1. New Cars
When you drive it off the lot, you know what happens. You lose so much of the value, and you haven’t even put a single mile on it. It doesn’t matter if you’re a freelancer and spend 10 hours a week in your car, it is not worth it. You can get cars with less than 5K miles just a year or two old at CarMax for over 10K less than if you drove it off the lot new. 10K! Imagine how much that could grow if you put it into your retirement, or if you put it toward student loans with a 6% interest rate. Also, the more that you take out on a car loan, the more you pay in interest! Don’t do it.
Gold jewelry may be another story. Gold generally goes up over the decades – diamonds, not at all. Once you take it out of the store, same with the car. It drops drastically in value. I won’t go into the De Beers story, but you can research it. How the price of diamonds are artificially inflated. They are not rare at all. If you or your wife must have one, I recommend getting the smallest one you would be satisfied with. For me, I will never wear a diamond ring. I will pick a morganite (peach) stone for my wedding band, and there are many equally gorgeous gems (topaz, rubies, emeralds, aquamarines). I hope to get a vintage morganite ring used when the time comes. Less worry if 1K is not resting on my hand.
What I mean, traveling to Europe or other expensive vacations. It’s one thing if you budget for them, but to take them at the expense of your kid’s college fund or your retirement, it is not a good idea. I always say kids, independence, and travel are the three most expensive things – I don’t recommend either for people who are young. You will STILL have the same desire to travel when you are old, so getting it out of the way when you still have energy is a joke. You will still have plenty enough energy and time and desire to travel when you are 40 and 50.
4. Kids Young
You may want to have kids young so you don’t have kids in your house past 50, but there is no guarantee of that. Your kid could be mentally challenged or never make enough to move out. Maybe you expect your kid to take care of you in your old age, so you don’t mind having one at the expense of a retirement; however, there also is no guarantee that they will be willing to.
If you hold off having a kid for 10 years, your career will blossom and so will the money you put into your retirement. Putting it in early will guarantee exponential growth. Once you have kids, you have the expense of a house (renovations and furniture), another food bill, their medical/dental/clothing, quality primary education, and then their college and first car possibly. You will contribute less to your 401(k) because you might be working a lot less and because of your greater expenses, and this money cannot compound if it is not there.
5. Having a bad habit
Having a habit like alcohol, cigarettes, drugs, or gambling will cost you thousands for little return. Better to pay your body a favor and retirement account and break it as early as possible. Put that money toward a good habit – a massage, a yoga membership, maid service. That bad habit may just be eating too much, shopping, or always eating out. But you want to tackle it as early as possible because it offers very little for what you get. I’m not saying not to enjoy life, but to put your money where you get the most return. For each person, that is different, but the point is not to mindlessly consume.
Generally speaking, outside of insurance/medical, Americans spend the most on transportation, housing, and food. So ANYTHING you can do to cut these areas down as much as possible will pay dividends in the end. For me, living close to my work is worth the extra rent because it saves time and transportation and frustration, but eating out is not worth the value of not cooking because it wastes gas money and time to acquire that food vs cooking/warming up what I have.
I don’t want to drag this list into a 20-point one, so here are other mistakes you want to avoid: Buying a house without 20% down, getting into a 30-year mortgage, putting excessive money toward tithes, missing your 401(k) match, getting into the habit of eating out, and buying name-brand/impulse/unnecessary purchases. For instance, I will run my steno machine a decade before I think of upgrading – I don’t care how fast technology moves and how enticing a new one might be. This is an unnecessary purchase. You are not less of a person if you don’t own name-brand or new everything. Generally speaking, staying out of malls and away from advertisement will save you the most money.