3 Financial Decisions I Don’t Regret
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I’m a worrier at heart. I worry about future decisions that aren’t on the horizon yet, I worry about current decisions that I need to make now and I worry about decisions I’ve made in the past and whether they were right or wrong. If you think that sounds pretty silly, then you’d be right.
I’m not much of a resolution-maker, so this definitely isn’t a New Years’ resolution. I have, however, decided that I’m not going to worry anymore, and that means I have to let go of the past financial decisions I’ve made that, in hindsight, didn’t seem to be very wise.
All of the financial decisions I’ve made in the past, whether they were right or wrong, have turned me into the financially savvy person I am today, so I’m okay with having to learn some things the hard way. Here are three financial decisions I don’t regret and which I think will help me achieve my goal of not worrying so much about money anymore.
Getting a Consumer Loan… or Three
After I graduated from college, I went a little crazy with consumer loans. I had no student loan debt and a new job that made me feel like I had some spare cash. I financed a car, a couch and then a boat. Although these purchases didn’t happen at the same time, I got into a payment mentality for a brief amount of time, and it taught me quite a bit, most notably that I don’t like having payments on things.
Financing a new (to me) car made me realize how much I hated owing money to a bank. My payment was only $181 per month, which is peanuts compared to a lot of car payments, but I hated making that payment, and I was mad at myself every time I wrote out that check.
Owing thousands of dollars to a bank for a car (or furniture or a boat) is a painful way to learn a lesson, but it is a valuable lesson to be learned and one that I’m thankful I won’t have to learn again.
Saving for Retirement (A Little Late)
I didn’t start my own 401(k) until I was 25. I realize that 25 isn’t super late to start saving for retirement, but I could (and should) have opened an IRA with my very first “grown up” job out of college at age 22 and been a little farther ahead. However, the important thing is that I started saving for my retirement. It doesn’t matter how late you start as long as you start.
As soon as a company-sponsored employment plan was available to me, I opened a 401(k). I didn’t max it out, but I did contribute enough to get the full company match so I could score all that extra free money, and I’m very pleased that I made that decision, even if it was a few years late in coming.
Buying a Foreclosure
The last time I went house shopping, I was searching for houses in the $150,000 range (which will afford you a pretty nice house in my area), and I was having trouble finding something that suited me. Since my old house was already sold, I was under pressure to find something in a hurry.
When my husband came across a foreclosure property with a price tag that was under $100,000, I didn’t even want to look at the house since it was nothing like what we had been looking at already. It was small, and it had no hardwood floors, fancy finishes or appliances. Because it sat empty for so long, there were lots of bugs in it, the painted exterior was dingy, and the crawl space clearly needed some work. I was hardly sold.
But later that evening as I thought about the very real possibility of being able to pay off our mortgage quickly, (something I had never considered as a possibility before) and the idea of being completely debt free, I was hooked on that shabby house.
After a few thousand dollars and a lot of sweat equity put into our home, it’s exactly where we want it to be and, most importantly, it’s completely ours. Buying a foreclosure can sometimes be scary if you don’t know the history of the property, but in our case, it was money well spent and a decision I’m glad we made.
Don’t Live in Regret
Whether you’ve filed for bankruptcy in the past, financed too many silly purchases, or waited too long to start saving for your retirement, don’t live in regret or shame over any financial decisions you’ve made in the past because they help you learn. Living in regret doesn’t help you, and chances are, if you are suffering through some financial hardships right now, then there are others who have made it through the same problems still intact.
Most people aren’t born with a working knowledge of how to manage finances well, so we all have to learn somehow, and sometimes that’s through trial and error. The good news is that there are a lot of free tools available to help you grow your financial knowledge. Financial tracking tools like Personal Capital and other monitoring and investing and budgeting tools make it easier to learn how to be wise with your money.
Another piece of good news is that once we do learn certain financial lessons, there’s no going back to our old ways.
Once you decide that you don’t want a car payment, those new cars on the lot at the dealership don’t seem so enticing anymore. Once you make the decision to downsize from a 3,000 square-foot mansion to a 1,500 square-foot “starter home” to simplify your life, you will no longer be so envious over your friends’ big houses and fancy furniture. With a little bit of hindsight, you really can laugh at your past financial mistakes and look forward to a financially fit future.
Are there any financial decisions you’ve made in the past that you’ve regretted? What is the best financial decision you’ve made? What is the worst?