20 savings mistakes people make

7. The house of albatross

Several years ago I went through a divorce that cost me a lot more than it should have. In order to try and make it easier for my ex-husband and I to make a fresh start, I sacrificed my money market account that was holding what little I had saved from a previous job. The original plan was to roll it into the retirement vehicle at my new job. It seemed like a good idea at the time to use the money to settle the debt we had incurred jointly through the marriage.

We also had purchased a mobile home that was sitting in a park. I was not as enlightened as I am today, and regret not taking him up on the offer for him to keep the house. As a result, I kept it for another five years and had to short sell in order to move forward with my life.

I took the hit on the house, and sacrificed all my savings for the sake of a clean break. If I were to do it over, I would have split the bills, settled with what companies I could and let him keep the house. I would have rented a place to accommodate myself and my children, and would have been farther ahead in the long run.

Hard lessons learned, but they have made me a smarter person financially, and more savvy in my decisions around money. Nothing like the school of hard knocks to help you graduate into a more stable, sustainable lifestyle.
-- Kerrie Lapoehn, Colo.

8. Learn to read

I'm 50 years old. I've made some awful financial mistakes. What I would tell young people is, learn to read markets. Learn to read the stock market. Learn to read the real estate markets. Learn to read any market you're interested in. I still have time, but it's going to be a nail-biter, especially in today's markets. If I had only known how to read 20 years ago.
-- Karl in Denver




9. Crime and punishment

My regret is about failure to make an investment that has greatly affected my net worth/savings.

I moved to Philadelphia 24 years ago from Salt Lake City. My niece was coming from the rural south to live with me to go to school. Thus, I wanted an environment that left little guesswork. I rented an apartment in a high-rise complex in a neighborhood everyone said was good for "young professionals." I spent the next two years trying to get a sense of what it would be like to live among the natives.

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