Money mistakes I have made

I think it is good to discuss money mistakes as it shows that our past mistakes do not define us…so here are some of my money mistakes:

First off, I was a much less frugal guy in my single days. So a few of these are mistakes surrounding erroneous travel.

We cashed out my wife’s 401K when we moved to Argentina in 2010.

Direct cost $15,000 but if you had potential earnings over the last 6 years, likely much more. 

Bought a home in 2008 for $200K.

Sold it in 2011 for $200K. Lost maybe 20K on the entire process through commissions and maintenance. I consider this a loss because if I had held on to it I could now sell it for $391,000 based on Zillow Estimates. The area was booming but I did not want to be a landlord. Hindsight is 20/20 but this decision will haunt me (and my wife). Cost of potential losses ($191,000 in earnings and $20,000 in commissions, etc= $211,000.

Bought a house in 2013 thinking we would be living in New Orleans for many years for $559,000.

Sold it in 2016 for only a few thousand more. Commission, etc. cost me about $20,000. So total loss, $20,000.

I did not start investing in IRAs until 2014.

I have been earning an income since 2005 and arguably even before that with part time work. Cost of mistake is 9 years x $5,500 = $49,500 plus potential earnings and losses.

I did not start investing in my wife’s IRAs until 2014.

I met her in 2007. So let’s say I should have been doing this from 2007 to 2014. That is 7 years at $5,500 = $38,500. 

Changing my 401K contributions from 5% to 3% in 2011 and 2012.

This occurred once again when I moved to Argentina. I was cash strapped and made the decision to decrease my contributions. I still received the full employer match, but missed out on potential savings. This likely cost me $6,000 total.

Spent way too much on a wedding.

Let’s just say this is my second embarrassing financial move (after selling my house). We easily spent a year’s salary on a wedding. So as I am too embarrassed to put the number spent, lets just put the cost at $50K. For the record, it was more my decision then my wifes…and still quite the mistake. Was it fun? Hell yes! Was it worth a down payment on a house? No!

There are a bunch of other little things.

Like flying out to hang with girls I met at weddings (never works out well). Spending way too much money on booze and nights out (this was particularly dangerous when my friends and I would go to Vegas), and spending lots of money at restaurants that were over priced and did not add to my happiness. These expenses are a “Death by a thousand cuts” (an ancient Chinese Torture method you can read about on Wilkipedia here) and probably cost me in the tens of thousands of dollars. So lets calculate this at $30,000 though it may be much more. 

Total costs

So total costs of stupid mistakes = $420,000 since 2005 or approximately $38,181 dollars a year. Considering I made between $50,000 to 60,000 for 7 of those years as a trainee this is pretty bad. Conservatively we remove the potential earnings from the home if I had not sold it ($421,000 – $211,000 = $209,000 which equates to $19,000 a year). Still pretty bad.

I did not make all of the high money decisions my colleagues made. For instance, I did not buy expensive cars or lease them every 2-3 years. I do not buy expensive clothes that do not add to my happiness. Flashy items used to keep up with the Joneses (albeit my current house was expensive) don’t interest me. I made that purchase for the view more than the home and it provides me a great deal of happiness. We always look for good deals before buying furniture, toys, etc. 

Luckily now as a high earner I can make up for prior stupid mistakes. The key is not to make any going forward. So what stupid financial mistakes have you made? How do you correct it? 

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I am a Dad and Doctor trying to find financial freedom by owning my dollars and debts. Helping dads with their finances so they can focus on the family.

8 thoughts on “Money mistakes I have made

  • May 20, 2017 at 9:08 am

    We all wish we could’ve save more no doubt……Didn’t / doesn’t have to IRAs or other qualified accounts. They are no panacea. The have advantages and disadvantages as every financial product does. Can be a tool but not a complete plan.

    • May 20, 2017 at 1:52 pm

      Fair enough. Nothing is quite complete. It is important to figure your tolerance and desires and go from there.

  • April 13, 2017 at 4:52 pm

    Glad and sorry to see I wasn’t the only late bloomer financially speaking. The past is the past. We are doing better now looking to the future and a higher income certainly helps.

    Tom @HIP

    • April 13, 2017 at 8:59 pm

      I am sure there are many of us late bloomers out there. Let’s focus on the future together! And as your name says, being a high income parent makes it much easier.

  • March 1, 2017 at 7:04 pm

    Good post.

    I’ve done so many dumb things with money
    That I think if I totaled the actual cost like you did,
    it would be too depressing. 😉

  • February 22, 2017 at 8:02 pm

    Not putting my own financial interests first! Long story, but it’s cost me a lot in $$.

    • February 23, 2017 at 4:39 am

      Thats definitely a mistake many of us make! The benefit is that past mistakes don’t have to dictate future decisions! Thanks for checking out the site.


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