“How are you so good with money?”
Friends ask me this constantly. The truth is that I’m not that good with money. I make all kinds of mistakes. I spend more money than I should. I make the same mistakes repeatedly. If you followed me around for a day, you would wonder how I ever managed to save any money. I don’t follow your typical rules when it comes to budgeting. I’ll buy you a coffee if we’re hanging out.
Since I was quick to point out my best investments recently, let’s flip the script today. Let’s look at some of my biggest financial mistakes…
I don’t want you to feel guilty about blowing money. Nobody’s perfect with their finances. It’s easy for us personal finance bloggers to share our highlight reels and write about how awesome we are. It’s important for us to share our mistakes with you too so you don’t think that we’re perfect.
You never see me preaching about saving money on coffee. You’ll never see me writing about how going out is bad for you. Why? I love this stuff. I don’t want to wear used clothing nor do I want to stay in. I end up breaking most of the boring personal finance rules. I also don’t follow the standard rules that you might think all finance people believe in.
Check out the Studenomics TV episode on this topic…
Here are stupid things that I’ve done with my money over the years…
Buying stuff that I don’t need or even like.
I hate most things and I try to avoid shopping if I don’t have to. I’ve still managed to somehow buy things that I don’t need or even like.
How does this happen?
- Setting up my credit card with online retailers. Do you know how easy it is to buy clothes when it’s on sale at Under Armour? Do you know how convenient it is to buy a bunch of items on Amazon when your credit card is automatically saved?
- Shopping out of boredom. I’m guilty of shopping out of boredom. I’ll go to the mall to walk around and I leave with a new hoodie.
What’s the solution?
I try to keep myself busy. Most of us spend money out of boredom or because it’s too easy. I try to occupy myself so that I’m not looking for something to do.
Not planning properly.
I see some personal finance bloggers planning out every single detail of their finances. I can’t do that. I can be the worst at planning. I try to wing it in all aspects of my life.
How have I lost money by not planning?
I’ve gone on trips without setting a budget. I’ve attended conferences without setting a budget. I didn’t realize how much everything cost until I checked my credit card balance at the airport on the way home.
I’ve also made big purchases with zero thought. I remember buying an expensive Macbook Air in Budapest because my laptop died and I wanted a quick fix.
What’s the solution?
I need to plan better. I wing it too often in life. I know myself well enough to admit that I’ll never be sitting around with a spreadsheet out. I just have to think about expenses before they hit me.
I’m ruthlessly organized in some ways and a total mess in other aspects of my life. I’m always overwhelmed when it comes to completing my taxes. I’ve even misplaced my property taxes form in the past. I did nothing about it for months and then I got dinged with late fees. This could’ve easily been avoided.
How has being disorganized cost me money?
- Not paying bills on time. I tend to forget to pay bills on time. I try to automate most of my payments, but the ones that can’t be automated get forgotten about.
- Losing important documents. I’ve lost documents that I had to pay for.
- Paying for services that I no longer use. I’ve checked my Paypal balance to see that I’ve been paying for services that I haven’t used in years.
What’s the solution?
In the perfect world I’ll become more organized. In reality, I sometimes just want to get to the next day. The trick here is to have a system that makes it easy for you to track everything. I have a folder in my room that I use to track my tax documents so that I don’t lose anything important again.
Going out too much.
“Let’s go for a quick drink.”
Life lesson: it’s never a quick drink!
I’ve gone through phases where I would party from Wednesday to Saturday like it was a full-time job.
I’m not here to preach to you. I would never lecture you about how you could save money by always staying in. I’m a night owl and love to be around people. I love to socialize. I’ve spent more money than I even want to think about on going out.
What’s the solution?
Around 2014 I calmed down because I got into BJJ training and pro wrestling. I couldn’t go out hard anymore.
I need to focus on my goals. The one thing that keeps my calm is Studenomics, my various online ventures and my training. It’s more important these days for me to be fresh in the morning for a workout than it is to hit a club. I don’t want you to feel bad if you’ve spent money on going out.
If you find yourself going out too much it could be because you don’t have any goals to keep you excited about something other than catching a quick buzz.
How do I manage to save money then?
You’re probably wondering as to how I’ve managed to save any money.
There are three things that have saved me throughout all of these years…
1. Pay myself first.
I always put money aside first. I use the Cancun Technique to save money and the Houdini System to keep my money. I make sure that I put something away every week. I then try to ensure that I don’t have access to this money. I find that it’s usually impossible to spend first and then save. I save and then I leave money aside for fun spending. I don’t want to feel guilty about buying a round of drinks or picking up a new hoodie for the gym.
2. Focus on making more money.
I try to make more money. I focus my energy on finding ways to increase my income so that I don’t have to stress about every expense in my life.
This is the same logic that I apply to my fitness. I would much rather eat pizza and then train a little harder in the gym the next day because I don’t want to miss out on all of the fun in life.
With more money, you have more options. The harsh truth is that nobody will ever be perfect with their spending. We all have flaws. We all enjoy treating ourselves. While it’s important to save money, we can’t feel too guilty about spending a few bucks.
3. Set targets.
I was forced to kind of get into personal finance at 20. I purchased a pre-construction condo and I had payments to make every year until the condo was built. I had to come up with the money. This forced me to learn about setting targets. I knew that I needed to have $10,000 in my account or else I was going to lose my property potentially.
I try to set targets for different aspects of my life. I can’t save money for the sake of saving money.
These aspects include:
- Retirement. I’m always funding my retirement accounts because I don’t want to work forever. I know that saving for retirement isn’t the sexiest thing, but being able to retire young is pretty cool.
- General savings. I have goals for my savings account that vary depending on what I plan on doing in the near future.
- Travel. I love to travel and I use extra money that I make to fund my travel account. I try to keep a separate account for travel so that I stay motivated to care about personal finance even when it gets boring. The thought of going on a trip in the near future often is enough motivation to save money.
That’s how I manage to save money despite making plenty of mistakes in my financial life.
I want to hear from you guys now. It’s your turn to join in on the fun.
What are some money mistakes that you’ve made in the past or are still making?
Try to laugh at your mistakes while you focus on improving your finances for the future.