It is day four of the new budget (I know, you’re all impressed, it’s fine), and I’ve been reflecting on some of the silliest finance/spending decisions I’ve made over the years. There’s a lot, and the nature and extent of these mistakes seemed to lend themselves to a humourous list. Which is why I’ve compiled a list of my favourite financial mistakes that make me blush with shame.
- Being too lazy to drive 20 minutes to the location where I could cancel the gym membership I never used.
The more embarrassing thing really is that this gym was literally one minute from my house. I let that $11/week membership fee trickle out of my account for a year before I finally did something about it. That is a casual $572 (approximately) that I was too lazy to do anything about.
2. Subscribing to a sticker club.
I’ll be honest with you. The sticker club was awesome. But why I thought it was a smart financial decision to sign up for a sticker club based in the USA (exchange rates are really starting to hurt around here) is beyond me. At about $26/month, it wasn’t too painful, and thankfully I cancelled after three months after realising that lawyers don’t tend to use stickers at work, and you can buy most stickers for $2 from stationery stores. But that was a cool $78 I won’t be seeing again. At least I have a tonne of stickers just waiting to decorate my soon-to-arrive Erin Condren planner and pissing off my boyfriend for sitting on every available surface at home.
3. Not reviewing my credit card statement to remove monthly charges.
For six months we were paying for a Dodo home phone line, which is absolutely idiotic because our apartment doesn’t have a home phone line. It was the result of extremely poor customer service and misinformation from Dodo (I definitely don’t recommend this company), and us not asking the right questions. We did try to cancel this at the three month mark, and were reassured it was cancelled, only to see three months later it was still coming up. It was only $6.80/month, but that was $40.80 we’ll never see again.
4. $150 monthly pass to a yoga studio.
This is a funny one. I went to yoga daily, and was paying $20/class. I realised it was much better, if I were to continue to go, to buy the $150/month pass for unlimited classes. I bought the pass, and promptly never went again.
5. Buying the wrong travel insurance and having to pay for a replacement for a cancelled flight.
This one really hurt. I thoughtlessly selected the ‘medical only’ option when buying my travel insurance. Due to bad communication by Delta, my long-haul flight from LA to Sydney was cancelled, and I got a second flight. I merrily charged my credit card and filled out the insurance form, feeling extremely proud I’d paid $70 for the travel insurance, only to find out that actually I’d be paying off that credit card. One of the many moments I’ve been happy to have the Bank of Dad at my disposal while I was a foolish uni student.
One time I spent the $150 minimum required on clothes I didn’t really want so I could get the free bracelet. Yep.
7. Activewear x 2.
I went to a boozey lunch with my friend. We followed up a bottle of wine and champagne with shopping at our favourite activewear brand. Thanks to the wine, everything I bought was the wrong size, and their heinous returns policy means I’m still stuck with it.
8. Paying $500 to move my flight five days later because I screwed up the booking.
There isn’t much more to the story. I was being inattentive when I booked. I messed up the dates. I paid a lot of money for it.
9. Buying clothes for when I ‘lost weight’.
Which obviously I never did, so I never wore them, except for one time which is burnt into my memory because I could hardly breathe the whole evening and I threw up (the vom was mainly from the cocktails, but I also blame the mega tightness of the dress).
10. Walking into Priceline
Priceline, the Australian equivalent to CVS or Walgreens, traps me every time. I walk in looking for $3 make-up remover, and walk out with $80 worth of random skin care items, hair products that I have no idea how to use (most of these got tossed during the big bathroom tidy up), a nail polish, usually a block of chocolate or a creme egg (my personal kryptonite) and a self-tanner to add to my collection of unnecessary moisturisers.
In writing this list I realised that many of these ‘decisions’ boil down to one thing: laziness. I was too lazy too pay attention when booking flights, or buying travel insurance; too lazy to drive to cancel the membership. The others come down to a habit I’m working on removing: aspirational living. ‘Aspirational living’ involves telling yourself lies like ‘I’ll lose weight and wear these clothes’ or ‘I’ll be happier if I buy these stickers’. The goal of sticking to this budget is to reduce purchasing items in the misguided attempt to better my life. Feel free to share some of your favourite financial mistakes in the comments, don’t leave me alone in my embarrassment!