I hope you can learn from the money mistakes I made in my 20s and avoid them so you have more money to save and invest!
The following mistakes focus on money management skills, decisions, and missed opportunities. Some are related to everyday financial decisions and I expand on a couple investing faux pas.
I’d like to believe I’m financially literate as I grew up being afraid to make financial mistakes while enjoying saving and making sure my bills are correct and paid on time so I’m not going to have the typical money mistakes many millennials might run into like too much student loan debt, carrying credit card balances, or buying expensive coffee at Starbucks.
My money mistakes have more nuance to them. I’m the type of person who doesn’t like making mistakes, so I’ve developed self-discipline to avoid most pitfalls but I still make mistakes like everyone else.
- Lacking bankable specific technology skills in my early 20s so I didn’t earn much back then, like maybe I should have gotten software development or cybersecurity or engineering skills. But I’m happy with the skills that I have developed so I don’t regret this. And I can always learn more new skills!
- Running out of money while studying abroad in Japan, so I had to dip into my Roth IRA to survive on Japanese dollar store food and pay for my educational expenses. Whoops! At least I had a blast in Tokyo, watching the best fireworks show of my life and being immersed in Japanese culture and history while I was there.
- Paying for the extra car warranty on a reliable Japanese car and paying too much for car maintenance at the dealership, which I thought was the right thing to do, until I found reasonably priced mechanics and save so much more now. I only do the necessary maintenance and when there’s a repair needed, I get a few quotes to arrive at the most sensible outcome.
- Paying too much for car insurance. I’d been on the same family policy for years that had been costing me much more in premiums, until I finally shopped around. It might be trite, but like that ad of 15 minutes or less (in my case spending probably 30 minutes to look around), actually saved me not just 15% but 50% on car insurance! I could have been saving hundreds or thousands of dollars years sooner!
- Lacking the discipline to track my spending and investment progress until I was in my mid 20s but I’m glad I’ve committed to the spreadsheet life. If I would have done a better job of tracking, I would have likely gotten out sooner from some lackluster stocks I bought when I was 18 or 20. I felt like I didn’t have a good methodology of investing until I came upon the Warren Buffett style of investing that I discuss in many other videos. It’s not a mistake to not know how to invest, but I wish I could have become enlightened in my earlier rather than later 20s but I’m glad I learned when I did!
- Not having health insurance in my early 20s for a brief period of time and then getting injured, but luckily I had healthcare professionals in my life that patched me up otherwise this could have been bad. On a separate occasion, paying too much for an X-ray when I thought I might have injured my hand playing rugby, I should have shopped around but because I was afraid of having a broken hand, I just paid the cost of the X-ray that the first in-network doctor prescribed.
- I’ve always taken advantage of the 401k match, but the mistake was contributing pre-tax money because I wanted to have more in my paycheck. Watch why I think Roth IRA is superior to Pre-Tax and Post-Tax 401k and Traditional IRA.
- Being afraid of the Dotcom bubble happening again and avoiding investing in tech companies even though I’m tech savvy. I’m still working on improving this unforced error on my part by trying to better understand the economic fundamentals of tech companies.
- Wishing I could have worked at more public companies where I could participate in their stock investment programs. This is a somewhat hidden opportunity cost, but it’s also not guaranteed that one would have worked at a public company whose stock is worth owning.
- I don’t wanna be a miser! Instead of trying to pay the absolute least for food, often the second to third cheapest items are much healthier options. So I try to do this more now and not feel like I have to go with the absolute cheapest option possible. I’m much happier with paying slightly more for higher quality, and this mindset carries over to investing also. It’s not about finding cigar butts but finding wonderful businesses at a fair price as Charlie Munger says.
- Bonus: Paying too much for the obstacle race Tough Mudder, I think I paid like $200 because it was close to the registration deadline but that’s the first and last time I did it. If you are into these types of races, it saves a lot to do the early bird pricing. But I definitely don’t regret doing the race and eating a one pound burger afterward!
I look forward to making more investor friends! Add me on Instagram: michellemarki 🙂
If you’re interested in learning how to take control of your finances and start becoming an investor like Warren Buffett, check out my free PDF guide.