One of the famous quotes by Bram Stoker is “we learn from failure, not from success!”
When we were all young, we certainly committed many mistakes: we trusted the wrong people, we have said something we shouldn't have, we have spent a reckless amount of money on useless things, and we have taken an insurmountable amount of debt and still suffering to pay it all off. We are all humans after all and mistakes are allowed to happen, but what's most important is what we learn from them.
My mistakes? They are all related to money when I first started to work full time and today, I will go over them one by one, so that you can avoid committing my same ones.
1. Spent too much money on coffee and unnecessary items
When I first got hired, I remember thinking "wow, I am making so much money; now I can buy whatever I want and don't have to explain this to anyone!"
You can imagine the face of a 24-year-old who just got her first full-time job and was ready to spend money foolishly.
One of my vices is spending money on coffee every morning! I am a coffee addict, and almost every day, I used to spend about $2-$5 on coffee. You can multiply that by 5 and do the calculation of how much money I was wasting on a weekly basis. Often, I would even buy fancy breakfast and even go for a second coffee in the afternoon.
It was definitely the peer pressure and a daily routine that I eventually stopped. When I retroactively think about it, I do regret spending that much money on coffee and other useless items; it was money that could have been allocated for better purposes such as building an emergency fund or investing in the stock market. But like every mistake, we learn from them and move on.
2. Not enrolling in the pension matching program offered by my employer
One of the pitfalls of the education system is that no one teaches you about personal finance. Everyone who has a degree in finance knows what a stock, bond, interest, and so forth are. However, no one teaches you about real-life money concepts such as investing money towards your retirement, especially when it comes to pension matching programs offered by your employer.
I remember when I first learned about my employer's matching programs, I had no clue of what they were; I was embarrassed to even ask about them. Everyone was like "you are in finance; you should know all of this", but do I really? My manager went on saying "it's free money that the company is giving you, enroll into the program and you are good."
It was only after some self-education that I finally understood what it was all about. One of the mistakes that my generation ( millennial) and the one after commit is that they don't care about their retirements, thinking they will be young forever. But this is where it is all wrong! You need to start thinking about your retirement as soon as possible because the money you invest today needs to compound so that when you retire, you can enjoy a comfortable life. So my advice to you is, do enroll in these programs offered by your employer and take advantage of the FREE MONEY they are offering you.
3. Not having a payment plan for my student loans
It has been 5 years since I have graduated and one thing I should have done sooner was planning for the payment of my student loan, especially upon the start of my career.
One of my closest friends once said "it takes your whole life to pay off your student loan." I indeed used to believe that for a very long time until I finally learned otherwise. I watched many personal finance Youtubers who showed the different ways to accelerate the payments of your student debt. Now that I have much more control of my finances and have a stable job, It is definitely a good time to tackle my debt aggressively and hopefully say goodbye to student loans in 2-3 years.
4. Take advantage of all the benefits your employer offers
I think the best benefits package an employer can offer is one where the majority of your personal expenses such as gym, educational assistance, medical insurance, and so forth are covered by the company you work for. Back when I first started to work, I knew I wanted to study, but I was always hesitant until I finally made up my mind and went for it, and luckily my company was covering all the educational costs.
So If you want to study or have other living expenses, but you are always concerned about the money, try to check your employer's benefits plans and see if they do provide some assistance. Whether it is full or partial coverage, take advantage of it all.
In addition, companies also pay for dental and other medical items, so always double-check in your employment contract for these little perks that firms offer.
As you have read, there is a lot that I have learned through time and there is still a lot to learn. If you did make some money mistakes like me, remember- golden lessons are learned from past mistakes. Never hold back on what happened in the past because you always have the power to make your future better especially when it comes to money.
“Forget the mistake, remember the lesson”
- Roald Dahl