Learning From Others Mistakes

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One of the main reasons I started this blog is because I wanted people to learn from my mistakes. Fortunately, the mistakes I made didn’t affect me long term, but I could have saved a lot of money if I had realized them earlier. Learning from others mistakes is one of the best things you can do, why would you want to repeat something that you say affect someone you know? In my case, my mistakes helped me increase my financial literacy, and now I try to share the knowledge I’ve gained.

The thing about mistakes, it’s all a matter of perspective. What some people consider mistakes, may mean something different to those involved. The point is you want to learn from people’s experiences – good and bad. At times, it may seem like you’re judging people (you may very well be), but sometimes you need to look at things from their perspective. Maybe there’s a reason someone is spending X amount of dollars without feeling guilty.

Learning From Others Mistakes

When it comes to spending, let’s be realistic, we’re constantly judging each other. I’ll never understand why people who complain about money don’t pack their lunches more while I’m sure others don’t get why people don’t treat themselves more often. In the grand scheme of things, I don’t think these small things matter. I’d be more concerned about big ticket purchases, that’s where learning from others mistakes can make a huge difference.

When I got married, I spent below the “average” but I still came in close to $30,000. Looking back, I can’t believe how much I spent. If I had to do it all over again, I’d do it on a significantly smaller budget and invest the difference into something else. The cost of weddings only seem to go up, so when I hear people complaining about how they NEED to spend $500 for each specific decoration, they get no sympathy from me. In this specific case, I’m totally judging but that money can be better spent elsewhere.

Spending on your home

Housing is another major issue these days in Canada. I recently became a homeowner and although I know it would have been cheaper to rent, I feel comfortable with my purchasing decision. I had a big down payment and more importantly, the mortgage will not affect my finances in the future (hopefully). I’ll still be able to take vacations, save for retirement, and afford things without worrying about picking up debt. In my case, you could argue that I made the smart decision or a mistake, it’s all perspective. There’s already people who have told me I should have bought a house because they only go up in value. Nevermind the fact the fact that a house was out of my price range.

I’m sure we all know people who clearly bought too much house. We may not know their exact financial decision but way too often people are spending more than they make. It’s really not hard to figure out when people are spending excessively just to show off. Look at this coffee table below, does that not scream “look at me?” The owner of this beautiful piece of furniture may even think it’s an investment but I’d much rather learn from others mistakes and avoid being all flashy. Trust me, no on cares about your cofee table made from your car rims.

learning from others mistakes rims

Spending on vacations

I love to travel, the funny thing is that many people I spend a small fortune on travel. I probably spend more than the average person but I have a hard budget of $7,800 a year. What that means is that I’ll travel as much as I can in a year as long as I don’t spend more than that amount. Instead of judging people for how much they spend, maybe it’s better if we figure out how they do it. I’m constantly trying to stretch my travel dollar and as of late, I’ve picked up freelance work that has helped pay for additional trips.

But how does this relate to learning from others mistakes? Well again, I’m sure we all know tons of people who travel a lot and we can’t help but feel jealous. The thing is, just because they’re taking a lot of vacations doesn’t mean they can afford them. Anything can be “affordable” when put on credit. I personally don’t ever think it’s a good idea to charge your vacations to credit unless you plan on paying the full balance immediately, but some people don’t agree or don’t care – that’s their decision.

Final word

Learning from mistakes should be an easy thing to do, but we shouldn’t judge them immediately. It may seem like a mistake to you, but perhaps there’s a logical reason behind in their decisions. There’s always more than one perspective to money, just figure out what works for you and your wallet.

About Barry Choi

Barry Choi is a Toronto-based personal finance and travel expert who frequently makes media appearances. His blog Money We Have is one of Canada’s most trusted sources when it comes to money and travel. You can find him on Twitter:@barrychoi


  1. bigcajunman on June 20, 2016 at 7:09 AM

    It is funny, you would think, “Do as I say, not as I do”, training would be perfect, in that most folks would see what not to do, but I am always surprised that people are still making the same mistakes I did. Sigh….

    • Barry Choi on June 20, 2016 at 10:28 AM


      I’ve stopped trying to say anything unless I’m being asked about my personal experiences. I try not to judge but some people make it too easy.

  2. Scott @ Couple of Sense on June 20, 2016 at 8:14 PM

    I’ve always considered a mistake to be when you do something you regret twice. Nobody is perfect and we all do things we wish we could have done differently but its only a mistake if you don’t learn from yourself. It can get tricky as well because something that didn’t work out for you could be someone else’s saving grace.

    • Barry Choi on June 20, 2016 at 8:24 PM


      But what about the people who make mistakes twice and don’t learn from their mistakes? I suppose as long as we learn from them, it’s all good.

  3. Rob on September 4, 2016 at 8:55 AM

    I’m reading this post at the cottage. Please don’t judge me.

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