Ask the Readers: What Financial Mistake Still Haunts You Today?

By Ashley Jacobs on 25 October 2016 54 comments

Editor's Note: Congratulations to Donna, Bayo, and Natasha for winning this week's contest!

Many people enjoy being scared, especially around Halloween. But the "spirits" and "monsters" you encounter at a haunted house generally leave you alone when you exit the house. This isn't the case with financial mistakes that may follow you for years to come.

What financial mistake still follows you today? What steps are you taking to minimize its effects on your life? What have you learned from this mistake?

Tell us about a financial mistake that still haunts you and we'll enter you in a drawing to win a $20 Amazon Gift Card!

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We're doing three giveaways — here's how you can win!

Mandatory Entry:

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If you're inspired to write a whole blog post OR you have a photo on Flickr to share, please link to it in the comments or tweet it.

Giveaway Rules:

  • Contest ends Monday, October 31st at 11:59 p.m. Pacific. Winners will be announced after October 31st on the original post. Winners will also be contacted via email.
     
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Good Luck!

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Guest's picture
Elena

The financial mistake I made was not saving for retirement in my 20s

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Karen Patterson

All the purchases of clothing and shoes that I didn't need nor wear - I wish I had that money back.

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Mami2jcn

When the housing market was booming, we sold 2 houses and made big profits. I wish we would have taken that money and invested it into a business instead of just rolling it over into a new house. The 3rd and 4th houses we sold at a huge loss because of the downturn in the market.

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Jamie DeAngelis

Taking all of my student loans and not paying them back before I graduated. At one point I had over $10,000 in borrowed money in my savings account and ended up spending it all instead of getting a part-time job and I really regret not just sending it right back to the student loan company so it wouldn't be spent.

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Julie Wood

I bought a house I could not afford and lost it. It was a big financial mistake that makes me sad to this day!

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Donna Sako

After my husband died I wanted to use the insurance money to pay off our house. I let the insurance guy talk me into investing it instead. I would have been better off paying of the loan then rather than later with my IRA money. With the insurance money it would have been tax free vs the IRA and I would have saved the interest on the loan.

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natasha lamoreux

Using credit cards hurt my credit score and I am still fixing it now years later.

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Susan Smith

I bought a car with no money down and when I was ready to sell it I was so upside down.

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Gina

Quitting a good job hurt me. I'm working on getting a better job. I learned that even if you hate a job, you should keep it if the pay and benefits are good.

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Sonja Johnson

I regret not contributing enough to get the full employer 401k match at my first job when I was 20. That would have added up to a lot over 45 years.

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Christie

Spending $200 on a chair that only looked good for about 18 months. We finally gave up and ordered something better, but now there's a problem with that. I hate buying new furniture...

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Liz

I don't think there is really anything that totally haunts me, although I'm still young so let's hope it stays that way!

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Abbey Barnes

My most haunting financial mistake was getting a credit card as a freshman in college. I have struggled with bad financial decisions and debt since then. I am now on a journey to being debt free and no longer use credit cards! I think credit card companies should be banned from campuses!

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Michelle

I would say my biggest financial mistake is taking out as many loans as I did for college- If I had been a little financially smarter, I would have gone to a cheaper school. In order to get back to where I need to be, I'm making payments significantly higher than the monthly minimum, and hope to be out of student loan debt within the next 6 months!

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Eddy Cue

Forgetting about a credit card balance and it went to collections! (Long story, I moved and did not receive the letters and notifications). Still have the mark on my credit report for a few more years

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Matthew

Too much Student Loan debt... yikes!

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Monique Hubert

I took some small loans to help me pay for rent during undergrad studies. The balance is not very large, but it's still a balance that I'm paying off now by making it a priority. It just makes my life a little more complicated and weighs on me sometimes. I wish I'd just not taken the loans and just found another way to make it work. I've learned to ask more questions and be more critical of everything since then.

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Mary W

Buying and selling our first house was a disaster. We made every mistake you could. We didn't know any better. This was before the days of the internet so we did no research. We lost a significant amount of money that haunts us to this day. I learned to be more prepared, do research, take more time to make big decisions and don't trust your gut. Trust the facts!

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Natasha

When I was working a second job, I had very low expenses and I didn't need the additional income to survive. I didn't take advantage of that time early enough and wasn't aggressively paying my student loans off. I could have quit that job sooner once everything was paid off and it still bothers me.

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Lisa

My biggest mistake was cashing out my 401K when I switched jobs at 35. I used it to pay off my debt but that left me playing catch up on my retirement savings which I am trying to do 13 years later and probably won't completely catch up on.

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V

I wish I'd been more focused on saving money when I was single, working 80 hour weeks, and had no time for shopping. I would have maxed out my 401k and opened an investment account!

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April

I can't say I have any that have haunted me. Some that i regret but nothing I still think about.

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Kyla

The biggest financial mistake of my life was blindly signing up for student loans to pay for college without spending the time & effort to find scholarships and grants, and without researching a more affordable university! I graduated with almost $60,000 in debt and over six years later I'm still spending an enormous chunk of my monthly income to repay my loans. Luckily, I was recently able to refinance my various loans into one loan with a lower interest rate through Earnest. I now pay more per month on my debt than I used to, but I'm focused on becoming debt-free in less than 5 years from now. Although I still feel really frustrated by some poor financial choices I made before and during college, I'm actually grateful for my debt because it's forced me to learn all about personal finance, managing money responsibly, and saving for the future. I don't know that I'd be as financially savvy as I am today without my past financial mistakes!

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Yvonne

The mistake that still haunts me is emptying out a 401K account I had while in my 20's. At the time I thought I needed the money but in hindsight I could have found a better way. The penalty hit plus the lost earnings that account would have accrued two decades later makes me sick to think about. Fortunately, I smartened up considerably about finances later on and make better choices now.

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Louly

I lived in a really shady apartment complex and took a stand against them charging me for "damages" to my apartment that I did not cause. Unfortunately my credit took a hit because of it.

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Lisa Kreutter

I closed out a $20,000 retirement account in order to pay for moving expenses and the first few weeks of food, etc. before I got paid at my new job. Huge mistake! I wish I still had that money growing and working for me. I tried replacing the money, but was only able to replace part of it. I would not do that again. Big mistake!

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C Hui

I regret not buying a house in a different area. We should have shopped around and spent a little more money.

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Sandra

I will always regret spending most of my savings. Every time I've gotten money, I tend to spend it on stupid items that I think I NEED to have at the time. Now I'm 52 and have very little saved for retirement, as well as a nonworking spouse.

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Natalie

The financial mistake I made was not keeping an emergency fund of 3-6 months of pay in a savings account.

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Catseye

The financial mistake that haunts the most is going to work for a certain now defunct company instead of holding out for a better job. Then I made the mistake of continuing to work there even after I knew it was a lousy company.

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Guest

I could have paid off college loans sooner!

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Susan P.

I regret investing in phone cards years ago when that was a way to "make money".

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TA Nettls

Didn't have any health insurance in college (before it was mandatory) had to have emergency dental surgery and it put it all on my credit cards. Needless to say I did not know how they worked and only paid the minimum for several years. Just recently got out the debt

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Kristi

We took out a second mortgage to start a business that failed and ended up taking money out of retirement to pay off creditors. Took us 7 years to pay it off and still haven't repaid the retirement amount. Worst money mistakes ever.

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Jenny D

I wish we'd never put in an in ground pool. We ordered a kit online, worked all summer DIYing it, and enlisted free help from friends (which saved us a lot of money), but our kids are grown now. It doesn't get used enough to justify the expense for chemicals and running the pump. Plus, I'd love to have the space it takes up for more raised garden beds.

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Michael

For me it was getting a credit card in college. Big mistake!

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Ginger Rose

When I was 30, I cashed out my retirement to help my (now ex) husband start his own business. Biggest mistake I ever made and I've been trying to correct it ever since.

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Ernest S.

Buying a house in 2007 was my biggest financial mistake. I spent may more than I should have. If I had lived more frugally, I could have saved and invested more money, and would definitely be in better financial shape today!

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Rebecca Ross

My husband taking out so many school loans and us not putting more money into paying them off earlier rather than putting extra money towards our mortgage.

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Donna D

not saving more money when we were younger

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Emily S.

I bought a new car, and probably should've went used.

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MelodyJ

I didn't save enough money . Thinking I would have a good paying job even though there was no guarantee of it.

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Christina

I took out loans I didn't need to in college and didn't work to pay them off quickly. I am still paying now and trying to pay them off by the end of next year.

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Suz_Glo

After the stock crash in 2007-08, Apple stock was around $90. I thought about buying but did not follow through. Such a missed opportunity! I am a more educated investor now so I hope I wouldn't make this mistake again.

And I agree with others' comments about all the little purchases made on clothes, shoes and do-dads that I'm sure add up to quite a bit of money. I, too, wish I could get that money back!

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Linda

I regret renting for as long as I did. I ended up putting a lot of money into a place that I didn't own when I should have invested in a house earlier on.

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Alyson

I spent too many years deferring my relatively low balance student loans ($7000) when I didn't have a very good job, instead of paying even a small amount. 13 years later, I have a good job and a balance under $2000, but they're still there.

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Mary Hibbard

The biggest financial mistake I made was in the years when I was single and married, before kids. During these years I was wooed into craving "high-end" things when possible--high end clothes, restaurants, travel, personal items. Now at 51 I realize that all that money was for naught. My husband and I intentionally make all our purchases at a solid "medium end" which includes some items like used cars and second hand clothes, and have found that we have a wonderful lifestyle. There are so many high quality things available at lower prices that almost no high end goods are worth it anymore.

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Lynda

i regret not buying a home when the market was good and i had the down payment. now the homes in the areas i want are too exorbitant.

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Kelli

Getting into credit card debt! I've dug myself out and then done it all over again, and I'm now working hard to hopefully be debt-free for GOOD!

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Ashley P.

I regret wasting money on clothes. I have so many clothes still with tags that I don't know why I bought.

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Marc G

My financial mistake that haunts me is: not having a plan for the money I made when I was in my twenties. I would be much further ahead today.

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SKB

I spent a lot of money on "stuff" such as Waterford bowls and decanters for a lifestyle that I never had.

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Elle

I wish I had saved more money when I was younger and didn't spend so much and instead put it in savings.

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Guest

I regret spending money on stuff - nice stuff like Waterford and Lenox china for a lifestyle that we didn't have. It would have been better to buy stock in decent companies.

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Jeff

keeping money in a low interest bank account as opposed to investing it

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Kristin J

Mine was racking up credit card debt in my 20s.

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Guest

I wish I had started buying stock a lot earlier in life.

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Elizabeth

Bought a house I didn't like believing I could fix it up. But it turned out to be too expensive to fix.

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Happy Love

When I can't find something I need so I buy another one so of course then I end up with multiples.

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Patrick

I regret leaving a job that paid well to do one I thought I would enjoy more. Not only am I still making less, but I dislike this job too.

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Evie B.

I should have started saving earlier.

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Thomas Murphy

Not buying a lot of apple stock years ago still haunts me.

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Tracy

Although it doesn't haunt me, I do kind of kick myself for borrowing from my 401(k). It was for a pre-paid college education plan, so I didn't squander away the month and although it turned out great because I saved a lot on my daughter's college education, I now know it was a silly thing to borrow from my retirement. Things we wish we had known before. :)