12 Money Mistakes That Will Set You Back Years (And How to Avoid Them)

Money mistakes can haunt us for a long time, but what happens when our biggest financial mistake also becomes our biggest life mistake? Discover people’s financial blunders and learn how to avoid them so you don’t make the same mistakes.

Worst Financial Mistake

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While scrolling my favorite online forum, I encountered an interesting thread. Someone asked, “What was the worst financial mistake of your life?” Here are the top-voted responses.

Going to an Unaccredited For-Profit College

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Someone wrote, “I signed up for, went to, and graduated from a For-Profit College that was also unaccredited in the state I lived in. I was 25 at the time and had been cycling between dead-end jobs for several years. ”

They continued, “I realized about 2/3rds of the way through how badly I was being scammed financially, but decided to ride it out so that I at least had a degree.”

quit job without replacement lined up

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“In late 2007, I had enough of my job, had been there 10 years, and was done. Quit, thinking I could immediately replace my job. Had no clue of the upcoming recession, couldn’t find a job anywhere,” someone wrote.

He finished the story, “Lost my savings, my retirement, then my house to foreclosure. It destroyed my credit. Eventually got a good job again (took 2 years), rented for 7 years. Back on my feet again financially. Lesson: don’t quit your job until you have a replacement lined up.”

Going Into Debt for Parents

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“Taking out loans for my mom to keep us from being homeless. It didn’t work. Three times being homeless because she spent the money paying her boyfriend’s bills and buying him stuff,” one person stated. “Lesson is, don’t take out loans for other people.”

Taking Out Student Loans

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One person volunteered, “Student loans.; Or rather, eschewing financial aid, scholarships, and grants as unnecessary. An innovative, hardworking guy like myself who didn’t get a Liberal Arts degree would make a million bucks and could pay off those loans in the first three-to-four years after graduation…”

Letting My Spouse Handle the Finances

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“Letting my wife handle the finances,” one volunteered. “She made a good decision, putting a good percentage in an investment account, but she didn’t tell me she did that with my money, and she squandered the rest.

“Now we each handle our finances separately, as it should be.” Another questioned, “Wouldn’t it be better if you worked through whatever communications issues keep you from communicating about finances?”

Ignoring My Bank Account

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“Ignoring my bank account with the line of thinking – it will work out; looking at it will stress you out. Instead, learn how to budget ASAP,” said one. “When you are scared to check your bank account, It’s time to check your bank account,” replied another.

Eating Out Daily

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“I made this mistake when just living by myself. The price of a home-cooked meal; is 5-10 euros. The minimum price of a meal for home delivery; is 25 euros,” one person said. “You can make home-cooked meals for much less than that. I think most of my meals come to €3-5 per portion,” another person replied.

Getting Married Young and Then Divorced

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“Marriage is the biggest financial gamble almost everyone makes. If it works, you get tax breaks, double income, etc. It can be the key to building wealth. But if the marriage doesn’t work out, it will cost you your financial future. Especially if kids are in the picture,” one person stated.

Dating a Gold Digger

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Dating a gold digger. We walked by a jeweler, and she wanted to look. So she convinced my young and in-love self to buy an engagement ring for $10k when I only had $5k to my name,” shared one.


“She was tearing up in the store and had to have it. She cheated, and I broke up with her and sold the ring for four thousand dollars. I laugh about it now, and it taught me a lot. Six grand down on that one.”

Money Pit Houses

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“Buying a money pit house. It was an architecturally significant 1920s building with all kinds of interesting features. But the house was perpetually in need of expensive repairs and replacements,” someone else shared.

Sold My Bitcoin

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I sold my only Bitcoin when it was worth about $10. It was worth a couple of cents when I got it. I sold it for $10 and was impressed that I “made money from nothing.” LMAO. This time last year, Bitcoin hit $64k. Meanwhile, I’m lucky to make $20k/year working full-time,” replied another.

Credit Card Debt

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“Letting my credit card debt skyrocket (in my defense, I was out of work and almost homeless), paying them off, then doing it again (this time I was just stupid). It was only a hundred bucks. I’ll pay it off quickly, then ten grand later. It’s holy cow, how did that happen?” a final person commented.

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via DepositPhotos.com.

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Hi! I am a millennial mom with a passion for personal finance. I have always been “into” personal finance but got inspired to start my blog after a period of extended unemployment. That experience really changed the way I viewed my relationship with money and the importance of accessible personal finance education.