4 Costly Financial Mistakes I've Made

4 Costly Financial Mistakes I’ve Made

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Truly, I believe you aren’t human if you don’t make mistakes! Let’s face it – mistakes happen. Perfection is not a healthy nor attainable reality. I will go as far as to say that mistakes or failures build a backbone and promote growth. If more folks would embrace mistakes AND learn from them, then society would be better for it.

Personally, I have made my fair share of mistakes in life – some were really embarrassing, some I knew would likely end in failure, and some were blessings. All of my mistakes have made me who I am.

It took me quite a while to learn to be okay with making mistakes. Accepting imperfection and allowing room for growth can take some coaching and effort. Eventually, I learned what my mistakes cost me and how to navigate or avoid similar circumstances in the future.

Too Much Faith in Neighborly Connections

Brian and I had a friendly neighbor who served as a “community handyman” of sorts. Unfortunately, when our homes were built, they were constructed with untreated wood trim, which ended up rotting. Our neighbor offered to remove, replace, and re-paint the trim all for a very reasonable price.

While working, he decided to rip out other pieces of trim that were supposedly rotting (though not discussed or agreed upon in terms of repair). Our neighbor ended up having to paint the entire front of the house because of the additional replacement pieces. At that juncture, we discussed that the rest of the home required painting for it to be a seamless finish. Our neighbor agreed to a payment timeline.

An Unexpected Event

Unfortunately, he experienced a family emergency and asked for payment months before it was due and before the job was done. In good faith, Brian and I complied and submitted our payment with the promise that the job was to be completed with the addition of continued maintenance at no additional cost.

Our neighbor never finished the job. We did touch base a few times, though our conversations typically ended with an excuse or an empty promise. Through life circumstances, we later discovered that he ended up moving away.

A Lesson Learned

Was it disappointing? Absolutely. Were we upset? Of course. Brian and I agreed to a specific service for a specific amount. We ended up being confronted with additional work needed at an increased cost, thereby resulting in 3 TIMES the original cost. Was it really worth it to chase our neighbor down in small claims court? No, not for us.

We learned our lesson. You can’t always put your faith in a seemingly good neighbor. Next time we have a home improvement or repair issue, we will either learn to do it ourselves or properly vet the professionals.

Lending Money to the Wrong Person

I split my time in college between two jobs, lots of studying, and not a whole lot of down time. The name of the game was making and saving money, but I had a slight derailment. I can’t even recall the specific circumstances of the “why” and “what” now, but I ended up loaning about $500 to someone. I had the money and it was for someone I cared about. The amount might not seem very significant to some people, but it certainly was (and still is!) a lot of money to me.

The $500 loan was supposed to make its way back to me in the next month. It took over 6 months to get my money back, but it was not without a lot of hassle and heartbreak. In fact, it ruined my trust and relationship with that person.

It’s not wrong to lend someone money; it just has to be the right kind of person – someone responsible and determined to keep your trust. I haven’t lent any money since then, but I know that if I ever do, then it’s either going be someone I know I can trust or money that I am okay simply gifting.

Overpaying for College Textbooks

Luckily, my scholarship included a fraction amount for textbooks. Unfortunately, this amount was nowhere close to what I owed for the total cost of textbooks. My newly-minted freshman brain was not yet acclimated to understanding the ins-and-outs of cutting college costs. While I purchased used textbooks, I still had to fork over additional funds to cover the cost beyond the scholarship check.

I quickly learned the ways of college student budgeting and mastered the art of free entertainment, cheap foods, dumpster diving, and even attaining low-cost textbooks and study material. After my very first semester, I learned that I really didn’t need the $150 textbook these courses were touting. I could borrow from the library or other classmates, rent instead of buy, or purchase earlier editions.

Intentional Savings

I opted to buy the earlier editions…and guess what? I had access to material originally discussed and reviewed in class about 99% of the time. Of course, since I was perusing older editions, I always had a different page or chapter number than what was assigned. It was a little difficult locating the correct chapter at first, but not difficult enough to spring for $100+ more on a book! I honestly purchased an older edition for 10 cents before! 10 CENTS!

The scholarship funds intended for textbooks simply got deposited into my account and used for other college expenses.

Not Investing Sooner

Oh, if I could turn back time! I wish I would have opened my investment accounts at 18! I did not open my first account until 22. While that was only 4 years later, that’s still 4 years of missed gains!

While it might have been a touch disappointing to not use some of that money then, it totally would have been worth it for me to invest and enjoy in the future! I believe in paying yourself first, and for me, that’s investing!

I’ve made countless mistakes. Like I said, mistakes happen. You have to learn how to roll with the punches. While I have lost trust in people, friends in my life, and money I could have spent much more wisely, I have also learned a lot. I’ve learned to sharpen my instincts, research better, and think outside the box. I’ve come to appreciate and encourage my ability to save and invest. I appreciate the opportunity to MAKE mistakes.

What costly mistakes have you made and what have you learned?

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