Two Signs That You May Be Approaching Money the Wrong Way

Are you being an adult about your money habits?

Adulting in your 30s
3 min readAug 31, 2023

Is there any worse place to learn about money than in American in an Asian family? It’s a toxic cocktail of of penny pinching while showing off coupled with materialism and consumerism.


As a kid, I learned that money is hard to come by, so I should try to hold on to it as much as possible. But it’s not by not buying things I don’t need, but rather it’s all about getting a good deal. We would spend Sundays cutting out coupons and driving around to different stores to apply our super stacked deal, ending up with ten tubes of deodorant for 58 cents each but actually that no one will ever use.

As an American, I believed that spending is my right. Why shouldn’t I spend my hard earned money as a wish? Why not upgrade my iPhone to the latest one even though the one I have works fine? If I feel like it and I don’t go into debt doing it, why not?

More money is better

The first belief I’m learning to challenge is the idea that more money is better. This means and endless chase for more salary, without stopping to think about how much I actually needed.

With this belief, money is not about need. It’s a representation of my personal worth, so of course more is better.

But, am I really my salary?

I’m so much more than that number, and I’m slowing adjusting to not let my success be defined by my income.

More salary also often comes at a cost of more time. Can the value of my time actually be measured in dollars?

What is a life of high income with no free time?

If I have enough, I can spend as I want

For a long time, I believed that as long as I’m not in debt, and I have savings, then I can do whatever my heart desires with my money.

A new candle, house plants that caught my eye at the grocery checkout, even spontaneous weekend getaways when I find a “cheap” flight.

Don’t get me wrong, I still like these things, but the point is being more mindful and purposeful about how you spend your money, even if you have enough.

There is such a thing as too much of a good thing, and when we are constantly consuming and enjoying, things become slightly less enjoyable each time, until you’re indulging for the sake of indulging.

Not to mention the environmental impact of buying things, which until I moved to Europe, was not something I thought about much. The reality was that everyone around me was doing the same thing — ordering online, coming home with huge hauls from Target. It was so normalized that I never questioned it.

Just because I can buy something, doesn’t mean that I should.

Think about how much joy the thing will actually bring you, vs just the momentary dopamine hit of the acquisition itself.



Adulting in your 30s

Musings and self reflections of a 30 something who feels like an adult but a kid at the same time