What financial mistakes do 30-year-olds regret the most?
I asked my friends, ex-officemates, high school and college batchmates recently and these are their top answers.
Saving and Spending Mistakes
#1 I regret not learning how to budget my money early.
“I used to spend my income on whatever I want because I lived with my parents. But now that I’m living on my own, I’m finding it hard to budget my money to pay for my rent and other living expenses. If I had learned budgeting early on, I know I won’t be having these much difficulties.”
#2 I wish I didn’t procrastinate on building an emergency fund.
“In my 20s, I assigned my credit cards as my emergency fund. That was a big mistake – A BIG MISTAKE. If only I got into the habit of saving early, I know I wouldn’t be in so much credit card debt now.”
#3 I regret spending like there’s no tomorrow.
“I spent during payday like it was Christmas. It was nice and fun at first, but after a few years, regret suddenly comes when you hear friends quitting their jobs and starting their own businesses, while you’re still stuck at being an employee, with no savings.”
#4 I regret going into credit card debt.
“Treating credit cards as free money was the biggest financial mistake I did. I had to quit a good-paying job to save face back then because collection agencies were calling my office and it was embarrassing to my colleagues, and most especially, to my boss.”
#5 I wish I didn’t learn how to borrow money from friends.
“I was blessed with generous friends whom I can always borrow money from. They won’t charge interest and would even let me pay whenever I can. I’m no longer friends with them. They started to ignore me when they found out I usually just spend the money to go out on weekends.”
#6 I now realize that keeping up with fads and trends was pointless.
“I used to spend all my money on the latest fashion trends, and the newest mobile phones. After years of doing this, I now have a closet of outmoded clothes, a pile of obsolete gadgets and no savings in the bank.”
#7 I regret upgrading my lifestyle beyond what I could afford.
“One time, I got a P2,000 salary increase from my boss. The next day, I enrolled in a gym with a P2,500 monthly membership. Who in their right mind would do that, right? Well, that’s how stupid I was back then – to think I am an engineering major.”
#8 I wish I didn’t ignore the reality of inflation.
“I get at least 10% salary increase every year while according to reports, the Philippine inflation rate is around 4% – so that means I’m okay, right? WRONG! A person’s inflation rate is always much higher. I own a car, and fuel prices alone have increased around 7% every year. That’s why I’m now wiser and monitor my spending.”
Income and Career Mistakes
#9 I wish I didn’t became complacent with having my salary as my only source of income.
“I used to think I was a valuable employee and I had a long career ahead of me in the company. That was until they decided to cut costs and had to let me go. Thinking that my job was secure and I could live the rest of my life as a salary-earner was the biggest financial mistake of my life.”
#10 I regret not starting a business when I had the chance.
“I’m now married with kids and cannot easily quit my job to start a business. Looking back, I wish I had the courage to go into entrepreneurship when I was still single and living with my parents because I could afford to take higher risks back then.”
#11 I wish I hadn’t stopped learning.
“When I graduated college, I thought I had already said goodbye to books and classrooms. Now, I see my peers having better careers and higher paying jobs because they continued to invest in their education through self-study and attending skills-improvement seminars.”
Financial Planning Mistakes
#12 I wish I got into the habit of organizing my financial documents early.
“As weird as it sounds, I wish I learned how to properly manage my financial documents early. Just the simple act of organizing my bills and receipts now allows me to monitor my expenses and not miss payment deadlines, which can be costly if you do.”
#13 I regret not learning about investments early.
“I always thought investing is only for the rich, but I was wrong. If I had learned about the stock market and mutual funds when I was in my 20s, I know I would have enough capital now to start my own business and wouldn’t have to take out loans to buy a car and a house.”
#14 I wish I didn’t ignore the future financial needs of my parents.
“I’m part of the sandwich generation and the health and medical expenses of my parents is making a huge dent on my finances. If only I had enough foresight that this would happen, knowing that my parents failed to plan for their retirement, then I wouldn’t be in so much financial difficulty right now.”
#15 I wish I had set long-term financial goals when I was in my 20s.
“My life priorities changed when my first son was born, now I’m inspired and motivated in giving him a good financial future. But when I think about it, if only I had known about the importance of having long-term goals a decade ago, I know my life could have been better today.”
#16 I regret going into debt for a wedding.
“Oh to be young and clueless about life and love. Me and my husband wanted to have the perfect wedding, so we removed all the stops and spent more than we could afford. The debt we incurred put a lot of strain in our relationship, which made the first few years of our marriage difficult.”
#17 I wish I hadn’t spent partying every weekend when I was in my 20s.
“I used to spend every weekend in bars with my friends, drinking and partying all night. Now, I regret not taking the time to travel and experience other things that life had to offer. I felt I wasted so much money on alcohol when I could have saved the money instead to see the world.”
#18 I wish I didn’t rush into buying a car.
“I wanted to keep up with my friends, who were all buying their first cars. So I took out an auto loan, which really hurt my finances. I never properly planned that purchase, and didn’t realize until much later that car maintenance is very costly. If I were to do it all over again, I would have used the money to start a business instead.”
#19 I wish I didn’t ignore my health.
“Diabetes runs in my family and I was foolish to think that I won’t get it until I’m old. Now, not only do I have it, but I also have kidney complications. If only I had cared for my health better, I wouldn’t be spending so much on medicines and treatment.”
#20 I regret shopping whenever I’m depressed or bored.
“Whenever I feel down, I’d go out and buy myself something nice, which felt good BUT that feeling doesn’t really last. After a few days, I’m back to being depressed or bored. I wish I discovered early on that the best way to deal with those negative feelings is to change your perspective about life and volunteering in activities that help other people.”