Yakezie Blog Swap: What’s Your Worst Money Mistake?

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…

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Picture by Stargazer95050

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?

Dis-Continuing Financial Education

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.

Suffering from a Lack of Constitution

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.

Recovering from Financial Mistakes

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.

About the Author

By , on Jun 15, 2012
Andy Tenton
Andy is a 30-something New Yorker who turned his financial life around. He took charge of his finances, got out of debt, and is now working his way toward financial success. He is the publisher of WorkSaveLive.com.

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  1. My would have to be grad school in a subject that I have no interest.

  2. Andy Hough says:

    There are some things you just have to learn the hard way. And sometimes I have to learn them more than once.

    Willpower is a problem for me also. I don’t have a lot of patience for seeing results and give up too soon. It is something I’m working on.

    • I have that issue with patience as well. For me it has more to do with getting frustrated, and not letting things have the time they need to fully work or develop before I move on to something else.

  3. Fahad says:

    According to me the biggest mistake is in investment is to invest all and have nothing for yourself.

  4. Michelle says:

    I don’t think my high school offered anything like finance classes. If they did, I didn’t take any! I wish I would have, but I think I still would have spent like a dumb kid when I moved out and was paying my own bills. I think it’s something that *some* of us do need to experience first-hand in order to learn and grow.

    • I never would have taken it if I hadn’t had to play catch up with my high school grades. As it was, I needed a few extra math credits to graduate, and that class had room. Very few people at my high school took the class as it was technically a remedial math class for students that were having trouble passing the regular classes.

      And, that’s exactly what I did. Regardless of what I knew, I still had that learn the hard way event.

  5. Joe Morgan says:

    Your experience with a high school personal finance class illustrates just how much we need to learn certain things the hard way sometimes.

    Don’t get me wrong, I still think such classes are great to have and do help countless teens, but they can only go so far.

    • Yeah, while it gave me the base for some of what I learned, and how I reacted to certain things, I don’t know that any further learning at that point would have prevented some of what I did. But, it certainly helps with digging yourself out of a mess now and again.

  6. Nick says:

    I love little reminders. Right now I have some great post-it-notes at my desk and pics of the family. One post-it reads “vacation home.” No, I’m not saving for a vacation home, but “early retirement” is not something you want to have up on your desk at work, is it? 🙂

  7. Often it has hard to stick to it. That is part of the reason I have my blog. If I do something stupid I feel obligated to share with my readers so they can avoid my mistakes.

  8. AverageJoe says:

    Thanks for the great thoughts, Shane! Along with your point that it gets easier as you have less debt, it also gets easier as you get a few little “wins.” Kind of like a rock that starts rolling….getting it moving is the hard part. Keeping it rolling is significantly easier.

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