Six Financial Mistakes I’ve Made

six-financial-mistakesUnfortunately, people are not born financial geniuses. Growing up I hardly learned much in school about certain things such as credit card debt. I made quite a few financial mistakes in my early to mid-twenties. I’m glad I finally wised up a bit. Below are six mistakes that I’ve made over the years. I share them with you so that you won’t have to go through them.

1. Using my credit card for leisure when I didn’t have the cash on me.

Everyone makes mistakes when they are young. This has to be one of the dumbest things that I have done. I can remember numerous times using my credit card to buy drinks at the bar for my friends and me. At the time I thought it was fun and cool, but now I realize that it was stupid. I intended my credit card to be for emergencies. Getting drunk with my friends was not an emergency.

2. Buying a used car without having a mechanic look at it first.

I knew nothing about cars when I purchased my first one in the summer of 2007. I went to a used car dealer in Savannah (I was still a student at the time.) and saw a 2000 Chevy Malibu for $5800. It only had 84,000 miles on it at the time. I had a friend at the dealership with me, but he didn’t know much about cars either. We took the car for a test drive. Everything seemed fine.  I put some money down and made the purchase.

About a week later I went to Atlanta to show the car to my family. I was driving on one of the highways when it died on me. The car had a bad fuel pump. I was extremely pissed. I ended up having to take the Greyhound bus back to school. My aunt had the car towed to a mechanic. They said it would cost over $700 to fix. I did get lucky, though. The used car dealership actually paid for it to get fixed. That usually never happens especially when you buy the car as is. I definitely learned my lesson. When my Malibu finally died on me for good last year, I purchased my next car from a mechanic.

3. Sallie Mae

Sallie Mae is hands down the worst lender to get a student loan with. They don’t care if you are having an economic hardship or anything after you graduate. They just want their money. Unfortunately, I made the mistake of borrowing from them in school. Having to deal with multiple phone calls a day where people are asking you to pay is not fun. I wouldn’t wish that on anybody. If you’re still in school, please STAY AWAY from Sallie Mae.

4. Not paying off small loans quicker.

I had a couple of small loans where I took about a year and a half to pay off. After I had received my final statement from the companies I saw that I paid over $100 in interest for both loans. If you have small loans, just pay them. Interest is not a joke.

5. Not always knowing what’s in my checking account.

I didn’t always use my check register to balance my account. A few years ago I used to estimate what I had in my account. Then I would try not to go over that amount. That clearly was not smart. I would forget purchases and check my account to see overdraft fees. All that could have been avoided if I had just buckled down and balanced my books. After a while, you will get tired of paying those fees. I know I was. I am happy to say I haven’t had an overdraft fee in almost three years.

6. Not facing my debt earlier.

I knew I was in debt the moment I was out of college. It really didn’t hit me how much until I got that first statement from Sallie Mae in November 2008. Instead of actively coming up with a plan to pay it off, I just paid when I felt like it or just a small amount. Please learn from my mistake and make a plan to pay that sh!t off. You might have to sacrifice some things now, but it will be well worth it.

These are six financial mistakes that I don’t want you to make. If you’ve already made them realize that your world is not over. You can fix them by taking control right now and coming up with a plan.

What financial mistakes did you make when you were younger? Did you learn from them?


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  1. I suppose I am fortunate that I learned to pay off debt early. I was thrilled years ago when I paid off my student loans.

    What I need to learn is that it is OK to spend money. I grew up in a very thrifty household. Also, that is OK to make mistakes when spending – not very purchase, even if researched a bit, is a stellar one.
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  2. Hi Jason: I didn’t make any financial mistakes when I was young (fortunately), but the biggest financial mistake I’ve ever made was buying a timeshare. Stay away from those salesmen (and women)! They really ARE ruthless and don’t care at all about your individual situation.
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  3. Thanks for your honest appraisal of some very common financial mistakes. EVERYONE can use this information! I paid off my substantial credit card debt a few years ago and now I NEVER keep a balance. Even if I have to dip into my savings to pay off the December (Christmas) bill, I do it, then I am very careful for a few months and replenish my savings.

  4. I was raised by a German father… debt was the worst swear word in our house! I do use credit cards, but only to accrue miles for travel. I know my limits and pay my balance every month. It took some getting used to, as I only spent when I had the cash. You might want t try there though…only spend what you have cash for. As to Sallie Mae? What can I say without appearing to partisan??? It’s run by the government…that makes me suspicious from the get-go!
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  5. Good post! Thank you for sharing your mistakes on financial situations. Financial education is so helpful!
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  6. I’m mostly fortunate when it comes to finances, but my husband and I laugh when we think about the first car we bought years ago. We were so concerned about keeping the monthly payment down that we didn’t even ask what the interest rate was. It was something like 14%. The dealership saw us coming from a mile away.
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  7. I have made many of these financial mistakes as well. Thank goodness I learned from them. You would be amazed at how many people I know that still continue to live like this. It’s important that you see your mistakes and do better and you have done just that.
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  8. Hi Jason, I think we have all made some of these mistakes (maybe all) in our early years. The fact is, we do a very poor job of training our kids on how to handle their finances in a responsible way. Part of that training should include the results of not following good common sense in these matters. The best news for you (and I) is you have figured it out and are on your way to a better place. Bravo.
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  9. I’ve managed to miss most of these financial pitfalls but my husband and I did manage to buy quite the clunker of a car when we were first married. I won’t get into the details, but by the time the car was accidentally run over by a crane truck we were relieved.
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  10. Buying a timeshare was my most regretted financial mistake.
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  11. Look like we have a same mistake especially about the used car. They might be cheaper when you first bought them but after a few months, you might need to repair some thing. The cost for repair can be very high and it can be a burden for your monthly budget.
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  12. Being financially genius is a gift and not all of us are born with it. That’s why some of our decisions in handling our business fails. There were lots of help and advises we can find online to make our mistakes straight.
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  13. All of the above. Sallie Mae was the last debt I paid off. I will never buy a car with a loan (or without getting it checked out first) again. And I will do my best to encourage people to not take on more debt. Oh by the way I watch my checking account like a hawk.

    You are awesome for recognizing these pitfalls in your financial life. You’re already way ahead of most people.
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