The year I turned 30 marked some really big changes. I started a new job, moved into my first solo apartment, and had to make a lot of big decisions at once. And one good thing about going through a lot of change very quickly is that it pretty much forces you to stop and take inventory of your life and your priorities. As I stepped over the threshold into my thirties, I started thinking about all the ways this next chapter of my life is already so different from the semi-aimless wandering of my twenties, and in particular how what I value has changed dramatically.
I make more money now than I did in my twenties, but I also think a lot more intentionally about where I’m spending it. Here are the six things I’m done spending money on now that I’m 30, and what I’m spending that money on instead.
1. Trading Off: A new dress for every wedding I get invited to
For: Shoes I can wear to every wedding I get invited to
Remember when going to a wedding was a novelty? When the first wave of my friends started getting hitched around 25, every invitation was an excuse to overspend on a new dress tailored to the location and season of the nuptials, and probably new shoes or a clutch to match it. There were going to be professional photos taken, after all. Now that I’m in my 30s and attending weddings is pretty much everyone’s part-time job, I rerouted those funds into two pairs of quality heels (one black, one gold) that I can actually wear for four hours without wanting to die. They go with every dress in my arsenal, and I always make it to the last dance.
2. Trading Off: extra fees & in-flight cocktails
For: Flying direct
In my twenties, budget-friendly was my number one travel priority. If that meant saving $100 by taking a 1 AM flight with a four-hour layover, I was down. But as I got older and my ability to sleep sitting up or function after being awake all night significantly diminished, I started getting smarter about my travel. I plan ahead to cut out crappy, overpriced airport food and extra baggage fees (packing light is my new favorite game!). And I never drink on the plane, because $10 for a glass of cheap wine that’s only going to give me a headache just isn’t a deal I’m willing to make anymore. Instead, I splurge a little more on direct flights that leave at convenient times so that I can hit the ground running and make the most of my vacations.
3. Trading Off: Cute workout clothes
For: A decent gym membership
When I was younger, I was super self-conscious at the gym; I always wanted to try group classes, but I felt really intimidated by all my Lululemon-clad, grippy-sock-wearing classmates. Dressing the part in color-matching crop tops and leggings definitely helped me conquer that insecurity and get into a groove with my exercise routines. But now that I know the lay of the land, I would rather recycle the same worn out tee shirts and grab new sports bras off the sale rack at Target so that I can put that money towards improving my actual workouts — with a personal trainer or a membership to a quality gym.
4. Trading Off: Fancy bath products
For: Quality skin care
I spent my early twenties in a tiny apartment in Brooklyn, so moving to LA and discovering my new place had an actual bathtub was basically the height of luxury. I spent all kinds of money at Lush and Anthropologie on scented bubble bath, essential oils, aromatherapy candles; anything that made that time feel even more luxurious, and I did really enjoy it. Once that novelty wore off, though, I realized most of that stuff was just pretty-smelling BS that had no real effect on your skin or health (or left it worse off than before — bath bomb slime, anyone?). Now I stick to the basics — soap, hot water, and Epsom salt if I’m feeling fancy — and I invest in a good moisturizer and other skincare products that actually work.
5. Trading Off: Takeout every other night
For: Good booze
As a twenty-something, I always knew I should be cooking more meals at home, but I was also constantly running around from work to the gym to happy hours and then ugh I’m so tired and my favorite Thai place is just right there, and we all know how that story ends. Now that I’m more settled and have an actual kitchen, I’ve discovered that I really prefer having friends over to cook rather than going out to eat. A well-stocked bar is a “we’re grown-ups” dinner party staple, and I love being able to offer my friends a proper cocktail when they arrive, as opposed to whatever leftover booze we can dig out of a cabinet from that party my roommate threw last month.
6. Trading Off: Weekend getaways
For: Investing in my home
For me, turning 30 marked my official induction into the “stay home club.” I moved into my own one-bedroom about a month after my birthday, and designing my new home became a full-time hobby; I invested in a lot of new furniture and decor that made me happy. When I was younger, I would start itching to escape the city and my roommates every couple of weeks, blowing a ton of money on last-minute tickets and accommodations. But now that my home is a place I love, I’m much happier to stay here and just enjoy the space I’ve created.
Being intentional with your spending is a totally personal choice. Where one person might really value a stay in a luxury hotel but think it’s crazy to spend more than you have to on a car, someone else might get a ton of joy from their new ride and be perfectly happy crashing in a hostel. Whatever your spending priorities are, take some time to think them over once in a while, and notice how they’ve changed along with your life. Writing down what was important to me in this new phase of my adulthood has been super clarifying and useful, and I plan to keep doing it at the end of every decade I make it to.
Laura Munoz is a copywriter and freelance journalist living and working in Los Angeles. Visit her website here.
Image via Unsplash