Guest Post: Financial Do-Over

This is a guest post from Marissa at Thirty-Six Months for the 10th Yakezie Blog Swap. This week’s topic is, “If you had one financial do-over, what would it be and why?” Be sure to check out my guest post on her site!

It is so hard to pinpoint exactly one thing that I would do over financially as I have been going over those mistakes repeatedly in my head the last few months. The biggest regret I have is not living within my means, including taking future expenses into consideration. I took money for granted and assumed that I can always earn more if/when I needed it

I was reckless with my finances, which is surprising to everyone, especially me as I have been working since I was 14. Everyone assumes that since I have been used to dealing with money from such an early age I would have had a better system worked out. So not the case. I am embarrassed to say that I have student loans – granted, grad school isn’t cheap but when you work full-time and bartend on weekends you should not have any student loans at all.

How does one graduate with $25,000 of student loans while earning an average of $65,000 a year during school? Let’s find out. For the record, I took a leave of absence from work for a year during which time I got my first student loan.

  • Trips! I love vacations. This took priority over RRSP’s and paying my credit cards in full and savings and emergency funds. How I managed to handle work, school and traveling as much as did, I will never know. I have visited every continent except Antarctica, because well its soooo cold and there isn’t anything to do. Although I thought I was being smart when I used to shop on sites for last min deals and such. It doesn’t matter when the money that used for the trip was on a credit and not paid back in a timely manner.
  • Shoes! Well not just shoes, but clothes, shoes, purses, sunglasses, etc. And I had to have the latest and greatest of everything. I didn’t think about tuition, books, rent, car insurance etc. that still had to be paid that month.
  • Gadgets. I am a techy girl. I remember spending $800 on a cell from the States because no one else had it in Canada and somehow that made it worth it to me.
  • BF/Friends. My ex-boyfriend was super spoiled. I got him everything he wanted. Ironically, he was the saver and didn’t spend a penny unless he absolutely had to. Hence I paid for everything and I really didn’t mind at the time. I should have known better. I love my friends so when their birthdays or Christmas would roll around, they would get fancy presents.
  • Eating out.I am a social person and really liked the idea of meeting different friends for drinks and meals as often as I could. Why I didn’t just invite people over and cook is beyond me.
  • Car. I bought a fancy car based on the colour and the status is symbolized. Bad idea. Although I did manage to pay it off within 3 years. (pat on the back)
  • No sight of a budget. In all honestly I didn’t even think of creating a budget because I was making way more than all my friends. I figured I could afford anything I wanted.
  • No savings plan. I was the poster child for living paycheck to paycheck.

Don’t get me wrong; I had great experiences during school (except my ex) and I feel like I am a bit more cultured during my travels (whatever that’s worth), but I can’t help but feel disappointed that I should be a lot further ahead than I am right now in life. Even though this post makes it seem like I partied and didn’t have a care in the world, I worked extremely hard and studied even harder. My academic performance was very important to me. I didn’t make my future a priority and I regret that.

At an age where most of my friends are buying houses and condos, I moved back home. And that stuff that I spent my hard-earned money on is sitting in my mom’s garage waiting for a garage sale, but I do have a dismal amount in my RRSP (having cashed it out every year to travel).

Marissa blogs about her goal to get out of debt in less than 3 years at Thirty-Six Months. Visit her site to learn more about her debt, savings, and spending strategies.

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