Sunday poll

The picture above is the Berlin Wall, circa 1985. The large text “Wer mauert…” means, roughly translated, “Anyone who builds a wall, needs to.” I traveled to East Berlin in ’85, my only trip to the Soviet bloc pre-collapse, although I visited every corner of the former Soviet bloc in the 90s after the empire collapsed. It’s a strange reminder when I look at this picture and remember how formidable that wall seemed – and it’s gone now. So many leaders could have torn this ridiculous symbol of oppression down, but they clung to it until it dragged them down. The cost to tear it down would have been so small – the most dissatisfied would have left, but too many people would have had family, friends and lives attaching them to their homes to leave. But knowing they could might have kept them happier.

Studies have shown that regret over missed opportunities is worse than regret over mistakes made, though. I’m sure the Soviets regret trying to physically keep the world out, when they could have allowed more freedom of movement but continued to exist – that’s their mistake made – but I’m sure they really regret not tearing it down 10 years earlier than they did, and staging a big “we’re free – no really, we are!” photo op.

My question for what I hope is not the final hot Sunday of the year: what is your biggest financial regret? Mine’s in the first comment.

10 comments

  • My biggest regret – and it’s simply one of many, but a great regret – is the $4000 fee I paid to an apartment broker in Manhattan in 2001. I needed an apartment fast – after Sept. 11th the place I lived in Jersey had suddenly become almost impossible for commuting, taking me 2-3 hours each way each day. I paid a broker $4000 to basically read the “for rent” ads for me. I have always bitterly, bitterly regretted spending that money, because of all of the big money wasters in my life, this one was far and away the most blatant, awful waste of money.

  • not getting started sooner. I mean, I’ve made a bunch of stupid mistakes I am sure but I regret it taking so long to get my butt in gear to do something.

  • I think one of my biggest mistakes was going to community college before the university. It saved only about 2000 dollars a year and I ended up not being able to carry over most of my credits. After subtracting the costs of the credits of the classes I actually transferred and the classes that provided me with something practically useful, I still threw about 2800-3000 a year, and I was miserable. I don’t even want to calculate the amount of interest that cost me before I payed them off.

  • I wish I’d thought that I should learn a little about investing before jumping straight in and buying shares. I didn’t really mess up in a big way, but I could have made a lot more money if I’d been a bit more sensible.

  • Not having enough money in college to buy a bunch of Apple stock for $20 per share. Every time I see Apple breaking another threshold, I kick myself for not having the money to act on a good hunch. Everyone says college is a good investment, but I do not think it was a good investment of time and money in my case. At least not as good an investment as Apple would have been.

  • I bought a brand new convertible for around $30K after I had some success at my first job before the Internet boom collapsed.

  • I have 2 major regrets: #1 I should have use student loans to into the market (I finished school without any debts so I could had earn a good 5-6% on money, interest free, for 3 years). The #2 is my biggest regret: I paid an agent to sell my house. It cost me 10K to realize that all he was doing is the secretary work (scheduling visits and filling out paperwork). A lot of money for so little work!

  • After I graduated from college, I went on a spending spree….I was a shopping machine. I bought way too much stuff (mainly clothing)…I had to borrow money from my then-boyfriend….ugh! Horrible! Irresponsible! It still makes me cringe!

  • I’ve wasted money in various ways, but I think that my biggest financial regret has been my inaction. I think that getting your feet wet is a great way to learn as long as you’re sensible about it.

  • big mistake

    My biggest mistake that caused me my biggest financial regret was getting charged with a DUI. Court costs, fines, insurance costs set me back for about 5 years.