Ever wish you could go back and warn your past self BEFORE making a huge mistake?
I’ve made a lot of mistakes in my life…and a LOT of them surround money.
Why did I make so many money mistakes? Well, number one: I’m human. And number two, I wasn’t seeking out any help or guidance when it came to managing my money. Instead of thinking through money situations, I just acted on how I felt. I was emotional and impulsive when it came to money for YEARS. And looking back, I realize that some of my money mistakes really came down to impulsivity, which by the way, I still battle! Also, I think that some of these mistakes amounted to just a general lack of knowledge regarding personal finance.
Today, I’m sharing my five big money mistakes that I wish I could have have avoided! I’m hoping you can learn from my money mistakes so that YOU can avoid them. So without further ado, let’s go ahead and dive into five mistakes I wish I could go back and fix.
5 Money Mistakes I Wish I Had Avoided
1. Not having enough money in savings
When I graduated college, I only had $200 in savings. I honestly felt like that was enough money to have in my savings account.
Spoiler alert: IT’S NOT.
Having $200 in savings is not enough money because LIFE HAPPENS. This really led to so much stress that could have been avoided had I prioritized saving money! If I could go back, I would have set up automatic savings withdrawals and used any windfall money (like my tax refund I blew on a cruise with my best friend!!!) to save more.
2. Impulsively buying a timeshare…sort of.
For our honeymoon, my husband and I went to Hawaii. Our connecting flight was in Las Vegas, so we decided to spend a couple of nights there. On that trip, we decided to attend a timeshare presentation in exchange for free tickets to a show. During that presentation, we were offered a timeshare. We knew knew there was no way we could afford it. So they came back with this 3 year option where we would be able to use the timeshare for three years in exchange for $4,000. We would essentially get to use a week of the timeshare every year for four years. And, if after that time, we decided we wanted to go ahead and fully purchase the timeshare, we could take the $4,000 money and apply it to the cost of the timeshare.
So we did it. Without thinking about it we signed the contract. Well, on our honeymoon, we got pregnant. And if you know our story, that is actually our catalyst behind starting out budgeting and paying off debt journey since we couldn’t actually afford daycare.
So, long story short, we NEVER used that $4,000 timeshare. We went $4,000 in debt basically for some Vegas show tickets I don’t even remember attending.
If I could go back, I would have created a rule around such a major financial decision. I would commit to not making a major financial decision like that without spending AT LEAST five days to sleep on it. Boundaries like this help safeguard your money and your emotions.
3. Assuming I couldn’t learn how to invest on my own.
My husband and I made the assumption early on in our marriage that investing is incredibly complicated. I thought if I didn’t at least have a degree in finance, I better hand it off to someone else. And while this isn’t the most massive mistake we could have made (because being willing to set up investments is a great thing), it did lead us to turn to an investment advisor who ended up charging us really high fees! Although, we didn’t stay with him for a really long time — if we had, those fees could have totaled to hundreds of thousands of dollars over the course of our investing journey.
To keep that from happening, you really have to address your belief system! You CAN learn how to invest. It’s not impossible. In fact, it can be so easy!
The reason my husband and I left that advisor was because we found out about index funds. And now we’re able to handle all of our own investments. And whenever it comes time to start pulling that money, we get to keep it! We’re not paying someone every single year to handle that money and manage that money for us.
If you’re wanting to learn more about this I highly recommend the book The Simple Path to Wealth. That was the first book I ever read about investing. I also really love Clever Girl Finance’s book: Learn How Investing Works, Grow Your Money.
4. Falling into a destructive online shopping habit.
So, I love to shop. I love to spend money. Target is the motherland. I’ve done some serious damage in Ulta on several occasions.
Want to know when I spend the MOST money shopping online? When I feel like I don’t have a lot of money, when I’ve been making bad money choices, or when the budget seems tight. Odd, right?!
When my money feels out of control, something in me says “NO! I’m IN control. And I’m going to prove it by spending MORE.” Yikes, that’s hard to admit.
In reality, this has the opposite effect! My online shopping habit got so bad in 2020 (Gee, I wonder why!!!), that I actually had to create a visual habit tracker so I could track my days where I didn’t make a purchase. I would call them my “No spend days” and would make a goal to get to 10, then 15, then 20 days in a row.
Here are some ideas to visually track your progress in breaking a bad habit like online shopping:
- Color in a box on your calendar every single time you don’t shop online
- Close your Amazon account for a month
- Black out days on your calendar as “no spend days”
- Place 30 (or 31 depending on the month) sticky notes on your wall and pull one down every time you meet your no spend day goal
5. Believing that my husband and I would struggle with money forever because we were 2 teachers.
I’ll never forget whenever we decided to pay off our debt, and we decided to get our finances under control. Part of me thought: “why even bother trying? We’re two teachers; we don’t make a lot of money.” I think at the time we made about $85,000 a year combined. I remember thinking we’re just destined to struggle forever. This is the life we chose. I just thought this is how it’s going to be. This is the life we set up for ourselves, and we will always struggle with money.
Thinking this way was a huge money mistake that I think a lot of people can relate to. It’s seeing yourself as pigeon-holed in this certain situation, or you believe that your life is going to look a certain way because that’s how other people’s lives have looked. Or, that’s how you always envisioned your life to look.
Now, could that be true for us? Absolutely. We could always struggle with money forever as two teachers. BUT, we could also struggle with money forever as two doctors.
I think that change for us came around to seeing our money differently; being willing to change and completely eliminate harmful money habits and getting on same page together. When we were able to do those things; see our money differently, change our habits, communicate and work together, I no longer believed we would struggle with money. Why? Because we were actively making progress.
So if you’re in an area right now, in your life, where you feel like everything is against you and that you will constantly struggle, I want you to try your very best to just look at a couple of things that you CAN control. You can slowly change a few of your money habits, set a few goals, try to work toward something, make some sort of progress that proves that thought in your mind wrong. Because the thought that belief that you’re going to struggle forever is just a thought. It’s not fact. You don’t know if it’s fact because you can’t tell the future.
So there you have it, five money mistakes I made that I wish I could have avoided. I want to know if you’ve also made any of these money mistakes and what actions you’re going to take this week to stop making them. Send me an email at email@example.com or shoot me a DM on instagram at @inspiredbudget.
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