We have been married for ten wonderful and awesome years now, and sometimes we look back and think about the days when we were single. Reflecting back on those days we’ve realized that there were definitely some financial mistakes that we made. For Talaat, he had a great opportunity to lay a good solid financial foundation for himself and admittedly, he blew it. We’ll get to those details a little bit later. As for Tai, she is fortunate enough to have laid a great foundation for herself while she was single, so the two of us came from very different places when we got married. Before we get into our suggestions for single people and their finances, here is Tai’s account of her biggest financial mistake she feels she made, and what she would do differently if she could go back.
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For some of you all who may not know my story (you can find out more details about our stories HERE, I would say that I was good with money while I was single. I had a great credit score; I had no debt. I purchased my own vehicle by the time I was 19 and had it paid off in 13 months. I went to college completely debt free and paid my own way through college. So I would say that I had a pretty good head on my shoulders financially, but when I look back and reflect, there is definitely one thing that I would have done differently (or done at all), and that is, I would have started some type of IRA, or investment, a lot sooner than I did.
Investing money is so important especially prior to marriage, because a lot of times after getting married, life happens! You have children, so responsibilities increase: you’re paying for school tuition now, you’re setting money aside for college funds and things like that. Your obligations are a just a little bit more increased when you’re married. So when I wasn’t married, I didn’t have a lot of responsibilities; it was just me, and I wish that I would have put more money to the side, for my future.
I recall reading a statistic recently that I thought was interesting. At the age of 16, if a teenager got a summer job and they worked for the next four years, and each summer they were able to save up $2,000 and put that aside in a Roth IRA – just for four years – after the four years is up, that’s $8,000 that they will have invested into their own Roth IRA. If a 16-year-old puts away $8,000 over the course of 4 years, by the time they are in their mid 60’s or a little bit older – by the time retirement comes – they will have made over 1.1 million.
After reading this article, I really looked back and thought about when I had my job as a teenager. There was a time I was working for a shoe company; I believe I was about 18 years old. At this job, I got paid on commission, and that’s one of the reasons I was able to pay off a $13,000 car loan in 13 months. I reflect on paying off that car and I realize that if I was able to do that, I would have been able to save $1,000 or at least try to take at least $2,000 each year to put aside in some type of retirement account and just leave it there. One thing I know now for sure is that investing early on in life truly is key.
Like we mentioned earlier, Talaat didn’t have such a great financial background when we got married. When I found out about his debt, I was very confused (you can watch our video on financial infidelity HERE). I remember thinking, “Wow, how can you be in this much debt? You’re not even married, you’re single, you don’t have any children…” I knew that he had a car note, but he was being paid very well by the military, and his education was also paid for. I remember wondering what he could have possibly spent his money on.
We know our situation isn’t unique. There are tons of marriages that begin with each spouse on different financial footing from the other. Each person has their own situations and goals, so when you get married, it’s important to talk to each other to find out your common goals and problem areas. Tai’s biggest regret was not investing her money sooner in life, and Talaat has several regrets of his own.
I look back over some of the moves that I made, and honestly, I want to scream at single people and warn them to not fall into the same traps that I did. Before you get married and start a family, you have such a wonderful opportunity to make yourself financially sound.
Like Tai said, if you’re single right now, investing sooner than later is key. Personally, I wish I was money-conscious when I was single. I wish I just had any type of money sense. But I just didn’t. I was so ignorant on how money worked, and I wish I would have started acquiring knowledge much sooner than when I did. I should have been reading books, listening to podcasts, reading finance blogs, all in the name of trying to learn about money. I didn’t understand how powerful money is, in the sense that it can have a positive or a negative effect on you for years at a time. And without proper knowledge, I blew it. I wasn’t conscious of how money really worked and what I should be using it on. I got into tons and tons of debt, which is another mistake. Avoid debt at all costs! I wish that I would have known to avoid debt and I wish I understood that no debt is good debt. I was fortunate to not have any student loans because of my time in the military, but I had all kinds of other debt – and the worst kind. Payday loans, personal loans, car loans, credit card debt – all of it. If I had only learned and educated myself more earlier on, I would have avoided all that debt.
Between the two of us, we’ve learned a lot about mistakes we’ve made and discovered things we would do differently if we could go back. We encourage you, whether you are single or married, if you are in debt, start getting out now, and definitely avoid getting in any more debt. Start to build up a knowledge base. You can go to the library or visit Amazon, and read books. Listen to a podcast like ours and other great programs. Just start to learn. If you don’t handle your money right, it can hurt you for years – even decades – If you do it wrong. It is really that important, so you definitely need to know; get the knowledge through whatever resource is best for you: YouTube, Amazon, Podcasts, etc.
It’s also never too late to begin investing your money. You can open an IRA with as little as $25, and like Tai said, she regrets not doing this years ago. You won’t be able to get these days or these weeks or years back, so invest now. Compound interest is one of the fundamental things about investing. Warren Buffett says the key to his success is compound interest. So invest now, even if it’s a little bit – $25 is better than nothing at all.
You definitely want to seek financial counseling or meet with some type of financial advisor to determine which investments are best in your case because we are not at all financial advisors; these are just our experiences and examples of what we do and what works for us.
These stories are our experiences with making financial mistakes before getting married. Between the two of us, we’ve learned that it’s important to get the knowledge early on, start getting out of debt as soon as possible, avoid accruing more debt at all costs, and invest your money as soon and as often as possible.
We would like to hear from you. What are some of the things you would have done differently, financially, in your single days? If you’re not married, what are some of the things that maybe you are learning now while you’re single; what are things that you’re taking advantage of to better your financial future?
Please feel free to comment and discuss, so we can all help each other. There a lot of people that read these comments and learn from them. Take a moment to share your insight and help those that are behind you to learn from your mistakes, and let’s all help each other create a better future for our money.