This morning, the collective M-Network group is posting each of their best and worst financial decisions. At the end of this post, there will be a list of direct links to each of the other bloggers’ posts for easy access to the other members’ posts. I encourage you to click through to the other member blogs and read their experiences once you’ve read mine!
I’m going to start with the worst and work up to the best, because I am one of those people that when you ask “Good news or bad news?” I always pick the bad news first to get it over with. And it is more fun to end on a happier note. I don’t think any of these will be a huge revelation to regular readers of the blog, but it’s fun to collect it all together and ruminate on how far I may have come.
I honestly couldn’t pick a single bad decision as the worst, so instead I chose two, one for me singularly and one for my spouse and I as a couple. My independent bad decision was buying my first car. It actually wasn’t a spectacularly bad decision in and of itself, but it reinforced a whole host of wasteful, spendthrift habits that I held onto for over a decade. I got my first real job at 14 washing dishes weekend mornings in a restaurant, and worked my way up from that to prep cook to waitress and early morning cook by the time I was 16. I by and large saved the money I made… in my sock drawer. Literally. Stuffed in socks. What I had against banks I am not sure. And think of what an IRA funded then could be doing by now… but anyway. I saved $6000 by the time I was 16 to buy a car. But instead of buying a used car that cost $6000, I bought a new car that cost $12000 and financed the other half (well, my parents financed it for me, but I paid for it). Ah, that GEO Tracker. I have fond memories of that GEO Tracker. I treated it well and it treated me well in return, I paid off the 3 year loan in two years and kept the car for another 10 besides, but the underlying idea of if you can’t afford it now, pay for it later became part of my life philosophy. I would like to say I did better buying car #2 (still financed a bunch of it but at least it was a good used car instead of new), but that is in large part due to my spouse’s influence, he had been buying used cars all his adult life. I’m still on car #2, and hope to be for a good while yet. Car #3 may actually get paid for in cash if car #2 holds out long enough.
But don’t let my spouse off the hook yet! Worst financial decision #2 is financing a huge portion of our wedding with credit cards, and he is as much at fault for that as I am. A wedding can be a huge expense, and I had all these ideas about how I wanted it to be. We’d heard all the “hype” about how expensive weddings can be, and we decided on a $10,000 budget for our wedding.
With no basis in reality, and no plan for how exactly to pay for it. Just… oh, $10,000 sounds like a good number and we’ll manage it.
We paid for our wedding on our own, with no help from our families. We knew this going into it, and we should have sat down with paper and pencil and loads of facts and calculated out a plan for how to pay for it and what we realistically could afford. Instead we said a random number, paid for what we could, and charged what we couldn’t with this idea that we’d pay it off after the wedding. Long story short, we’ve been married 5 years and we just finished paying off the wedding a few months ago. There was a job loss and relocation involved in our delayed repayment plan, but the truth of the matter is we should never have counted on future income to pay for present expenses, and we should have spent what we could afford not what we wanted to spend.
Our best financial decision was starting this debt reduction process. That includes starting the blog, but it isn’t about the blog itself. I’d actually pinpoint the day in November of 2003 that I sat down with my spouse and we really honestly looked at where we were income-wise and expenses-wise and vowed to make some real changes and stop adding to the credit card debt. Since then, we’ve made vast improvements on the methods, but the day we made the attitude shift is the day we really started to turn things around. It has only improved from there, slowly sometimes, but continually improved.
So that’s me and money in a nutshell! Find out what the best and worst financial decisions for the rest of the M-Network are:
Gather Little By Little: Six Financial Decisions – Don’t Learn the Hard Way
Plonkee Money: My Least Bad and Least Good Financial Decisions
Moolanomy: My Best and Worst Financial Decisions
The Dough Roller: My Best and Worst Financial Decisions
Christian PF: My Best and Worst Financial Decisions
DebtFREE-Revolution: One good financial decision and a whole lotta bad ones
Single Guy Money: My Financial Decisions: The Good and the Bad