My Biggest Money Mistakes

Starting with the worst, here’s a list of the seven biggest mistakes I’ve made with money.

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1. Abdicating responsibility for managing my finances

Sure. I came from a home where dad did all the money making and mom did all the baby baking. But in the interests of calling bullsh*t on myself and all my excuses I relied on for an embarrassingly long time:

Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.


2. Not saving/investing from my very first paycheck

Imagine the astonishing pile of cash my natural-white ass would be sitting on had I harnessed the trio of time, compound interest and discipline. I’m not going to do the Maths, because I think the answer would hurt my heart more than a boy called Philip did when I was in Std 4.

We can’t be boyfriend-girlfriend.

– PHILIP in Std 4

3. Buying the biggest house we could afford

When we were house hunting, we made the classic mistake of buying the most house that our money could buy. It’s a lot of house. And that means a lot of cash, with a lot of years, paying a lot of interest. I love our house down to the ground it stands on, and we could downsize if necessary, but it’s a big administratively-intense ball-ache of a mistake to extricate ourselves from.



4. Withdrawing my Provident Funds to finance further study

Unlike Retirement Annuities, which lock your money away from you until you start losing control of your bladder function, Provident Funds allow you to withdraw your cash. And you pay an eye-wateringly high tax on that money when you do. Hubby says I shouldn’t be so hard on myself, because my studies resulted in a tidy passive income on the side. But I still wish I had tried harder to subsidize my studies through other means. I lost out on decades worth of compounding little cash babies.

If you can’t be a good example, then you’ll just have to be a horrible warning.


5. Spending every cent of my salary

Smart people don’t work for their money, they make their money work for them. And for a very long time, I was ferociously stupid. To make your money work for you, you need to have money in things like investments and retirement savings. If you spend every cent you make right now, you will NEVER have any money left over to put into your future.

No matter who is watching or paying the paycheck, we are ultimately each our own boss.


6. Being scared of the stock market

For too long I allowed myself to believe that investing was complicated, high-risk, and reserved for men in suits who spend a lot of time yelling into phones on Wall Street. Nothing obliterates fear of the unknown faster than knowledge. Turns out a couple of books, blogs and the brilliance of Easy Equities was all it took to demystify the stock market.

The best investment you can make is in yourself. The more you learn, the more you earn.


7. Using my savings to buy pizza for 20+ strangers at 3 in the morning.

Yes. You read that right. And yes. I was victoriously drunk at the time. Beer and budgets do not work well together. Obvz.



But despite all these mistakes…

I still managed to get my ass in gear and get my finances in order. I am living proof that it is never too late to start managing your money. As much as it pains me to look back on my financial foolishness, I view that money as “school fees” for lessons I learned along the way. I could probably assign a monetary value to each of those lessons, but in many ways what I learned was invaluable.

Here’s to knowing better, and then doing better.

– The Money Mom

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