Friday, February 03, 2006

My Mistakes

Somebody out there must be reading this and thinking, yeah right, Ms. Goodie-Two-Shoes, you know how to get a raise and you're buying a condo and you've got your 11 rules for how to be financially perfect and big whoop-ti-do for you.
Ok, what can I say? I'm not going to pretend I'm a total f**k-up! I have at least some degree of a grip on my financial life. But I'm not perfect or even close. Here's a few of my most notable financial bloopers. (If I got into the mistakes I've made in the rest of my life, the post would probably crash my whole blog.)

  • Bought GM at $43.45 in July '04. Current price $23.15
  • Didn't buy other stocks mentioned early on by friends: Starbucks, for one.
  • Didn't use $50,000 home sale proceeds to buy another apartment in early 2001, when that could have been a 30-40% down payment on a really nice studio.
  • Shopped recklessly: I've often bought things didn't fit and weren't returnable, bought things that were full price and later went on sale, bought brand names when store brand would have been fine, bought over-large portions of things that spoiled, etc.
  • Wasn't aggressive enough about early career moves: I had a couple of jobs where I stayed too long and didn't pursue other opportunities within the company
  • Blew Ivy League educational opportunities: if I had taken a few different classes, or stayed awake in the ones I did take, or even just made better use of the career center, I could have gotten any of a million jobs where I could have made more money, at any of the many companies that recruited at my college.
  • Got job in publishing. And liked it.
  • Let money sit in low-earning investments for too long: when I first started contributing to a 401k fund and investing via E*Trade, I was way too conservative and put more of my money into fixed-income funds than I should have.
  • Got into long-distance relationship. And liked it. The travel is fun but the phone bills are murder.
  • Even worse: got into long-distance relationship with poet. Semi-employed poet. Not inherited-wealthy poet.
  • Had cellphone repaired, twice, instead of just getting a free or cheap one with a new contract.
  • In foreign country, stored luggage in dicey location, with all valuables in one place: wallet, cellphone, palm pilot, passport, and house keys all stolen. Even though I had travel insurance, that cost me a lot.
  • Used olive oil inappropriately: plain old cheapo vegetable oil is a much cheaper and more sensible option for frying. Save olive oil for things where the flavor matters. I don't know why it took me so many years to figure this out.
  • Was stupid: Lately I've been trying to be frugal by bringing lunch to work. Several times now, I've forgotten I had the lunch in my bag, and gone out and bought something else and by the time I found the original lunch, it was past being edible. Total waste.
I'm sure many more will be reported as this site continues...

[Updated-- just noticed a similar post at My Money Blog, one of whose mistakes was similar to mine. No, it wasn't his use of olive oil.]


Anonymous said...

let me guess. you went to Brown.

Bitty said...

Got job in publishing. And liked it.

Just wondering why this falls into the category of mistakes. (Coulda found something more lucrative, but darn, you liked it??)

Madame X said...

Remember, they are "financial" mistakes, not overall life mistakes!
Publishing was a good life choice for me, but a bad financial choice.

Catherine at Frugal Homemaker Plus said...

I've done a lot of those things. The only one I was able to fix was lunch. If you have a desk with a drawer that is your own, buy some cans of soup, some Easy Mac microwavable mac 'n cheese, or packs of tuna and a box of crackers or some other nonperishable food. Also bring a tupperware bowl and some plastic forks and spoons, if your workplace does not provide them. Next time you forget a lunch, you have a lunch at work anway. Doing this saved me at least 100 dollars when I was working outside the home.

frugal zeitgeist said...

Love your blog. As a fellow New Yorker, I've saved untold thousands over the past twelve years by bringing my lunch to work. It's cheaper and much healthier. I'm looking forward to spending more time here to see what you have to say.

And I'm guessing you also went to Columbia.

Anonymous said...

[...] When I write these “Best of” editions, I am not looking so much for the latest in the finance blogosphere, as I am for the best stories that resonate the most with me. So here’s one that is old but timeless. In this early 2006 entry Madame X @ my open wallet throws out her Ms. Goodie-Two-Shoes image and owns up to a list of financial mistakes. [...]