My 5 Biggest Financial Regrets

We all do or don’t do things during our lifetime that we end up regretting. These regrets can be as simple as having one scoop of ice cream too many, wearing heels instead of flats or having a messy house when surprise guests show up.

Other times these regrets can be bigger and have a greater impact. Sometimes they can have an impact on our finances. Some of my biggest regrets are financial related and some of them had a lasting impact on my finances. The good thing about having these regrets is I’ve learned from them and can share those learnings with you.

5 big financial regrets | A Relaxed Gal

Financial regret 1: Staying at the same job for 5 years

I got my first full-time job about nine months after graduating college. I was so excited about that job. A few years in I wasn’t happy anymore. I didn’t feel like my career was being nurtured or that I was getting the kind of experience that would help me grow my career.

As a result, I seriously considered leaving to the point that I was interviewing at other companies and had accepted other offers, but something or someone would convince me to stay.

I soon came to regret staying because after being at that job for five years I was laid off. That company was known for having layoffs every 1 ½ - 2 years even to this day. So I wasn’t too surprised it had happened, but it was still a shock.

Since then I’ve come to realize that staying at that job and the layoff both had a huge negative impact my earning potential. If I had left that job after a couple of years I could have
  • Increased my salary sooner and earned more over time. According to a Forbes article “staying at the same employer for over two years on average can cost you 50% or more in lifetime earnings.
  • Not lost my job and been out of work for a few months which ate into my emergency savings and negatively impacted my retirement savings.
  • Gained greater work experiences that would have enriched my resume putting my career on a better growth track. Apparently many other people have come to realize this because 59% of respondents in a LinkedIn survey who had changed jobs selected their new job because they saw a stronger career path or opportunity there.

Financial regret 2. Taking a job for less pay

This happened after the layoff I mentioned in the previous regret. I had been unemployed for a few months and was getting worried I wouldn’t get another job. So I ended up taking one that paid $10,000 a year less than what I had been previously making.

This played a role in putting me behind in my lifetime earnings by putting me in a salary bracket lower than I should have been in. I’ve been playing catch up ever since which means I could be earning less over my entire lifetime.

Financial regret 3: Not increasing my retirement account contributions

When I first started working I made sure to contribute to my retirement accounts religiously. I increased those contributions regularly and whenever I got a raise. That is until I was laid off.

When I was laid off I stopped contributing to one of my retirement accounts and drastically reduced the contributions to another. When I started working again I didn’t resume those contributions for several months. The reason being I felt I needed to replenish my emergency savings in case I was laid off again. Because of this I’ve gotten behind in my retirement savings and will be playing catchup for a while.

When I did resume my retirement contributions they were minimal. It wasn’t until recently that I increased them to a point where they are substantial and closer to where they would have been had I not stopped making contributions.

Financial mistakes to avoid | A Relaxed Gal 

Financial regret 4: Missing a few credit card payments

I’m a person who pays her credit card off every month so I don’t carry over a balance. This has been great for my credit history and put me in good standing with my credit card companies.

So it may come as a surprise that I’ve missed a credit card payment or two. These payments weren’t missed because I didn’t have the money. It was pure stupidity. I just forgot to make the payments.

While this only happened a handful of times the reason I regret the missed payments is because I ended up wasting money. I had to pay late payment fees on the balances and some crazy interest. Additionally, a few of the late payments were added to my credit history and impacted my credit score.

Financial regret 5: Not working with a financial advisor sooner

Within the last year, I started working with a financial advisor. She helped me map out my short and long-term financial goals, took a look at my overall financial picture and gave me recommendations on how to reach those goals. This has been helpful as I work to get my retirement savings back on track.

I wish I had worked with a financial advisor sooner. Per a Putnam survey, those “who work with a financial advisor are on track to replace 80 percent of their income in retirement.” Those who don’t are most likely going to replace about 56% of their income in retirement. That’s a big difference.

Do you have any financial regrets?


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