Three Money Mistakes I’ve Made

Didn’t have a prenup

When I was seventeen, going to a Christian college in the south and meeting my ex-husband the first week of classes, I didn’t know anyone who had a pre-nuptial agreement. A pre-nup was something I might’ve heard of in the movies, but wasn’t at all a real thing to me. An agreement like this would be planning to fail in your marraige, and divorce wasn’t an option. Some years later when I was going through my separation, the division of our money and other assets was extremely stressful while grieving my marriage and dealing with all the other logistics of starting a whole new life. I was in my mid-20s and we fortunately didn’t have any large or shared assets, but I did have some complicating factors – real estate investments and two of my own businesses. I shouldered the financial burden during our relationship (making the money, saving it, planning with it, etc) which put a lot on me during those years and up until the very end. While it all worked out and the divorce was relatively simple, it was an incredibly exhausting and traumatic period. I wish my ex and I had talked about how we’d want our relationship to end before we got there. These are absolutely conversations I’ve had with my current partner (we’ve both been previously married) especially as we now individually (and together) own properties, businesses, and have a child. So many people I know now put together a legal document before getting married, and it makes so much sense – I’d much rather take care of our future selves just in case while we are still totally in love and advocating for each other.

Waited too long to start a Roth IRA

After college, my ex-husband immediately went to grad school which I paid for in cash. I’m so grateful I was able to do that, but it took so much hard work and there was very little left over. I was advised to not worry about saving for retirement until after his school – so I didn’t. Looking back, I absolutely wish I had started a Roth IRA right away even if I couldn’t invest nearly the maximum. Thinking about what that money could have made in the past fifteen years with compound interest stings! While it wasn’t bad advice to take things one step at a time, I had the capacity to do it and I wish I had. This is one of the reasons I always suggest opening an IRA as soon as possible no matter your life or work situation, and even if you can only throw in a few hundred dollars a year.

Let perfectionism stifle my money moves

Just like waiting until I was in the financial position to max out my IRA before opening it, I’ve let perfectionism sneak its way into how I’ve handled my money. I can be incredibly “all or nothing” and that attitude has positively influenced my life – and also negatively influenced it. I wish I had embraced the ethos that done is better than perfect. It’s so much more important to start sooner than to start perfectly!

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  1. Sarah Ellefson says:

    Uh yes to starting a ROTH sooner! No one talked with me about it at all and I also put my husband through grad school. (In retrospect, I really should have been getting the ball rolling on retirement.) Here’s to showing future generations what’s up:)