The most expensive year of your life
AGE 31 has been revealed to be the most expensive year of life, according to new research.
British credit checking firm ClearScore surveyed 3000 people and found at 31 the average person would need as much as $76,000 (£43,000) to cover the cost of things such as weddings, honeymoons, having a baby and buying a first home. That's the average Australian salary.
Last year was my 31st year on the planet. It was costly, namely owing to the purchase of a house and a car - the two priciest things I've ever seen impact my household's bank account.
Yet it wasn't those major items that I think makes the start of your 30s so expensive. It's all the other costs that you theoretically know about, but never really get full appreciation of until you see the actual bills.
What am I spending money on now that I never did in my 20s? Lawyers and accountants, for starters. The associated legal and administrative costs of buying and selling a house is one thing I never expected to be so darn pricey.
But that's the beginning of it: your early 30s is when you begin to think about things like trusts, inheritances, non-mortgage-related loans, tax bills, business expenses, and everything else that you know are a part of life but don't appreciate as a financial burden. Such things all require professional interpretation and advice and that doesn't come for less than a few hundred bucks an hour.
Then there's maintenance and repairs of those large purchases you make in your early 30s. When I was in my 20s, I just paid my rent and let my old dog of a car chug along, never really caring about stuff like renovations and upkeep. But when you own expensive things, you have the duty to care for them.
That means every part of your house that's degrading needs repair - cue $300 spent at Mitre 10 every other Saturday, in my household's case. Vehicles need constant servicing, and repairs easily approach four figures to fix things that sound inconsequential (like "faulty parking sensor" or "seal replacement"). Oh, and let's not forget the various forms of insurance required for this stuff too, which is somewhere between $3000 and $5000 a year at my place.
What else is pushing up annual costs in your early thirties that you never expected to be such a burden? There's either kids or animals (or both), which rake up the dollars like nobody's business. We're eating properly now - no more two-minute noodles - so the supermarket shop is always $200-plus a week. Plus there's our social lives. We have more energy than those older than us to have a good time on the social circuit, and more disposable income than those younger than us to fund it.
None of these are things to complain about. The kind of comfort/enjoyment/commitment I have in my 30s is what I've always worked hard for. It feels good to have achieved certain life goals and know I can financially maintain them. One's 30s are the transition decade between youth and non-youth, as it were. That change comes with a hefty price tag.
I'm stoked to be in my 30s. I think it's the decade of optimal balance. Yes, in my 40s and 50s I'll be able to have more of many of the things I enjoy, but I'll also have less of what money can't buy - health, strength, and mobility being prominent in my mind.
Yet I must also acknowledge this all as bourgeois privilege. The early 30s might be an expensive time reaped with rewards for middle- and upper middle-class urbanites like myself. But for those worse off, the people who haven't been so fortunate to land on their feet by way of birthright, education, and diligence? I'm sure every year feels more expensive than the last, at every age. I can't change that, but I am at least aware of it.
This article originally appeared in the New Zealand Herald and has been republished with permission.