13 Financial Mistakes I Have Made And How You Can Learn From Them

We’ve all made financial mistakes but I’ve made some real crackers. Find out what not to do!

If you’ve read some of my posts you’ll know that Mr2p and I are on the cusp of having enough to retire early.

Given that we will be retiring in our early 50’s you would be forgiven for thinking I mostly had my sh*t together when it comes to all things financial.

Letting the side down would be the work in progress situation with how I deal with DD2’s financial dependence.

But other than that, you would think, retiring early, having not earned big bucks?

That woman must be pretty hot on her finances.

Oh how wrong you would be!

Sorry, but in comparison to many personal finance bloggers I so do not have my sh*t together, not now and not ever.

Today in the spirit of sharing and encouraging you to do as I say not as I’ve done I will let you in to a few of my financial secrets.

These are not my financial secret mastery, more my secret mistakes.


Personal finance blogger mantras

If you read other personal finance blogs you will know the standard held to be fairly ideal is:

  • Have your financial light-bulb moment, preferably before you go to college/university
  • Pay off all debt in super quick time
  • Max your salary by moving sideways, onward and upwards in a succession of jobs – chasing the money
  • Take on a lucrative side hustle that brings in a decent wodge
  • Invest your spare cash in the stock market
  • Cut your cable
  • Pay the mortgage minimum and invest any extra funds
  • Don’t have kids/wait until you’ve retired
  • Retire any time after 30, depending on how much you enjoy your day job.

But you know, in reality everyone’s journey is different and many of us don’t have the urge to retire early, often because it’s not something we’ve ever heard of.

Most of us don’t get our financial act together until we’ve learnt the hard way what our finances are all about.

And the fact we have to make hard decisions about our finances.

We can’t have it all.

You might have no intention of retiring early. You might love your job.

But whatever path you chose you might want to not make the financial mistakes I have.

Read ’em and weep folks!

rolled up bank notes sticking out vertically from pink flowery piggy bank with black background

13 Financial Mistakes I Have Made

Establishing yourself financially before having children

Having a child super early. I was a teenage single mum and didn’t manage the little money I had very well.

However, in my favor I also didn’t get into too much debt during this time even though I was on welfare benefits for 5 months.

Maximizing your earning potential

Not chasing the money by moving jobs/departments. I stayed with the same government department for 30+ years.

Indeed I was in the same grade for 18 years!

I had plenty of different jobs during this time but I think I could have gained more promotions if I had got outside my comfort zone and applied for other jobs.

I was comfortable in my department, I was seen as an expert and this gave me a warm fuzzy feeling. It was too easy to stay there.

When I finally woke up to maximizing my day job earnings I got my act together and applied for a promotion into a different department.

18% pay rise after years of 1% caps, thank you very much! Why didn’t I do this earlier?


white thatched cottage with flower tubs in front directly on road

Downsized our house in our 30’s

We downsized our house in order to become mortgage free quicker. This is probably our worst financial mistake.

House prices have increased a fair chunk in SE England in the past 10 years so we have lost out on the price increase on a larger house than we currently have.

This may be as much as £70,000 more than our current house has increased by! Ouch.

Would we do differently if we had our time again? Not sure. If I look purely at the £70k then of course we wouldn’t make the same choice.

But there were a lot of other emotions tied up with that decision so it’s not so straightforward.

Related posts:

Mortgage Free Living: How We Achieved It

How To Pay Off Your Mortgage Early (So You Can Be Free)


money being passed between two people's hands

Side hustle your way to riches

No side hustles for me. No lucrative work from home jobs to earn extra money.

However I did couponing in the days when you could use multiple coupons in supermarkets without buying the product.

Loved those days, I used to save up to £300 a month. Good times whilst they lasted.

I have finally started taking advantage of bank account sign up bonuses. We’ve made over a £1000 so far for little more than an hour’s work for each account sign up.

Better late than never!

Related posts:

How To Make 300 Dollars Fast: 30 Proven Ways

The Best Work From Home Jobs When You Need Flexibility

 Stock market investments

I didn’t start investing in the stock market until 2001. When I did invest it was a lump sum into an active fund which I didn’t then review for a further 15 years – oops!

2nd time of investing in 2008 I got it half right, monthly payments but still into an active fund.

I think I got it right 3rd time by investing with Vanguard tracker funds every month into Mr2p’s SIPP.

I should have started earlier and reviewed our investments, moving them as necessary.

Come and follow me on Pinterest for more money saving hints and frugal tips!

pinterest image for financial mistakes

Hold on to your cash

We kept too much in cash. When we started saving money we threw everything into cash savings accounts.

At least in those days you earned a reasonable 4%+ rate of interest. Not so these days of course.

We were investing this cash for the long term so should have stuck it into a tax free shares account instead of keeping it in cash.

Pension provision

Mr2p has either been self employed or worked for employers without a pension scheme since 2000.

I did open up a pension for him and we have paid in a reasonable amount.

However I was using 10% as my guideline.

To have a decent pension these days 10% is not enough and even more so when your plan is to retire early.

In the past 4 years we have thrown most of our spare cash into this pension, better late than never!


white thatched country cottage on lane

2nd home

We bought a house 2 years ago when we got carried away with searching for our forever home area.

We made our money back in terms of house price and renovation costs.

However we serviced a mortgage and paid utilities for 18 months so definitely a financial mistake.

I did get the council tax reduced to nil for the 1st 6 months due to the house being deemed uninhabitable! 

Family planning

I had my 2nd child just as I was in a position career wise to benefit from working in London.

If I had not got pregnant I would probably have been able to gain a couple of promotions quite quickly.

Continuing to work in London after maternity leave was a non-starter. It’s a 2 hour commute and childcare had to fit around my hours of work.


desktop with open laptop, robbon and cards strewn about


Not investing in myself education wise. My Mother feels this is a mistake as she is convinced everyone should go to university.

Being the person who always tried to do everything my Mother didn’t want (e.g. left school at 16, left home at 18, teenage single mum) needless to say I have never invested time in getting a degree.

Would it have helped me with my career? Probably, in terms of confidence and widening my horizons.

Am I willing to say my Mother was right? Nope!

Cable TV

For the early retirement brigade cutting cable seems to be an absolute must. But we have cable/satellite TV, have always had it and probably always will.

Mr2p is not a reader, he’s a do-er but enjoys his nature, gardening and DIY programs. He’s a very visual person so TV works for him.

Me? I grew up without a TV so could live without one. Non-negotiable though. If we had freeview we would save approx £40 a month.

But freeview doesn’t have the range of channels Mr2p enjoys. Cable is staying!

2 people on a blue scooter with bags


In the ideal world we would plan and live close enough to walk/bike or take public transport to work.

However we have 2 vehicles that are not in Mr Money Mustaches Top 10 cars for smart, financially frugal people.

Mr2p has a van, I am not driving that van!

I work full time and most of my recent jobs have involved managing staff across multiple locations.

Public transport is a non-starter when you are on the south coast.

The car I use is the main family car which we use for all non-work trips. So it’s not even a cheap runabout.

At least it was 3 years old when we bought it so most of the new car depreciation had already happened.

We will use it until it becomes regularly unreliable.

 Dividend shares

As I’ve learnt more about investing I have become interested in the idea of dividend producing shares.

These are shares of a company that you buy and they pay out dividends every quarter/year.

Nicola over at The Frugal Cottage is slowly building her dividend portfolio. If you are retiring early having a passive income of dividends paying some of your bills is very helpful.

You don’t have to cash in your investments and the dividends could continue ad infinitum.

I’ve read so much about what you should look for in a dividend share that I’ve got analysis paralysis.

I’ve shied away as I don’t feel confident enough to invest in this manner.

deloren car with it's doors open and headlights on

Anyone got a time machine?

So there you have it 13 financial mistakes I have made.

Would I go back and change them if I had the opportunity?

Maybe, maybe not.

I am a great believer in learning from your mistakes.

Would I be the person I am today if I had not made these financial mistakes?

Even though we’ve made these mistakes we still saved enough to retire 17 years early.

Yes, we could have had more money but does that matter?

Not to us because we have enough! And enough is all you need.

Hopefully you won’t make the same financial mistakes I have.

However making mistakes doesn’t mean you cannot learn from them and make great future financial decisions.

You can still accumulate a lovely lump sum of money.

You can still retire early if that is your goal. Life would be easier if you didn’t make mistakes but you’re human.

It’s your financial life and you are free to make as many mistakes as you want.

But perhaps you don’t need to make as many as I did!

Start taking back control of your money by grabbing your copy of the Money Saving Starter Guide today.


Come and follow me on Pinterest for more money saving hints and frugal tips!

13 financial mistakes I have made. Are your finances in a mess? Are you making mistakes with your finances and budget? Find the solutions to your financial problems and learn how to budget and save money. #personalfinance #savemoney #savingmoney #budgeting #payoffdebt #debtfree #moneygoals #money
13 financial mistakes I have made. Are your finances in a mess? Are you making mistakes with your finances and budget? Find the solutions to your financial problems and learn how to budget and save money. #personalfinance #savemoney #savingmoney #budgeting #payoffdebt #debtfree #moneygoals #money

I’m taking part in the Monday Money linky with Lynn from Mrs Mummy PennyFaith from Much More With Less and Emma from EmmaDrew.Info

Last Updated on 4th April 2023 by Emma

About Emma

I'm here to help you become confident in making the best money decisions for you and your family. Frugal living has changed my life, let me help you change yours.

20 thoughts on “13 Financial Mistakes I Have Made And How You Can Learn From Them”

  1. Thanks for sharing your mistakes! Admitting our mistakes isn’t easy but it’s a very necessary part of the learning process. And as you say, despite making all these mistakes you’re still in a position to reach FI very soon, so things turned out well in the long run,. I don’t think any of us have managed to negotiate the world of personal finance without making a single mistake. Coulda woulda shoulda!

    • Coulda, woulda, shoulda really sums it up doesn’t it? I think most of us learn from our mistakes or from those around us, I certainly haven’t repeated my biggest mistakes. Life is one long learning opportunity. Thanks for stopping by!

  2. Despite your financial mistakes, you seem to be doing really well now if you’re contemplating early retirement. But it you do find ways to time travel, or get over your analysis paralysis please let me know – could do with both myself!
    Thanks for joining #mondaymoney

    • Ha, ha! Faith, will certainly let you know if I get a hold of that DeLorean! Why is it that we have so much angst over trying to make the right decision. Logically we know we have a long time frame but it doesn’t make it any easier to make those investing decisions does it?
      Thanks for popping over.

  3. Although I made six of those mistakes you listed, I don’t think I’d like to go back in time to ‘not’ make them because without those mistakes, I wouldn’t be the person I am now. I discovered the concept of FIRE at a particular point of my life, when my mind was open to such a ‘radical’ idea and I was in a position to act upon it. Had I not made those mistakes, I wouldn’t be the same person and would have had a different view (most likely not positive) of the concept of FIRE.

    As you say, the important thing about mistakes is learning from them.

    The worst thing is to keep making the same mistakes and expecting a different result!

    Anyway, regarding dividend income, have you considered investment trusts instead of individual stocks?

    • Hi Weenie, I am in good company then if we’ve made many of the same mistakes 🙂

      I’ve heard about investment trusts but not enough to invest as yet. Not sure where they fit in the investing world and what they offer that is different to either index funds or active funds. I.e. I don’t know enough about them! Any tips on where would be good to start reading and maybe a preferred list of good to know IT’s?

  4. What a very honest post!
    It takes a brave person to write a post listing out all of their financial mistakes.
    Despite the mistakes it sounds like you have got your financial sh*t together!

    Out of interest, what sort of return have you been getting on your investments in your SIPP?

    When I get paralysis of the analysis in relation to shares and funds. I add a fund or 2 to my watchlist and just track their performance until I feel more comfortable with them. If I don’t feel comfortable then I just don’t invest.
    However, 9 times out of 10 I start to feel comfortable and it is paying off.

    • Hi Leon! I have a fair amount of my financial sh*t together but not all – see my latest post on that little gem! Ha!

      The SIPP is with ii and is 90% Vanguard Lifestrategy 60% and 10% Blackrock (think property/REIT fund but not sure without logging on!). I don’t track year by year and where I transferred funds/stakeholder pension into the SIPP the % return shown isn’t accurate. I kinda go on the fact that I am sticking with Vanguard for ease so it is what it is. Not the right way to think about investments but I did choose Vanguard for that reason.

      I like the idea of using a watch list to track shares – I think I shall steal that idea. That might just get me over the analysis paralysis! Thanks for that great tip and thanks for stopping by!

    • I loved reducing my grocery bill by using multiple coupons. Shame the supermarkets cracked down and started to adher to the manufacturers rules although I can’t blame them. It had got very popular – I used to buy coupons in batches on ebay! You’re right these days couponing is much more time costly for a lesser reward. I think surveys and mystery shopping are better ways to earn money if you are wanting to earn a few pennies.

  5. Well, I just turned 50 and I think I might have FINALLY learned to balance our checkbook! ? Plus, I am leaving my job to pursue my passion (with no secure financial plan). So, in terms of possible financial mistakes, this might be one. But I am optimistic and need to finally give myself this chance to see what I can do with this business. I am trying to be a little more budget conscious (in light of my impending departure). Thanks for reminding me that everyone’s journey is different. ?

    • Go you, pursuing your passion, that’s fabulous! It won’t be a mistake because it’s planned and you are pursuing your passion. OK, it might not work the way you want to but you’ll learn from it and it will morph into something somehow that will work. Learning is never a mistake!

  6. This is a great post as it shows how much wiggle room there actually is to reach early(ish) FI. Maybe not really early like 30’s but definitely late forties or early fifties, I think most people would take that!

    That’s basically my plan, enjoy part time or contact style working (with lots of time off in between of course) with a view to properly pull the plug in my fifties. Probably change my mind as I get older anyway, especially if I’m still finding enjoyable work or running my own business!

    Still it’s all about having the options and that’s what being frugal, saving and investing gives you.


    • Somehow I keep thinking, writing and talking about my mistakes but I must be doing something right if I am on track to FIRE before 52. Perhaps I should be talking about that wriggle room and the things I must somehow have done right!

      No point aiming for FIRE and not enjoying the journey. I think your current set up is a great way to combining living in the moment and aiming for FIRE in some form. Enjoying your work makes it feel less like work as well.


Leave a comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.