Don’t Make These Three Money Mistakes… Trust Me

Today we welcome back our normal Tuesday contributor, Catherine Alford!

We all make money mistakes, and as a personal finance blogger, I think it’s important for me to fess up when they happen to show readers that I’m definitely not perfect either. Some mistakes I’ve made have been huge while others I’ve been able to fix with relative ease. All of them, however, have taught me a lesson.

1. Taking Out Too Many Student Loans

Taking out too many student loans is my biggest money mistake to date. I label it as the biggest because it continues to haunt me. Why I thought I needed extra money in grad school when I already had paid tuition and an assistantship is beyond me. That was around the time I was getting married, when we were moving into our first place together. We were trying to find a bigger place (because we obviously needed that too,) and that brings me to my next mistake:

2. Paying 3 Rents At Once

When my husband and I were engaged, we were living three hours apart from each other, and we wanted to get a new apartment together to call our own for married life. I was living in a cruddy grad school apartment, and he was living in a studio, so we looked for a nice three bedroom place that would be our home to symbolize this next stage in our life.

After misreading the lease on my husband’s place, we got ourselves into a bind. We thought he would be able to move out of his studio and into our new place to get it ready for when we got married. Instead, we got the dates wrong and ended up paying rent for all three apartments at once, which really drained our savings. I still cringe at the thought paying three rents at the same time!

3. Not Having An Emergency Savings

Now I realize that a lot of these mistakes happened around the time I got married, and that makes sense. We were learning a lot about each other, combining finances, and trying to set up house and start our lives together. While we both worked really hard, we didn’t regularly save.

This became a huge problem when my husband got into a bad bicycle accident, broke his nose, lost a front tooth, and needed stitches all over his face. It took us a long time to pay off his hospital and dental bill, but we eventually did. Luckily, he was okay (and still quite handsome too, might I add!)

Honestly, it’s hard for me to re-live these three moments and tell all of you about them, especially now that we’re doing so much better. Not only do we have a large emergency savings account, but we’re credit card debt free. We live in a tiny apartment. We rarely buy anything extra. We have awesome goals for the future, and after 3.5 years of marriage, we’re really in tune with each other’s spending.

It’s taken a long time to get to this point, though, and I wish we would have known then what we know now. Still, each mistake taught me a valuable lesson and helped set me on the path to financial independence, so in some strange way, I’m actually glad that they happened.

What were some of your worst money mistakes and what did you learn from them?

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About Catherine Alford

Catherine Alford is a personal finance freelance writer who received a B.A. from The College of William and Mary and an M.A. from Virginia Tech. She enjoys sharing her adventures on her blog,


  1. I think most of us probably took out too many student loans. I can’t say that I’ve ever had three places at once, but I have went without an E-Fund. Honestly, it is amazing that I didn’t get into more money trouble when I was younger. Thank goodness I dodged some big financial bullets.

  2. Just reading about it already sounds scary. I never had more than two and with that, I already had financial trouble. Imagine what three rents and three student loans with no Efund can do to someone.

  3. Ouch, #2 certainly does not sound fun at all. I made the same mistake with #1, as I know many have. Looking back, it’s just crazy that I used so much of it as fun money.

  4. Your #2 gives me a reminder of what I don’t want to do when we try to sell and buy a new house. I don’t want to have two mortgage payments because that will sting.

  5. I was always pretty good on the spending and saving side. I was fortunate to avoid any student loans too. My mistakes are not enjoying my money as much as I should. I tend to focus on saving too much!

  6. Kyle @ Debt Free Diaries says:

    My worst money mistake was probably taking out too many student loans as well. I was going to community college and didn’t need what I took out. It’s so easy to spend that money when it just sits in your bank account!

  7. 3 rents would harm most people’s finances! I think we all make a few mistakes, but the key thing is to learn from them as quickly as possible and also figure out the mindset that allowed the mistakes to happen. In the rent case, perhaps it’s not being careful enough to read/re-read documents involving financial commitment. My guess is that you guys won’t do that again! I’ve made my share of mistakes when younger too.

    Anyway, it seems like you’ve learned a ton which is what’s most important!

    • Oh yeah. We defffinitely won’t make the mistake again! It involved us thinking he had a traditional 12 month lease, but since it was a “first month’s rent” type deal, it was actually a 13 month lease. Kind of a mess!

  8. Having an emergency savings is really important in a person’s financial life, I’m planning to build up my own in the near months before I start investing. Also, thanks for sharing the other two, hope I can avoid those in the future as well.

  9. Alex @ Searching for Happy says:

    Emergency savings is my crime. I used to be FAR too liberal in defining an “emergency”. Now I’m learning my lessons.

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