Updated: Oct 9, 2018
One of the hardest things for me to do as a financial expert is to admit the financial mistakes that I’ve made in the past. However, I feel that it is very important to do so for a multitude of reasons. First, it allows my clients to see that everyone (even financial experts) makes financial mistakes at one time or another. Secondly, it helps them open up about mistakes that they’ve made in the past rather than try to hide them. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, it demonstrates that you are not defined by your past financial decisions and that it’s never too late to change your financial habits. So this post will reveal some of the major financial mistakes that I’ve made in the past in hopes that you can learn from me and not make these mistakes yourself.
GROWING UP TOO FAST
After graduating college and moving back home, the first thing on my mind was finding an apartment. I simply refused to move back with my parents after getting used to having my own space and following my own rules. The problem is the cost of apartments in major cities like Chicago are significantly more expensive than apartments in college towns. Fortunately, I was able to find a place at a very affordable price but I still spent more money than I had to. Although the thought of moving back home you’re your parents after college may seem like a nightmare, I highly recommend that you consider it. Why? Because living with your parents for even one year after college can give you a jump start in life. For example, if you move home with your family for 12 months you will save money on; rent, food, gas, cable, furniture, etc. This could be anywhere from $5,000 to $20,000 per year in savings! Imagine, paying off all your credit card debt and student loan debt in just two years by living at home with your family. Does it still seem like a nightmare?
BUYING SHINY OBJECTS TO PROVE COLLEGE PAID OFF
This is also known as “Keeping up with the Joneses”, but for me, there were no Joneses! It was just me and my ego thinking that I had to prove to the world that after 5 years of school and 2 degrees I had finally “made it”. Thus, I bought a new car, shiny watches, and nice shoes to impress my co-workers at the office all while I had a credit card and student loan debt that needed attention. I often see this with my clients with advanced degrees and I strive to get them to see that the best way to show people you “made it” is by posting your student loan balance of $0.00 on social media.
NOT FULLY FUNDING MY ROTH IRA
Now I’ll be fully transparent here, after an undergraduate and masters degree in accounting and a C.P.A. license I still had NO IDEA what a Roth IRA was. This just proves the fact that no matter how advanced the degree, school does not teach you personal finance tactics what so ever. If I had been maxing out my Roth from the day I started working until today, I would have $51,882 of non-taxable money in just 5 years. Oh, what could’ve been.
TURNING A BLIND EYE TO EXPENSE CREEP
So what is expense creep? Expense creep is when your expenses creep up at a similar rate as your income. For example, the more raises I got my expenses seemed to get a boost in multiple categories. As mentioned, I got a new car which meant higher car note and higher insurance cost. Then I decided to move into a nicer apartment, which meant higher rent cost, gas cost, electricity cost, furniture, etc. Before you knew it, the raises were completely gone! Expense creep is very real and I see it all the time. As we start to earn more our human nature desires to spend more and before you know it you’ve spent all the extra money, or even worst…you’ve spent more!
HANGING WITH EXPENSIVE PEOPLE
Do any of you have that friend (or friends) where it seems like every time you all hang out you end up spending more than expected? Like seriously, how did brunch cost us $100 each?! As much as you love these friends you have to cut them off or at least limit your encounters if you are going to prosper financially. Spending time with people who respect your budget is a huge key to financial success and I preach it to all my clients. I don’t care how good of a budgeter you are, if you get talked into having drinks on the John Hancock Rooftop you’re going to spend more than planned!
So my question to you is which of these mistakes have you made? Are you still making some of these mistakes today? If so, you are not alone and more importantly, it’s not too late to change these habits. Life doesn’t change by chance, its changes by change. So if you want to change your poor financial habits start today!