What's your money maturity? Has it changed over time?
I’d never go so far as to say that my husband and I were ever irresponsible with money, even in our much younger years. We always had enough to pay our bills, even if that meant cutting the cable and eating macaroni and cheese four nights a week. We never really lived beyond our means.
But lately, I’ve noticed a shift in our money maturity and the way we approach our finances. We have started to view our finances with totally different eyes.
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Yes, now that we’re both in our later 20s (honestly, where does the time go?) and earning decent livings, things are definitely different. And yet, it’s only recently that we’ve begun to move away from that flat-broke, fresh-out-of-college mentality that we held onto for so many years.
As we’ve made the transition from recent graduates to young adults (because, believe it or not, there’s a pretty significant difference between those two age groups), a few big changes have happened in terms of our money maturity.
We Spend More
It’s normal to expect that my husband and I have become even more financially responsible as we’ve grown older and wiser. Rest assured, we have definitely become more practical about where our money goes, and we still avoid unnecessary spending.
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However, we now both earn much more than we did when we were fresh out of college. And we’re a dual-income household with no kids. We’re fortunate to have some comfortable breathing room in our monthly budget.
So we go out to eat more often than we used to. We’ll spend money on a quick weekend trip to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Or we’ll buy a few more rounds of drinks for the table when we’re out with friends.
Sometimes earning more also means spending a little more.
And as long as we can afford it, we’re more than okay with that. Life’s a balance.
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We’re Warier of Risks
You know that old cliché about teenagers? How they all think they’re invincible and nothing bad could ever actually happen to them? Well, I’m a firm believer that this feeling of indestructibility extends past just your teenage years and well into your early 20s.
My husband has always been more risk-averse than I am. But even so, we didn’t give much thought to protecting ourselves against the things that could happen — until enough horror stories (including misfortunes reported by friends) forced us into covering our bases before it ever became an issue.
Now we give careful consideration when selecting a new health insurance plan. We both have life insurance policies. We actually read all of the fine print about our home insurance to ensure that we understand what’s covered, rather than toss it aside. The second my husband proposed, we had my ring insured. And after getting rear-ended in a parking lot earlier this year, I no longer gripe out paying for my car insurance.
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The innocence and naiveté of youth only lasts so long before you need a little money maturity. Now that we’ve matured into responsible adults, we’re much more willing to spend a little bit extra each month to save ourselves from a devastatingly large expense down the road.
We Have an Eye Toward the Future
In a similar vein, when you’re young, you’re really only concerned with today and tomorrow. The future will come, but it can wait.
But, that “now” view of our finances is long gone. We built up a solid emergency fund to cover six months of our expenses if we were both to lose employment at the exact same time (fingers crossed, may we never deal with that). Then we opened IRAs in addition to my husband's 401(k). We met with a financial adviser to talk about smart ways we could invest some of our money.
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Just a few years ago, we were all about instant gratification. But now we definitely see the value in planning for 25 years from now – not just for next month.
As you and your income grow, it only makes sense that you adopt new attitudes and make different choices with your money. It’s important to remember that your financial philosophy is never set in stone – it’s meant to adapt and shift as your circumstances do.