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A few days ago, I read a very interesting article about Americans’ biggest financial regrets. The top answer was “not saving for retirement early enough” (18%) followed closely by “not saving enough for emergency expenses” (14%) and “taking on too much credit card debt” (10%).
Here are my top 8 financial regrets (please don’t judge, or laugh):
1. Not buying a house earlier
I remember when I was around 23 and I really wanted to move out. I lived on my own for a few years during university but as soon as I graduated I had to return to my parents’ crib.
I grew up in a traditional Chinese family and my mom was very adamant about me staying home, saving money, and not leaving the nest until I got married.
I had been eyeing a condo in downtown Toronto for a while. It was a penthouse unit, right on the lake with a perfect view of the CN Tower. The price at the time, I thought, was a bit expensive. It was $350,000 CAD.
I am certain that the condo has appreciated to well over $1 million by now. I shouldn’t have let that opportunity go. I wish I had just bought it.
What was holding me back at the time? Well, my mom wanted me to buy a house because houses in Toronto appreciated in value a lot more than condos. Second, my mom wanted me to invest in a property that I would eventually move into when I start a family (tough, I will probably never return back to Canada).
I should have just bought the condo and worried about the rest later. Even if I wanted to move to a house later on, I could have flipped the condo and made a pretty profit.
2. Not investing my money and letting it sit in a chequing account
Did you know that 41% of women regret not investing more? I am one of those women!
At one point in time, I had almost $100,000 CAD sitting in my savings account, earning less than 1% return annually. If I had invested that money, I could have earned much higher returns on the market.
When I told people I had $100,000 sitting in my savings account, they flat out laughed at me. Sometimes I question why I am even running a blog to give people financial advice.
Even though I was working as a Finance Analyst and had studied the markets, I didn’t really like the idea of investing in stocks because I am highly risk-averse and there is always a downside. I should have just educated myself more and invested in “safe” bonds.
Even today, I am just saving money in my savings account and not investing it anywhere. I should probably work on that.
3. Not going to Quebec
I can’t believe I still regret this to this day.
In the eighth-grade (so like, almost 15 years ago), my concert band was invited to perform at a venue in Quebec (I played the french horn). The trip costed $500 per person.
My sister and I were both in the band and for some reason or another, we decided that the trip was too expensive and that we didn’t want to burden our parents with the cost. So we didn’t go.
I regret it so much. It would’ve definitely changed my life as a 13-year-old. It would’ve been my first trip away from home, with friends. Also, the trip involved whale watching and a ton of other cool activities. I still wish I had done it today.
My music teacher liked me so much that he actually offered to cover the cost for both my sister and I. I couldn’t accept his generosity. Even though I ended up visiting Quebec a few years later, I still, to this day, regret not going in the eight-grade! It’s just not the same!
4. Not travelling earlier
When I was 17, I went to Paris to learn French. From there, I caught the travel bug. I started travelling at least once a year, but only by making short trips (maximum 1 week long).
I wanted more. I knew I wanted to experience long-term travel. I waited until I was in a deep state of depression and unfulfillment (at 25, right after I got my CPA) when I finally decided to quit my job and travel.
I was sick of waiting around. I was even having nightmares about dying without having visited some of the world’s coolest monuments.
I’m so glad I went travelling at 25, it’s changed my perspective on a lot of things and reshaped my attitude towards life in general.
If I hadn’t mustered up the courage to leave my job to travel, I don’t think I would have possibly even considered moving abroad (and I probably wouldn’t be living in Switzerland right now!). I would definitely be leading a very different life today if it weren’t for my travels!
5. Not negotiating my salary
When I first started getting into the work force, I didn’t know how to value my own worth. I just took whatever salary the employer gave me. This was a bad move. Not negotiating your salary can cost you over $1 million over a life time.
In my first job, I knew I was underpaid. I earned around $40,000 annually. For my level of education, it was definitely not enough.
However, since it was my first job, I didn’t really know how to negotiate my salary. I should have just educated myself better about how to negotiate a salary. There are so many free online resources on that topic!
I was also a bit desperate because I was 2 months out of school and hadn’t yet found a job. I really wish that I’d taken more time to find job that I’d actually love rather than just accepting the first job that was offered to me.
On the bright side, within 6 months, I left that first job to pursue another one that paid me 50% more. And this time, since I was employed, I had negotiating power. And after having spent 6 months feeling underpaid, I made sure to negotiate hard and never take an underpaying job again (okay, I lie, my student job in Switzerland had a pretty low salary too).
6. Dating the wrong guy
I hate to say this but my first boyfriend was not a good guy for me. We dated for four years. He came from a rich family and his mom used to shower me with gifts. I think I was partly attracted to the material gifts. Also, I thought that I had already invested so much time in him. I couldn’t possibly let that go to waste.
I was so naive to think that my only option after four years was to marry him. This was such a toxic way of thinking.
This boyfriend also made me pay for a lot of his expenses. He struggled to find a job and his parents stopped giving him money. Since I had a good job at the time, I ended up paying for almost all of his living expenses. And I even gave him a place to stay for free.
7. Not buying that Hermès Birkin when I had the chance
I have to admit – I have an addiction to buying luxury handbags. When I first started working, I went INSANE. I bought 3 Chanel bags, 1 Louis Vuitton bag, 2 Mulberry bags, 1 Fendi… Yeah, you get the point. I was dropping between $1,500 to $3,000 on a handbag like it was no big deal. Again, please don’t judge 😉
The only limit I had was for the Hermès Birkin. It’s the most coveted handbag in the world and the cheapest bag at the time started at around $5,000.
I was thinking, this is ridiculous. $5,000 for a handbag? Well, now these handbags cost well over $10,000. And I hate to say it but I still want to buy one and I will probably end up buying one one day (please, someone stop me now!!!).
My crazy handbag obsession phase started circa 2008-2009. Now, fast forward ten years, most of the Chanel bags that I own have doubled in value. The Hermès Birkin has also more than doubled in value.
If I had bought it then and sold it now, I would’ve made a pretty good profit. It would basically be like being paid to use this luxury bag! On top of that, it wasn’t like I needed the cash anyway, I had the cash just sitting idle in my bank account!
8. Not starting my blog earlier
I mentioned that I used to run a few blogs. But I didn’t do it the proper way. I ran them on free platforms like Blogger. One day, out of the blue, my blog got deleted. Then I just stopped blogging altogether.
I wish that I had started my current blog earlier. And I wish I had made a self-hosted blog from the get-go. Think about it. I started my first blog in 2004. If I had been consistent, I’m sure that by now I would have become a 7-figure blogger (my ultimate goal :D).
This second time around, I decided to start a blog the right way. I started by self-hosting with Bluehost and then I even invested in Elite Blog Academy, which is like the Harvard of all blogging courses. If you’re interested in starting a blog, read my guide on how to start a profitable blog.
We all make mistakes and we all have regrets. All of my regrets involve not doing something (i.e. inaction). The good thing though, is that you can recognize what your regrets are and try to change them!
What are your financial regrets?
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