My 6 Personal Financial Mistakes

Going along with the adage that "no one is perfect" I have decided to share my personal financial mistakes. I hope that sharing my mistakes will help prevent others from doing the same thing. It is never easy to admit mistakes, especially when it involves money, but I think it is a good exercise to perform.

  1. Student Loans: I currently am carrying almost $14,000 in student loans. Most of this was used for living expenses during college. If I could do it over again I would have worked at McDonald's in order to avoid them. Luckily I locked in a 2.79% interest rate.
  2. Credit Cards: This one is two fold. I used credit cards to fund my 18-month around-the-world trip. I consolidated and then used some again to fund a failed small business. This is a very expensive lesson that I will pay for the next 5+ years.
  3. Investing: I learned the hard way that index funds are the way to invest for the long term. I thought I could beat the market and got "schooled". I have straightened it out now but had some losses to begin with.
  4. Tracking Expenses: Before I learned about personal finance (thanks to a class in college!) I basically just checked my bank balance. I have come a long way from living hand to mouth to having an emergency fund of any kind.
  5. Buying a car: Back in 2003 I bought a brand new 2003 Honda Civic. I made a good choice in the car itself as I still drive it today. I made the bad choice of financing it. I locked in a 2.9% rate but the next car I buy will be cash (or 0% with cash to back it up). That car payment was not fun in college (hence the student loans above). On paper it is paid off but I still have the student loans.
  6. Unemployment: For nearly 2 years in college and another 20 months during my around-the-world trip I was unemployed. This is by far the most financially devastating event(s) in my life to date. I have a mountain of debt to prove it. I now have gotten into networking and better interviewing plus an emergency fund to combat future problems.
I have learned a lot of hard lessons that I am now paying for. If I had been taught better habits at a much younger age I would have been much better off. Most of us don't learn about how to handle money until college or well after. Now is the time to live within your means!