Opening up and talking about your finances feels very vulnerable, but it’s a subject that fascinates me. I love reading about other people’s finances, especially if they’ve pulled themselves into debt and back out. It’s like a sneak peek into the things that make other people tick. I’m sure on some level it’s also about the comparisons, the ways we can say “Well at least I didn’t do that…” or “Wow! I wish I’d thought about doing that…”
The one thing I keep reminding myself, especially now that I’m writing my blog, is that personal finance is meant to be personal. Nobody is perfect and we all make mistakes. There are a lot of dumb ways to get into debt and I’m pretty sure I’ve explored them all. One quote I’ve found especially helpful to get me out of that mindset is “Never compare your beginning to someone else’s middle” – Jon Acuff.
Here are some of the few ways I’ve gotten myself into this hole:
Going to College
There is an immense amount of pressure on high school students to go to college. We tell them to follow their dreams and that everything will work out in the end, which isn’t the best advice. Do I think college is important? Yes, but I also believe the cost of attending is incredibly high and some entry-level wages aren’t really high enough to justify the cost.
At the age of 18 I wasn’t ready to move away from home and make the first major financial decision of my life. The first year of college I racked up almost $25,000 worth of debt. Had I gone on to finish school I would have ended up almost $100,000 in debt. I hope to go back one day, but I hope to be a lot smarter about it.
Buying Makeup and Clothes
I’ve always been interested in fashion and make up, but a couple of years ago I got my first well-paying job. At the same time I discovered YouTube beauty gurus. I started justifying my spending by telling myself that I deserved everything I wanted and it snowballed from there. Before I knew it my $10,000 raise went into the pockets of Sephora and Loft.
Every time I think about how much progress I could have made toward paying down debt I want to kick myself, but what’s done is done. I still allow myself a few purchases in these areas, but I mostly make due with what I have and always try to find things on sale. I’ve also unsubscribed from a lot of email mailing list to keep the temptation low.
Car Repairs and Maintenance
The number of car expenses I’ve paid for with my credit card is crazy. Since I REALLY started budgeting back in January and become obsessed with personal finance blogs I’ve read one piece of advice a number of times. It really blew my mind the first time I read it, so get ready, car repairs are not an unexpected expense.
That one piece of advice has forever changed how I think about car related expenses. We all know cars need regular maintenance and we should all be aware of the fact that your car is going to break down. I will admit this is something that I still struggle with, but I’ve made progress. I no longer have to scramble to pay for oil changes or my car insurance because I made a place for it in my budget and make it a point to save money in these categories. (Thanks YNAB)
There are a million other dumb (and not so dumb things) I’ve spent my hard earned cash on. What are some of things you’ve found yourself regretting? Have you had any progress in making over your spending in certain areas lately? I’d love to hear about them in the comments.