Looking over your shoulder to focus on life’s mistakes is futile. The trick is to learn from them and move on.
- No one is immune from financial mistakes.
- Tough lessons can make your life richer.
Making a mistake used to embarrass the ever-lovin’ daylights out of me. It took me a while to figure out that mistakes can be one of the best learning tools in life. I can’t exactly say that I’m proud of the missteps I’ve made through the years, but I can tell you that I’ve learned from them.
Financially, I can look back and pinpoint my 30s as the decade I learned the most. And yes, it’s because of the number of world-class mistakes I made. In no particular order, here are my top five.
1. Embraced lifestyle creep
I loved everything about my 30s. Every. Single. Thing. I loved having kids at home, work I enjoyed, and finally — after getting married as a teenager — having money to spend. My husband and I darn near killed ourselves getting through college while working and raising two babies. In our 30s, it all seemed to come together.
I got to write and he steadily moved up the ranks in the auto industry, first becoming a plant manager and then a vice president of operations. And with every success came a bit more money. We celebrated by spending like sailors on leave.
Rather than earmark new income for investments or retirement, we bought stuff we could have easily lived without. At first, it may have been because we went so long without having money. But after a short time, it just became irresponsible.
It’s one of the biggest regrets of my life. Today, we live below our means and watch what we spend, but what I wouldn’t give to have that decade back. If we’d taken each raise and invested it we wouldn’t have to put so much energy into investing today.
I’ve learned that when we have holes in our lives that we try to fill with “stuff,” we’re never satisfied. And the things we buy, whether it’s a boat or a hot tub, eventually become junk.
2. Tried to impress people
I liked having the nicest house in our neighborhood, and I liked being able to spruce it up whenever …….