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I'm sure mostly all of you have heard the phrase, "If I had known then what I know now". This phrase can be applied to many areas of your life but being that this is a personal finance blog, I am only talking about how it applies to your money.
While sitting in traffic the other day, I had plenty of time to think about this. What would my financial life look like had I made better financial decisions in my past? I know you can't change the past but you can certainly change the future.
I thought about all of the bad financial decisions I'd made in my past and thought it would be a good idea to make a list.
Some of the decisions I've made in my past that I regret are:
- Student Loans. There is no doubt that I would not have been able to attend college without taking out student loans. The government was very generous when it came to giving me money for college. They not only gave me money for tuition and books but they also gave me money to live on. I wish that I had not taken the maximum amount of aid that I was given and maybe I would not owe a small fortune in student loans right now. I did not put the extra money to good use and can't even remember how much I spent on "liquid" entertainment.
- Cars. I had to have a new car. I bought my first new car my senior year in college and then bought a new one every two years after that. I never put any money down and rolled in the negative equity into my next purchase. I bought my last new car in 2006 and paid it off in full this year. I plan to keep this car until the wheels fall off. If I do buy a car prior to the wheels falling off, I plan to save and pay cash. I've gotten a taste of what it's like to not have a car payment and I don't want to be chained to an automobile finance company again.
- Credit Cards. If I could only get back 10% of the finance charges I've paid to the credit card companies, I could probably payoff my student loans. Now that I've finally paid them off, any purchases made on my credit cards is promptly paid in full the next month.
- Keeping up with the Joneses. If I had not tried to keep up with everyone else, I probably would not have taken on as much debt as I did. I was trying to live like people who were in a much better financial position than me. Alot of my friends in college were living off of Daddy's money. I didn't have that so I was living off of Citibank's money.
If you are just starting out in your finances, don't make the same financial mistakes I made. Don't try and live like the Joneses. Your self worth is not determined by "things". I can't remember where I heard the saying but someone once said, "Once you have self worth, you can have net worth".