Common Money Mistakes We’ve All Made

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money mistakes

I’m completely comfortable with admitting my money mistakes. After all, making mistakes is a great way to learn in any life situation. Sure it would be nice if we could avoid them altogether, but chances are, you’re not perfect when it comes to finances. Don’t worry; I’m not perfect either. (Shocking, I know – and just when I had you fooled!) 😉

Below are a few examples of money mistakes we’ve all likely made at some point or another. Hopefully you can learn from them just as I have.

1. Throwing Away Receipts


I’m not sure if this is a mistake or just a matter of preference. However, I hardly ever keep receipts. I know that I should be checking them against my credit card statement, but somehow I was never able to develop that habit. My father-in-law on the other hand saves every single receipt, records his gas mileage and payments, and keeps impeccable records. He’s pretty much the nicest guy ever.

For example, one time he noticed that a waiter doubled his tip, but he said he was probably having a hard time and didn’t report him. I would have been on the phone with the restaurant in about two seconds flat. So, maybe I should be keeping and checking my receipts!

2. Loaning Money to a Friend


I don’t advocate loaning money to friends, mostly because I don’t feel like doing business with friends is wise. There are certainly exceptions to this rule, but any time I have ever loaned money to someone, I did so without the expectation of getting it back. I feel like if you truly need to help a friend, it should be a gift. Waiting for someone to pay you back and having that awkward silence whenever you see them is never worth ruining a friendship.

3. Missing a Payment


I know there are some of you out there who have never missed a payment ever, and for that, you get three gold stars. However, most people have let something slip through the cracks whether it was renewing your P.O.Box or paying a credit card bill. I did it by accident a few months after paying off my credit card debt. I was so mad at myself. I used my credit card when I left my debit card at home and was so out of the habit of paying my bill that I totally forgot. Three months later it popped into my head, and well, there you go.

All of the examples above are really quite minor if you think about it. They are not nearly as dangerous as having an entire business fail due to faulty accounting or losing millions in the stock market due to a bad investment choice. Chances are, even if you’ve made one of the money mistakes above, you can definitely bounce back pretty easily and rest a little easier knowing that even though you made a mistake, you’ve definitely learned from it!


What are some other examples of common money mistakes you or someone you know has made? Do you see not keeping receipts as a mistake or a personal preference? Did not keeping a receipt ever come back to bite you in the behind?


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Catherine Alford is the go to personal finance expert for parents who want to better their finances and take on a more active financial role in their families.


  • Travis @debtchronicles says:

    Yup, I’ve done all three of these! Well, I didn’t completely miss a payment…but was late. I’ll never do the last two again, but I’m terrible at keeping receipts. I do keep receipts for bigger purchases (furniture, computers, etc), but receipts for the small stuff finds it’s way to the trash quickly.

  • DC @ Young Adult Money says:

    I’ve done all three of these. I think loaning money to a friend is an important one to avoid. I used to think it was an okay thing to do in small quantities, at least to family, but now that I have seen how easy it is to get personal loans there is no reason to act as your friend or family member’s bank!

  • Shannon @ Financially Blonde says:

    I moved around quite a bit in my 20s and during one of the moves, I didn’t get a credit card statement, so I missed my payment. I was REALLY ticked with myself and convinced that it would ruin my credit score. I called the card company and they said that it wasn’t a big deal and I wasn’t even charged a fee. Then the next month, I realized they raised my credit limit by $5,000. Crazy. Anyway, the whole process scared me to the point of not wanting to make the mistake again, so I am big on auto-payments now.

  • Laurie @thefrugalfarmer says:

    I’m so glad for the days of when stores keep track of your purchases. This helps me to not have to worry so much about losing receipts. I think a seriously common money mistake is simply not tracking your spending. People think, as we did, that they don’t spend a lot, but when you add it up, you might find you’re spending LOTS more than you think.

  • Stefanie @ The Broke and Beautiful Life says:

    I have a tendency to get irrationally mad at myself when I make a little mistake, but yes, it definitely happens to everyone.

  • Daisy @ Prairie Eco Thrifter says:

    I never keep receipts, but over the past couple of weeks I have been completely kicking myself over that because that means that I can’t use whatever it is that I threw away as a tax write off, even if it should be one. I’ve started keeping receipts now.

  • Kim says:

    I am OK with little receipts but big, long ones like from the grocery just get left in the bag most of the time. I’ve found an app called Shoeboxed where you can photo and file your important receipts that you might need for tax time. I’ve been putting all my medical receipts into that as soon as I get them so one doesn’t get lost. It’s very handy.

  • Kathy says:

    One thing that I’ve recently done that I’m hoping doesn’t come back to bite me is that I didn’t get a written bid from a contractor regarding replacing flooring in my house. Part of the bid went through the flooring supplier and part from the installer and I assumed the supplier wrote up both parts. Unfortunately, they just gave me the figure over the phone and upon looking at the paperwork, I realized that the installer figure isn’t in there. This was after he already started the work. So I’ll have to take forty lashes on that one!

  • Raquel@Practical Cents says:

    I missed a payment just like you did because i never use that store card. It’s annoying to see it on my credit report! I don’t like lending money to friends either. It’s just not worth the hassle.

  • Dee @ Color Me Frugal says:

    I think my most common money mistake is not shopping around- or not asking for discounts. I think there are definitely some times in the past when I could have saved more by taking the time to check other retailers. I also never save receipts or double check them against my credit card, so I guess I’m guilty on that one too!!

  • E.M. says:

    I have been late on a payment before. I was going through some things and completely forgot. Thankfully, when I spoke with someone from the company, they were fine with refunding me the late fee and I paid off the balance right away. I do keep receipts, but most of the time, I barely look back on them! Not very useful. I mostly do it to keep track of what I buy at the bigger stores in terms of categorizing the purchases.

  • Retired by 40 says:

    Unfortunately, I think we’ve all missed a payment. Mine have been both because I forgot and because I didn’t have the money :-(. Thankfully, because I am a good customer, usually my bank will refund any fees and not change my interest rate!

  • Grayson Bell says:

    I have thrown away receipts on accident and then the product broke. That always pissed me off. I now keep them until the return period is over to make sure that I won’t need it.

  • Jason B says:

    I’ve done two out of three. I will never loan money to a friend. I value my friendships. I wouldn’t want money to change them.

  • Josh @ says:

    Hey Cat, I’m horrible with keeping receipts. I know I should, I just happen to throw too many of them out. Another bad money habit I have is losing money. I know, crazy right. I’ve actually made it so that my fiance puts all the cash in the account. That way, I only have to worry about keeping track of my debit card.

  • Thomas @ i need money ASAP! says:

    It’s sort of like missing a payment but maybe one to add is carrying a credit card balance. Once I started working I was surprised at the number of colleagues who were carrying a credit card balance. Sometimes they even had money in their savings account but didn’t want to use it because they had “worked so hard to save”. I was stunned. I had always thought it was a rare occurrence but apparently its quite common to carry a balance for a period of time.

    • says:

      That’s interesting! Yes I’ve made that mistake but have been blissfully cc debt free for a while!

  • Bryce @ Save and Conquer says:

    I got so busy with work one year that I was late by a couple days with one of our two property tax payments. That mistake cost us an extra $260. I felt like such a dumbass.

  • mike says:

    The throwing away the receipts is a real big one, especially when its for bigger ticket items like washing machines, fridges etc
    Not shopping around is also a big mistake

  • @WilliamLipovsky, First Quarter Finance says:

    I’ve never done any of these.

    Just kidding. 🙂

    Checking receipts against statements is a good way to spend less. It’s such a boring, PITA thing to do I actually think about a purchase a little more because of it. Buying something just means one more stupid receipt to check..

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