What was your best money decision this year — and what was your worst? We’ve nearing the end of the year so I thought it might be a fun discussion, especially since there’s still time to make a great money decision or correct a bad one. Bonus question: what’s your biggest financial goal for 2019?
Psst: here’s our old advice on end of year financial steps if you’re wondering what you can do — as well as how to set financial goals for the year…
For my $.02…
Probably my best money decision has been my focus this year on automated savings and investments — I got a lot buttoned down, and feel good about that. I still use Ally for most short-term savings (the ones I want to keep in cash or CDs), but saw one comment yesterday that concerned me about Ally, so I’d love to hear what other banks you guys are using! Almost all of my long-term savings and investments are with Schwab and Vanguard, and short-short term (basically checking) is through Chase.
My worst money decision is just how loosey-goosey I’ve let my spending become. I tend to stress shop (and stress eat, and stress drink) and I really need to reign it in! It’s also kind of hard to keep track of how much I’ve actually spent because I return a ton of what I buy. I’m pondering setting up a gift card or something with a set amount of cash and using that for all online spending next year — has anyone done that? (Edited to add: I just bought myself a $500 gift card at Nordstrom to test it out since Nordstrom probably represents 80% of my shopping — I’ll report back on how that works out.)
My goal for 2019: The biggest money decision I’ll make in 2019 will probably be made this month, as I choose our health insurance for next year, so my goal for 2019 is to choose intelligently! I haaaaate health insurance with a fiery passion. (Here are some of our previous open enrollment tips…)
How about you guys — what was your best money decision of 2018? Worst money decision of 2018? Any early goals for 2019?
Stock photo credit: Stencil.
My worst decision was just buying a new dishwasher instead of trying to repair it when our old one broke. The new dishwasher was $900 which isn’t *that* much money to us, but we don’t like it and I think we probably should have just invested in fixing the old one.
Best money decision would be putting our tax return straight into our daughter’s 529. We never even saw the money so we didn’t miss it and her college fund will grow nicely if we keep doing this.
anon a mouse
Mine worst is similar but getting a new air conditioner instead of fixing the old one. The new one isn’t as nice (despite promises from the company) and I feel like we just made a bad choice.
Best decision was redoing our wills and life insurance.
Literally the exact same regret here. Our old dishwasher fried in a thunderstorm, and it was discontinued so we replaced it with the comparable newer version. Turns out the newer version is garbage, and we should have spent the money to replace the circuit board in the old washer.
We paid only a bit more for the new one than the repair would have been, which is why we did it, but we hadn’t realized how different the new one truly was. Our dishes don’t fit right, it doesn’t get anything clean, and cycles take twice as long.
Best: radical financial transparency between spouse and me. I keep a spreadsheet with all of our expenses. There are no surprises, including gifts.
Worst (and ongoing): I am unable to bring myself to take on non-cash investments outside of tax-sheltered accounts. I am terrified I will create a tax catastrophe.
I got an unexpected windfall this year — a pretty big one. (Yay!) I filled my 401(k) to the max, paid off my student loans 2 years early, and am paying off a debt to family members who helped us with our down payment. I guess that is my best money decision, but a part of me sure wishes I took a blowout trip to Paris instead! I did get some new shoes out of the deal, and spent a lot on wine…. Cheers to adulting, I suppose!
Best has been either maxing out my Roth before spending fun money or investing in myself (paying for professional education, etc.).
Worst has maybe been not spending enough on myself (never having gotten a massage though I’ve hurt for months, not having a budget to splurge on myself ever).
I work freelance so I can never assume there’ll be more work, which makes me live very frugally. Then, when I look back, after knowing what money did come in, I sometimes wish I had enjoyed my money more, rather than hiding it away just in case.
I bought a condo, which only time will tell if it is the best or worst financial decision of the year. For now, it is a bigger monthly outlay than renting was, but the 15 min walk to work and resulting return of an hour extra free time, every night, has been worth it.
It is a great decision! My dad is a big believer in Real Estate, and he is mad that my new condo never got off the ground, literally, but I am happy b/c I am living where I want and NOT moving to the Upper West Side, where the people are very different from the Upper East Side. Besides, I work on the East Side, and it would be to far to walk across midtown, where all the horses are sitting and pooping on 59th street! FOOEY!
The manageing partner put $20,000 in a special educational trust for me b/c he wants me to go back and get an MBA b/f I become a manageing partner. He wants me to be money smart in addition to legal smart. I would have to go full time for 2 years, and he wants me to start next year. Does the HIVE agree this is good for me? Please let me know ASAP b/c I would rather NOT go. DOUBEL FOOEY!
I am trying to claw my way out of credit card debt using the snowball method but still contribute a small amount to savings. I’m in so much debt that it’s tempting to throw all extra money at the debt but I also fear not having enough emergency savings (I loosely follow Dave Ramsey but his recommendation of only saving $1,000 really scares me). This whole thing is also taking a toll on my self esteem, I know better than to have gotten into this, but I can only move forward now. I am on track to pay it off by the spring but that doesn’t include much savings.
You’re on track to pay it off this spring, AND you’re saving money!? You should be feeling great about yourself, not being down on yourself. Yes, you got into a mess. But it’s SO much easier to get into a mess than to take the steps to get out of one. You’re taking the steps. Feel proud of yourself. High five.
I am in the same boat (credit card debt, no savings). Luckily my husband was smarter than me and built a significant emergency fund before we even met.
The more you contribute to savings and not to debt, the longer it takes to pay off debt and the more you pay in interest. It is an awful trade off and if you’re not in a dual income situation, I completely sympathize with how hard your situation is.
Best decision: starting and funding a 529 plan for our new son. Worst decision: buying baby stuff we never used. Things like a carrier that has 87 different straps which we could never figure out.
Sell them! We have a local group on the book of the face and people sell unused/gently used stuff for a healthy margin all the time!
I have bought a Bob jogging stroller, a sidecar co-sleeper, and a number of other things like this.
Me, best: paying off almost all the student loans and replenishing the emergency fund.
Best/worst: allowing ourselves to enjoy life. Taking the trips, even if we could have used that $2k for something else, and embracing the fact that we can afford a few things that make our life easier.
What is the concern with ally? I have some money there and wondering how worried I should be.
Their infosec is apparently inferior, per whispers in the industry.
Do you have suggestion for where to move it from Ally?
We did FPU from Dave Ramsey this year, and I was surprised by how much of the financial changes we made that weren’t budget related. Things like getting a will, setting up FOA and POAs, securing life insurance, etc.
Best: I’m not sure. We’ve kept on doing what we’ve been doing the last few years, which is to focus on investments and saving. So, that’s wise but not really new.
We’ve had a monthly housekeeping service for 5 years, and recently we upped it to twice a month. It is money well-spent.
Worst: I second the frivolous stress-induced spending. It’s not putting us in a dangerous financial situation, but it feels foolish and wasteful. That stuff adds up, and I don’t want to be ruled by “stuff.”
Best: Taking a huge paycut by leaving biglaw to accept a government job. I may be saving significantly less, but I effectively bought my life back and am so much happier.
Worst: Not sure that I really have one. Maybe wasting money going out to eat so much, but I don;t really regret that.
Best: I hope that the best financial decision will have been to renovate the last two units in my rental property and getting good quality tenants in at much better rental prices. But I emptied out all my savings to do the renovation, so we’ll see. (New tenants are excellent so far, yay.)
Worst: Stupid, frivolous spending when stressed and tired. Like upgrading to business class on transatlantic flight because I was frazzled and exhausted.
I finally took the time to understand Health Savings Accounts and starting this year I put in the maximum. It’s not a lot of money but there are no taxes upon deposit or withdrawal and you can take it to the next job or use it post-retirement.
Best: changed my mindset to consider charitable/political gifts as investing in the worñd and the future and therefore giving significantly (for my budget—not in absolute terms) to political campaigns. I’d never given to a political campaign before.
Now I’m figuring out my significant charitable giving for the year (again, for my budget, not in absolute terms).
Worst: spent some money on a home improvement project that went nowhere. I could have cut my losses earlier if I’d been more insistent on getting firm answers at the beginning and asked more detailed questions that I didn’t know to ask.
Best: looking up the video on how to replace the $14 felt seal at the back of my dryer myself, then doing so.
Worst: cheaping out on shoes that hurt too much to wear. I know better, and should have just saved up for the pair I really wanted instead.
BEST: Joining my local buy nothing group. It is a give/ask group with no money exchanged. I wrote about it on my blog auntiecam.com -> but honestly, it has changed my outlook on what I buy and if it is really a “need.” There are lots of fun things posted that get out that “splurge” instinct. I guess just living more consciously about spending.
WORST: Maybe not taking better advantage of the healthy living perks of my health insurance. I get gym and weight watcher reimbursement, but I think by taking a form to my doctor, I could get more…Goal for next year, too stressful this year.
Best financial decision: admitting to ourselves that the string of “bad” financial years seem to keep coming (e.g., massive amounts out of pocket for IVF, several months of unemployment, IVF finally working, so maternity leave plus a second daycare bill on the horizon….), so we should probably just consider those our new normal, and reduce our spending accordingly. One concrete example: when my 16 year old car got totaled, I replaced it with a used Corolla instead of the new Prius I had planned on. (Since the car was 16 years old, I had had a designated savings account ready for replacing it, but that had been repurposed for a futile IVF round.)
Worst financial decision: continuing to drag our feet on making appointments to see our financial planner (we have the firm picked out and have gotten some advice on a tricky and time-sensitive situation, but still need to do a comprehensive overview) and write our wills