This post comes courtesy of Eric J. Nisall, who writes about pretty much anything he feels like in the areas of personal finance, small business and entrepreneurship over at DollarVersity. So, if you don’t like it, BLAME HIM!
Money mistakes. Everybody makes them. Some people prefer to keep theirs hidden from the world so as to not have to admit to them. Me? I will openly share mine. I don’t worry about how someone will react at my tale of woe. I’ve made mistakes, plenty in fact, and the chances are great that I will do so again. Hey, I’m human so it’s bound to happen. You can’t go through life worrying about what happened last week, last year, or a decade ago; you need to use it as a learning experience and move forward.
If mistakes are supposed to be learning experiences, then I should be a freakin’ genius by now. Why do I say that? Well, to be honest my twenties were basically one giant money mistake. I pretty much committed every cardinal sin of financial management, and some multiple times. I’m not proud of what I did, or the situation it got me into, but at the same time, I’m not ashamed either. It helped me get to the point in my life I am currently at.
I’m not sure how it all started, but once it did, boy did it keep going. I was loose with my cash–very loose. Every other weekend myself and my friends would go to our favorite pool hall and simply go crazy. The waitresses loved me., and not in a good way, mind you. They loved me because I didn’t care about money. I tossed it around like I was some big shot, like the guys today who you hear about going to the strip clubs and “making it rain”. I wasn’t that out of my mind, but pretty close. I would buy entire trays of those test-tube shots. I’d order tons of food. I would buy the random people drinks (ok, it was only the attractive women). And, as for the reason the waitresses loved me–I would leave huge tips. It wasn’t the most economical way to have a good time, huh?
My home life wasn’t much different. I rented an apartment with a friend who was kind of homely. He was very quiet and unassuming, and pretty much kept to himself. I, on the other hand was the opposite: loud and very much out there. When I first moved in, the place was very sparsely furnished. I went out and purchased a 1,000 watt stereo receiver. Then I got a 400-disc DVD changer (like anyone needs to have access to that many movies at one time). I stocked the pantry with tons of snacks and junk. I basically tried to convert the apartment into a mini-club. When the lease was up, I didn’t brink that stuff with us to the new place. I put it up on eBay, and started fresh with updated versions of the things I had just sold off. After all, a new place was deserving of new toys (or so I figured).
That was all nothing compared to the last thing I did before I gained some common sense–not to mention some self-control. I wanted a flashy car! No, it’s not what you are thinking, I didn’t buy a high-end import with all the bells and whistles in it. I went with a Pontiac Gran-Am, but I just had to have the sun roof, spoiler, 17-inch chrome rims and leather. It didn’t end there, though. I had black-out tint on the rise and ripped out the stock stereo head unit just to replace it with a stylin’ Alpine multi-disc changer with motorized screen and text (back then this was the only model on the market). I dropped $800 just on the head unit. I have to say, that car was the most fun vehicle I have ever owned.
How did I manage to pay for all of that stuff? Was I a rich kid spending mommy and daddy’s hard-earned cash? Nope. Did I have some connection that got me a high-paying job that would afford me this life of luxury? Nope. I committed one of the biggest sins of smart money management: I put it all on plastic. Even worse, I didn’t pay more than the minimum each month so that I would have plenty of cash to spend on other things.
Was it worth it? At the time, I would say abso-freakin-lutely! Now, however, looking back at the trouble it got me into as far as credit card debt I would say no. But it teach me a valuable lesson and it’s certainly a mistake I never plan on making again.
What was your biggest money mistake?