Four Mistakes I Made In College (I Hope My Kids Don’t Make)


Mistakes I Made In CollegeLive and learn…

While this old adage is true, I hope my children’s financial future is brighter than mine.  I hope I teach them to make smart financial decisions. So if they do make poor financial decisions, it affects them only in the short term, rather than decades as some of my financial mistakes have affected me.

Here are some things I hope my kids do differently than me:

Eating Out

I was raised in a household where money was scarce.  However, my mom loved socializing, and she loved going out to eat.  Whenever there was any extra money, she used some to eat out.  Even now, in retirement, she goes out to eat several nights a week.  She now saves money by splitting an entree with her dinner companion.

I learned to equate eating out with socializing, and in college, there’s plenty of opportunity to socialize.  I cringe now to think of how many times I ate out.  True, many times it was just for a quick lunch at Taco Bell, but over the weeks and years, those expenses added up.  Later, I developed a craving for sushi, which definitely wasn’t cheap.

Picking a Major that Wasn’t Profitable

I have always loved reading and writing, so choosing English as my major seemed perfect.  The problem?  When I graduated, the only job I could find was working as a secretary at a janitorial supply company.  I did go on to get my M.A., but that was another two years of college expenses that I could have avoided had I picked a more profitable major.

Taking Out Credit Cards in College

I got my first credit card when I was 18 and a freshman in college.  At first I used it responsibly. But soon, my expenses were greater than the little bit of money I made at my part-time job as a tutor.  All that eating out had to be paid for somehow, and unfortunately, it was often charged to plastic.

You’d think I’d have learned my lesson and quit eating out, but old habits die hard.  Just within the last three years have my husband and I stopped eating out altogether.  Now we only eat out about five times a year, and our budget is in much better shape.

Moving Frequently

In grad school, I was dirt broke.  I thought it would be financially smarter to move from the nice apartment complex I was living in to one further off campus that was cheaper.  That began an odyssey of living in five different apartments in two years.  Since the landlords there had very little scruples, each place kept my deposit. I would have saved money if I stayed put in the more expensive apartment.  (That was the only place that gave me back my security deposit in full.)

College is a time to learn and grow and explore.  While I want my kids to try their wings and experience the college life, I hope they don’t make the same financial mistakes that I did.

What financial decisions did you make in college that you now regret?

Posted in: Education

Top of page