5 Financial Mistakes I’d Like to do Over

The reason I started writing about money is because I didn’t want people to make the same financial mistakes that I made. Looking back, I feel like I fool that I didn’t catch these mistakes earlier, but I recognize that it can happen to any of us. It’s not like we’re naturally good with money, we need to learn about it on our and most people have no interest

It’s not like we’re naturally good with money, we need to learn about it on our own. Learning about money isn’t exactly fun, it’s much more rewarding to spend money. Financial mistakes are bound to happen, what you want to do is recognize and correct them before they do any real damage to your long term plan.

financial mistakes

Not doing more due diligence

This is a problem that almost every investor comes across at some time. It’s incredibly easy to accept things at face value without asking any serious questions. I made the mistake of blindly trusting my bank financial sales representative and then my “financial advisor” when they recommended me certain funds. I had no idea how these fit into my overall plan and it turns out that some of these funds were selected to help them make more money. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of great advisors out there, but you really need to know what to look for.

Taking my time to learn about money

This ties right into not doing more due diligence. I had a basic understanding of management expense ratios (MER), but I never realized how much it would eat from my returns. It also took me a little while to get into investing, fortunately, I always had savings so it was about improving my knowledge. I’m now a do-it-yourself investor and you can become one too with a little bit of help.

Investing in things I knew nothing about

I’m sad to say I fell victim to this a few times before I got my act together. One time I purchased a stock because it had an attractive dividend, nevermind the fact that I knew nothing about their core business. When I switched to index investing, instead of sticking to the model portfolios, I modified mine to include some riskier products. I was essentially trying to beat a proven system even though I had limited experience when it came to investing. Avoiding financial mistakes can be easy if you keep things simple.

Not travelling more

Financial mistakes come and go, but lost opportunities are what bother me most. I have family in Europe and there was always an open invitation to stay with them for free, but I wasn’t interested in travelling when I was in high school. Later in life, a good friend of mine worked on cruise ships for a few years and there was also an invitation to stay for just a few dollars a day. Since I was a new grad, I decided to focus on my career search instead. These days I realize how valuable experiences are so I wish I travelled more when I had the chance.

Spending on “things”

I’ve been working every since I was 16. It’s incredible how much money I wasted on “things” during me teens and early 20’s. I would buy CDs, DVDs, Blu-Rays, and action figures whenever I got paid. This really wasn’t a huge deal at the time, but the stuff I was buying was junk that I really didn’t need. When I got engaged I was able to sell some of my action figures (at a loss), but these days you can’t even give DVDs away. I don’t have a problem with people spending, but I wish I had spent my money on experiences instead of things.

By |2016-12-12T10:32:45+00:00April 25th, 2016|Investing, My Money, Personal Finance|


  1. Nicholas April 26, 2016 at 12:42 pm - Reply

    Thanks for the heads up! First 3 points will be very useful as I will be taking those steps next in few months. As for the last two points I couldn’t agree more!

    I always heard “travel when you can, especially when you are younger” phrase from family and friends. Like yourself I opted to focus in school and career. Going into my 30’s I hardly have any time to travel much, life happens things gets in the way.

    As for the last point, I also indulged on things like Legos, CDs, DVDs and etc. Some I regret and some I don’t.
    Two things I regret the most are fancy basketball shoes and velour track suit I got in my teens. Those two items combined could of saved me close to $1000.00. Oh if I had that money now…

    You live and you learn

    • Barry Choi April 26, 2016 at 1:00 pm - Reply

      Hey Nicholas,

      Heh, I’m approaching 35 and now all I want to do is travel, don’t wait too long. I think my biggest waste of money was probably on collectible comic cards when I was a kid / teen. These days, I much prefer to spend money on experiences instead of things.

  2. Couple of Sense May 7, 2016 at 9:53 pm - Reply

    I have to admit I’m guilty of making a mistake with the MER fees as well. Working my way out of them currently but when I purchased my mutual funds when I was first starting out I didn’t do the proper research to understand how those fees would eat into my returns. I’d take that do over for sure!

    • Barry Choi May 18, 2016 at 2:50 pm - Reply

      Couple of Sense,

      It took me a while to figure out MERs. No one really understands them right away but it’s great that you’ve taken the steps to correct your mistakes.

  3. Night Ryder (Night Rider) May 18, 2016 at 11:53 am - Reply

    How I wish I came across this article 30 years ago when I was all bright eyed and bushy tailed.. I made the same mistakes you made. Verbatim. I am doing OK now. But when I lick my wounds, I realize how foolish it was to blindly trust your advisor. I could be worth twice as much as I am worth today because I back tested. Though it is hind sight – I honestly checked what I would have done in my back testing method without all those fancy-dancy “investments”.

    Another mistake I made: Let the advisor do portfolio management and bury my head in the sand thinking everything is coming up roses. Wrong. I have learned now DIY is not that hard and I am doing better than what I imagined. I can’t set the clock back, but I learned a bitter lesson.

    Anyone that cares to read – let me tell you this: DIY your portfolio. Use DRIP for the power of compounding. Use all the government incentives to the fullest to save taxes legally. Do belt tightening in early years of your life and spend the fruits of it in later years with a big smile. NEVER invest in something you do not understand. Know the business you are investing in and stay the course if your due diligence is solid. Believe in the company, believe in yourself that you did the right thing. There are plenty of websites to teach you how to do due diligence. After all, it is your money. No one – I mean, NO ONE – will take care of it for you. So called advisors have a hidden agenda to make money for themselves.

    So there, I said my bit. I am mentoring some young people in investment and try to steer them from making mistakes. I hope some 20-somethings and 30-somethings are reading this.

    • Barry Choi May 18, 2016 at 2:52 pm - Reply

      Night Rider,

      I got lucky, it was a random stranger that helped me realize what I was doing wrong. I now blog in hopes that people don’t make the same mistakes I made.

  4. Betty July 23, 2016 at 11:49 am - Reply

    Barry, I am with you. I only started DIY investing at age 60. If only I knew years ago what I know now. It wasn’t that hard to learn, and I have done very well and not taken big risks. If I had a kid, they would have their own discount brokerage account in their teens or even earlier and I would teach them early.

    Now I am learning/teaching myself DIY travel booking. The flights are the hardest. On Google Flights, I found a great flight to Moscow and then found a better one where I could stopover in Warsaw for the same price. But I?could not book online myself (LOT) and had to call Flight Centre to get them to issue tickets. Does this happen to you and what do you do about it? I have called the airline direct in the past and that worked. I have to get better at pricing out seats in advance too. Advance seat selection can really add up for a trip with many flights.

    I have travelled a lot, and now in retirement I travel about 6 months of the years. In usually rent a car (cheaper, see more, more fun) and use booking.com for hotels, but for longer stays I am going to try airbnb. In the last few days, I have read all your travel blogs and have picked up some great tips. Thanks.

    • Barry Choi July 23, 2016 at 12:53 pm - Reply

      Hey Betty,

      Yes, DIY investing is pretty easy. These days people can even work with robo-advisors which is still way cheaper than using mutual funds.

      As for flights. I use a combination of Skyscanner.ca (use the search everywhere and cheapest month options) and google flights. Airfare is such a pain at times since pricing is dynamic. I’ve learned that if you see a good price, that you should just book it right away. I know that’s easier said than done, but if I see a good price and the dates work for me, I just buy.

      Sometimes you do need to call it in, I haven’t done it myself but that’s because I’m too lazy. Airbnb is lovely, if you plan on staying a month, you can easily negotiate better pricing.

      Thanks for stopping by!

      • Betty July 24, 2016 at 3:14 am - Reply

        Thanks again Barry. Still having a hard time actually booking flights. Google Flights says go to a travel agent or to the airline but then the price is much higher. Going directly to the airline websites, the prices are much higher. With Air Canada you can’t even enter a multi-city flight. Sky scanner directed me to e-Ireland where the price was much higher than quoted. Other than calling a travel agent, how do you book the flights? There must be away.

        • Barry Choi July 24, 2016 at 8:49 am - Reply

          Hi Betty,

          Airfare can be a real pain at times. Since pricing is dynamic, I also have also experienced where prices jump at the final booking stage. I usually find there’s not much I can do about it. Make sure you’re using skyscanner.ca as normally it redirects you to all the Canadian sites but since they don’t actually sell tickets, it’s not terribly surprising that they sometimes redirect to non-Canadian sites.

          The current AIr Canada page does allow multi-city but you need to click “from” and “to” first before it prompts you.

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