What I Learned About Money After A Decade Of Adulting

Time sure does fly. Our blog has been growing by leaps and bounds so I thought it was time to reflect on what I’ve learned about my money after a decade of adulting. Interestingly enough, I’ve been adulting longer than a decade, but that’s just splitting hairs. The point is to let my readers in on a few insights I’ve been fortunate enough to pick up along the way.  I’m sure most of you will be able to relate to a lot of what I have observed. And if so, I’m hoping you, too, will be able to sit back and enjoy the ride. Oftentimes, it’s easy to forget to enjoy the Now because we’re too caught up in The Future. I’m here to say, Stop It! Sit back, take each day in stride, make regular financial progress, and enjoy your life. 

A Decade Of Adulting


Adulting | Financial Responsibilities | Adult Finances | Financial Obligations | Money Obligations via @MadMoneyMonsterGranted, my #adulting didn’t start the day I celebrated my 18th birthday. No way. It actually didn’t start for quite a few years after that. I can say that my parents did the best they could in the way of raising my siblings and me, but I can also say that quite a few things were missed. Missed not in a bad way, but more in a, they didn’t have the knowledge themselves way.

Parents always want their children to succeed and will oftentimes encourage that at the expense of their own futures. My parents did just that. They failed to make a solid financial plan for themselves because they were too busy making sure we had the latest video games and trendy clothes. Needless to say, although I absolutely loved my childhood, I didn’t have much in the way of financial takeaways to start my adult life. I had to figure it out on my own, as did Mr. MMM. It’s been a long and windy road, but it sure has been fun. And without further ado, I will attempt to entertain you with what I have learned about money from a decade of adulting.

What I Learned About Money Via #Adulting


Before fully graduating to adulthood, I operated under the assumption that my life was going to “start” at some point in the distant future. You know, like after I finished my master’s degree, after I got married, after I had kids, and after I bought a house. You know, I was sure my life would follow the traditional trajectory (spoiler: IT DID NOT) and I would start the stopwatch after I ticked all the above-mentioned boxes.

cat dressed up - adulting

You can still be an adult AND dress up your cat!

Let me tell you, my life started the day I was born and will not stop until the day I die. Same goes for your life! So please stop sitting around thinking your life is going to “start” when you finish school or get married or have kids. Your life is happening RIGHT NOW. Make the most of each passing thought, moment, activity. EVERYTHING. Make the most of everything, because you are the collective of each moment of your life.

What I’ve Learned About Money (and Life)


  • I’m happy to be a tortoise: Slow and steady sure does win the race. Sure, I could’ve graduated with a finance degree and started a career as an investment banker on Wall Street. But, I did not. Therefore, Mr. MMM and I are building our wealth one step at a time, with a much more colorful past I might add (read all about that here and here!)
  • No, I don’t need fries with that: I LOVE fries, but I have realized over the last decade or so, that I don’t need to have everything. I don’t even need to go out to eat. This kills me, but at least it’s a money-saving move in the right direction.
  • Mexican coke -adulting

    Money Lesson: $5 on a Mexican Coke and a cup of soup can be entertainment for a week. #lovin’it

    Tattered boots are stylish: Gone are the days I aimlessly buy new boots just because the weather turns cool. These days, I wear the same boots year after year. If they need a repair, I either do it myself or take them to a cobbler. Yes, cobblers still exist. And, I’ve accepted the very real fact that tattered boots have a history and are much cooler than new ones.

  • Clothes can last a really, really long time: Oh man, had you asked me a decade ago how long clothes last, I would’ve blindly told you about a year or two. I can honestly say that I have clothes in my closet as I type this that have celebrated their 10-year anniversary. And, they’re still in great condition! Yeah, clothes really do last a VERY long time. PROOF: Check our my clothes-buying ban here!
  • Investing and wealth management is fun: What better way to make sure you’re doing everything right for your family than to research wealth-building strategies and actually employ them? Yes, I’ve come to love this practice. I love everything from writing this blog for our ever-growing community to listening to podcasts to and from my W-2 every day.
  • Down with debt: Debt downright stinks. There really is no way around it. I’ve been there more times than I’d like to admit. So has Mr. MMM. We’ve had credit card debt, student loan debt, and mortgage debt. We still have mortgage debt! But thankfully, that’s the last debt we have. Over the years, we have learned to WAIT to purchase something until we have the money up front. We have also learned to evaluate each purchase before shelling out our bucks. And sometimes we decide the cost just ain’t worth it. Moving on.
  • Small houses are awesome: This is probably one of the best things I learned over the last decade. I used to think I had to buy a big house to impress people and validate my success. A couple years ago I was able to toss that mindset aside and realize that housing size really doesn’t matter. It’s such a liberating feeling. Nowadays, we’re super excited to be rocking our small, updated home.
  • More expensive doesn’t always mean better: This is so true. Many times we
    Sunset - adulting

    Money Lesson: Sunsets and friends are free. Enjoy both often.

    are taught to believe that a higher price tag automatically means better quality. This is, of course, sometimes true. But it is definitely not always the case. Due diligence must be employed for every financial decision. Case in point, my Mazda sedan gets me all around town just as comfortably as a BMW 5 series. And, my Mazda was a fraction of the cost.

  • Time is money: I’ve learned to stop wasting time on things, TV, and even people who don’t bring value to my life. My free time is quite limited (as I’m sure yours is) and I can’t afford to waste it. For example, researching investments or rental properties over my lunch break is a much better use of my time than going out to eat with someone I barely know and won’t see ever again after they quit next month. #foodforthought
  • My child doesn’t need EVERYTHING: Obviously, we want to give our child the best of everything. But realizing the best of everything means NOT giving her everything is a powerful thought to have in your mental arsenal. We truly feel that not giving our daughter everything is teaching her valuable lessons about life and the acquisition of goods and services. It’s also teaching her what WE have to do to provide her with a nice home, nutritious foods, and occasional entertainment.
  • I don’t need to stay up late: Staying up late curbs my productivity and makes me grumpy. Trust me, no one wants to be around me when I’m grumpy. Not even me. And, there’s no way I’m researching investments or coming up with new financial strategies when I’m tired and grumpy. It truly is a waste of my time.
  • Ice cream makes a great meal: Last but certainly not least, ice cream makes a great meal. Who cares if you’re ruining your appetite. In the words of Jerry Seinfeld, there’s another one coming right behind it. Yep. The absolute best part about #adulting is ice cream for dinner! ***And the crowd goes wild!***

How My Life Is Better Now


Mad Money Cat - adulting

I’ll get her back for that pic at the top. Mad Money Cat doesn’t roll like that. #sleepwithoneeyeopen

I believe it was Steve Jobs who once said you can only connect the dots of your life looking back. Of course, this is a very optimistic view of the world and our lives, but, optimism is exactly what we should use to judge our lives.

Think of it, everything you have ever thought or done has led you to this exact moment in time. You are reading this blog because you have an interest in personal finance. So, ask yourself why you have an interest in personal finance. Did you choose an expensive college and are now seeking a way to pay down your debt? Or, are you excited because you just landed an awesome job and you want to make sure you capitalize on those upcoming paychecks? Whatever it is, all your past thoughts and actions brought you here. And here, hopefully, is a pretty good place to be. Congratulations on your life! Let’s keep moving forward and making the right financial moves so that we can look back on this moment and be thankful.

What have you learned about money after years of adulting?


Adulting | Personal Finance | Adult Money via @MadMoneyMonster

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Smart Money Seed Oct 9, 2017, 9:23 pm

    Great advice, and congrats on the blog success! I think the mindset change from the constant need to go, go, go to contentment in being the tortoise is a huge step toward overall life contentment. I’m still working on that big time at 24! And I’m DEFINITELY moving towards the not staying up late thing. Even if I’m in bed at midnight or 1 on Friday and Saturday, I get so much more out of my Saturday and Sunday than if I stay at the bars until 2 and stay up until 3 or 4.

    • Mad Money Monster Oct 10, 2017, 5:24 pm

      Thanks! We’re loving the blogging life these days. And, yay for sleep! You’ll get there 😉

  • Susanne @ The 76K Project Oct 2, 2017, 2:04 pm

    I’ve basically stopped buying new clothes. I have six outfits that I rotate for work. I look super boring but I love that I’m saving money!

    Re: money, I’m slowly learning that you sometimes have to make short-term sacrifices for long-term results. It’s hard. I was always a “live in the moment, spend in the moment” kind of person, and now I’m digging out of that. It is rewarding, but so so challenging.

    • Mad Money Monster Oct 2, 2017, 6:28 pm

      Congrats on your 6 outfits! I haven’t quite embraced minimalism in my closet yet but I definitely should think about it. I hate having to think about what to wear every morning.

  • Matt Oct 2, 2017, 10:51 am

    Down with obligatory milestones!
    My girlfriend and I both turn 30 this year, and we’re both not in what we view as long term careers, have no plans to start a family in the near future, are still paying down student debt, and haven’t bought a house. By these metrics we haven’t “started” our lives yet!

    But we’re both happy, enjoying the moment and at the same time building wealth and creating more choices for future us.

    It takes effort to make yourself excited about Today AND the Future, but the future is really just a bunch of todays that haven’t happened yet…

    • Mad Money Monster Oct 2, 2017, 11:34 am

      “the future is really just a bunch of todays that haven’t happened yet” I LOVE IT! You couldn’t be more right! It sounds like you and your girlfriend got this life thing down. Congrats!

  • Dads Dollars Debts Oct 2, 2017, 10:42 am

    Small house is the way to go. If I could go back and rehash some things it would be never selling my first house and never buying my second and third home…Glad to see you don’t need fries with that but ice cream makes a good meal. My kind of diet.

    • Mad Money Monster Oct 2, 2017, 11:33 am

      Ice cream definitely makes an awesome adult meal 😉

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