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5 money mistakes to avoid

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.

Credit Cards

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.

Car Payments

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.

Five money mistakes to avoid: financial mistakes that I've made and what they can teach us to make better financial decisions.

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:

10 Ways to Save Money This Month

Between school starting and the holiday season drawing near, many of us start looking harder at ways to save money in our budgets. In fact, one of the budgeting facebook groups has even adopted the hashtag #$avetember to encourage and inspire its members.

I’m always on the hunt for ideas to squeeze more dollars out of my budget and wanted to share some tips that we use to keep the budget on track. If you’re looking for more ways to save money and grow your savings account, here are my top 10 ideas:

  1. Save your loose change in a jar and make a deposit at the end of each month.
  2. Look up your grocery store’s weekly flyer and create your meal plan based on what is on sale; this can be especially significant for sales on meats and produce.
  3. Plan several meals using the same protein. For example, leftovers from a roast chicken would be used for tacos and soup later in the week.
  4. Purchase produce that is in-season. If possible, shop at a local farmers market or join a local CSA.
  5. Freeze or can in-season produce so you don’t have to purchase it at a higher price when out-of-season.
  6. Learn to make to make your sauces, seasonings, and broths from scratch. We make these at home: tomato/pizza sauce, chicken/veggie broth or stock, taco/chili seasoning, stir-fry sauce, etc.
  7. Group and map out your errands for one afternoon rather than taking your car out several times throughout the week.
  8. Make use of your library to check out books, magazines, movies, etc. Check to see if your library allows you to borrow digital or audio books.
  9. Make use of your library for other community programs. Our library offers classes in crafts such as tie-dye or knitting, has movie nights (or mornings), has regular yoga classes, etc. all for free to its members.
  10. Get familiar with your city’s parks and museums community events. Our community has weekly free concerts in the summer and field days with games for the kids, hosted by public safety.

When you have to tighten the budget, what do you do to save money? Share with us in the comments or send me an email to let me know.

If you're on the hunt for ways to save money and grow your family's savings accounts, here are 10 ideas that we use to keep our budget on track.


Our Financial Peace Journey: A Reset

I’ve been avoiding writing a post about our need for a financial peace reset for a while because I have a confession to make. On High-Heeled Love, I used to write an update on our financial peace journey every single month, but I stopped last summer…because we fell off the wagon.

Not like we went out and financed a new car or opened new credit cards off the wagon. But we got a little too relaxed with our budget.

It started when I got behind with tracking our expenses in Every Dollar and not regularly pulling cash out for specific budget categories, so we were swiping the debit card when we were out getting groceries, having a bite to eat with friends, etc.

And then, we put some travel and education expenses on a credit card with the intention of paying it off the next month. This is EXACTLY why Dave Ramsey says you have to cut your cards up and close the accounts.

Don’t do what we did. Cut your cards up. Close your accounts.

I’m bummed to admit that getting distracted has basically slid us back to where we started with our Baby Step 2. And the sad thing is that this was mostly my doing; I’m the one who kept choosing to use a credit card when I could have chosen delayed gratification.

And then I turned all our tax info into the accountant and realized that in 2017, we had our best income year yet as a married couple. And I got angry.

It’s absolutely ridiculous that we’re carrying the amount of debt that we have while making the type of money that we do.

I’m over sending a full paycheck each month to credit card companies. I’m done with it. It’s time to get down to business.

So, it’s time to shine a light on this problem and get back on the program. Here’s our current state of affairs:

Consumer Debt

We currently have about $30,000 in our debt snowball. This is spread across three credit cards and one personal loan. I want this gone by the end of this year!!!

As soon as this post publishes, I’m making a big in-your-face visual so I can’t hide from this number. Then, I’m making a list of every side hustle opportunity we have so can get going on this.

Business Debt

There are two debts in my business’s name: one credit card and an SBA loan that we used to purchase the agency. This is scheduled to pay off next year. I want to be┬ádone with the credit card by the end of this year as well.

Upcoming Expenses

We have basically two challenges coming up in the next quarter: we’re going to owe some amount in incomes taxes (having a growing business does have drawbacks) and the Mister’s car needs to be replaced.

I’ve been planning for the taxes and saving like crazy inside the business. I’m expecting a call any day now from our accountant with the number we owe; we still have a couple more weeks to hustle any difference between what’s in the bank and what we’ll owe.

The Subaru has reached the point where it’s got more projected maintenance than we can sustain in our budget; even our mechanic has advised that we replace it. We do have a small sinking fund for each replacement and repair. We’ll combine that with whatever we can sell the car for. Fortunately, our mechanic is also willing to go to help us locate a newer vehicle at auction that we can pay cash for.

Okay, y’all. I’m putting it out there. We’re back on the Dave Ramsey wagon.

Hold my feet to the fire. And expect to hear more about this journey because we’re focusing hard.

Do you want to join us in taking control of your finances? Let me know in the comments. Then go get a copy of the Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey.