My wife and I purchased our first home last year. This was a lifelong dream that each of us had. We never thought we would ever accomplish this. Our home is valued at $126,000 and our monthly mortgage payment is $959. I purchased a car back in 2007 that we are still paying for. Our monthly auto loan installments cost us $410. Along with those loans, each of us has been to college, which means more loans.
My wife graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Wildlife Management. There are no jobs available, and she is forced to work a data-entry job so we can pay our bills. I am still attending college and will have my bachelor’s degree in psychology later this year. I work as a college tutor. Together, our yearly income comes close to $60,000-$65,000 per year. That’s not a lot, but we have been fortunate and we are grateful.
When we pay all of our bills for the month, we are left with an average of several hundred dollars that we can apply to savings or necessities that we need to apply to our new home. There is little wiggle room within our budget for financial mistakes, but that does not mean I do not have my fair share of regrets. I have always been one that believed I handled my finances well. Coming from a very poor rural area, this was something that I prided myself on. That is not to say that I have never made financial mistakes, because I have absolutely. Some are glaring.
What would our biggest financial mistake be as I see it today?
Throughout our youth we had been told that if we wanted to be a success in life and gain a job of quality, we would need to go to college. We were told this from the second we started elementary school up to the day we graduated high school. We had to go to college and regretfully, blindly, we followed this instruction. It is the biggest financial mistake and regret that either of us has.
My student loans are going to total more than $100,000 when I am finished. When we begin to pay my student loans, this is going to cost us nearly $500 a month. This will be $500 taken away from an already restrained budget. We have been paying my wife’s student loans. She has close to $70,000 left on her collegiate tab. These monthly payments are going to cost us close to $300 for the next 17 years.
This was a choice that we made. It was not a wise one. Looking back, if I could point at one decision that I made that I would do over if I had the opportunity, it would be to not go to college. The lack of jobs available and the heaping amount of debt we’ve gained should be more than enough to have made me want to keep away. It’s not that entirely though, I regret that I didn’t use better judgment.
This was my mistake and I will take full responsibility for it.
That does not mean I’m going to be happy each time I write my monthly check for these pieces of paper in our basement. I try not to be entirely pessimistic. I think I can find a way to learn from my mistakes and hopefully help my children to make a better decision than I did when it comes to their educational future.