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Family Finances

What Was Your Biggest Financial Mistake?

Kiplinger readers share how they managed to bounce back from a major financial mistake.

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We received lots of responses to our "Crowdsourcing" question asking you what's the biggest financial mistake you've made and how were you able to recover. Most of your regrets revolve around racking up credit card debt, botching investments and missing retirement-saving opportunities. One interesting observation: The majority of responses are from women, who perhaps are more willing to be honest about their mistakes. (Note that all comments appear here with the names supplied online.)

See Also: See All Crowdsourcing Questions

"As young marrieds, we allowed ourselves to get into so much debt we couldn't make the minimum payments without working overtime. We worked like crazy to pay it off, but we lost so much time--and money we could have invested."
— Karen Lojo

"In my BK (Before Kiplinger's) days, I fell in love with someone who wanted someone to constantly buy for her. After a short time, I was using all (and I mean all) of my paycheck to pay the minimum balances on my credit cards. After a while, I was maxed and had to start saying no. The girlfriend didn't hang around long after that, and I found a credit union that would give me a signature loan to pay off the credit cards. Soon, I could start to see daylight and cut up my credit cards!"
— Lee Stroud

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"I bought thousands of dollars of shares in a precious metals and minerals mutual fund in 2010 at $37 a share. I sold a good portion six weeks later at $41, but I should have sold all of it because now the fund trades at $12 per share."
— Ashton Wolf

"I dismissed bitcoin as a fad in 2013, but I could have easily made 100 times my investment if I had bought it back then. Even a 5% investment would have gone a long way. Lesson: Be more risk-taking when something has potential to become huge."
— Difu Wu

"I had a pension but did not start putting additional money into retirement savings accounts before age 35. Even adding a little would have been better than nothing."
— Debbie Willits

"At the end of 2012, my husband received a pension plan payout, which he rolled over to an IRA. We decided to invest it in a private mutual fund in which the fees would be 2% of the amount invested. I looked over the statements once a month and noticed that we would buy stock and sometimes only hold it a week. One stock was bought and sold three times in the span of two months. Meanwhile, the stock market was taking off, but nothing we had through this program was earning anything. Finally, we pulled the plug and invested on our own. I ignored too many red flags, and I no longer discount our own abilities."
— Karen Kauneckas

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"We bought a very expensive house in 2007. We debated short selling or just walking away when the value of our house dropped significantly, but we decided to stick it out and make extra payments, too. Nine years later, we paid it off. Now we have a house with equity, we have great credit, and we saved tons of money on interest. What was the worst financial decision turned into the greatest."
— Victoria Benway

MORE CROWDSOURCING: When an adult child moves home or needs financial support, how do you help without jeopardizing their sense of independence?