Updated: March 28, 2020
If there’s one good thing that I can say about being in your 20’s, it would be having that glorious sense of independence.
It’s the time when you believe that you can do anything, and you’re ready to change the world and make a difference.
However, navigating through early adult life is of course, not without challenges – the biggest of which is realizing and accepting that the world is tougher, more competitive and less forgiving than what you can imagine.
And when it comes to your finances, it will be a constant internal struggle between enjoying life now and financially preparing for the uncertain future.
So, from a Gen X’er to the Millennial Generation, I’d like to share the top 15 money mistakes I regret doing during my 20’s.
My only hope is that you’ll be smart enough to avoid these costly financial pitfalls.
Money Management Mistakes
#1 I regret not learning how to budget.
I spent money without thinking about my needs and wants. I still cringe when I remember the times that I had to lie to my officemates and say I’m too busy to join them for lunch, when the truth is that I had no more money to eat out with them.
#2 I regret not immediately building an emergency fund.
My philosophy back then was that as long as I have money in my ATM account, then I’m okay. I later learned that when it’s easy to withdraw your cash, then you’ll most likely spend it, rather than save it.
#3 I regret misusing and abusing my credit cards.
I treated each pre-approved credit card that I received as “free money” back then. But when I started defaulting on my payments and getting angry calls from collecting agents, I became depressed, paranoid and my self-esteem suffered.
#4 I regret not investing early.
In 2001, an officemate bought DMC shares and invited me to do the same. I declined because I was saving up for a Boracay trip. If I had only invested P10,000 in the stock market back then, those DMC shares would now be worth P1.5 million – seriously!
#5 I regret not setting long-term financial goals.
I had no problems saving up to buy the latest mobile phone, or getting the budget for an out-of-town trip. But when I think about it now, if I had only set bigger goals for myself, then I would have been able to start a business or even afford a car sooner than years later.
Career and Lifestyle Mistakes
#6 I regret moving out of my parents’ house too soon.
After living in the dorm my whole college life, my first instinct when I graduated was to get my own place. Looking back, I wish I had stayed with my parents a little longer because that would have allowed me to save so much money.
#7 I regret choosing income over learning.
I once chose a high-salary engineering staff position over a moderate-income management trainee job. I now wish I had chosen the latter because that actually offered immense learning opportunities on business productivity and management – knowledge that I later needed when I started my own business.
#8 I regret spending too much on trendy clothes.
Call it peer pressure, the fear of missing out or simply wanting to keep up with my wealthy friends – but I really wished I didn’t spend so much money on clothes that would become out-of-fashion after a year.
#9 I regret ignoring my employment benefits.
I treated SSS, Pag-Ibig and Philhealth deductions as just necessary evils. I wish I paid more attention to them, studied their terms and took advantage of the financial benefits that they offered when I had the chance.
#10 I regret not taking the initiative to learn soft skills.
I was an engineer, and believed it was not important for me to learn sales and communication skills to advance my career. Later on, I discovered that these interpersonal skills are necessary if you want to succeed in life.
#11 I regret choosing television over passion.
I used to be a couch potato. Now I regret watching so many hours of television instead of pursuing various hobbies. I could have discovered my passion for writing and story telling earlier, and eventually started this blog sooner.
#12 I regret not talking about money with my parents.
If only I had talked to my parents about financial matters, instead of just giving them money every month, then I could have been aware and become more proactive sooner in helping them prepare for their retirement.
#13 I regret needlessly borrowing money from friends.
I remember borrowing money from friends so I can go with them on trips, or buy the latest mobile phone. Because I knew I could depend on them, that only discouraged me from taking my personal budget and cashflow seriously.
#14 I regret irresponsibly lending money to friends.
I have a handful of good friendships that got broken because of money and what’s worse is that some of them were petty amounts. I’ve patched things up with a few of them, but the damage done by the lost trust can never bring the relationship back to how it was before.
#15 I regret recklessly spending in the name of love.
I used to spend ridiculous amounts of cash on dates and gifts. I thought that the bigger the gesture, the better. Now that I’m older and wiser, I have come to realize that expressing true love need not be expensive, do you agree?
Photo credit: nomadic_lass