Stefanie O’Connell is a New York City based actress and freelance writer. She chronicles her struggle to “live the dream” on a starving artists’ budget at thebrokeandbeautifullife.com.
You know when you fundamentally disagree with someone or somebody does something so foreign or unfathomable to you that you just can’t wrap your brain around it? I often feel that way when it comes to personal finance, or what I call common sense money, or lack thereof.
When I hear stories of people living in apartments that cost more per month than they earn or going on shopping sprees with credit cards already maxed out or adopting a dog when they supposedly can’t afford to feed themselves- I become overwhelmed with frustration. Why? Why? Why?
Well, there were a few instances recently, when I made less than ideal money moves that gave me a small window of insight into the “why”.
Too Fed up and Tired to Deal With It. This sounds like a totally lame excuse for anything, but it’s one I used just a few weeks ago while on vacation. After a long delay, a layover, and two flights, I finally arrived at my destination. I had contacted the hotel beforehand to inquire about public transit options between them and the airport. But after 24 hours of travel and an overwhelming desire to be done with transit, I went ahead and got myself a cab. 20 minutes later I was at my hotel, but 30 Euros poorer.
Financial Ignorance. Unfortunately, I think a lot of money mistakes are made because people don’t know any better. I have read a lot of books and blogs over the years to make sure I don’t wind up paying for my own financial ignorance, but even I am not immune. When I arrived at the airport, just before hailing my pricey cab, I went to the ATM to withdraw local currency. I have a fabulous debit card that reimburses me for all ATM fees, even abroad, but the machine wasn’t reading it. In my haste, I went ahead and used my credit card thinking I’d be covered under the “no foreign transaction fee” stipulation. Well, withdrawing money abroad isn’t just a foreign transaction it’s also a cash advance, and while I didn’t get charged for the former, I got slapped with a $10 fee for the cash advance.
Failing to Inquire. So many of the savings and strategies I implement on a daily basis come from my own research. I typically don’t accept things outright, I inquire and find out before making any kind of decision. Well rewind back to my trip for another financial failure. I was flying back home to the states and I had a layover in Iceland. For some reason, neither of my flights was serving a meal so I was desperate to get my hands on some food at the Reykjavik airport. I had an hour but the selection of snacks by my gate wasn’t cutting it. I had to run back to the main terminal to grab myself something before boarding. I found a place, packaging meals to go, with a veggie lasagna- perfect. Of course the prices were no longer in Euros so I had no idea what it cost. I just handed my card over and ran back to my plane. After waking up back home the next morning and reviewing my credit card statement, I saw it, $17, that knocked me right out of my jet-lagged grogginess. I spent $17 on a to-go meal because I didn’t even bother checking the price.
So while I still shake my head at easily avoidable financial fumbles- I know I can’t be too quick to judge. I’ve been there myself.
What silly mistakes have you made with your money? What financial choices do you see others make that drive you crazy?