Money & Career

My top three money mistakes

I’ve been writing about money for over ten years — during that time I’ve written about everything from high finance to how to save money at the grocery store. But just because I write about money doesn’t mean I haven’t made my own mistakes over the years.

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I’ve been writing about money for over ten years — during that time I’ve written about everything from high finance to how to save money at the grocery store. But just because I write about money doesn’t mean I haven’t made my own mistakes over the years. 


For example, there was that time I was 18 and backpacking through Europe — against my best friend’s wishes, I spent all of my emergency money on a pair of shoes in Florence (and no they weren’t walking shoes). Not a great move: we ran out of money and ended up sleeping on a beach for four days. Aside from a case of sand fleas, I came out of that one relatively unscathed.  

But I’ve also made mistakes that could have had longer-term effects — and could have been avoided with a little advice and know-how. Here are my top three: 

1. I didn’t start saving early 
I’ve had a job since I was 15. As a student, I always worked during the school year and all summer right through high school, university and grad studies. It meant I usually had some extra money left over after paying for my expenses. I ended up spending it on travel — and I’m glad I did. But I also wish I’d saved and invested at least some of it for the future (although I do have great memories of the gorgeous places I was able to visit). 

2. Not taking on enough risk 
When I finally got my first full-time job (after years of grad school), a colleague of mine encouraged me to open up an RRSP. It was a great tip and I diligently put money in every month. The thing is, it wasn’t diversified properly. Instead of seeking out good advice or doing my homework early on, I ended up putting most of my hard-earned money in low interest GICs. It didn’t grow much and it’s put pressure on me to save even more money for retirement today (just as I am coping with the added expense that comes from having two small kids!!). 

3. Buying the wrong home 
Years ago, when I bought my first place I acted way to quickly. My agent had shown me a few condos and to be honest, I didn’t do my homework — I ended up in a neighbourhood that I thought I would love but in fact ended up hating. I thought living there would be fun and cool — instead, I was surrounded by club kids who partied all the time and there was no place to buy vegetables within walking distance. Major mistake — I ended up selling it less than a year later and moving to a neighbourhood that was better suited to me. And luckily I didn’t lose any money in the process. 

The thing about money mistakes is that it’s important not to let them set you back. Everyone screws up at some point — the main thing is how you go about making it right.