I've been wrestling with something in my head for a while. Some months ago I found a very encouraging article, comparing one's twenties to one's thirties. I've scoured everywhere that I stick notes and interesting reads, and cannot, for the life of me, find the article.
The one piece I found on money was dismal.
Now, to be fair, what I'm finding is what's foisted upon me by HuffPo's SEO, and these fluff pieces get lots of links and shares, so they ride to the top of Google's rankings.
I still can't stand it. Not because it's wrong, but because there is this pervasive notion that the twenties are supposed to be the highlight of our lives, and after that, it's just work and misery, and trying to coast through life while still scraping together some fun weekends drunk.
But Josh, we all know that's not true. I'm in my twenties, and I know this isn't the peak of my existence.
Yes. I know this too. But I find myself slipping into this sense of "time is running out" to accomplish all that I've ever wanted to accomplish... by the time I'm 30. (I'm 27, by the way.)
This article on "If you're saving in your 20's, you're doing it wrong" made the rounds a few months ago. The author argues:
Your 20s are not the time to save; they’re the time to gamble. $200 a month isn't going to make the dent that a $60,000 pay raise will after spending all those nights out networking.
When you have something to bank on, you have nothing to reach for. When you have nothing to lose, you have everything to gain.
She's right that $200/month won't immediately make you rich, and that a $60k pay raise might. But the two are connected. Mr. Money Mustache wrote a delightful response, If You’re Not Getting Rich in your 20s, You’re Doing it Wrong.
Here’s the thing about your 20s. They are the time to work. The very, very best time in your life to work your ass off and create an exponential snowball of money, skills, and friendships.
So, we're moving somewhere. We can discard the crap BuzzFeed pieces about alcohol tolerance in your thirties, and we know that we should be doing something in our twenties (besides spending all the money we make), and we've got people like Mr. Money Mustache and The Financial Diet (rebuttal title: If You Don’t Have Savings In Your 20s, You’re A Fucking Idiot)
The idea of "investment" threads through all these pieces. The "don't save anything" piece thinks that by saving, you're unable to invest in things that will provide a greater return down the road. The authors of the rebuttals argue that you can simultaneously save and invest, and that maybe even by saving more, you're better equipped to invest more.
I'm "sold" on the idea on investing right now. I will gladly invest my time, money, and effort into things that will build capacity down the road. Heck, the words you're reading right now count as an investment - I want to be a better communicator, so here I am communicating. The first piece won't be good, but maybe once I've written a thousand things I'll be bit better.
But this is a time of investment. I keep finding myself concerned that because I've done done one thing or another, I'll probably never do it. I've got plenty of goals, and if I accomplished them all by the time I was 30, who knows what else I'd work on. So, my recommendation to myself (and to you, if we're in the same boat):
Be consistent in making small, regular investments across many domains today. Don't worry about what will come of it just yet. You've got time to let things grow.