You don’t believe that fat meat is greasy.
A hard head makes a soft behind.
A stitch in time saves nine.
While not much of a connoisseur of greasy meats nor blessed with the gift of stitch, I love these timeless truisms designed to help us avoid pitfalls. Be honest. How many times have you disregarded time-tested wisdom and forged head first into mayhem? Maybe it’s just me.
In the spirit of all the mother-wit I’ve ever received, yet, shunned because I knew better; I decided to share some of our more recent money mishaps in hopes that you can do better.
- Leasing a car – Why not lease a car? Because it is the most expensive way to operate a car. Even if you snatch a teaser $199/month deal. Add the cost of your down payment and monthly payments over the length of the lease. Then resolve to purchase a car for the same amount. After which, you don’t have to return the car, watch your mileage like a hawk, and/or stress over every little nick and ding. Mishap total: $15,500.
- Incorrectly transferring a car title – I gifted a car to a church member and expected him to handle the car title updates. Needless to say he didn’t and after some shoddy mechanical work, the car stopped on him in a private lot. A month after the car was towed; I received a letter with the offer to pay $1000 to retrieve an inoperable car. $2000 in car repairs later, the next time I sold the car – I met the buyers at the Secretary of State’s office to sign the transfer in person! Mishap total: $3000 and a few gray hairs.
- Buying a timeshare – Just don’t do it. Skip the tours, free breakfast and pay for your own excursions. You can always borrow a friend’s week because no one uses them completely. Heck you can have mine! Mishap total: $7500 & 30 years of annual maintenance fees.
- Student Loans – While not an extremist, anti-debt advocate; I do believe student loans should be avoided. Many options exist from attending a less expensive school to working part-time to commuting. All this after grants and scholarship have been exhausted. Student loans have become the default option. With college costs increasing 8% a year (faster than inflation and health care), too many young people are front loading with massive debt totals that significantly alter their financial lives before they can fully appreciate the impact of that decision. Still not totally convinced that student loans are evil? At least strive to minimize your post-graduation lifestyle until you can retire student loan debt (before cars, houses, and kids enter the picture). Mishap total: $21,000 & 14 years of missed opportunity costs.
- Going into debt for business – This bullet deserves waaaaay more space then a paragraph. However, to summarize, the entrepreneur bug bit us and we answered. Only we did so with a massive loan and when life doesn’t respond according to the rosy picture in your head (or your business plan), you are left with massive debts and a lot of frustration. Looking back, we should have started smaller and expanded as we grew financially. Why is it that only hindsight is 20/20??? Mishap total: To be continued…
We’ve made our share of money mistakes. I won’t even pretend this list is complete. However, each set back is an opportunity to reflect on, learn from, and develop because of the experience … even if … someone else can say “I told you so!”
Care to share your money mistakes?