Money management can be a trial-by-fire process, and for many of us that means making mistakes (sometimes BIG mistakes) because we simply didn’t know better. (This is where online resources like Allstate’s Financial Planning guide can help get you up to speed on the basics and also connect you with a local agent.) But, as in other parts of life, the worst mistakes can also be the best learning experiences, and in the list below we’re sharing some of the greatest financial regrets of 15 women who learned their lessons the hard way. Read on to avoid the same pitfalls and do better with your own money in the future.
1. “I wish I’d started saving for my kids’ college educations as soon as they were born. Eighteen years sounds like a long time, but it sneaks up faster than you think!” --Jessica, from Oakland, California
2. “My biggest regret is not tracking our spending sooner. We could have saved SO MUCH MORE MONEY in the years before we’d had kids if we’d just been paying attention to where it all went.” --Sarah, from Edmonton, Alberta
3. “I regret not sitting down and calculating the cost of maternity leave and childcare before I got pregnant. I figured it would just work out because it always seems to work out for everyone else, but then the reality hit and I was so unprepared.” --Laurel, from Salt Lake City, Utah
4. “I had a great optional retirement account available to me at my first job that matched 6% by my employer. I didn’t opt in and now I kick myself. That was turning down free money!” --Wendy, from St. Paul, Minnesota
5. “We kept selling our houses and upgrading because our values kept going up and we could afford it. I wish we had kept one to use as a rental, or stayed in one and added on. It never occurred to us.” --Nicole, from Yorba Linda, California
6. “I regret not setting up an auto deduction for an additional retirement plan when I first started working. I never would have noticed not ‘having’ that money and would have a much bigger retirement account today.” --Katie, from Loves Park, Illinois
7. “I wish I had been taught or taken a class about money management. Personal budget things still terrify me, mostly because I know that there are so many things I don’t know.” --Jen, from Greeley, Colorado
8. “I was basically handed a credit card when I stepped foot on a college campus. Not knowing much about them or how to manage them, I was all, ‘Free money!’ Needless to say, my parents had to bail me out. Aaaaand then I did it again and had to do credit counseling, during which I couldn’t get credit for like seven years -- you know, right in the middle of the time I was trying to build a life. While that’s my huge regret because it was a mess for a long time, it was also an important learning experience. I had to learn how to earn credit and maintain my credit health. I now have a great credit score, but it took WORK to get there.” --Brooke, from Phoenix, Arizona
9. “I regret buying a house at 24 and letting a mortgage broker and realtor tell me what I could afford.” --Katie, from Sterling Heights, Michigan
10. “I’ve learned to stop looking at what others have and convincing myself I deserve it too. Because, um, no. That’s not how things work. Do I have the cash for it? Are there other, more important things I need to pay for besides something obnoxious and frivolous? ‘Deserve’ is such a loaded word and it lies to us.” --Sam, from Wheaton, Illinois
11. “We emptied out our retirement accounts trying to save our house. Everything I’ve read since then says not to do that. (Where were those articles THEN?!) We ended up losing our house anyway, and now we have very little retirement savings. The moral of this story is don’t touch your retirement.” --Leandra, from Colbert, Georgia
12. “I regret getting married and having kids as young as I did. I’d still marry my husband, but wish I’d waited until my career was established.” --Mayzie, Colorado Springs, Colorado
13. “Student loans. I mostly regret getting too much of them. I took out the max vs. only what I needed. We’re going to spend years paying them off, and it will delay us owning a house, which is the pits.” --Becca, from Nashville, Tennessee
14. “I wish I had bought a used car when I graduated from college. I really didn’t need that car payment for five years.” --Kate, from Washington, D.C.
If you need personalized money advice, Allstate can connect you with a Personal Financial Representative today.
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