Look, you’re young. I am, too–or at least I once qualified as “young.” The biggest mistakes I ever made when I first started making the big bucks ($40,000 a year = 40,000 McDoubles a year) was not buying the right things in the right order. It’s easy to get all hopped up about how much an entry-level salary can buy you.
Let’s base this off of the average starting salary for a college graduate. It’s a little over $45,000 dollars a year, which is pretty nice. Also, let’s assume you have a little bit of money saved up that you didn’t blow on spring break every year. I’m not about to do some complex, economic experiment. I’m just assuming you have enough money to buy things, and you have zero possessions (other than a car) of your own that were not purchased by your parents.
These are listed in order of importance. Stick with it, and you’ll never go wrong.
Head on over to your local Mattress Firm and get yourself set up with a nice, $300 queen-sized mattress. A mattress is something you should never buy used. The average mattress contains pounds (POUNDS) of dead skin, dust, and allergens after just one year of use. Rest easy and finance the damn thing if you have to. If you’re not cool with financing, buy a $20 air mattress and save up for a month.
What you should spend: $250-$500
Once you get yourself set up with a bed, you might think your next move is to get a TV. Stop right there, buster. You have clothes. You need somewhere to put those clothes other than on your floor or in the hamper. Being organized should be priority numero uno before you start indulging yourself. This is why we have IKEA. Do NOT go buy some crappy wire or plastic storage shelving. It’s time to be a grown-up.
What you should spend: $75-$150
Alright, now we’ve moved on from the bare necessities and are moving onto the comfort necessities. The worst thing in the world is using your bed for everything. Your bed should only be for sleeping. It’s tempting to just plop down on that thing after a long day, but trust me, a big, comfy couch is something that will keep you sane. Hit up Craigslist and find yourself a nice, gently used couch. No futons.
What you should spend: $150-$300
Alright, now we’re turning this apartment into a home. Nothing says, “I am a grown-up who makes money” like a good, 40-inch flatscreen. In terms of value, go with either Samsung, Sharp, Sony, or Vizio. Stay away from the likes of Westinghouse, LG, Toshiba, and Insignia. Stay away from smart TVs. Buy a cheap Blu-ray player and save yourself a few sheckles.
What you should spend: $250-$450
This may not qualify as a “big” purchase, but having a crockpot at your disposal is something you’ll thank yourself for later. Wake up 30 minutes early. Toss some protein, veggies, and seasoning in there and come home to delicious, fall-off-the-bone meat and the easiest meal you’ll ever prepare.
What you should spend: $20-$30
Once again, IKEA to the rescue. Match it up with your dresser to look like someone who has his or her shit together. Spare cell phone chargers, condoms, paperwork, books–you name it. They can all go in that sucker.
What you should spend: $50-$100
Sometimes a couch just isn’t enough. When you’re in the mood for hosting, a solid chair or a loveseat will do the trick. There’s nothing worse than cramming three people onto a couch to watch the game. Secondary seating: know it, love it. Again, Craigslist. Again, no futons.
What you should spend: $100-$200
XBox One, PS4, Wii U. Go for the gold. Pick one (or more). Pick something that preferably comes with a ton of apps. If you’re not a gamer, treat yo self to Apple TV or a high quality sound bar. Going full surround sound is for suckers. Plus, you’re going to lose your deposit after your landlord finds out you drilled several holes in his walls, or you’re going to look like a slob who stapled speaker wires to his or her ceiling.
What you should spend: $100-$400
A New Car
First off, Dave Ramsey says never buy a NEW car. Buying a brand new car is a sucker move. Never buy in the model year. Always buy from the year before. Cash for Clunkers might have ended years ago, but there are still places that pay top dollar for your Honda CRV you’ve been driving since high school. Trade her in and make sure you’ve got at least a few grand saved up for a down payment, at least 10 percent of the value of the car you’re buying. Anything less and you’re going to be paying out the ass in interest and monthly payments well into your thirties.
What you should spend: Whatever you can afford. No more than that.
So, you’re ready to settle down. You want a slice of domestic bliss. You’ve got job security, have good credit, got promoted, are ready to set your roots, and can afford putting 20 percent down on a home. First things first, go see a mortgage broker. Go see lots of mortgage brokers. Don’t even talk to a realtor until you’ve got the bank’s approval for a fair mortgage. Make an offer that’s eight to 10 percent lower than the asking price and hope the process doesn’t go on forever.
What you should spend: Let your broker decide.
Ha! Like anyone could afford a baby..