Now let me get something straight – I am NOT a professional when it comes to money management. I’m not even a professional when it comes to counting. You see, money and I aren’t the best of friends. I don’t have anyone to blame but myself. While I’ve made a slew of mistakes in the past (and I’m not ‘gon lie…I still make mistakes), I like to think that I’m on the come up and I am picking up the pieces of money mistakes that I made in my twenties.
I know I’m not alone. I know I’m not the only person who put a WANT over a NEED or made the dumb decision to buy an overpriced something that they really didn’t need. Yeeeep. We’ve all screwed up. Here are five of my screw ups and how I’ve tried to make things a bit better.
I paid credit card bills late.
I didn’t get my first credit card until I was 21 years old. I was proud of this because when you go to college, it’s as if these credit card people prey on the young and hungry minds of college kids. “FREE PIZZA AFTER YOU APPLY FOR A CREDIT CARD”. It’s all too easy for someone who doesn’t know what APR means. By the time I did get my first credit card (from a credit union and I highly recommended this), I got into the habit of paying the bill late. I didn’t think it mattered much. A payment is a payment, right? Yes and no. Paying = good. Paying late = bad.
I now have a calendar for when my bills are due. I don’t currently have any credit cards but whether it’s a cell phone bill, water bill or student loan payment, it’s on my calendar and I make it my business to pay the DAY it’s due. If for whatever reason I can’t pay, I notify the company to let them know ahead of time.
I thought that student loan payments didn’t matter AS much.
If you don’t have student loan payments, I envy you. I graduated from college almost 10 years ago and I’m still paying for my tuition. It’s ridiculous. Even more ridiculous is how I thought putting my student loan payments in forbearance would get the monkey off of my back. Yeah no. Postponing for years and years doesn’t help. It’s still debt that I owe and it will NEVER go away. Unless I pay it. Obviously, right?
I stopped putting my loans on forbearance and started paying them off. It’s as simple as that. Even if it was only $100 a month, it was better than nothing.
I got a consumer credit card and when the interest-free payments ended, I still hadn’t paid the card off.
This was seriously the WORST money decision I ever made. It happened to me twice which really shows how dumb I was. Instead of being a responsible adult and actually saving up for a MacBook, I put one on a credit card many years ago. I didn’t bother to question what the interest rate would be IF I didn’t pay the computer off in 18 months. I just knew I’d be able to pay it off. Did I? Of course not. Life got in the way and before I knew it, 18 months had passed and I was left with $800 worth of interest payments. I felt foolish. I was foolish.
I no longer get cards like this. If I ever get a credit card again and make a large purchase, I plan to put down a good chunk of the money to the debt. For example, if I want a new camera that costs $1,000, I need at least $500 ready to put down on the card. However, I am perfectly okay with saving the entire $1,000 – such was the case when I purchased my second MacBook last year. I saved up for it and purchased it with cash.
I didn’t budget.
I never learned how to set a budget in high school. Or college. I’ve worked many jobs and when I would get paid, I’d pay my bills. Sometimes I’d save money. Sometimes I’d splurge on a trip or something silly. But I mostly just lived and my financial life had no structure.
I track everything. I track my spending, I estimate how much I plan to make each month (freelancing life…) and I don’t make any purchases just because. Everything is planned. I have a cushion. I get notifications for when things are due. I make honest attempts to save money. I’m not perfect at this but having intention has been such a positive change in my financial life.
I bought things I didn’t need.
Okay, this is a simple one. You’ve probably done it, too. You went out to eat when you had food at home. Your purchased ANOTHER lipstick when you’ve got 3 at home that haven’t been touched. Why do we do this?
If I buy something, I try to sell something. That’s right. I am the queen of selling baby items or anything that has great value that I don’t use anymore. But seriously…I limit what I bring in the house because I am about that minimalist lifestyle and less is sooooo much more.
I am far from where I want to be financially but I’m proud of how far I’ve come.