I warn you, it’s not going to be pretty, but here are the top 7 money related things I regret doing….so far…
1. Buying a new car instead of a reliable used one. Twice. You would think I would have learned my lesson the first time around when I was a young little thing and said car got taken by the repo man. Oh no, I didn’t let that lesson sink in. Six years later I decided I needed a new car instead of a cheap used one. And now I have a car payment that I wish I didn’t have and insurance that would be lower if I had gotten a used cheapie car. Now that I am older and wiser I am really wishing I had bought a $500 car. Okay, well, maybe not $500 but $5000 would be a decent amount to spend. I really hate paying that monthly car payment and you better believe I will never have another one after this baby is paid off. Only cash cars for me after that.
2. Ages 16-18, spending every dime I made. Ah, life was good. I was working and making great money as a waitress. And on my days off I drove 45 minutes to the closet mall and spent every cent. Repeat the next week, and the next, and the next…. Oh, what a horrible cycle. I could have had so much money saved before I started college. A time travel machine would be really nice to have so that I could go back and fix this.
3. Age 18, credit card #1. “Oh wow, lookie here, a nice shiny letter telling me that I have been selected to receive this shiny new Visa card! OMG, I must be so sophisticated and grown to have gotten selected for this.” Blasted credit card companies. Off to college I went with a credit card limit of $1,500 and a payment of only $15 a month, which I thought was just too cool at the time. This was the beginning of a very bad addition I would grow into. At one point I had 23 different credit cards. All of them were maxed out. And I was making $8.50 an hour working at the mall.
4. Moving out of state. Multiple times. I used to proudly proclaim how many different states I have lived in since turning 18 ( five if you are wondering). Then I realized how much I spent making all of those moves. And then there is the effect it had on jobs. I was never at one place long enough to get a promotion so I have been making the same salary for about 4 years now due to moving every year to a new state. Yes, it’s true that I only learned this lesson about 6 months ago. Right after I made a move to state that, unknown to me when I moved, ranks 46 in the nation for highest unemployment. See, every time that I have moved it has been without a job in place beforehand and I have never had a hard time getting a job upon moving. Well, I got to this state and it took a few months to get a job. A job that I got fired from two weeks ago for asking for a raise. Go figure. The moral of the story? Only move out of state if you have a job. And if you still want to move without a job do a little research to see where your state ranks in unemployment levels.
5. Staying in school when I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I started college right out of high school because that is what you are supposed to do. Unfortunately for me I was not real clear on what I wanted to do in life, so I spent my undergrad years at 5 different schools. Each time I would transfer there would be some classes that would not transfer. That means money down the drain. That makes me an idiot. I know better now and if I have kids I will make sure that they have a plan before they go to college.
6. Getting talked into “signature student loans” instead of Stafford loans at one of those schools. Yes, sadly I was one of those poor schmucks that ended up with a 10% interest rate student loan that you can’t consolidate and you can’t defer. If I had it all to do over I wouldn’t have even gone to school if I had to get loans to do it. And I certainly would have run from the lady in the UCF financial aid office that talked me into those signature loans. Some days I don’t think I’ll ever pay off my student loans let alone early like some people do!
7. Becoming a junk collector. At one point a year or two ago I went through the stacks of CDs and DVDs and books that I had and discovered many I had never viewed. Brand new items still in the plastic. What I am telling you here is that I had acquired so much junk that I didn’t even have time to use or enjoy it! The sad thing is that I am probably still paying for some of those things on my credit cards. I ended up getting rid of all but a select few of those items on Amazon Marketplace. I was stoked because I made a few thousand off of all of that. Then I realized that I spent at least 3 times that much on all of that junk. That made me sick to my stomach. Whenever I think about buying something I don’t need I remember that feeling and quickly put it back on the shelf.
There you have it – my horrible money regrets. Now tell me yours – make me feel better, make me think that maybe mine aren’t so bad because I didn’t do what you did. Just don’t tell me that you were super smart about money. That will make me jealous.