Our top goal for 2019 is to finally pay all our debt off and become debt-free. I usually take the attitude that dwelling on the past doesn’t help me make the next best decision for my future. But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t lessons to be learned from our past mistakes.
Since I know so many of us are trying to get a handle on our finances as part of setting the new year up. And as I’ve been thinking about where we’re heading in the future, I wanted to share a few past money mistakes that I would avoid if I were faced with them again.
Let’s just get this one out of the way. Credit cards are such a slippery slope for me. No matter how much my intentions were to pay them in full every month, that’s never worked out for me. We’ve wasted so much money on interest, and I will be so thankful when we’ve paid them off and closed for good.
I paid cash for my first car when I was 19 years old; it died about a year later, and my relationship with car payments. Not only does it not make sense to send money to the bank every month to drive a depreciating vehicle, but having a car note also dictated that I had to carry full coverage and my deductible for my car insurance.
Now, we pay ourselves a car payment each month; it goes straight into the savings account to be used for future repairs or replacement. Also, when we paid cash for the Mister’s last car, there was no drama around buying the car. We simply located a vehicle that was within budget and told the dealer what our price was; the paperwork was done within an hour. Easy peasy.
Signing a lease and utilities with a partner I wasn’t married to
To be fair, I was very young and very in love. And when things fell apart with the guy I dated all through college, not only did I have a broken heart, but I had to move and extricate our intertwined finances.
Not only did we lose our security deposit, but guess who got stuck with remaining balances on the power, internet and cell phone bills.
I recognize that whether you live with a boyfriend/girlfriend is an extremely personal decision. But for me, this just didn’t work out. When the Mister and I decided to move in together, we agreed upon a set amount of living expenses that I would pay him and didn’t put both our names on any accounts together until about 2 weeks before our wedding.
Cashing out a 401(k) when I left a job
Chalk another one up to youth and “urgency” of poor decisions. When I was about 23-24 years old, I determined that I needed then funds in my retirement account from a previous job more than I needed to be investing during a tanking economy.
After taxes and penalties, I maybe netted $2500. All I can say is that I’m glad I learned this lesson at the very beginning of my investing career before I could have lost myself serious money. But still, it’s tough to think that if I had rolled that money into an IRA, it probably would have doubled by now.
Taking out an SBA loan to purchase my business
This one is a tough one for me to figure out how I could have avoided it. When I first purchased my business, the previous owner self-financed the sale with the plan that I’d make a balloon payment to him after 24 months.
This plan worked quite well until we learned that I didn’t have sufficient personal assets for any bank to use as collateral to get a loan for this balloon payment.So, I found myself going through a loan process with SBA, which was cumbersome and expensive (think more than $4000 in closing costs).
In addition to the fact that SBA loans are tied to prime (so the payment has increased as our economy has improved), there’s also a requirement that I send them copies of my business and personal financial statements every year or they could choose to call the note…even though I’ve never missed a payment.
However, with every previous mistake, I can see where I had an alternate choice; with the SBA loan, I don’t see another way at that time. While having a significant payment auto-deducted each month has at times caused stress around cash flow, I’m happy to report before the end of 2019, the loan will be paid off.
So, there are my financial skeletons: 5 money mistakes to avoid. If I were able to speak to 20-something-year-old Aubrey, I’d tell her to be patient, save more and avoid the “easy” money decisions. Luckily, I still have a say in future Aubrey’s financial wellbeing.
Are you ready to take control of your financial future? Here are a few books I recommend reading: