Financial mistakes are all too common—especially among newly married couples and young adults. These are our top financial regrets from our newlywed days, plus HOPE for finding financial freedom!
As newlyweds without a single credit card to our name, we appeared to be starting married life on good financial footing.
We both had full-time incomes the first year of our marriage, and we were hard workers.
But despite our promising start, we became part of the 70% of young adults who make serious and far-reaching financial mistakes.
Now in our 30s and on the other side of debilitating financial circumstances, we’re passionate about helping others to avoid some of the financial missteps we made. I hope you can learn from our mistakes!
3 Financial Mistakes We Made as Young Adults
1. We didn’t live on a strict budget.
Yes, we actually did live on a budget–even in our newlywed days. However, our budget left LOTS of room for eating out and entertainment (far more than we could ever fathom now!). If we had chosen to simply eat out one less time per month (or week!), we could have tucked that money aside for when we started a family. I wish we had been able to see past our immediate wants and plan for the long game.
2.We didn’t save my salary.
What? Am I suggesting we should have saved my entire salary?! Yes, I am! My husband and I have both said many times we wished we had done so. We were young and naive in this matter, and we truly thought our income was modest at the time.
Even though we both only worked full-time for one year (he then went on to seminary and worked part-time at our church, while I continued to work full-time), that one year could have put a HUGE, huge dent in our savings account. We were both teachers, and we were bringing in twice the amount of money we would later live on when we had children. Not saving the second salary was one of our biggest financial regrets.
3. We should have rented an apartment and/or home longer.
We started out renting a home owned by some of our friends. When they decided to sell, we bought it. It was 2006.
No, we had no idea the market would crash just two years later. But we also should have thought through that our down payment was very little and that it would take us a very long time to pay the house off.
In retrospect, we should have rented longer so we could have saved more of a down payment. We ended up owing more than the house was worth, and it was a sickening feeling.We had to move for several reasons and tried selling our home unsuccessfully for almost 4 years, going through 3 different renters. When rent wasn’t enough to cover the mortgage payments we still owed, we paid out of our own meager savings–all while continuing to pay rent for the house we lived in in a different state.
We ended up foreclosing on the house. I share more details of our home foreclosure in this post, as well as in my upcoming book, but suffice it to say that it was one of the most humbling experiences I’ve had.
4 Key Steps Towards Gaining Financial Freedom
You may be struggling with money right now and feeling just like we did–like there’s no light at the end of the tunnel. It may seem like there’s simply no way around the financial roadblocks you’re facing.
But listen to me: there is hope!
I know this because I’ve lived it.
In spite of the financial mistakes we made in our newlywed days, in spite of the recession and all of the circumstances working against us, we were able to recover financially–far beyond what we ever thought possible!
It took creativity, hard work, and most of all God’s provision in our lives, but we went from barely making ends meet to once again thriving financially.
No matter what your money situation looks like right now, here are some things you can do to work towards financial freedom:
1. Educate yourself financially
I highly recommend meeting with a mentor or friend who is financially wise and can help you gain a clearer perspective on your current financial position. Be willing to listen to them and willing to learn–even if the advice is not what you wanted or expected to hear.
There are also some excellent books and courses you can take advantage of. See if Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University class is being offered in your area, or take the self-paced version. Ramsey’s class goes far beyond setting up a budget. It talks about insurance, investing, paying of debt, and much more.
I also found the book From Debtor to Better by Barry Myers to be very helpful!
To people new to budgeting, using a budget may seem limiting. However, I believe it is one of the key steps towards achieving financial freedom. Living with a budget will train you not to overspend, and empower you to work towards your financial goals. Here are 3 reasons why you really can’t afford not to have a budget, plus some options for keeping track of your spending.
There may be times when you feel like you’ll never recover from your financial mistakes, and in these times it’s more important than ever to think about your future–with hope! Don’t stop dreaming. You can recover from past money troubles, and staying positive will help you to move forward!
Dream for your family:
- Where would you like to be in 5 years? Next year?
- How would being debt free impact your home and family life?
- What could you save for if you had your finances in order?
Let these dreams motivate you to set concrete, actionable goals so that you can achieve them! I’ve always been a dreamer, but for far too long I didn’t channel these dreams into specific goals. I highly encourage you to brainstorm and dream with your spouse, and then get those dreams on paper so that they become a plan!
4. Find accountability partners
Accountability works. As you work towards financial freedom, don’t go it alone! If you’re married, you and your spouse should be on the same page with your budget and financial goals. Encourage each other, and be honest about any money struggles you’re having.
It’s also a good idea to be accountable to a third party–perhaps another couple who’s recently paid off debt themselves and can encourage you on your journey. You don’t have to divulge details of your income with them (in fact, generally I recommend not sharing your income!), but it can be a good motivator to share some of your goals and give updates on your progress.
Acknowledge the financial mistakes you’ve made in the past but remember: they don’t have to define you! You can learn from your mistakes and God can use them for good.
To read more of my family’s financial journey, you may be interested in my book, More Than Just Making It.