Have You Made Any Of These Inexcusable Money Mistakes?

We all make money mistakes. I have personally made tons of them and often write about them as a way to show other people that they aren’t alone. Most of my own money mistakes were from a lack of maturity or a lack of planning, but that doesn’t mean that they were excusable.

So, in an effort to help others, here are examples of two common money mistakes and how to avoid them.

1. Failing to Pay A Credit Card Bill on Time

I prided myself on never missing a credit card payment. I mean, my history was perfect in that respect even though I had credit card debt and even though I’d suffered through some hard times.

Then, one day, after five months of being credit card debt free, I went out to eat and forgot to bring my debit card. I had put it with my ID card in a smaller purse the day before and neglected to grab it. So, I paid for the meal with my credit card intending to pay it off right away.

However, because I was credit card debt free and completely out of the habit of paying the balance and checking my card, I forgot about it entirely. It was so unlike me, and when I realized it, I was really sick to my stomach. It wasn’t that I couldn’t pay for it. I just didn’t. I hate that I have a blip on my credit report for something so stupid, especially after all of my hard work of becoming credit card debt free.

However, an easy way to avoid it would have been for me to check my cards every single month, regardless of the fact that they had a zero balance.

2. Spending More than You Earn

This is a pretty classic money mistake that a lot of people make. For example, I had some crazy expenses in January. I went on vacation, which I saved up for ahead of time so that was fine. But then, when I got home, I had car trouble for the second month in a row, which was a nice $500 fix. You’ll notice these things always happen after you take a nice vacation thus making you never want to take a vacation again.

In the end, I spent more than I made in January for the first time in a long time. However, I had a nice savings account to back me up. So there was no going back into credit card debt and there was no major stress (just some annoyance.) All I need to do is build up my savings cushion a little bit again, and we’re back in business.

Ultimately, January was a far cry from November, where I saved a whopping 60% of my income. However, that’s why I try to save year round so that the good months of saving compensate for the bad. It’s hard to avoid unexpected expenses but because everyone has them, there’s no excuse not to have an emergency fund or a general savings account.

What are some inexcusable money mistakes that you’ve made and how do you avoid 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, www.BudgetBlonde.com.


  1. 1. Set up credit cards to auto-pay the balance just before the due date. I don’t think we’ve ever forgotten to pay off the balance earlier (we do it about twice per month), but we like knowing there is a failsafe.

    I failed to pay attention to my Roth IRA right after I opened it. I took the common “don’t obsess about your balance” advice too far and I didn’t know what I was looking at anyway. I wasn’t invested in what I thought I was and it took me a year to realize my mistake! Now we are very careful to set up our accounts properly and I do monitor them frequently to make sure they’re doing what they’re supposed to be doing (though I don’t interfere, which is what the advice is really for).

  2. Thanks to the realities of unemployment I spend more than I earn with alarming frequency. However, as soon as I get work, my first order of business is to restock my emergency fund so I’m prepared for the next period of unemployment.

  3. I actually sent our utility bill to the wrong place once and ended up with a $6 late fee =/ I think that’s just bound to happen from time to time.

  4. Well, aside from the usual “spending more than your income” money mistake, I deposited an exact amount on my checking account one time. It’s an account I set up only for a monthly housing loan payment with the pre-signed/dated blank checks in the hands of my trusted realtor. Turns out, there was a minor adjustment to the fee (just a few dollars really), and the check ended up bouncing. So, I was fined. Lesson learned: deposit a few dollars extra.

  5. Bryce @ Save and Conquer says:

    We’ve never had trouble with paying off credit card balances each month, and have always lived below our means. I have made huge money mistakes in the past, though. I used to think I was a great market timer and could beat the market handily by trading individual stocks. That seemed to work in the mid to late 90s. I had 100% market gains for a couple of years. I lost over $700k in the 2000 recession. I have since learned that the best way to invest is to buy low-cost passive index funds using an asset allocation that is right for our age and position in life. We gained back all that I lost and a lot more.

  6. I certainly have, in fact it was a couple months ago. I was away on business and just simply forgot to pay our credit card bill, I always pay in full because we love getting the points, but it literally just slipped my mind. I actually called the credit card company and explained my situation, they saw my outstanding history of paying on time so they removed the finance charge!

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