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Five money mistakes I made before 30

Pandu W. Soeprapto
Pandu W. Soeprapto

Banker, part-time teacher, and at-any-other-time writer

Jakarta | Fri, January 5, 2018 | 01:11 pm
Five money mistakes I made before 30

Now more than ever, many are trying to keep up with the Joneses. (Shutterstock/File)

It feels like it was only yesterday that I became a grade-schooler and discovered the joy of learning, experiencing that someone else can occupy a lot of your mind in junior high school, celebrating sweet seventeen in high school -- when I did not even know the meaning of it -- living away from family when pursuing my bachelor's and master's degrees (don’t worry mom and dad, I survived), and marrying my true love and being blessed with twin daughters.

Now, I am more than 30 years old.

In hindsight, in 30 years of life, I can say with certainty that I am fortunate enough to have experienced many things, while living in Indonesia and abroad. I learned new languages, made friends, dealt with heartbreaks, lived in different cultures, got in fights, got robbed, had road accidents (thrice), became broke and worked part-time while studying.

Some experiences have broadened my mind, enabling me to understand different points of view. Some were spices of life that made living more interesting and frustrating at the same time, and others are experiences regarding money problems that I do not want to experience ever again.

The older we get, the more financial responsibilities we have. Before, I only had myself to think about, now I have to include my wife and daughter in my thought process.

To avoid money worries in the future, here are some money mistakes that I, and maybe you also, should stop making in the years to come.

Starting late on saving

Saving is basically setting aside money for future use. This act is essential to building your long-term financial wealth. Yes, I can recite the definition and purpose of saving clearly. However, in reality, I just started saving when I got my first job, and that was 10 years ago.

Read also: Saving is (not) hard

When living as a student, I received a monthly allowance from my parents and usually still had some left over before receiving the next allowance. Unfortunately, back then saving did not cross my mind at all and I spent the remaining amount on frivolous things such as eating fancy food or playing games.

If only I had my present awareness back then, I could plan my long-term wealth better now. Thus, the lesson from this mistake is to start early on saving.

Lacking knowledge of investment

The simple definition of investment is purchasing an asset or item with the hope that it will generate income or appreciate in the future. A straight forward definition. Unfortunately, I did not think things through about what asset to buy, and randomly put my money into everything without putting much thought into it, more like gambling than investing actually. As a result, the value of my investment plummeted within two years after I started investing.

Thus, the lesson from this mistake is to amass knowledge, you must learn about risk and benefit before investing.

Depending on a credit card

Credit cards are useful for their discounts, point rewards and convenience. However, based on my experience, with a credit card it is easier to overspend on something that I actually do not need at prices that I may not be able to afford, and for what? To show off to someone that I do not even like?

In addition, those spending on credit cards will be charged with a high interest rate. Furthermore, if you do not settle your credit card balance each month, the debt will accumulate and it will lead to money problems in the future.

Thus, the lesson from this mistake is not to be dependent on your credit card and learn to use cash, this will protect you from buying anything unnecessary and lead to a healthier financial life.  

Living beyond my means

In my opinion, due to social media, society is bombarded with images and videos of people living lavish lifestyles. Thus, now more than ever, many are trying to keep up with the Joneses.

Read also: Identifying latte factor for frugal living

With credit easily available, it may seem harmless to take out a loan to pay for a holiday or to buy new expensive toys. I bought two expensive watches in a short amount of time back when I was younger, and now I cannot remember the reason for those purchases.

If most of your income is going toward servicing your debt, you will not be able to save or even pay for your utilities, resulting in financial problems and an unhappy life. Thus, the lesson from this mistake is to live within your means, plan better for your future, and sidestep money worries.

Not preparing for emergencies

Believe me, unexpected things happen in life. For example, when I was younger, I considered myself healthy, I exercised regularly, I did not smoke nor drink, and I ate well. Because of this, I did not consider putting aside my money for emergencies, instead using it all up on my daily expenses, saving and investment.

One day, out of nowhere I felt sick, and after a check-up I was told that I needed surgery. Fortunately, my employee benefit covered the cost of the surgery, otherwise all my savings and investment would have been wiped out. Thus, the lesson from this mistake is to always be prepared for emergencies.

I consider mistakes made before 30 to be about self-discovery and learning, and should not be repeated after we turn 30. Our 30s are the time to get serious, especially about our long-term financial life and to ensure that we do not face financial difficulties later on.

So in order to have financial freedom in the future it is time to stop making the same money mistakes. (dev/kes)

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Pandu W. Soeprapto earned his bachelor's at Bandung Institute of Technology and master's from Monash University. He currently works as an assistant vice president in corporate banking and has handled many financing projects in various sectors. He has a passion for teaching and loves to write about people and finance inbukanpohonuang.wordpress.com.

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