The Worst Financial Decision I’ve Ever Made

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A bad financial decision can make or break you if you're not careful. I share my worst money mistake - financing a 30 foot yacht right out of college.

There was a time in my life, not so long ago really, that I wasn’t quite as frugal as I am today. After college, I fell into the same financial pit that many of us do by trying to finance things I couldn’t afford. The first thing I did when I landed a job after I graduated college was finance a bed, then a couch, and then a car, even though the one I had was just fine.

In the back of my mind, I was never really comfortable with buying these things on credit, but I justified it as “building my credit” and figured it was small potatoes anyway. No big deal, right?

But then I took it up a notch


I met a guy who was really into boating, and I fell head over heels. I had a new boyfriend and started hanging out with all of his boating friends, and I was having a ball. Even though he had the oldest, shabbiest boat on the lake while everyone else had boats worth six figures, we still had as much fun as everyone out there.

But did that stop me from doing something I shouldn’t have? Of course not!

The next thing I knew, I was signing the papers at a bank to upgrade from the old janky boat to purchase finance a 30-foot yacht of my very own, complete with two beds, a kitchen, and a full bathroom. It wasn’t my boyfriend’s new boat, or even our boat, but my boat. I had no idea how to fill the thing up with gas, much less how to drive it. (Do you even call it “driving” if it’s on the water? I still don’t know!)

It Gets Worse


To make matters worse, on top of the actual boat payment (which was more than I paid in rent at the time), I also had to pay for insurance, a wet slip fee that was about as much as an average car payment, and the gas that goes along with it. And that’s just getting started.

Boating, a small weekend event, became the single most expensive “hobby” that I’ve ever gotten involved in and was by far the worst financial decision I’ve made. I spent more on boating than I did on everything else combined. My decision was not exactly frugal, thrifty, or financially prudent, just dumb.

I knew I wasn’t ever really comfortable with my purchase because when people would ask me about it, I’d almost be embarrassed to talk about it. I knew I was a phony because I financed it, and that single purchase very well could have wrecked me financially.

Trying to Keep Up With the Joneses


Boating is an expensive hobby. We were surrounded by many people (executives, CEOs, engineers, a pilot) who could clearly afford the lifestyle.

I was not one of them.

I was an early-20s, fresh-out-of-college girl in an entry-level job with peanuts for a salary, not to mention that I hated my job.

It was not an ideal time to spend a lot of money, especially money that I hadn’t even earned yet. Did I not realize that financing a boat would only further chain me to the job I loathed? Clearly my priorities were out of whack or just completely unrealized.

The Surprise Ending


Luckily this story has a happy ending. I was able to sell the boat about six months later for the amount that I owed on it, and I’m now married to the boyfriend. We both realize now how stupid that purchase was and have grown so much since then, but I look back on that time and shudder to think of what could have happened.

A bad financial decision can make or break you if you're not careful. I share my worst money mistake - financing a 30 foot yacht right out of college.

Bad Financial Decisions Won’t Haunt You Forever


Don’t worry if you’ve made some really bad financial mistakes in the past, because they won’t haunt you forever if you learn from them. The most important thing about those decisions is where they lead you and how you grow from them. This is one dumb mistake that I’ve definitely learned from, so I say cheers to the dumb decisions that make us wiser down the road. 😉


What dumb financial decisions have you made in the past? What lessons did you learn from them? What’s one thing you’ve financed that you regret?

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Robin McDaniel

Robin is a freelance writer who chronicles her financial missteps and victories on her blog


  • Jon @ Money Smart Guides says:

    That certainly could have been an expensive lesson to learn. It’s a good thing you were able to sell it for what you owed.

    For me, my dumb decision was to buy a 2nd car to be used as my bike rack. My car was a small sedan and the bike couldn’t fit inside. Instead of buying a rack for the outside of the car (I refused because of potential scratches!) I bought a used car. Dumbest move ever!

    • Robin McDaniel says:

      Yes, I certainly got lucky being able to get out from under it.
      And I love your bike rack story! It’s so funny how different things seem in hindsight.

  • Holly@ClubThrifty says:

    I know more than a few people who have regretted their decision to purchase a boat! I’m so glad you sold it for what you paid. Hallelujah!

    • Robin McDaniel says:

      I did lose a bit of money since I only got what I owed on it rather than what I paid for it, not to mention how much I blew in that six month period on all the other fees, but I was still thankful to get rid of it.

  • Shanyo says:

    It would have to be a house we purchased years ago – we thought it would be a great place for vacations, and that we might even retire there, but didn’t expect that we’d later relocate to a prohibitive visiting distance. Houses haven’t sold well in that area ever since, and long-term renters allow us to basically break even, but mortgage payments remind us of our folly; even worse: needed sewer work and roof replacement was discovered last month…

    • Robin McDaniel says:

      Yikes, I’m sorry to hear that! Luckily houses can appreciate in the long run, so hopefully you’ll be able to get rid of it in a few years and make a little money on it. I know that being a landlord is terrible when you don’t really want to be one to begin with, though. (I’ve been there!)

  • EL @ Moneywatch101 says:

    Whoa that was a really silly mistake to make, but you sold it and learned your lesson. Kudos to you. I know some people who make mistakes and never learn the lesson. Even though you regret the decision, try to focus on the fun you had during that time. That’s what I do. Good luck.

    • Robin McDaniel says:

      I did have fun and have a lot of great memories. We all have to make some bad financial decisions to learn, though.

  • Kim@Eyesonthedollar says:

    What is it they say about boats? The best two days of owning them is the day you buy and the day you sell? I regret almost everything I’ve ever financed except real estate and college education. The most costly things we’ve financed were new cars every few years and the most stupid was a vacuum cleaner.

  • Kayla @ Femme Frugality says:

    I think everyone makes a bad financial decision now and then. At least you learned from it and are much wiser and back on your feet now.

  • Liz says:

    Let’s see, my financial blunders include three cars, two stock picks, a lazy ex-husband, a “fixer” house, whole life insurance, and way too many vacation trips on the credit card in my 20’s!!!!!! But now I am 43, listen to Suze Orman, and on much better financial ground now. If I can do it, anybody can!

    • Robin McDaniel says:

      The great thing about your list of blunders is that you now realize they were all mistakes. So many people never get to that part!

  • Thias @It Pays Dividends says:

    They always say that the two happiest days of a boat owner’s life is the day they buy the boat and the day they sell it!

    I haven’t had any “horrible” financial mistakes. I am embarrassed to admin, however, that I did fall for the “keeping a balance on your credit card is a good way to grow your credit.” Whoops!

    • Robin McDaniel says:

      Somehow I’ve always managed to never have a credit card balance carry over…but I did finance a boat, so I guess that evens out. 🙂

  • Ramona says:

    Getting a new car on a loan was a pretty bad decision on my part as well. I couldn’t afford it otherwise though and I do plan to use it for as much as it can run, so this will minimize my losses. Not gonna repeat the experience though.

  • Tre says:

    Leasing a car because I couldn’t even afford the payments to buy it. What a waste of money! I had an old car that ran and I bought for cash, but I wanted a new fancy car like all my friends.

    • Robin McDaniel says:

      I’ve been there! I didn’t lease a car, but I had a perfectly working reliable car that I traded for a newer one… with a payment. D’oh!

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