Anyone can make a mistake. They’re part of everyday life. Financial mistakes, however, can lead to problems for years to come if not corrected soon.
After talking to financial experts and others who have either experienced or seen other people make the worst financial mistakes of their lives, we compiled the following list of 25 of them. Many are common after graduating from college and starting a financial life on your own, but they can still happen to anyone at any age.
We should also note that these worst financial mistakes aren’t listed in any order. We’ll leave measuring their importance to you:
25 Worst Financial Mistakes
1. Not going to college
The average starting salary for a high school graduate is about $28,000. That figure almost doubles to $48,127 for college graduates in the class of 2014 with bachelor’s degrees, according to a salary survey by National Association of Colleges and Employers. Starting your working life by being that far behind in pay is one of the worst financial mistakes you can make.
2. Not paying off student loans fast
The average student loan debt for a college graduate is $28,400, according to the Institute for College Access and Success.
For a college grad who is earning some real money after four or more years of living like a student, it can be tempting to spend much of their new income before paying off debt. That’s one of the worst financial mistakes a graduate can make, says Alfred Poor, a college speaker and author of books about problems young people are having in the workplace.
“If college graduates tighten their belts and lower their expectations, and live like they only have the high school diploma, they will rapidly pay off their average $27,000 in student loans,” Poor says. “If they spend their whole salary on a more comfortable lifestyle, they could be struggling to pay off that debt for decades, and end up paying much more in interest.”
3. Paying off student loans too quickly
Paying off student loans quickly can also have a downside, says Steven Fox, a financial planner in San Diego with NextGenFinancialPlanning.com. If they use all of their extra income paying off student loans, they could be in financial trouble if they don’t put some in an emergency fund and lose their job or get in a car accident and have unexpected medical expenses, Fox says.
“They should really think about whether they should pay off their student loans as fast as they possibly can once they get their first job if it means that they’re doing so at the expense of not saving or investing anything,” he says. “Ending up with zero debt is good, but ending up with zero savings is very bad.”
An emergency could lead to borrowing money at a higher rate than what they were paying on student loans, says Fox, who reminds graduates that student loan interest is tax deductible for up to $2,500 for individuals making $80,000 or less without having to itemize. Continue reading