Updated: May 8, 2023
What financial mistakes do 30-year-olds regret the most?
I asked my friends, ex-officemates, high school and college batchmates recently, and below are their top answers.
If you find yourself committing these costly mistakes, then it’s time for you to correct these bad habits before it’s too late.
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 to budget early on, I know I won’t be having these many 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 become 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 are making a huge dent in 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. I 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.”
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Photo credit: CleftClips
I wish i did not put all my eggs in one basket, and lost a couple of millions 🙁
I have few points to tick here – points that I am guilty of.
Though I let go of my regrets because it doesn’t do good dwelling on this, sometimes it is still haunting me.
These were all one sided regrets which is about money. What about the regret of “I wish I party hard when I was young”, for partying hard with lots of money at the age of 30+ is not so great compared to your younger age. Memories is hard to find but money is always there.
its not too late. =) while single, you still have time to change.
Live life without regrets. Always lamenting about the past will get you nowhere. The greatest mistake you can do is regretting and blaming people.
Partying, drinking, shopping, traveling… Even too much of this sounds fun and fine when you’re employed and have a steady source of income. But you are not always young, wild and free (single, that is.) If you plan to settle and start a family, that’s when you realize you have to provide for someone other that yourself.
And even if you have a stupendous amount of family money, does it sound acceptable to still depend on your parents? Man, you were taken care of 21 years of your life! Time to make your lazy ass work and spend and save your own money. And if you have some decency, maybe you can give back.
This article is an eye-opener!
I wish I had spent more and saved less; I’d rather have a life without money than money without life..
Never regrets with every steps I took. If it’s good, it’s wonderful; if it’s bad, it’s experience. After all, each steps I walked makes me who I am today, better and smarter in upcoming decisions and actions. 🙂
Agreed it’s one sided. Statistics have shown most people on their death beds regretted things they didn’t do rather than what they did.
I not advocating irresponsible lifestyle but neither am I advocating treading carefully thru life to arrive safely at death, which this article seem to for the latter.
Priorities change as life progress. Start saving when u planning a family is never too late. I know of successful business ppl who did well with spousal support and kids as motivation to spur them on.
Is interesting to read different comments here. Especially on the view of spending more or saving more. All I have to say is this. Look at your own life and honestly think about your mindset and what it have made you become
money you enjoy wasting is never wasted.
Live life, enjoy it, all of it, you only get one shot at it. Plan for the future, but dont forget to live in the present! its all about balance. Some good tips on here how to plan financially but theres no point saving up to afford a fancy coffin.
I wish I could focus on my study rather than joining a bunch of “best friends forever” hanging out and partying. Now I learned that no such thing as bff. People just come and go.
No regret, serious lifestyle start at 30′
Is ok to spend money.. But remember when you spend more you must think of way to earn it back all.. Than you life will be enjoying without any financial problem.. But remember you must earn it back all before you spend it again.. : )
Our life depends on our perspective and destiny were results of our choices and decision. So, if you wouldn’t want to end up your life to regrets maybe we must change our outlook in life.
Thanks a lot Sir Fritz. 🙂
Never had any of these problems. Even if I didn’t have any foresight. My solution? Give up the delusions marriage tries to sell. Enjoy life while you can when you can. Investments already in place, I can work (comfortably) well into my retiring age (because I just enjoy doing it). Unless you have some breakthrough idea, keep your life simple. LIVE WITHIN YOUR MEANS if not below. You’re not impressing anyone with your car and house but yourself and it is YOU who pays for it.
how i wish you did not just copy paste this article and made it your own
I just love reading the comments and getting glimpses of people’s thoughts, regrets and whatnot. Some I agree with, some I do not but that’s just me so… *shrugs* :))
I wish the economic collapse of 2008 and the housing market didn’t wipe out all my savings and make all the supposedly smart investments I did in my 20’s totally worthless. I did everything right (I did nothing on the list above) and still lost all my savings and my home. I would be in better shape if I didn’t have a disability that showed up in my 20’s that forced me to retire at 30 years old in 2007.
So insightful! I have learnt!
I’m thankful I still have a couple of years before I turn 30 ^_^
I don’t regret splurging on shopping sprees, eating out and nearby travel during my first 3 years at work. Now, I am bored doing them. Haha. I am now set for more grandeur dreams. Having my own H&L, car, travel overseas, foreign language class and post grad education.
Marriage is still hanging in the balance.
All I know is that all the aforementioned won’t be possible if I really solely on my salary. That is why I am exploring other means of income. Strengthening my Efunds and savings are top priority.
I’ll continue to ignore friends that keep on insisting that it is better to not have anything prepared for the future than miss out on so many things. I prefer to miss some and enjoy some. Haha
Financial Independence, here I come
Just the newfound awareness of these “regrets” implies growth and learning. You’ve done your friends a great service!
Based upon my work, I would add one more to this list: “Taking too long to define and clarify values.”
In today’s uncertain world, the only way to live a regret-free life is to act in a way that is consistent with our values. They are our only safety net.
Thanks again for the great post.
– Ben Sands
Founder, Regret Free Life (www.regretfreelife.net)
I’ve learned my lesson the hard way but made it out just in time with the grace of GodGodb
#2, #3 and #5 are so true for me!
You can do whatever you want as long as you have set aside part of your income in your protection and Investment. Do not spend all your hard earned income.
May I suggest that there are times you do things that are not totally the best of plans but still have enjoyable benefits and that can help others. We took over the payments of an almost brand new vehicle from my wife’s younger brother & sister-in-law as they struggled so badly to make the payments. A friend of theirs had actually initiated the car loan. My brother-in-law soon learned he could not handle the new added debt.
My wife and I signed documents that the car would be ours with the actual owner when the payments we were making were finished. This was all done through our attorney and with the full knowledge of the lending bank. Now, it was certainly NOT a car I would choose as our family at the time had to squeeze to fit into a small compact. When you add a new baby on the way with car seat and my Mother-in-law, FORGET ABOUT IT !! Nevertheless it was an impressive small car. We continued payments during my wife’s difficult pregnancy and man did that little car come in handy making hospital E/R runs. One time, when my bride’s sugar and potassium fell dangerously low she collapsed, again, that little car was a blessing.
We also enjoyed several family trips over the year we made the payments. At the end of the first year, the girl who took on the original auto loan began to protest the arrangement, among other things demanding we make the payments earlier and earlier each month, something we would NOT do as our obligation was to pay on time not one or two weeks early. Finally, she was threatening to “come and take the car.” I think she was very surprised when we said OK, no problem, it is yours! Either her old jalopy had broken down or she really just wanted someone else to pay for the fist year +.
We felt great as we had the use of a reliable car for one year with NONE of the up-front expenses and we really received a benefit from it. We also were glad the young lady made the demands at the time when she did as it was almost time to do a service and renew the insurance. Since I am a foreigner and the driver, I wanted a big policy that will cover me no matter what. We happy we had not yet said yes to the new policy and sent in the money as that would also be gone with the car. We had a driver deliver the car to the girls bank where she had to go pick it up.
Since we had an agreement that we had taken over the payments, my young brother-in-law was free of the responsibility. With the car no longer in our possession and the original purchaser in possession we no longer have payments on something that was nice but really did NOT fit our needs. I have no idea what the plan was when the original purchaser made the buy, I can only guess. That little car may have become a nice “urban assault vehicle” for my wife but she still prefers not to drive. It all worked out very well and we are free to purchase what we want when the time is right !!!
So was this a stupid money thing I did?