Disclosure: This blog post was written for The Momiverse, pursuant to their engagement by brightpeak financial. All views expressed are entirely my own, and were not influenced or directed by either the Momiverse or brightpeak financial.
My husband and I have been married for over 19 years now, and we've been through a lot of ups and downs with money. First jobs, career changes, graduate school times two, caring for an elderly parent, kids (including twins/bedrest)–we've had our share. So of course, we've made a lot of mistakes. Thankfully, we've turned things around, and we recently became debt-free except for our mortgage. We've worked so hard the past few years to plan out yearly financial goals and stick to them, and they worked! As we look back, we realized:
Our 3 Big Money Mistakes
- We never adjusted our savings/debt payoff when we had increases in income. With each raise or income tax refund, we bought a few more things for our house, ate out more, saw more movies. Before kids, we didn't cook much at home, and since we both worked long hours, we felt entitled to eat out and “enjoy” ourselves. We never paid more than the minimum on our student loans because the interest rate was so low, even when our income increased significantly. Sigh. Yes, that's the loan we just paid off in August, 11 years later.
- We barely paid into retirement. My husband was 29 before he even had a job that included a retirement account, and we didn't take advantage of any “matching” funds or pay into any other accounts. Since I've been home with my kids (10 years now), I haven't contributed to any retirement funds at all. So now we're both 40, and we're practically starting from scratch. Ugh! Now we're funding two retirement accounts with the hopes of putting three kids through college.
- We didn't educate ourselves. We had no idea what to do once we actually had money. We spent because we were excited to not be poor. We opened a college fund for our son when he was born, but we didn't have a plan for emergencies, long-term goals or paying off our debt. We knew we were supposed to “prepare for the future” but weren't sure how to do that.
So the lesson here is…
We all make mistakes. I spent a lot of our debt-payoff time saying “I wish we'd done this sooner!” but that didn't get us anywhere. I've had to stop focusing on the past and just appreciate where we are now. We're changing our future and our children's future, and that is good. Whether you're in a similar spot or just starting out as a new couple, you can avoid big money mistakes.
So how do you learn what to do with your money?
How do you start out strong, with a focus that lets you live the kind of life you envision?
brightpeak financial is working to reach young families early on–to teach them how to manage their money and protect it–in order to live a purposeful life. brightpeak financial offers education and products to help build stronger families, families who are better prepared to handle uncertain times and enjoy active generosity. Surprises happen to all of us, small ones like car repairs and big ones like sudden job loss or disability. Get connected with brightpeak financial, and learn from their helpful resources, tips and conversations.
For us, one of the best results of becoming debt-free is how it opens us up to give. It opens us up to do lots of things–travel with our children, visit more with family across the country, save for retirement–all without the pressure of paycheck-to-paycheck living. But I am most excited about being able to give more generously than we were before. That makes those early mistakes more easily forgotten!
Willing to share? What is one of your big money mistakes?
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