The Three Biggest Financial Mistakes I’ve Made In My Twenties

| March 16, 2012 | 11 Comments

This is a guest post from Katie from Along for the Journey. Katie is a 25-year-old mother to two girls. She is currently pursuing her accounting degree and blogs at Along for the Journey about her financial mistakes and aspirations.

My financial journey didn’t always start out strong. I’m happy with where I am at now but I’ve made a lot of mistakes a long the way. Instead of beating myself up about all of the dumb decisions I’ve made, I’d rather learn from them (and maybe someone else can too). These are the biggest financial mistakes I’ve made so far in my twenties…

Getting Credit Cards

As I look back on the day I received my first credit card offer, I am now baffled. I honestly felt privileged that a company was willing to lend me money and I sure wasn’t afraid to spend it. I didn’t stop with the first credit card offer – I accepted the first three. Luckily, all of my credit limits were low, totaling only $2,500 combined. Of course that doesn’t mean that I paid them off quickly. As soon as the balance went down I would charge them back up. The interest rates on these cards all hovered at around 19%.

If I would have saved all of the money I paid on these cards I could have started out financially sound, instead of just scraping by. About a year ago I read my first personal finance book. It was Dave Ramsey’s The Total Money Makeover. Reading that book changed the way I looked at my finances, especially debt. I have finally paid off all the credit cards and have taken a vow not to use credit cards as my spending money. Lesson learned.

Not Having Health Insurance

A month ago my husband had some serious health issues. He went to the hospital with chest pains and ended up getting care flighted to another hospital. We are very fortunate that he is all right but we now have medical bills upwards of $54,000. Being young I have never put much thought into getting health insurance. My husband and I are both healthy, but you really never know what can happen. With neither one of our employers’ offering health insurance I thought I couldn’t afford it on my own. Now I know health insurance is something that I cant afford to be without.

Not Saving Enough

Saving money is something that I always said I would get around to; it just didn’t happen that way. I would put $100 a month in a savings account just to withdrawal it a few days later. Last year my husband dug a trench in our yard and accidentally skimmed an electrical wire. The wire became cracked and we started having trouble with our electricity. The electric company came out and charged us $775 to fix it. I had very little money in savings and had to resort to putting that $775 on a credit card. If I would have had enough cash to cover the unexpected problem, I could have avoided paying interest.

I’ve now started setting small, concrete goals for myself and I am just a few hundred dollars away from finishing my emergency fund. Although this money may have to be redirected toward our medical emergency, I am still happy with the progress I have made.

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Category: Learning New Things

Comments (11)

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  1. Daisy says:

    I’ve definitely made some financial mistakes. Mine would probably be getting my first credit card before I was ready for it. I was only 18 and I spent way too much on it.

    • I got my first credit card at 18 as well. Isn’t that weird how we jump at the first chance we get to sign up for those stupid things? I remember I did it because I was eager to build credit right away. I’m not sure why.

  2. Tony says:

    Joining AmeriCorps lol

  3. bogofdebt says:

    Some of my biggest mistakes involve an ex–I paid for everythng in college (or at least the majoirty of it) and ended up with very little savings. And usually anytime that I tried to save money, I had to pull it back out for “needed” things. Not having health insurance was a big one as well.

    Also, good luck to both of you in the Challenge. I just joined the other day!

    • Katie says:

      Those “needed” things tend to pop up a lot when we first start trying to save.

      Good luck with the Challenge to you also!

  4. Kari@Small Budget Big Dreams says:

    I would say that one of my biggest mistakes in my early twenties was not asking for more money at my first real job.

    @ Tony, I was also an Americorps volunteer, and when I finished my year of service I had no idea how much I was “worth”. When they offered me a low ball number I jumped at the opportunity and later realized I should have negotiated. It was a good company, but I still feel “used” years later.

  5. Kraig, I read your story on your about page. Great job righting the ship. Getting credit cards and even getting more than one was my biggest mistake. My wife and I are trying to unpack ourselves from all this debt. She just started working in feb as she was home with our kiddies. I hope to right the ship ASAP!

  6. smplyamzng says:

    My top three were of course credit cards, getting swindled out of car accident insurance payout by a shady chiropractor and getting involved with the IRS for not paying enough taxes. The chiropractor took the whole 10k that was for my medical bills leaving me owing the hospital out of pocket. I had a cheap tax company doing my taxes who were somehow able to get me alot of money back even though i had no tax write offs. IRS came back and bit me in the butt.

    The only bright side to all of this is that all of these combined are less than 10k and even less if i work out a deal with them. I wish i had received better financial advice before i entered the real world. I am now 29 and my goal for the next 10 years is to eliminate most if not all of my liabilities and replace them with assets. Parents please give your kids “sensible” financial advice.

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