This is a guest post written by Shane from Beating Broke. We’re taking a part in the Yakezie Blog Swap this week, and we’re each answering the question: what is your worst money mistake? After you’re done reading Shane’s post, head on over to Breating Broke and check out my answer to the question!
Like so many of you who are reading this, I’ve made what seems like more than my share of terrible money mistakes. So many, that picking the worst one is somewhat hard to do. After all, which is worse? The time I charged up the credit card I had just got when I didn’t even have a job? Or was it the time I chose to buy all that stuff on a store credit card? Or maybe it was when I…
No matter which of the mistakes I’ve made, I think there are two things that have been underlying problems and contributed to me making the mistakes in the first place. Not fixing those problems is likely the worst money mistake I’ve ever made. What are those problems?
Unlike many, I’m one of the people who actually had a class on personal finance while in High School. And it wasn’t just the simple “this is how you balance your checkbook” class either. We went through all of that too, of course, but we went in depth on how interest rates work, how credit cards work, and how the two combined can lead to ruin. We also learned about how responsible adults treat their money, their bills, and their credit.
So why did I make the mistakes that I did? I’ll admit that it was part naivety, but a big part of that was that I really thought that I knew enough to handle the real world of personal finance. I was your typical disillusioned teen, struggling to push my way into adulthood. It didn’t take too long for me to prove that I had more learning to do.
Obviously, as an author of a personal finance blog, I’ve corrected this mistake. Despite writing regularly about the topic, I still learn new stuff all the time. Laws change, account details change, and the way that people use money change every day. Not continuing to learn the best ways to handle money and your personal finances is a damaging mistake to make.
I’m using the word constitution in a much more classical sense than what most of you are likely used to. What I really should say is that I occasionally suffer from a lack of willpower. A lack of the ability to stick-to-it. And, unless you’re planning on making some big wins, or taking home the lottery, you’re gonna need some will power.
There will be days when you have nothing else holding you back but the sheer strength of will brought on by your desire to get out of debt, earn more money, and live a financial life you used to only dream of. In a cruel twist of fate, those days seem to increase proportionately with the amount of debt you have. The less debt you have, the easier it gets. Part of that is that, as you pay off debt, the light at the end of the debt tunnel is more visible. The other part has a lot more to do with the stress and struggle that debt loads us down with. Bills become harder to pay as you juggle which ones get a full payment. Your mood worsens. Your desire for new, expensive things worsens. And your will power dwindles.
It’s not easy, but the only way to do it is to continue to renew your constitution. Carry notes, pictures, whatever you need with you to remind you of why you’re paying off your debt. Look at them frequently. Sometimes that’s just the little boost that you need to refresh your strength, and renew your will.
Whether your problems arise from a lack of education, a lack of will power, or just bad luck, the mistakes you make in your personal finance are fixable. You can overcome them, and you can recover from them. What’s important, is that you take the time to recognize what the mistake was and then make every attempt to never repeat it again. Not only will you make fewer mistakes, but those desperate days will become fewer, until, one day, you find yourself standing in that bright light at the end of the debt tunnel.
The articles are written by personal finance enthusiasts (not certified professionals) based on their personal experience. What works for them may or may not work for you, and you should always consult a financial advisor before making important financial decisions.
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