some sacrifices. There is no easy fix just hard work. Hopefully the end goal makes it all worthwhile.

Your turn: any major expenses I missed? How do you drastically cut down?

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49 thoughts on “The Biggest Money Sucks for Twenty-Somethings”

  1. Marta, you’re right.

    I remember spending so much money when I was partying back in the day (easily spend $60-80 a night, and if you go out two nights of the weekend, that’s almost $160 A WEEK!)

    Geebus, a month of that and you’ve got a discounted flight somewhere already.

    Another big money suck is just the regular ol’ living expenses of living in a city (rent etc)– I found traveling abroad was actually much cheaper than city living. For 2 and a half months in India, I spent $250 and ate like a queen too.
    .-= youngandthrifty´s last blog ..Carnival of the Young and Thrifty: Edition #2 =-.

    1. I was really proud of myself, aside from metro fare I managed to spend $0 this weekend! house parties helped, as did convincing other people to buy me drinks. Basically I’m a huge mooch now.

  2. boozes, parties ‘n dine out are the keys. once you cut on these dramatically, you will realise were all your wage has gone lately. lunch boxes, healthy dinners at home with no readymeal and a bicycle to move around (in city like london was great) will make you surely richer and thinner (love that steph :-)). moving back with parents could be surely a shock, better sharing a flat with some mates.
    For the girls i would add avoiding to go shopping!even when the sales are on you would buy much more than you actually need it, remember after all you will travel with a backpack of 10kg and barely few clothes so resist the temptation!

    1. Yup I’ve been avoiding the mall and, even more treacherous, the online shopping! I used to sign up for all the sale alerts- now i delete them with out opening. Better to just not even think about the temptation.

  3. Entertainment’s the hardest thing to cut out. My husband and I started conserving money last year by cooking a lot more and having more nights in. Game nights with grocery-store beer are key.

  4. Booze, booze, booze. If I didn’t drink I’d have a lot more money in my pockets.
    .-= Anil´s last blog ..Rating Dublin’s Popular Tourist Attractions =-.

  5. Another great reason to travel. You learn how to make a budget and (more importantly) how to stick to it.
    When we started travelling we were forced to learn all this, and it’s pretty useful to know even when you’re back home again.
    .-= Sofia´s last blog ..My Favorite FREE iPod Touch/iPhone Travel Apps For 2010 =-.

  6. Cash only on nights out helps a lot, also having friends who insist on getting the rounds in once they are trolleyed.

    Another one I’d add to the list is hobbies. I used to be into cars, and I can tell you changing an engine is not quite as cheap as the price of the engine… Video games were much better, but 2nd hand, complete, sell. Almost worked out to be free if you are clever, and definitely cheaper then renting.
    .-= AdventureRob´s last blog ..The Great Ocean Road =-.

    1. hobbies can be quit costly. Lucky for me blogging is my hobby. It’s relatively cheap and steals my social life- so maybe it actually saves me money!

  7. Definitely food. Lunch in the city is so expensive. It’s about $7-8 per meal and that adds up over a month. It’s almost $200 a month, $2,400 a year!

  8. I am SO glad you pointed me to Man vs Debt! So so glad! Exactly the info I need. I do pretty much everything you identified in this post. I won’t give up entertainment though, I usually go out once a week but the most I’ll spend is $30. Roommates are DEFINITELY a good choice, as is having a “cash only” policy. 😉
    .-= Candice´s last blog ..Another Reason to Love Newfoundland =-.

  9. I think I would have to agree with JohnnyVagabond on the entertainment aspect. I can do good up until I go out to buy some drinks, but I counter that by drinking whatever is the special or buying a pitcher. Plus if your with a group of friends you can buy one pitcher and a friend gets the next – it’s a good system.

    The rent is my biggest expense, I could find a place that would save me around $100-$200 less a month but I’d stick myself in an apt complex. I chalk that one as the cost of happiness which is worth it while I’m stuck in one spot.
    .-= Cornelius Aesop´s last blog ..Loans Will Be the Debt of Me =-.

    1. Yeah, its important not to sacrifice your sanity with all the savings. Good to cut back but certainly want to keep life bearable (monkeyable?)!

  10. I swear, sometimes I’m actually glad I don’t have much of a social life. I realized today that I’ve spent less than $120 on things other than groceries/household expenses since November. How do I know this? I realized today that my debit card expired in November. Marc and I have a joint account for our household stuff with its own card, so my debit card is only for personal purchases (going out, coffee, music, etc). I got $120 in tips in December, and there’s still some cash in my wallet, and my debit card expired in November, so…yeah, I’ve spent less than $120 in about 3 months.
    .-= Kelsey´s last blog ..One Blog, Two Blogs: To Split or Not To Split? =-.

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