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Everyone has made financial mistakes and you know what they say – Hindsight is 2020! Here are a few of mine, as well as the lessons I can learn from them!
1. Putting a flight to Hawaii on our credit card – The Big Guy and I got married in February of 2010 (meaning we just celebrated our 4 year anniversary WOO HOO!). Since I was in college and he was working in lawn care we didn’t exactly have a bunch of money for a honeymoon, so we didn’t go on one. Then a wonderful friend offered us her timeshare at any location as a wedding present, so we accepted and chose Hawaii. Big Mistake. Did you know that flights to Hawaii are like $900 a person? When I saw that, I should have chose a different location for our honeymoon, but instead I booked the flights on our credit card, thinking we would pay them off. 3 years later, we did. Stupid, stupid, stupid.
The Takeaway: I will never finance a vacation again. I will, however, look into credit card churning to help offset the costs :-)
2. Not controlling our eating out: I feel like I lost so much time and money when I look back through Mint.com. When I started college, and soon after we got married, The Big Guy and I ate out sooooo much! Like, to the tune of $500 a month! On top of that, we were spending $500 on groceries. I added it up (well, Mint.com did) and over the first 2 years I was in college, we spent $11,389 eating out! Even saving half of that would have netted us almost $5,700 extra!
The Takeaway: Eating out should be special – a date night, or something to look forward to. Eating out frequently cheapens the experience. From now on, we will be eating out less, but savoring the experience!
3. Having a budget but not monitoring it: I’ve said before, I have used Mint.com since high school, and every month I would go in and set budgets like a good girl, but then during the month I would never monitor them! At the end of the month I would look at our budgets in shock thinking, “How did we go so far over budget?” Now I am older and wiser :-)
The Takeaway: I do a budget check-in 5 days a week. I log into Mint.com, put categories on transactions, and then look at our budget tab to see where we are at. I talk to the Big Guy to let him know where we need to cut back, and everyone is happier for it!
4. Not having an emergency fund: Over the last 4 years, I can count at least 5 times when having a $1,000 emergency fund would have come in handy. Our cars have needed repairs, windows have broken, dogs have needed surgery, and so many other things. Should have listened to the experts….
The Takeaway: Always have an emergency fund even if it is only $1,000 dollars. From now on, the Big Guy and I will not be without one.
5. Not Getting a roommate: While I was in college, the Big Guy and I rented a 4 bedroom house. By ourselves. Even renting out 1 of the bedrooms for $200 per month (we probably could have gotten more) would have netted us an extra $7,200 over the course of the 3 years that we lived there. I think we were afraid of getting a bad roommate, but what is the worst that could have happened? We get a bad roommate and then give them a 30-day notice? Yeah, we definitely should have done this!
The Takeaway: Be open to new ideas! I have heard story after story of homeowners with good rommates. Not once have I heard of a bad one. They have the same goal as you, right? Saving money?
6. Taking out student loans: Now that its all said and done I have $15,400 in student loans to pay back. I started by first job when I was 14, as a server. If I had saved even half of the money I made working from the time I was 14 until I got married (19), I would have had about $28,000 – more than enough to pay for my college costs.
The Takeaway: Pay them off as fast as you can! If you’re just starting to think about college, look at your budget first and try to sock away as much money as you can so you don’t have to go into debt.
7. Not Utilizing compound interest: Had I invested the 12,600 left over from saving for tuition, I would have more than $310,00 by the time I was 65. Live and Learn, I guess…
The Takeaway: No matter how old you are, start saving now!
Everyone has made financial mistakes. The key to moving on is not beating yourself up. Now that you have been there you can learn from your mistakes, move on, and help others not to make them. Treat every mistake as a learning opportunity for yourself and others. At the end of the day, what matters is that you correct those mistakes, right?
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