My 3 Biggest Money Mistakes

We’ve all made money mistakes we’re not so proud of even when they could have been avoided.

They say if you’re not making mistakes, you’re not learning right? I used to believe this quote until I came across another quote that completely changed my perspective.

The quote reads: “A smart man makes a mistake, learns from it, and never makes that mistake again. But a wise man finds a smart man and learns from him how to avoid the mistake altogether”. Roy H Williams.

It’s OK to learn from other people’s mistakes and use their experience to get ahead because our time is limited. That is why I ‘m sharing my story.

My money mistakes were mostly in investing – even though I was in the right environment. (Read on and you’ll catch my drift)

The most common reasons why we don’t invest include; the feeling of insufficient income even though this isn’t always true, fear, lack of knowledge, wrong mindset, no interest which could be due to a lack of knowledge etc.

When I look back at my investment mistakes, I’ll say it was mostly due to a limited mindset. I was more focused on what I was giving up instead of what I would gain from my investment.

Focusing on what you’re giving up often comes from a scarcity mindset. You know, the thought that there isn’t enough of something. Here are my biggest money mistakes.

My 3 Biggest Money Mistakes

 

1. Not Opening a Roth IRA Account by Age 21:

We often complain about not having enough opportunities but not recognizing when an opportunity is right in front of you I think is the greater crime.

I began my career in the financial services industry at age 20.

I was working for one of the largest banks in the U.S (Citibank) as a teller. You would think since I was in the right place, keeping up with the stock market and setting up a Roth IRA would have been pretty obvious.

It wasn’t.

But first, it’s only right that I explain what a Roth IRA is and how it’s one of the most underrated investment strategies.

A Roth IRA is an individual tax shelter retirement account that allows you to contribute a maximum amount of your after-tax income into it as long as you’re within the income limits.

This maximum contribution amount and the income limit are usually set by the government and published every year.

Sometimes the contribution and income limit amount changes and other times, it stays the same. Currently, the maximum contribution amount is $6,000, and the income limit is an adjusted gross income (AGI) of $122,000.

Why is it the most underrated investment strategy?

Contributions into the Roth IRA are allowed to grow tax-free because you’ve paid the taxes according to your current tax bracket.

Hold on, because I don’t think you read that.

Contributions into the Roth IRA grow tax-free including your profit. Meaning, if you purchased stocks via your Roth IRA account and the stocks appreciate, you will not be taxed as long as you don’t withdraw the money until age 59.5 years.

Back to my story. Below is a chart of the Roth IRA maximum contribution for the years I didn’t invest.

Roth IRA Contribution History

I didn’t include 2017 – 2020 because I finally opened one in 2017 and maxed it out at $6,000.

Of course, the possibility that I wouldn’t have a $75,000 -$80,000 profit exists.

However, I choose to focus on the positive – the probability that I would have done really well too. As you can imagine, I go around spreading the Roth IRA gospel now 🙂

2. Not Investing in Citibank’s stock when it “crashed”:

The 2008 recession brought fear and uncertainty much like the impact the coronavirus is having now in the US economy.

As an immigrant, it was the first time I was experiencing a bad economy.

I was able to maintain my job at Citibank even though a lot of overtime had stopped and many other employee perks we used to enjoy were taken away overnight.

During that same time, Citibank stocks crashed all the way down to .99 cents.

Yes, you read that right $0.99 all the way from about $65 per share.

It was a nightmare for investors and you could taste the fear.

Being on the frontline as a teller wasn’t easy. Customers and investors had a million and one questions most of us couldn’t answer because we were not equipped to.

A teller is responsible for accepting your deposits and withdrawal requests, making payments to any and all of your loans with the bank, providing you with a bank check, money order, wire transfer, etc not talk about your portfolio.

The investment department of the financial institution not exactly situated at my little branch.

Of course, distraught investors didn’t care.

Here’s where I missed the boat; the obviously huge boat. Citibank is a 200-year-old bank. The government wouldn’t allow a 200-year-old bank that contributes immensely to the economy crash.

I didn’t invest because I felt broke. Sure I wasn’t making a lot of money but I could have picked up some stocks even for a little sum.

At $0.99 how much of a loss would I be taking really?

If I had purchased $1,000 worth and the stock went up to $3 per share, guess who would have made $3,000.

Let’s say it went up to $10 per share, that’s a $10,000 profit. Now imagine if I had purchased this stock via my Roth IRA? See what I mean?

Sometimes, some luck is all you need. I was already in the right place at the right time but didn’t see the opportunity in front of me.

3. Not Investing in a Real Estate Deal:

The year was 2016. I drove up with my mentor to go see some properties. My mentor is a real estate mogul himself.

He’s a real estate mogul because he owns real estate outside the United States and two properties (that I know of) in Manhattan – on Park Avenue to be precise.

I made an arrangement with a local agent to see as many properties as possible because it was a 3.5 hours drive.

We ended up seeing four properties that day.

I liked the last two which were listed for $110,000 each. Let’s call them Washington and Tyler.

By 2016 we were coming out of the recession and the economy was stable for the most part. The real estate industry at the time was a buyer’s market and there was a lot of bank-owned real estate as a result of the financial crisis.

A buyer’s market means there were more sellers than buyers of real estate which tends to keep prices in favor of buyers.

Both properties were bank-owned.

Each property needed an additional $5,000 to fix up but would have been well worth it.

My mentor advised me to make an offer on both. stating the prices were right and the buildings seemed okay. For some reason, I didn’t take his advice.

Did I have the funds? Yes, I saved some money over time and could afford the 20%-25% down payment. Maybe because it was a buyers market, I just felt I could do better.

You see, what I didn’t know was that both properties were in very desirable neighborhoods. Location, location, location.

In what seems like an overnight happening, the real estate market changed in January 2017 right after we got a new President; we went from a buyer to a seller’s market.

Washington and Tyler stayed listed and finally sold that January (about 3 months after I saw them) for $110,000 each. I couldn’t find any other real estate deals because all the properties listed were either overpriced or got scooped up pretty fast.

Tyler ended up being sold again in 2018 for $160,000. That is a $50,000 gain in one year.

Finally, 

The good news is, I paid off my student loans with the money I would have used as a down payment on either property.

Paying off my student loan debt is a guaranteed return on investment and frankly, I’m glad to be rid of Nelnet! I’ve also since purchased multi-family properties and opened up a Roth IRA in 2017.

Even though I didn’t catch the Citibank stock sale, I caught some pretty good stock sales a few years ago and I’m happy with my portfolio now. I’m a much more confident and strategic investor who invests often.

Well, there you have it! My three biggest money mistakes. Of all three, NO 1 hurts me the most.

Why?

Because I lost time. The true investor understands that time is your greatest asset and compound interest is the gift that keeps on giving if you start early.

What are your biggest money mistakes?

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About Ogechi

Hello, I'm Linda Ogechi. I'm a financial educator, real estate investor, and founder of OneSavvyDollar. I write to empower you into saving more, paying off debt, increasing your net worth, and building real wealth so you can achieve financial freedom

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