Spending Money Like A 20-Something

People have bizarre spending habits in their twenties. Everyone is perpetually broke but still somehow has money for alcohol and their organic shampoo and conditioner from Whole Foods. I mean, something’s just not quite adding up here. Money is always a very touchy subject but in your twenties, it looms over you like a dark menacing cloud. It makes you cry, have panic attacks on the subway, and whore yourself out on Craigslist. But if you’re lucky enough to actually be rich in your twenties, you exist in your own quarantined realm. You go on vacations to Miami with your girlfriends, post pictures of yourself on a yacht and basically live the life of a thirty-something without the responsibilities of having children or a job. You are so very lucky. P.S. though, everyone hates you. #sorry.

Regardless of what category you fall under, here are five things that most 20-somethings blow their money on.

1. Rent

Every month, I flush my money down the toilet. I see a thousand dollars, scream and yell “GET AWAY FROM ME!” and quickly throw it in the toilet. Then I watch it swirl away and feel myself becoming so much calmer! “Phew! I’m so glad I was able to get rid of that!” Okay, that’s actually a lie. When I say “flush down the toilet”, I really mean “send my rent check to my landlord.” Renting is the pits. You really are just giving someone an obscene amount of money each month so you can not be homeless. It’s like you’re saying, “Please just take the money! I really can’t sleep outdoors. I’m very sensitive to temperatures!” However, when you’re in your twenties, it’s sort of the only option. It’s not like you can go to the bank and be like “I wanna own a house! Give me money? Love you!” They’ll have you escorted out. You just have to accept that for an indefinite period of time, you’ll be working to just have a roof over your head. Then you marry, combine incomes, and buy a house, I guess? I don’t know.

2. Booze

I used to judge people who didn’t drink and think they were boring. Now, I understand the reasoning behind their madness. If you don’t drink, you will save a large amount of money. You could practically start a college fund for your unborn child! Not only is booze expensive but your impaired judgement causes you to make unwise financial decisions. When you’re wasted, your money turns into Monopoly money. It’s not real. You practically give it away to the pizza guy at four in the morning. You’ll take cabs everywhere because walking is just not an option. Before you know it, you’ll have blown a hundred bucks in a single night without ever feeling like you lived lavishly. And the financial hangover can sometimes be worse than your actual hangover the next day. Your bank account knows what you were up to last night. The ATM was laughing at you when you withdrew $60 at three in the morning.

3. Healthy organic food

This is perhaps the most hilarious aspect of being a “fake poor but still living in da first world” 20-something. No one has money for anything ever but when you come over to someone’s apartment, it’s filled to the brim with bourgie groceries. When did Whole Foods become our drug dealer? Or worse, they’re always eating out. I shudder to think about the thousands of dollars I’ve blown on delivery and eating out. At the same time, I realize it just brings my friends and I so much joy to sit down somewhere and have someone bring us food we didn’t cook.

4. College

You’re either in it and paying for it or out of it and paying off loans. Either way, it takes a major chunk out of your wallet in your twenties.

5. Cell phones and internet

Paying for internet and the latest iPhone model is key to being a 20-something. You may not have more than five dollars to your name but you will find a way to get 500 dollars so you can buy the latest hot phone. Who cares if you already have a fancy phone? You need the new one because it’s just a little bit fancier! Ugh, there should be a blog called “Unemployed 20-Somethings With iPhones” because there are so many of them. If you have no money/job, you should wisely invest in the cell phone that I have: A Nokia phone from 1999 that you can purchase at Radio Shack for ten dollars. It may not have internet capabilities or even make phone calls sometimes but it gets the job done. TC mark

Ryan O'Connell

I'm a brat.


More From Thought Catalog

  • Rae

    This my life exactly.

  • JQ

    I always dig your posts Ryan, keep them coming.

  • Nick

    I’m embarrassed by your accuracy.

  • anonymous


  • http://twitter.com/FLYamSAM Denden

    How else am I supposed to check Grindr without an iPhone? #beinggayisexpensive

  • c4u


  • Anonymous

    I like this and feel guilty at the same time. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=501809676 Francesca Filardo

    This too shall pass.

  • http://twitter.com/simbelsim simbel

    Read this right before signing onto my digital bank and see how much I have left for the damn internet bill.

    • Lillian

      Read this right after I spent $14 on lunch at Whole Foods.

  • http://aimeekatz.wordpress.com/ Aimee

    I probably couldn’t write something more accurate than this. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/CaseyJonesATX Casey Jones

    Ryan O’Connell, thank you for making Thought Catalog! I often don’t relate but I find it immensely enjoyable and entertaining. (I said that to Jamie Stewart after a Xiu Xiu concert once and he looked at me like I was the biggest turd.)

    • Anonymous

      Yes Mr. O’Connell, you do make Thought Catalog for me.  And #2 I must say that shopping is my booze.

  • Abby

    This is hilarious and so true. My life.

  • Anonymous


  • http://profiles.google.com/mcblaloc Meghan Blalock

    “fake poor but still living in da first world” thank you

    • erin

      i’m so broke i’m thinking of moving to vietnam, or kenya. trust me.

  • A.

    The key is to not buy food and only drink cheap alcohol. You can get drunk on 4loko 7 days a week for only ~$20 per WEEK for booze.

  • http://www.facebook.com/m.paigekelly Megan Kelly

    Read this while eating a meal made completely out of Aldi products. I am not ashamed. 

  • http://somuchtocome.blogspot.com Aja

    Yeah, I really limit my boozing for the exact reasons you listed.  (Plus alcohol has never agreed with me).  The next day, you have an empty pocket and a hangover?  Who wins?  Not you!

  • Anonymous

    ‘A blog called “Unemployed 20-Somethings With iPhones”’ – Read: Thought Catalog

  • starvingartist

    Wish I could relate. For a 20-year-old who is ACTUALLY broke, it goes more along the lines of living in a shit apartment on the border of the ghetto in LA. You have 3 shit part time jobs that don’t cover anything. Anxiety over getting caught not paying for metro tickets while carrying resumes you printed at Kinkos. The only new clothing you’ve obtained over the year has been stolen (from the Goodwill). You’re taking your second term off school in order to pay for the first. You live off of frozen burritos and Ramen. You have panic attacks at home while your friends party at Bonnaroo, but it’s ok because they pay for your dinners out.

    • erin

      respect to this.

    • Greg


    • lesoap

      but you do have internet!

      • starvingartist

        roomates also take care of creature comforts such as the interwebs.

  • erin

    you hit the nail on the head with this one, ryan, though as a 20something i am too busy being underemployed living with my parents outside of toronto. i guess it is different if you are not stationed outside of a major metropolitan area with “possibilities” for your career. in fact, this article might just be the only thing IN THE WORLD that makes me no longer want to be a 20something anymore. i want to be 30 now. unless 30 is the new 25. or the new 23. when will we grow up? 

  • Sophiaaiello

    This article totally sums up my life as a twenty-something.FAIL

  • Melissa

    I’m embarrassed about how true this is. Going to go drown my sorrows in a $12 pack of cigarettes and a $7 specialty coffee from my local organic cafe. Bye. 

  • Melissa

    I’m embarrassed by how true this is. Going to go drown my sorrows in a $12 pack of cigarettes and a $7 specialty coffee from my local organic cafe. Bye. 

  • Sara

    LOL so broke, saving for a europtrip and blew $80 on dinner last night…. i must have easily spent $300 this week on recreational activities!

  • http://profiles.google.com/btlcs90 syahmi azri

    read this on my shitty acer laptop that crashes every 30mins due to overheating.
     and i somehow leaching the mcd’s free wifi. broke to the bone!

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