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Money in my 20’s

March 9, 2012

When I was 20, I was working as a waitress while going to college.  I had a moderate amount of student loans.  I could pull in ~$100 on a weekend night, and that was a lot to me.  I would collect twenties in a checkbook box in my bedroom, and once I had a big stack, I’d bring them into the bank.  I only worked a few nights a week and school was always my priority… but the cash was nice and necessary.  My boyfriend at the time had a “real” internship and would get jealous when my hourly waitress rate exceeded his rate.

When I was 21, I lived outside my hometown for the first time.  I got paid $12/hr or something for a 6 month internship, and they paid for housing.  At that point, I quit waitressing and never went back.  The only jobs I picked up after that were on campus jobs in my major (lab TA).  I fell in love with my (now) husband.  I saved what I could for the next semester.  I regularly drove 8 hours each way on a weekend to visit my now husband once the internship ended.

When I was 23, I started my first professional job (not counting co-ops/internships).  My net worth was approximately negative $30k.  I had just returned from a semester abroad, studying and traveling.   My salary was more than I knew what to do with.  I rented an apartment by myself for about $500 a month, and dumped thousands of dollars at a time into my higher interest student loans.  I saved 8-10% in my 401k.  I thought an emergency fund of $10k was going to be tough.

When I was 24, I had a positive net worth for the first time!   Also, I started a blog!  (This one!)

When I was 25, I moved to California.  My new salary didn’t initially cover the increase in the cost of living, but it was sunny every single day.  I figure that made it about even.  Plus, my husband was now a short 8 miles away.  (In L.A. geography, that is borderline long-distance!)  A few months after I started my new job, layoffs were announced.  This happened the next year, and maybe the year after that too.  I breathed a sigh of relief I hadn’t waited any longer to move – there would have been no jobs for me.  I kept a tight budget and saved what I could in my retirement.  Then I waited impatiently for T to be ready to get a place with me!

At 26, my financial life got a lot better.  I moved in with T and our budgets both looked better.  I started maxing out my 401k!  I got my master’s degree.  Shortly after, we got engaged. We paid for (most of) a wedding and had a party back in the Midwest.  We got a new car.  Money ceased to be a source of anxiety for me.  We started traveling more.  We went to Europe 2 years in a row.

Now I am 29.  My salary has increased by about $40k over the past several years.  Some of that was because I moved to a higher cost of living place, but it still has increased ~$25k in the past 4 years, despite the bad economy.  I worked really hard and I was good at my job.  I increased my value by getting a M.S. degree.  I impressed my coworkers enough to get the highest ratings on my performance assessment.  I pushed for more responsibility.  I got impatient with the raise/promotion process, but it eventually did get settled and my manager tried to make it up to me.  (I still think my market rate is a bit higher than I’m actually making, but it is close enough that it doesn’t make me angry any more.)  My networth reached a new milestone.

That’s how my money in my 20s went.  It was a lot of hard work to get from where I was at 20 to where I am when I’m (almost) 30.  But it was also a lot of fun.  I can’t wait to see what the next decade holds!

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. March 9, 2012 9:57 am

    I hope the next decade is even better! Sounds like you’ve come a long way from your early 20s.

  2. cooie permalink
    March 22, 2012 2:59 pm

    still no babies in your 20’s?

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