We all have regrets in life. Regrets about what we did and would have done differently if given a second chance. Sometimes the regrets emanate from making decisions on the basis of sparse information or the lack thereof. In such situations, we speak in terms of, “If I knew what I know now, I would have done it differently or not at all.” Other times, the regrets emanate from decisions made in reckless disregard for the rules and norms. At other times, such regrets come from decisions made under a state of youthful exuberance.
The Universality of Mistakes
Making mistakes, be it in financial or mundane matters, is universal. It cuts across countries, races, religious affiliations, etc. In a new study from Bankrate, 76% of respondents agreed to have made at least “one big financial booboo.”
Do Not Wait to Make Mistakes
One area where we are prone to grievous regret is in wrong financial decisions or missed wealth-generating opportunities, “missed opportunities to hit it big”, if we had acted at all or in time. Though it hurts to remember those missed opportunities, remembering them helps to not only learn from them but also to ensure that such mistakes are not allowed to reoccur. Sometimes, it may not be us who made the financial mistakes, but we can learn from the financial missteps of others with a view to avoiding such mistakes in our journey to financial freedom and wealth creation. In a survey, people were asked what they thought were their most felt financial mistakes and these are the areas that they pointed out most:
Not starting to save for retirement early
In that study from Bankrate, 56% of the respondents said they were disappointed at their attitudes towards savings, while 27% specifically bemoaned their failure to start saving early enough. I am one of those 27%. My biggest missed opportunity is not starting to save for retirement on time. I am currently 8 years away from retirement and each time I look at my retirement account, I wish I had started earlier. If you have already made this mistake, start to save today. If you are young enough, do not wait to be included in that 27%, start now. Remember the Richest Man in Babylon’s admonition on savings, “if you do not save, you have paid everyone else but yourself.”
Too Much Credit Card Balance
Another regret people have has been that of raking in large amounts of credit card debts. Credit cards or the e-wallet are very convenient ways of carrying out commercial activities, but they come with a catch. Most cards charge high-interest rates, as well as annual renewal fees. The more the credit card balance you have, the more the interest you have to pay and if you are fond of paying the required minimum balances each month, you may end up paying back the credit many times over. If you fall into this group, you are not alone, the same Bankrate report has it that 19% of Americans have this regret.
Not being financially ready for children’s education
Another common financial regret is not saving enough for your children’s education. In this era of private universities being the only ones that offer value for money in terms of the quality of their graduates, it takes a lot of money to go through such schools. So, for those who have children aiming at going to universities, private ones at that, have you saved or are you saving enough for that cause, or is that one of your financial regrets?
Not having enough savings
It is not the only retirement that people save for. People save for eventualities and emergencies. According to the same study from Bankrate, 16% of Americans regret not saving enough. Emergency funds is very important because they act as cushions to fall back on till you can find your feet again. Do not be part of these statistics, save.
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Building a house too big for your family size
Yet another financial regret some people have had is that of a building or buying a house that is double or even triple the size of their families. The bigger the house, the more expensive it will be, not only to build or purchase but also to maintain. I ran into the trouble of having a building that is ensuite and I regret that today because, among other extra-budgetary expenses, I have to plan to buy bathroom and toilet accessories for 7 bathrooms and toilets for a house meant for a family of four. What a waste of hard-earned money. We Nigerians, especially those of Igbo extraction, are fond of building to impress or to compete, even at the expense of financial regrets later.
Not having life insurance
One more financial regret is that of not having life insurance on yourself or a loved one. No one wishes for their loved ones to die but when that happens, especially where the uninsured loved one is the breadwinner of the family, the financial stress that such death exposes those living too, makes not having life insurance such a financial regret.
Don’t drown in those regrets, get up and get going
Just as people are different, so are there financial regrets. For some, it is not taking up the IPO shares when you should have, for others, it could be quitting or not quitting one job for the other, while to yet others, it could be not investing in bonds or fixed income securities instead of equities or vice versa. Whatever your financial regrets are, those regrets will be just what they are, regrets unless you use the opportunity to learn and take action when and if need be. For example, if your regret is not having life insurance on a loved one who just passed, get for or talk another loved one on whose economic wellbeing you or others depend into getting life insurance. If it is not starting to save for retirement early, find out what you can do to catch up, even though you have irretrievably lost the benefits of compounding. Finally, do not let others make the same financial mistakes you made, talk to your kith and kin and educate them not to repeat your financial mistakes.
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