My Biggest Financial Regrets - blurred out picture of a membership gym room

My Biggest Financial Regrets

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I must be depressed today.  Maybe, I am just in the mood to dwell a little in the past.  Anyway, I’ve been thinking about my biggest financial mistakes.  Sure, I fixed them and have moved on from them, but I occasionally get annoyed at my own – albeit past – stupidity.  I have made so many bad choices that it makes my head spin.  Luckily, I have managed to learn from them and am determined to not make the same mistakes again.

Financial Regret #1: Gym Membership

I am burning up just thinking about it.  Two and a half years ago, we were feeling all out of shape.  We were hellbent on getting buff and sexy and decided to join our local gym.  At $68 per month for the two of us, it wasn’t that bad of a deal.  We figured that if we could get ourselves there a few days a week, it would be a pretty decent bargain.

However, I got pregnant shortly after that.  As Greg can testify, I don’t do crapola while I’m pregnant.  I don’t cook.  I don’t clean.  I mostly just eat and complain.  So, we didn’t really make it to the gym during my pregnancy.

After my pregnancy, we still didn’t make it to the gym.  We still don’t go now.  OK, maybe we go every other month.  Every time I go I can’t help but think, “This one visit is costing me 68 freaking dollars!”  Somehow, the thought of what I am paying ruins the entire experience for me.

It gets worse.  Our membership contract should have expired last December.  Idiotically, we forgot to cancel it and, thus, it automatically renewed for another year!  WTF! I asked them to show me the paperwork where I agreed to this aggravating stipulation.  What I found was that I initialed this tiny little paragraph that stated that the contract would automatically renew for another year if we didn’t cancel it in writing 30-days prior to the its expiration.  In the end, it renewed and there was nothing I could do about it.  So…it’s still going on…costing me $68 per month.  Thankfully, I am cancelling it this time, and we will be out of this mess come January.

Financial Regret #2: My Kirby Vacuum

Believe it or not, I got sucked into buying an $1,100 vacuum from a door-to-door salesman.  Hell, I must have been bored that day.  He showed up, vacuum in hand, and asked me if he could do a demonstration.  Sure, why not?  I let him in and he started showing me how incredibly dusty my house was.  That Kirby sucked up piles of dirt and dust, and I could not believe it.  I thought my house was really clean!  I was wrong.  Mortified, I bought the vacuum from him.

I have to admit that it is really a nice vacuum.  I actually really like it but it still wasn’t a well thought out decision.  Worst of all, I actually financed it for one year!  How stupid is that to be making payments on a vacuum?  Luckily, it was one year with zero interest, so I paid it off within that year.  Now, the vacuum doesn’t bother me as much.  It’s still embarrassing but it does work great and cleans a variety of surfaces with ease.

Financial Regret #3: My First Car

Biggest Financial Regrets
The biggest financial mistake of my life: my 2002 Mitsubishi Gallant.

I have written about this before, but feel that it must be revisited.  I bought my first car while I was unemployed.  Seriously, I didn’t have a job and had no way to pay for it.  I’m not really sure what I was thinking, or if I really even had a plan.  What I did know was that I wanted to look cool.  What I didn’t know was that looking like I had money didn’t mean that I actually had any.  Fortunately, I paid off the giant loan and didn’t let it ruin my credit. What stings is, when I finally sold the car, I sold it for 10% of its purchase price – $2500.  Ouch.

While buying this car qualifies as a huge financial regret, I did learn from the experience.  I learned that buying a new car is stupid.  I learned that I hate car payments.  I learned that car dealerships are more than happy to give a loan to someone who is unemployed.

Everyone has financial regrets.  The question is, did you learn from them?  Can you see where you went wrong?  Are you going to make different choices in the future?  I know that I am.  I will never buy an $1,100 vacuum again unless it also does laundry and watches my kids.  I will NEVER EVER buy a new car again.  Actually, I will never have a car payment of ANY kind again.  Also, if I ever want to get buff again, I will just buy some used exercise equipment off of Craigslist.org.  Really, there is no reason to make a 1 or 2-year commitment to a gym unless you are 100% sure that you will use it – especially if you have kids.

I’m certain that I have learned from my mistakes and plan on never making the same mistakes again.  Have you?

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23 Comments

  1. Great points! Even after you pay off a stupid debt, and climb from the financial wreckage, it still hurts to have been through it at all.

    We did our debt-free scream on the Dave Ramsey show a few months ago, but still have $250,000 to go on a first mortgage on a home in Florida that is worth $150,000.

    Talk about BIG financial regrets! We paid off “everything but the house” and it STILL hurts! Every day we wake up here!

    1. Wow, that would hurt!

      But, at least you are smart enough to stay put, pay off your house, and not ruin your credit.

      We too, are debt free besides the house. It feels good but we still have quite a ways to go. Luckily, we live in an area with stabilized housing prices so the housing bubble didn’t affect us much.

      Good luck paying off your house! That will be great!

  2. There’s nothing wrong with buying a new car (or a used car). The difference in price is compensation for risk of having a lemon. http://nicoleandmaggie.wordpress.com/2010/09/27/how-the-used-car-market-is-like-health-insurance/

    The important thing is to only buy what you can afford and not have high interest debt. It’s also a good idea not to go into debt for depreciating assets (like a car), though sometimes that is necessary because the appreciating asset is one’s own human capital. That is, early on, it makes sense to take out a car loan if that’s the only way you’re able to get to work. (But it still doesn’t make sense to finance more car than one needs.)

    1. Sure, there is nothing wrong with buying a car. However, I bought my first car ten years ago for $25,000….and I was unemployed! It was really really dumb. Luckily I paid it off and learned my lesson.

      I have a car now (actually a minivan). The difference is that I don’t have a car payment and I don’t have to plan my life around finding ways to pay for it. I just have to maintain it and put gas in it. It makes life a lot easier!

      I will never buy a car on credit again. I don’t like having car payments.

      Have you had that baby yet?

        1. There is nothing more precious than bringing your baby home from the hospital. Those are some of the happiest memories of my entire life. I’m very happy for you. Enjoy every minute!!!

  3. I just listed some of my biggest finiancial mistakes 😉 I look at a stack of books that I spend over $200ish on (seriously why did I buy them!!!) and haven’t read. I’m bound and determined to read them before giving them to the library or selling them at my local bookstore. I held on to the keys of my first car (big mistake even if it was paid for in cash) as a reminder to not do things without thinking them through.

    1. Can you sell some of your books? It seems like when I buy books on amazon.com that there is typically a “used” option. I have never done it so I’m not sure how that works.

      That is a good idea to hold onto the keys! I definitely couldn’t afford my first car. I didn’t think it through at all.

  4. Our gym membership was only $32 a month for the both of us, and I still cringe when I think about it! What a waste.

    Also, my friend used to sell $3,000 Rainbow vacuums. He made a killer off people.

    1. I’m sure he did make a lot of money off of suckers like me =)
      I do love the vaccuum though. I’m glad I have it now.

      I haven’t been to the gym in at least 2 months. I went ahead and paid off the rest of the membership just to get it over with. They aren’t getting any more of my money again!

  5. thewildwong says:

    Holly, I’m with you. I, too, tend to dwell (too much) on my financial mistakes. For example, if I end up buying something, and then I see it somewhere else for even a couple of bucks cheaper, it irks me for a while afterward, and I kick myself for not doing due research. I like your line, “Maybe I am just in the mood to dwell a little in the past.” At least for me, it sometimes it helps to dwell, in order to fully realize my mistakes. But what usually snaps me out of it is realizing that if I continue to dwell, the mistake is still costing me–maybe not money, but my time.

    1. Thanks for writing! Yeah, it definitely isn’t worth wasting too much time on!!!

      1. Also, I look forward to reading your posts at GRS!!!

        1. thewildwong says:

          Thanks 🙂 Been perusing your site and I really dig it!

  6. I will never forget the day when the vacuum lady came to our house! We were total suckers!!!! The awesome thing is that even though her presentation was quite impressive, we had just started our budget and had no room for a 2,000 dollar vacuum. It’s ok, we all make mistakes and as long as you learn from them it’s alright 😉
    -Nurse Frugal

    1. Very true! I do love my Kirby though and I did get the price down to $1100. I think the “starting price” was around $2000 and we worked our way down from there. Although I love it, a regular $100 vaccuum from Wal-mart probably would have been fine. Oh well….. =)

  7. I made the mistake of getting an expensive new car too. With how much value it loses it just isn’t worth it. Next time I’ll go used and take the time to bring it to a mechanic before handing over money.

    As for the vaccuum, those salesmen must be pretty slick because I’ve heard of other people splurging on those pricey models when they really weren’t in a position to spend so much on something like that.

    It’s good that you learned from these mistakes though. Sometimes you can’t really appreciate the consequences until you actually go through something.

    1. Yeah, I definitely learned from my mistakes!!!

      Luckily, when we bought our new(er) Prius, I actually had the money to pay for it this time. I have to say that it hurts to actually pay $17,000 for something as opposed to financing it over 5 years. Ouch! It stung for sure but it’s a great car and I am now determined to drive it until the wheels literally fall off.

      Mv vaccuum…..well, that was just stupid =)

  8. I definitely tend to dwell too much on past mistakes as well. Several years ago my husband was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes and of course exercise was one of the things we planned to focus on. Instead of buying a gym membership we bought a home gym for $3700. Stupid!! Stupid!! Stupid!! We used it for a while, stopped, started again, but never on a regular basis. Then it was time to move and it took forever to take apart and move. In January of this year we sold it on Kijiji for $1500. Did I say stupid??

    1. I hope you at least got to hang your clothes on it for a while?!?!?!

      No, but seriously. At least you got SOMETHING out of it. It’s better than nothing which is what I am getting out of ending my gym membership. Oh well…. We all do stupid things sometimes =)

  9. Usually you can pay a couple hundred dollars to get out of a gym membership. If you don’t plan on using it, it might be a cheaper option to pay the termination fee.

    1. I paid it off for the rest of the year since there are only 6 months left. During that time, I plan on using it if I want to. At least now at this point I won’t have to pay the monthly fee anymore. Those days are over!!!

      I do sometimes like to walk a little on the treadmill or sweat in the sauna. Oh well, lessons learned!

  10. I can’t say that I have any financial regrets aside from researching companies in which to invest and then they don’t turn out as expected.

    I DO however regret a career move I made a few years back. It was the worst 2.25 years of my life. (Working for an evil mom n’ pop)

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