We remember those days long ago — or not so long ago — when we thought the only thing standing between us and a great night out was a fake I.D., and the days when every hurt could be soothed with a new pair of shoes.
Until now, we’d always chalked those notions up to our own youthful silliness, but it turns out we weren’t alone: According to a recent study, 20-year-olds actually think that having debt is cool.
“The more credit card and college loan debt held by young adults aged 18 to 27, the higher their self-esteem,” the researchers concluded. Only that effect didn’t last long: By the time participants in the study reached age 28, their feelings of mastery and empowerment had corroded into stress over the money they owed.
Surely celebrating your debt isn’t the only habit worth kicking by the time you near 30. So, we asked you, what other habits that seemed cool, empowering and fun at 20 did you drop like a hot potato a few years later?
Your answers, which ranged from money choices to lifestyle mistakes, were hilarious, insightful . . . and a testament to the power of experience. Read on.
If You're Doing This: Don’t waste your hard-earned money on cancer-causing tanning beds, which can come back to bite you later in health care bills—or worse. Tan safely (here’s some advice on sunless tanning), or, better yet, emulate Anne Hathaway, who makes pale skin look chic.
Read on for more bad habits.
Being Capricious With Credit
If You're Doing This: Know that bad credit decisions in your 20s can have a ripple effect in your future. Any blights on your record (like a missed payment) will show up on your credit report for a long seven years, and your score will affect whether you'll be able to get a loan to buy a car or a home someday. Plus, some potential employers even look at it before deciding whether to hire you.
But taking charge of your credit is also seriously empowering. To make sure you're on top of it, read this easy checklist on understanding and managing your credit score.
If You're Doing This: Cigarettes can hurt you in more ways than one. Meaning, of course, both the high cost of buying them and the price you’ll pay down the road in health care costs and, potentially, your health. If this is you, check out this text message service to help you kick the habit.
Falling into the Shopping Trap
If You're Doing This: Here are tips to curb your bad online shopping bad habits, and here’s how to stop a downward spending spiral. Meanwhile, if you’re looking for ways to be stylish without breaking the bank, check out our Priceless Style Bootcamp.
Making Bad Decisions Involving Alcohol
If You're Doing This: Being charged $100 for a $30 bottle of liquor, just for the perk of having it brought to your table? Not cool, we agree. And drinking can really add up: Check out how much it might be costing you! Let’s raise a glass to moderation—and drinks actually worth drinking. We’ve got plenty of recipes for delicious, cheap cocktails you won’t regret.
Being Wedded to Your Cell
If You're Doing This: If your catch-up sessions with friends are typically under 200 characters, odds are you're not really connecting. (Here are 13 signs your life may be too busy.) Besides, communicating via text can really add up if you go over your limit. Take a look at your data plan to see whether it could better accommodate your needs. While you're at it, call your carrier, and use this script to negotiate a lower bill.
Depending on a Man
If You're Doing This: Whether you’re planning to get married soon, or even just thinking about it, make sure to protect your finances. Here’s what you need to know about prenups (and why they aren’t unromantic). And here's how moving in together can affect your financial life.
Throwing Your Budget to the Wind
If You're Doing This: If you haven't set a budget yet, the only one you're hurting is yourself, since it's the easiest way to achieve your financial dreams. To figure out a budget that works for you now rather than later, link your accounts in the LearnVest My Money Center and get started on the right foot with our Take Control Bootcamp.