Things To Know About Money Before Turning 30

Illustrated by Sarah Lutkenhaus.

Get your financial shit together

Ugh, money. It's such a taboo topic because basically everybody struggles with it—earning it, saving it, spending it. It's one of those things only discussed by way of complaining. Like, when it comes time to pay your bills, pay off your debt, or pay $15 for your sad desk salad. We think about money in terms of not having it, but there are some ways to make dealing with it, keeping it, and growing it a little easier. And the years leading up to your 30s are a great time to start thinking about how to do just that.

This isn't to say you shouldn't think about money earlier than your 30s, but we're going to use this time period as a framework because it's often the decade when people start to think most seriously about their future. As pop culture would have you believe, your 20s are when you're expected to play around and make bad decisions. This then gives you enough time to recover without completely screwing up the next couple of decades for yourself. By 30, the thinking is that you're going to have kids, buy a house, or maybe start a business down the line. And if that's what you're interested in, all of those things involve money. And money often involves compromise.

Now, as Priya Malani, co-founder of Stash Wealth, tells us, millennials don't exactly like the C-word. "We want our boozy brunch, our avocado toast, our rosé, our travel, our Uber, our SoulCycle," she outlines, repeating the keywords of just about every article about millennials ever. But, she stresses, "You can do all of that and still not fuck up all of your big financial priorities down the road." The sooner you get your money in order, the less you have to compromise.

Emily Lowry, author of Broke Millennial Takes On Investing, brings up another more positive C-word to keep in mind, which is control. "My general mantra when it comes to money is, you have two options, either you can control money or money controls you, and I think that 30 is really a great drop-dead date for anybody to feel like, Okay, this is it, I'm taking back control."

So, whether you're in your last year of your 20s or in the early stages (or even in your 30s, it's never too late to pivot to caring about your money), ahead are some essential money moves to make.

Get Serious About Your Student Loan Debt
Let's start with the annoying stuff first. The thing holding most millennials back from getting serious about money and about saving is dreaded student loan debt. If you can pay yours off by 30 (especially if you're only dealing with undergrad), then great! If not, as Lowry suggests, "you want to be in a position where you're able to start getting rid of them or have a very serious plan in place to get rid of them." At the very least, you should be paying attention to them along with the interest it's accruing because "a lot of the times we let financial things happen to us instead of taking back control."

One way to do that is to consider refinancing or consolidating your loans. "Those are fancy terms but all refinancing really means is moving your loans out of a higher interest rate into a lower interest rate, if a lower interest rate is available to you," Malani says. "And if you've been improving your credit score, which is something you should be paying attention to, you quite possibly will qualify for an interest rate that is lower for what you're currently paying on your loans." Malani explains that this will save you a lot of interest in the long run, sometimes tens of thousands of dollars.

Consolidating, on the other hand, means rolling all of your student loans into one payment rather than managing, say, five different ones. And if you can raise the amount you're paying each month, then definitely do that because that, too, can have a dramatic impact in the long run.

Either way, you should know your debt payoff date. Like, down to the month and the year. "It's so much more motivating than feeling like, 'I'm gonna be stuck making payments forever,' or 'Maybe if I ignore them, they'll go away,'" Malani says. "It's more psychological than anything."

Be Cognizant Of Your Credit Score
You don't need to check it every day or anything, but Malani says you should know what it is. Because, again, the decisions you're probably going to make in your 30s (buying a car, a house, moving into your own apartment, etc.) are all impacted by this three-digit number.

Gone are the days when you have to go through the tedious action of pulling your credit score, now there are apps for that. Malani's favorite is Capital One's CreditWise for a couple of reasons. One, it has built-in fraud protection and sends you a push notification if it suspects anything. Two, it has a credit score simulator which will tell you if closing a card will make your score go up or down. Which, by the way, Malani says you shouldn't stress out about. "It only takes a few months to rebuild your credit score, and I often see people overreacting to things like that," she says.

As for what your credit score should be, Malani says to aim high and try to get it above 750; Lowry says your goal by 30 should be to get it into the 700-plus range, "preferably 720 and up."

Curate Your Credit Cards
Speaking of credit scores, credit cards are also something you should be thinking seriously about. You need several in order to even build up a proper credit score, and Malani says the biggest money mistake she sees millennials making is not using theirs. "People are really proud to tell us this, but you're not hacking reward points, you're not building a credit score, you could be getting cash back, all of these cool features," she says. We get that the idea of borrowing money is scary, but Malani explains: "The reason using a credit card becomes a mistake is because we think of a credit card as free money, but instead you really should just think of a credit card as a smarter way to use the money you already have." She suggests using it as if it's a debit card that you pay off once a month in full.

Another thing: That card you probably got on your college campus 10 years ago shouldn't be the only one you own, either. Grow up. "Don't just stick with your basic credit card," Malani says. "You're definitely ready to upgrade, especially if your job is going well." Some of the ones she recommends for high earners are the Chase Sapphire Reserve or the Capital One Venture. But, ultimately, which one you buy is up to your needs and priorities. Another thing to remember is you don't have to get a credit card through your bank, and often there are much better options out there through different providers.

One simple hack that Malani passes along, which has to do with credit cards and credit scores, is to call your company every year or so and tell them to increase your line of credit. She explains that, by having them bump it, that, in turn, bumps your credit score. "You can fudge the system a little," she says. "They want you to use your credit card more, but we're not telling you to use your credit card more, we're just telling you to tell them you're going to use your credit card more."

Have An Emergency Fund
Given how unreliable job security is these days (in short, no one's safe), it's essential to have an emergency savings fund. This is different from your 401K, which Malani stresses you shouldn't touch for any reason until you're ready to retire. A lot of the time people will tell you to have around six months worth of your salary saved, but Malani calls bullshit on that. "That is way too much money," she says. Three months worth of fixed expenses should be enough, "things that, if shit hit the fan, you couldn't turn off easily." Like, rent, utilities, groceries, medical insurance. Add up those things, multiply it by three, and that should be a savings target. "The point of an emergency fund is really to give you a cushion and a buffer to begin setting up access to other pools of money that you have available to you," Malani says. "It should be your first line of defense, not your only line of defense."

Set Savings Goals
Which means you should have money stashed away elsewhere. So, once you have your emergency fund fully funded, start thinking about goal setting for the future. Lowry recommends having short (one to three years), medium (five to 10 years), and long-term (10 plus years) goals. Long-term might be something like retirement while short-term could be paying off credit card debt. Lowry says to make sure you don't forget about that middle bit though, which a lot of people tend to do. That could be anything from buying a house to saving up for a nice vacation.

Everyone's list will differ, the key is what comes after they're written down. "It's good to goal set, but, as soon as you do, I want you to also put an action plan behind that," Lowry says. "What are you doing to make those goals actionable, so that every single day, every single month, you're making small incremental steps to actually achieving them?"

One of those steps could be to start making more money. This is hard for a lot of reasons, but Lowry says a great aim could be that "by the time you're 30, you don't feel like you're just scraping by anymore with your income."

Move Things Online
As for where you should be stashing those savings, Malani suggests foregoing brick-and-mortar banks and moving things to an online savings account. You'll get more bang for your buck that way. She explains: "Online banks work a little harder for you, and the reason they do that is because they have less overhead, they don't have real estate, they don't have bank branches, and they're not actually paying personnel to staff those branches, so they can afford to pay you a higher interest rate."

We're not talking about the savings account attached to your bank's checking account. This should be totally separate. "By keeping it online, it's under a different login, and so it's out of sight, out of mind, which means you're less likely to move your savings right back into your checking account to pay bills because that's what most people do," Malani says. Two of which she recommends, which both have high interest rates, are Ally and Marcus.

Consider Investing
The first step of investing is figuring out what you're investing for, which is where the goal setting comes into play. Investing is great for the more medium or long- term goals, since it's a way for your money to grow over time, not overnight, as Malani says. Don't think of it as the Wall Street way of doing things—buying and selling stocks so you can double your money in a day—"that's called gambling," Malani says. "No one should tell you how you should be investing or what you should be invested in until they know what you're investing for."

Investing is an intimidating conversation, and Malani says it's wise not to just jump into it. "You really need a finance degree to figure out how to be investing," she says. "I truly don't believe anyone should have to figure out how to invest on their own." Instead, she suggests you use some of the more tech-savvy platforms out there, like Betterment or Wealthfront. "You tell them what you're investing for, and they'll tell you how you should be investing," Malani explains. "They decide the portfolio based on your goal and the time horizon of your goal."

See, not so scary, right? Happy saving.


Dragonfire can't melt steel memes

I'm not quite ready to talk about the amount of time I wasted hoping Game of Thrones would live up to its drawn out hype with the series finale, but I am ready to dive into all the memery that came out of the disappointment. And I'm not alone: Maisie Williams—aka Arya Stark—summed up what we were all thinking in one single tweet: "just here for the memes."

After Daenerys had almost as lackluster a death as Cersei, dying with a quick stab wound, it was pretty clear that it would all be downhill. But hey, at least she's reunited with her BFFs Missandei and Jorah in the afterlife.

That opened up the question of who exactly would be king or queen of the seven kingdoms. Poor precious Samwell thinks we should try democracy, but it's not Game of Popular Vote, it's Game of Thrones.

Apparently, everyone at this point had totally forgotten about the fact that Jon Snow actually was a Targaryen, and the rightful heir to the throne. All the characters who, up until this point in the season, had been obsessed with this fact totally pretended it never happened, and never considered him for the new ruler because he... killed the mad queen.

So what do they do? Choose the one person who always said they never wanted throne and that he never even wanted anything: Bran Stark. Arya didn't save everyone's ass from the Night King to be disrespected like this!

And, with all his pre-existing knowledge and newfound power, Bran still just chilled in his chair. Arya is going into uncharted waters, no idea what danger lies ahead? Nah, don't share the information you have on it. Jon is sent off to the Watchers on the Wall just as his younger brother gains absolute power? Forget about pardoning him, Bran doesn't care.

And who would've guessed that Ser Brienne of Tarth would just go and become a blogger, writing anonymous glowing messages about the dude that screwed her over. I'm not a huge fan of the editorial decisions she made while finishing Jaime's story, but I am a fan of the memes made out of the scene.

And back to Jon Snow: All this potential, all this hype on his real name, and once he kills Dany he's shipped off to the Night's Watch like a sad, discarded puppy. There's not even a real reason for the Night's Watch anymore, so he's basically just being sent off to be out of sight, out of mind, for the rest of time.

But hey, at least they finally made right with Ghost. The goodest boy in all of the Seven... or, rather, Six Kingdoms deserved all the pats, and he finally got them when he was reunited with Jon in the North. It almost made me forget all the nonsense that happened throughout the rest of the episode... almost.

Photos via Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia/Getty Images

Our favorite collections from 2019's Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia

It's hard not to love Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia, an annual exhibition of some of the best in resort dressing, that has Sydney's various cityscapes and beaches serving as its backdrop. For five days, we hopped all over the Australian city to check out the Resort 2020 collections from some of Australia's most established designers and emerging newcomers through an assortment of runway shows, presentations, and parties. The result? An extravagant display of beach-ready fashion, elevated streetwear, and signature Australian style.

For those of you not familiar with the resort season—sometimes referred to as cruise or holiday—it's the in-between seasonal offerings of summer garb that typically hits stores in time for the winter months (you know, right about when we're ready to take those vacations we've been dreaming about). And while we're gearing up to head into summer over in America, these collections also serve as the perfect inspiration for warm-weather dressing—even if we won't be seeing them hit stores until much later this year.

From Aussie staples like Double Rainbouu and Alice McCall to emerging brands like P.E Nation, we rounded up the best Aussie collections we saw this week. Take a closer look at each of them, below.


Photos via Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia/Getty Images

Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia kicked off with a bang, the bang being Aje and its glorious Bloomscape collection. Whimsical pieces inspired by the native flora and natural landscape of Australia made their way down the runway, from billowing, sculptural dresses with hand-painted floral prints to rugged, masculine tailoring inspired by the soil, the trees, and the nation's rocky wonders.

Alice McCall

Photos via Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia/Getty Images

Alice McCall has been a longtime favorite in the U.S., known for its whimsical and quirky pieces that never skimp on sequins, feathers, and tulle. For Resort 2020, McCall was inspired by the treasures once found in her mother's "dress-up box" of the late '70s, creating her own take on vintage silhouettes but modernizing them and making them new. The result? Romantic, feminine, and glitzy pieces that are sure to turn heads.

Hansen and Gretel

Photos via Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia/Getty Images

Good news for anyone who's into the whole sea nymph thing: This trend is not going anywhere, anytime soon, according to label Hansen and Gretel. The Aussie brand's Resort 2020 collection, Venus, celebrated femininity and womanhood while nodding to this very trend with seashell knit crop tops, slinky slips, pastel summer knits, and plenty of shimmery pearlescent fabrics.

Lee Mathew

Photos via Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia/Getty Images

Lee Mathews Resort 2020 runway show was a special one: a celebration of the brand's 20th year. And, with that came a retrospective collection taking inspiration from the brand's archives over the past two decades. The collection presented the perfect mix of feminine and tomboyish pieces, mixed and matched and layered with extravagance. Ruffled, tulle skirts were paired with tailored shirting, while in-your-face prints such as polka dots, brush strokes, and bold stripes were used throughout, showing up on flowing silk dresses and structured, oversized shirting and separates.

Bondi Born

Photos via Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia/Getty Images

Resort 2020 saw Bondi Born, the ever-chic sustainable swimwear line based in Sydney, debut its first full resort capsule collection. The brand saw its sustainably produced fabrics take the form of knotted and bow-adorned swimwear, breezy seaside dresses and separates, and clean, simple eveningwear—all stunningly timeless, surpassing fashion trends and to be worn for seasons to come.

Double Rainbouu

Photos via Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia/Getty Images

In just a few short years, everybody's favorite Hawaiian shirt brand Double Rainbouu has grown beyond its playful shirting assortment with apparel, accessories, and more. For Resort 2020, design duo Mike Nolan and Toby Jones were inspired by the hippie travelers of the '60s and '70s, and a utopia where all creatures live together harmoniously. Set in Sydney's gorgeous Chinese Garden of Friendship, the brand's show featured model "tourists" who wore worldly prints, hippie tie-dyes, and plenty of linen alongside colorful zebra prints, sporty polos, chambray jumpsuits, and classic hoodies, making for a playfully diverse, yet wearable, collection.

P.E Nation

Photos via Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia/Getty Images

This season saw emerging Aussie label P.E. Nation present its first solo runway show, Physical Education, for Resort 2020. The brand took its signature spin on sporty '90s activewear and elevated it, incorporating bold, oversized silhouettes, denim, and all of the bold neons we covet. Bonus? The brand announced a killer new collab with Speedo, presenting its vintage-inspired swimwear at the very end of the show. Even bigger bonus? The brand's been upping its sustainability efforts, debuting its first-ever recycled active set, using recycled yarns and organic cotton. It will also be moving to biodegradable packaging by July.

Leo & Lin

Photos via Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia/Getty Images

One of our favorite collection this season came courtesy of Leo & Lin. Celebrating the designer's love of history, the romantic "Imperial" collection was a nod at both ancient Rome and the Victorian era, which saw sweeping, bulb-sleeved and high-necked floral dresses and suiting walking alongside flowing, draped Roman-inspired frocks. A modern flair was also sprinkled in, seen in the form of vinyl trench coats and fishnet fabrics.

Ten Pieces

Photos via Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia/Getty Images

One of the most buzzed about shows this season was Ten Pieces, the contemporary sportswear collection born from the collaboration between founders Maurice Terzini and Lucy Hinckfuss and designer Allan Marshall. For Resort 2020, Terzini was inspired by his time as a teen in Italy in the late '70s and the disco freak era. A bit punky, a bit hippie, and set in the drained pool of Sydney's iconic Icebergs Club with Bondi Beach as its backdrop, the collection's sporty streetwear pieces—unisex, and meant to be mixed, matched, and layered to its wearer's delight—felt more apt for the beach than a bustling city.

Photo by Ari Perilstein/Getty Images for ASCAP

"It makes my ears fucking steam out of my head"

Billie Eilish isn't taking Alabama's abortion ban lightly. Speaking to Variety, the singer said that she has "no words for the bitches in the fucking White House." She continued: "Honestly, I can't even look at my phone," because the news is always so distressing.

Eilish doesn't call out any legislators specifically, but she doesn't have to in order to get her point across, namely, that it's outrageous that people don't get to have control over their own bodies. "It's so unbelievable," Eilish said. "It makes me, like, red. It makes my ears fucking steam out of my head. Women should say, should do, and feel, and be exactly what they want."

"There should be nobody else telling them how to live their life, how to do shit…" she continued. "It just makes me so mad that if I start talking about it, I won't stop." Eilish did conclude though with this simple, powerful statement: "Men should not make women's choices—that's all I have to say."

If you want to help the people who will be affected by the restrictive abortion bans that the "bitches in the fucking White House" are doing nothing about, these organizations could use your help.

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We talk to the pop star about her past, present, and future—and why she spoke out against R. Kelly

JoJo has been through it. Any casual music listener who lived through the 2000s knows what I'm talking about. The singer shot to instant stardom in 2004 with iconic hit "Leave (Get Out)" and released two albums, a self-titled debut and The High Road, which ended up being a fitting description of the journey she was forced to take.

Soon after, Blackground Records refrained from releasing JoJo's third album, resulting in a near decade-long period when she could only put out infrequent singles and mixtapes. She filed a lawsuit against the label in 2013, claiming that her contract was no longer valid under New York law, and when she was freed, her albums were taken off iTunes and streaming services, denying JoJo and her collaborators future earnings and disabling fans from accessing their beloved music. She was finally able to release her third album, Mad Love, in 2016, but there was still a huge part of her career that virtually disappeared—until she took matters into her own hands.

Late last year—on her 28th birthday, no less—JoJo surprised us by revealing that she re-recorded her first two albums and released them online for fans to enjoy once again. It was both the end of a chapter that needed to be closed long ago, and one of the most powerful moves by an artist in the music industry, especially a woman like JoJo who has dealt with a level of power struggles and politics we could only imagine. Below, she opens up about the process of this remarkable venture, her newfound freedom, and her next step.

How did you decide that re-recording these two albums was the right move?
My options were pretty limited. Since I had gotten out of that contract with Blackground, I just realized that I didn't want to reopen anything by trying to have any interaction with them. So I saw what my legal options were and that was to completely recreate these albums and basically cover myself.

How long did that process take? Take me through the process of basically putting everything back together.
My managers and I had been talking about it because we saw it in my comments on Twitter and Instagram a lot, and I just hate feeling helpless. When I saw that there was this demand from my fans of wanting to listen to the first two albums, we called my lawyer and saw what could be done legally from that perspective, and then we just started to brainstorm as to how we could recreate the tracks. I came to the conclusion that what my fans wanted was the nostalgia of the first two albums, of how they found it in 2004 and 2006, so we tried to keep it pretty true to that. The process took, I would say, nine months, from the first phone call to calling my musical directors and have them start the recreation of the tracks, sending them the YouTube link so they could refer back to the original songs, because that's what we had. I didn't have a physical copy of the first two albums.

Were there any songs that you were especially emotional about or ones you connected with when you revisited them?
I definitely got emotional re-cutting a lot of them, particularly "Keep On Keeping On," which I wrote when I was 12. That was one of the first songs that I ever recorded that I had written completely by myself. Just to go back and take in the lyrics that I had written then, it's just still a message that I need to hear. It was just emotional being like, Damn, my little 12-year-old self was an old soul. It was emotional redoing all of them for different reasons because I remembered those sessions so vividly. Especially with remaking "Leave (Get Out)," "Too Little, Too Late," and "Baby It's You," I was definitely freaking myself out with trying to stay true to them but also realizing that I'm a grown person now. I was intimidated by having to hit some of the notes that I hit when I was 12 and 14, like on "Too Little, Too Late," because I'm a different singer, your voice changes as you grow. That made me a little bit anxious [but] I just did it.

You recently spoke out about R. Kelly on Twitter and said you heard stories when you were younger and that people you worked with were also working with him. How did hearing this affect you at such a young age?
To be honest, the way that it was being spoken about in the studio normalized it. I'm looking back on it and realizing how perverse the stories that I was hearing were, about how he'd always have young girls around, how he'd be waiting outside of high schools or he'd be hanging out at the McDonald's. I didn't realize since I was so, so young how very much fucked up that is. He really was just in plain sight being a predator. I was such a huge fan of his. I mean his music is incredible, but at this point, there's just no fucking way to separate him from his crime, and it's just wild. It's just wild that he got away with it for so long, but I think we're in a new era of accountability and transparency and I just think it's definitely about time. But in my comment section, it was like, "Okay, so if you've heard these stories, then why didn't you come forward or say something?" I was a kid when I heard these stories, and I certainly didn't know what to do. I didn't even know how to follow that thought all the way through.

I wanted to talk about the new album you're currently working on. Is there a the direction you're going for?
I want to go back to what comes naturally to me which is R&B, but I think I could care less about genres. I just want to make dope music and release it, whether it's all in one album, one song at a time, however that may be. I'm being super choosy and making a bunch of songs and then narrowing it down from there. I've never been more excited about the music that I'm making. It feels really great, and I think a part of that has to do with closing that chapter of the first two albums, with anything that I did from that time of my career. Now I can move forward and just really be challenged and keep growing and breaking myself down and putting myself back together with the help of my collaborators. It's interesting.

Is your attitude about freedom influenced by the music climate and streaming today? The music world has changed so much since when you debuted.
I guess, but I think, for me, freedom is more of the mental and emotional state. I do think that artists have so many more choices now, whether to be independent, or to do a joint venture like I've done with Warner Bros, or sign to a major but on their terms. I think that there is a lot more flexibility and freedom for us, much of which we've demanded and some that the industry has just had to adapt to. But even when I got off of my former label and knew that I was able to move forward and release music, for many different reasons, I still didn't feel that freedom. I think I was in such a fighter mode that I still felt like I needed to fight things, whether it was myself or... mostly myself.

It's being really hateful toward myself and dealing with a lot of that. For me, this freedom that I'm feeling is just stepping into a new perspective of not recognizing things as obstacles but knocking on them as opportunities, and I think for those who are fortunate enough to be able to get some type of control over their mind, I'm trying to try to do that and to feel as free as possible. I'm excited.

Photo courtesy of HBO.

We made it

It's finally over. We had a great run—even if the eighth season felt more like a PowerPoint presentation of the show than an actual narrative. But perhaps the most frustrating thing about the show was that it left plenty of plot threads dangling. Still, some of the conclusions that the show left us with were shocking in their own right. Let's revisit.

Spoilers ahead...

Cersei actually being dead

I didn't want to believe it, but it's true. Cersei Lannister, the ruthless Queen that everyone sought to overthrow, is dead. Last week, she and her brother-lover Jaime held each other tight in the bowels of the Red Keep as rocks and bricks fell on top of them. I thought that Jaime would die, once again protecting Cersei, and that she would survive the collapse. This would have provided an opportunity for her to be personally killed by list-obsessed Arya Stark or a power hungry Daenerys Targaryen. But no, Cersei did not survive and I was shocked to see her dead face when it was uncovered by Tyrion.

Jon killing Daenerys

Cersei wasn't the only person whose death came under unexpected circumstances. Daenerys' long, epic journey came to an end at the hands of Jon (also known as Aegon Targaryen, and her nephew-lover). Despite following Daenerys all season, Jon was convinced that she had to go after a little pep talk from Tyrion. And so, what else would a Stark do, other than carrying out a death sentence himself? Jon did it with a blade through Dany's heart. At least it wasn't in her back.

Drogon killing the Iron Throne

If there is one character my heart absolutely breaks for, it's Drogon. Daenerys' death left the dragon motherless and brotherless. He took his grief out on the thing that drove her to the very end, the Iron Throne itself. Drogon melted it into boiling liquid metal before flying away with his mother's body.

Bran becoming King

Since the beginning of the show, viewers have made wagers on who would eventually take the Iron Throne for themselves. Through most of the series, Bran, who hasn't been able to walk since the first episode, was an extremely unlikely candidate. But alas, he was the King when the show ended, and he made a comment that seemed to suggest that he'd known this was his destiny. In other words, he let everyone battle it out while he sat and minded his business, knowing it was all for him to come out on top. A shady queen feels like a more fitting title.

Arya heading "West"

I get it, Arya has already been a free spirit and non-conformist. I also understand that she sent most of Game of Thrones motivated by revenge and with no more to be served, there was little left for her in Westeros. But to send her off exploring the world also felt... odd. Arya said goodbye to her siblings, setting her intentions on sailing to see what's "west of Westeros," so that she can find out what's there. It felt way too soon to assume that she wouldn't still be needed in her homeland, but Arya never was one to stick close to home.

Jon and Ghost reuniting

At the end of the fourth episode fans were furious when Jon Snow prepared to head South with Daenerys, bidding fond farewells to friends and fellow soldiers, but not bothering to pet his direwolf. The show runners said the reason for the impersonal sendoff was that interactions with the direwolves cost too much money to pull off and there wasn't enough budget. So we were all surprised to see Jon and Ghost reunite in the final episode when Jon was once against sent to Castle Black. It was a silver lining in an otherwise dreary episode.