We have been told the new 50 is 60, the new 40 is 50, and the new 30 is 40. We think we have more time to figure out our lives, to save money, and to play post-college. We think it is wrong to grow up too fast or get married too young. We postpone it all and celebrate those that postpone growing up — and laugh at those who do it “early.”
There is one problem with all of this: having children.
The doctors tell women that they should have their first child before their 35th birthday to limit birth defects. Whether we want to admit it or not, for those of us who want to have kids, we do have a time line — and 40 really isn’t the new 30.
So, despite what we tell ourselves, one day we are going to wake up with two kids crawling into our bed and a partner sleeping next to us. The question is — will you have spent your 20’s building a strong foundation or will you be scrambling to make up time in your 30’s? Will you have a home to raise your kids in or the really cool loft in the city with one room? Will you have your school loans paid off or will you be spending your kids’ college fund on paying off your own? Will you live in a good school district because you saved the big down payment or will you be paying out of pocket for the private school? The problem is, if you’re not prepared financially and if you haven’t spent your 20’s building the foundation, then you will spend the rest of your life catching up.
So, what should you be doing in your 20’s? Well, society says drinking, living in the big city, buying the cool clothes, living in the sweet apartment, and going out every night. I say you should be saving your pennies for the down payment and buying your first house in the right school district. You should be picking the career path you want to follow and set yourself up with a promotion plan. You should pay off all school debt and consumer debt. You should pick a life partner because divorce is expensive. You should get married and begin making plans together — so you are ready for when you turn 30 and want to have kids.
If you don’t, you will be like a lot of people who wake up on their 30th birthday and suddenly realize they should marry someone because all their friends did. They should have kids because their friends have kids. This is when they will find out the rough truth that a starter home/loft apartment is not good for a family of four. Or that the best school district requires a bigger down payment than they have saved. Or that they don’t want their kids to have loans like they did, but they can’t save for them until they pay off theirs. Finally,they are going to work until they’re 70 and they hate the job they’re in because they were too busy having fun to figure out what they wanted to do.
One day — we all turn 30 and realize that life isn’t like television. We don’t all live in sweet New York City apartments and land on our feet while working as a waitress.
At some point, we realize that society never cared if we ended up happy. It just wanted us to have fun, spend money, and end up screwed like everyone else.