A lot of my writing is aimed at what you should do when it comes to personal finance, rather than what you shouldn’t do. Well, today I’m going to give you the top 5 money mistakes that will inevitably be made by millions of people in 2023. You don’t want to miss this!
Money Mistake #1: Listening to Friends
I get it, we all want to surround ourselves with people we can trust and rely upon for advice. Unfortunately, most of your friends are not DC and AJ over at the Wealthy Idiots. Instead, you get a myriad of mind-blowing advice that can either be equated to incompetence at best or negligence at worst.
Oh how many times I’ve heard a friend say “yeah, I need to call my money [guy/girl] to see what they think about this market.” Really? What can they possibly think? The market exists, and it’s gonna do what it’s gonna do. I’m sure Betsy at the corner of 1st and Main in small town USA knows better than Warren Buffet and John Bogle. Nope, she doesn’t. Fact.
Statistics actually point to the contrary. The median net worth in America is approximately $121k. Are you sure your friends are equal/above this? 34% of Americans have no savings at all. Are your friends in this group? You get the point: your friends may not have all the knowledge they claim to have.
Money Mistake #2: Trying to Invest but Forgetting to Invest
This title probably sounds crazy, but you’ll understand in a second. Most people have a 401(k) or a Roth IRA or some type of brokerage account. Most people who have those accounts actively put money into them, whether it be weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly. Yup, that’s it, they put money into the account and think they’re “investing”.
In actuality, you need to buy investments inside of the account in order to actually be investing. This would be something like stocks, bonds, ETFs, or mutual funds. It might be easier to view the account as your car and the investments as the gasoline. Without the gas, the car isn’t going to get very far.
Money Mistake #3: Leaving Free Money on the Table
About 51% of employers who offer a 401(k) plan to their employees also offer a match. This match is normally is normally something like 3-5% of base pay. What does this mean? If an employer offers a 5% match and an employee makes $100k a year and puts 5% in the plan ($5k) the employer will contribute $5k to match. In other words, you’re getting a free FIVE THOUSAND DOLLARS to participate.
I wish I could give you a ton of compelling reasons to ensure you get the match, but the fact that it’s free money should be the only one you need. Don’t miss out on this.
Money Mistake #4: Falling for Sales Tactics
The year was 2006 and I was invited to an exclusive party at a friends house. They sent fancy invitations and said they had something exciting to share with everyone. When we arrived, there were hors d’oeuvres, a fancy ice sculpture, and around 50 chairs staged in front of a 120″ projector screen. Without even knowing it, I was about to sit through a 60 minute MLM (pyramid scheme) presentation. It was brutal. This is where my frustration with high pressure sales began.
The point of the story is that these situations exist all over the place, and the personal finance world is no exception. If a “financial professional” or “insurance representative” is trying hard to sell you their services, you should ask yourself why. In 2023, the entire financial world is at the fingertips of retail investors. You can shop term life insurance at huge brokerages which gather the most competitive quotes from top companies, there are 5+ choices of brokers for low-fee investing, and 401(k) plans already have enhanced protections. What on earth do you need a salesperson for? Simple answer: you don’t. But nonetheless, some of the products are atrociously bad and people still buy them/invest in them (see video above)! Side note: if you are willing to come on the show and debate the merits of IUL or Whole Life we’d love to have you!
Money Mistake #5: Failing to Make Projections
I’ve heard a lot of people make negative comments about people who track their net worth, saying it’s conceited and an irrelevant figure that doesn’t change anything. I disagree completely.
Since I started tracking my net worth and making projections for the next 50 years, my motivation has increased significantly. Rather than hoping my plan is working, I can use some historical data to project future outcomes to some degree of certainty. This is much better than hope. I’m also starting to see successes even in bad markets, which is something people don’t normally think exists.
Start tracking your investing activities and growth NOW!
More mistakes than we can count
This article could have included 100 mistakes. Or 200. Or 300. It’s endless, really. Everyday we hear of normal people making absolutely terrible financial decisions that continue to cripple their finances. But, sometimes people make good decisions, which are hopefully a result of reading the Wealthy Idiots (or not, we’re fine with good decisions either way). Regardless of which category you fall into, just do your best to keep improving each day.