Worst Financial Decision You've Ever Made?

Hi Everyone!

On the heels of witnessing a terrible financial decision, I thought it wouldn't be a bad idea to share the worst money handling scenarios you've seen or personally dealt with. I'm hoping to learn from the mistakes of others but I also think it's a great way to look back and see how far you've come/what you've learned.

Personal: Student loans to the tune of $40k. The catch here is, I had a full-ride to college. I was just young and dumb and didn't know I didn't Need loans. It didn't help that my family wanted me to get the loans so they could have a portion. Every cent of interest I pay is because of my own lack of awareness (to put it in very nice terms). Lesson learned: Loans are not my friends.

Witnessed: My Father-in-Law recently retired with $70k in his 401k (his Only savings). He plans to cash it out, pay off all his debts, live comfortably for a year, then find a new job and work for the rest of his life. Lesson learned: I increased my own 401k contributions and savings.

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  • The worst financial decision I've ever made was probably the cumulative damage of all the decisions I just didn't make along the way. I didn't understand the extent of my financial privilege for most of my life, and while never having to worry about money is a good luxury to have it sets you up to make a lot of mistakes as you grow older and become responsible for yourself. It's not like I'm a trust fund baby or anything (if I were, I probably wouldn't think I needed YNAB) but I grew up with enough privilege to know that there would always be money for both emergencies and luxuries. That kind of thinking remained when I became financially independent from my parents, except I wasn't making enough money to afford to think that way (nor did I realize that our financial security as a family wasn't solely due to their combined salaries but also had a little something to do with careful planning and foresight). I hate thinking about how much farther ahead I could be now, if in my mid twenties I had made any attempt what so ever to manage my money. One year I saved 13k in three months while working in the back country (nothing to spend money on out there!) and by the same time one year later I had only 1k in my bank account. Not my proudest moment. 

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      • Olive Branch
      • Librarian/Info Pro
      • olive_branch
      • 1 yr ago
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      Kombucha Kid Your history resonates with me - came from a similar place, family income sufficient to keep the wolf from the door, earned, in my case, by Depression-era parents eager to shield ther kids from deprivation. Cue years of non-decisions - times a few decades for me. 馃檮

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      • Kombucha Kid
      • Slate_Gray_Router.1
      • 1 yr ago
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      Olive Branch I just read your journal post and it hit home on so many levels! I struggle to simultaneously acknowledge my privilege and articulate the ways it's left me kind of clueless without sending like a whiny entitled brat. But that some privilege still gives me easy access to tons of financial institutions and knowledge that are necessary to getting myself back on track. 

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    • Kate
    • Joyful Technical Writer 馃尨
    • sweet_sunshine
    • 1 yr ago
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    I put the college tuition payments that I couldn't cover with my student loans on my credit card. 

    Definitely not my finest moment...

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    • Kate Yay for education! I say with a grain of salt (from behind my own $40k worth of student debt)... were you ever able to refinance those loans? I've heard horror stories about Navient and other student loan providers, but under 10% beats over 20% when it comes to interest every time.

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      • Kate
      • Joyful Technical Writer 馃尨
      • sweet_sunshine
      • 1 yr ago
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      Til Debt Do Us Part No, I've never refinanced my student loans. I've never really thought to. I only owe about 14k and I just kind of want to buckle down and pay it all off in the next two years. 馃槀

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  • My husband got a small inheritance when his mother passed. Originally, we planned to use the majority of the money on a down payment for a home but since we hadn't decided where we wanted to live long-term we didn't save the money. Instead it was used to pay for vacations, a down payment on a car and living well above our means for about two years until it ran out and our reality hit us like a brick - thank God for YNAB!

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    • Nina Shelly It's Astounding how money can run through your fingertips like water when you aren't budgeting

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  • Quit a job and moved across the country without having a new job lined up.

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      • Til Debt Do Us Part
      • Divorcing Debt - Not Each Other
      • debt_do_us_part
      • 1 yr ago
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      MoneyMonster I did this, too! While I don't regret it, I have to admit that it was a very dumb decision! 馃檲

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  • I worked as a missionary for ten years. At the time, I didn't think I had enough money to save for retirement. Now that I understand the numbers better, I could have, at the very least, had $20 a week withdrawn from my account into a Roth IRA. Ten years of missions x 52 weeks a year x $20 = $10,400 investment, which would have been thousands more by now. 

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      • Til Debt Do Us Part
      • Divorcing Debt - Not Each Other
      • debt_do_us_part
      • 1 yr ago
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      puddlejumper24 I hate looking back at all the money I once had and let slip through my fingers with less than to show for it *sigh*. Doing much better now makes me feel slightly better but, it still hurts to think about

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      • Olive Branch
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      • olive_branch
      • 1 yr ago
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      Til Debt Do Us Part The regret can be really painful at times. I would be in a much better place at this point in my life had I not spent my 30s and 40s thinking it didn't matter what the dollars were doing because surely there would always be some left...

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  • Rolling a small defined benefit government pension into an RRSP (401K for you US people) and then letting my husband buy Nortel stock with it.  (US - think WorldCom). How to turn $20K into nothing.

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