3 Common Money Mistakes We've All Made

Budgeting can only help you if you help yourself make the right financial decisions

In just 72 hours, I managed to make three money mistakes that turned what was supposed to be an affordable weekend getaway into a financial disaster waiting to happen. It's true. I've been writing about how to be responsible with your money for over three years now — and I'm still learning how to do things right. After all, nothing is ever a lesson unless it's learned the hard way, and I can assure you that any advice or ideas I suggest to you will always be found on these terms and these terms only. Sure, you've got your classic lost damage deposit, shopping addictions or credit card woes — but those have somehow managed to make their way to the magical world of "bad habits I finally learned how to kick." And trust me, you don't want to visit.

Every decision you make can impact your finances

This past weekend, my husband and I had to attend a wedding that was in a city 8 hours from where we currently live. One year ago, the trip would've taken 8 hours exactly, including a couple pit stops for snacks and washroom breaks. However, this time we some how forgot that travelling with a newborn isn't as simple as travelling with two very road-trip loving adults. That's right. We decided to road trip with our 3.5 month old baby. Needless to say, it didn't take us 8 hours — and it wasn't very affordable.

The three common money mistakes we've all made at one point in our lives are common, yes. But they're not so common that you manage to roll them all into one ball of mess to completely drain your travel fund. Unless you're actively trying to do so that is.

Mistake 1 — Opting for affordability over quality

Most humans make this mistake more than any other money mistake. Rather than spend the extra money on new clothing, a new appliance or a new electronic, we somehow assume that the billion dollar company who is charging way too much for their item doesn't do it better than the million dollar company that's selling that same item for less. In the end, affordability will only win out in some situations. It didn't for us.

We booked the cheapest hotel we could find in Banff, Alberta. I'm sure you've heard of it. The beautiful mountain city that drives too many tourists to count its way each year. Due to the popularity of this location, accommodations are not cheap. But, we managed to find a hotel that was $600 for two nights. This was the cheapest option, and it looked cute from the outside, so we booked. After driving for 11+ hours and dealing with an exhausted baby, we arrived. To a hole. A damp, dark, and musty hole if you will. Our room was smoke-filled, the neighbouring room was blasting Drake (could be worse), and the wallpaper was making my headache seem like a migraine wrapped in a construction site. Luckily, after speaking with management (who agreed the room was stanky), we were able to cancel and find another place to stay.

Mistake 2 — Making financial decisions at the wrong time

Any time you have to make a purchase, it's recommended you do so when the timing is right. By this, typically we mean that you aren't tired (oops), hungry (oopsier), or hasty (always). No money decisions should be made at the drop of the hat unless you have a rainy day fund to cover those costs — because they always tend to happen. However, if those financial decisions are $100 or more, it's often a good idea to practice the 24-hour rule and give yourself time to reconsider or reevaluate the expense.

Seeing as it was 9:30pm and our baby was desperately in need of a place to sleep, booking a new hotel room was A$AP Rocky mandatory. However, options were limited. Neither of us were willing to stay somewhere that wouldn't be comfortable, worry-free or quiet. So, we ended up booking a room at the Rimrock. Beautiful? You bet. Affordable? Not quite. Making a financial decision when we were rushed, grumpy and also a little bit frumpy lead to going $400 over-budget on a hotel room.

Mistake 3 — Being economical rather than efficient 

On the flip side of things, sometimes money leads us to make decisions we wouldn't normally make. Let's be honest, we've all spent an extra few dollars on a fancy cocktail, coffee, or menu item at a new restaurant in town — even though we promised ourselves we wouldn't. And to that tune, we've also chosen to spend less money rather than a touch more to create a more affordable outcome. Perhaps it was taking the bus rather than a taxi to save a few dollars. However, the bus ended up making us late. In the end, it's not always a money mistake per-say, but this doesn't mean it's the best money decision.

Driving 8-hours with a newborn is something we've done a couple of times now. But honestly? Never. Again. Booking a flight and renting a car might only cost us a bit more money than we thought given all of the extra pitstops and hours spent on the road. Not to mention, we'd be up in the air for 45 minutes and in a new city within the hour. Efficiency and the cost of time are a cruel pair. If I choose to save money, it means that I am giving up time I could be spending with friends and family I rarely see. Money saved is best spent on the things that make you happy. And let me tell you — I'm happy when I'm efficient.

In the end, our estimated $1000 spend for the weekend turned into a $1500 event, and if that ain't life then I'm not sure what is.

The common money mistakes that we tend to make over and over again are always easy to do, but hard to fix. Budgeting can only help you if you help yourself make the right financial decisions — and even then, those decisions can be the wrong ones for you and your money. How can you feel better about making money mistakes? Emergency funds, rainy day funds and well — literally any kind of financial cushion you can create. Trust me. I'm a money-mistake-making-queen.

What is the most common money mistake you catch yourself making over and over again? Let me know in the comments!