I’ve been meaning to do this for a while, since I think it is such a fun concept. Krystal at Give Me Back My Five Bucks and J at BudgetsAreSexy asked what we would do with 3 financial do-overs. All of this, of course, inspired by Adam at Finanical Relationship apparently creating a personal finance money genie.
So I have thought a bit about this, and I realized that these are questions that will most undoubtably change as I get older and more wiser. But so far, for the first 10 years of my life handling my own finances, here are my answers:
1) Not opened up a credit card so young. I did this at 19 or 20 because I wanted to start establishing credit. My first card had a ridiculously low limit and for … oh…. about 4 months I was VERY good with it. Then I started the justification phase “Well, I’m only a college student right now, some day I’ll make a lot more money and then I can pay it off”. Hey, 20-year old SS4BC! Don’t pay for today with the money from tomorrow! Enter in about $12,000 of my $16,000 debt.
2) Bought a different car. Now, I need to buy a car. My first year in grad school I was in a car accident and my 10 year old Ford Escort was beyond repair. I needed a reliable vehicle and since I just started graduate school it felt right to have a new car for a new phase in life. I ended up buying an $18,000 car that now, 5 years later, runs like shit. But the thing is, I spent a lot of the money in that car on things that don’t really matter – leather seats, power locks, sun/moon roof, 6-disc CD player, fancy wheels, ect, ect. I could have bought the “base model” that would get me where I needed to go for only $12,000. Better yet, I SHOULD have bought a 2-3 year old model of that car (or a more reliable car) for even less. ALSO I ended up paying for this car with student loans. I should have bought a car that I could AFFORD to pay the monthly payments for. And if that is only a $5,000 car – so be it.
3) Laser Surgery. Now, just to be clear, I LOVE how it turned out. And I DEFINITELY am glad it was done. The cost of having it done was just unbelievable – and much more than they advertised and I realized it would be. However, the results are pretty awesome. I’ve written a separate post on laser surgery and how much it cost me. All told, I spent $8,000 on this and ran myself financially amok.
And the common theme running through all of these purchases is simple: Don’t pay for things today with money from tomorrow.
And this is something that I’m still struggling with, but I hope I’ve learned a few lessons. Now I know when I go car shopping what I should be looking for, I know not to buy expensive treatments on credit but to wait for the money, and to save so that I don’t have “emergencies” that I need to put on my credit card. And if I don’t make enough money to pay for my lifestyle I need to A) change my lifestyle or B) make more money. And there is no two ways around that!