Personal Finance

What Is The One Thing you would have done differently with your finances?

  • Last Updated:
  • Aug 25th, 2017 3:57 pm
Deal Guru
User avatar
Nov 15, 2004
14820 posts
I should have signed up for the employee stock purchase plan sooner.
Could HAVE, not could OF. What does 'could of' even mean?
Deal Addict
Feb 26, 2008
1705 posts
OP, you are getting two broad types of answers, and it's important to differentiate them to understand their usefulness for young RFDers:

Category 1: I wish I had managed my expenses better and/or started investing sooner. The outcomes related to the actions in this category of answer are entirely under our own control. We are not dependent on good timing, good luck, or any other type of fortunate outcome to get a benefit from them.

Category 2: I wish I had invested more money in asset category XXXX or had used more leverage with the investments that I made in asset category XXXX. The outcomes related to the actions in this category are contingent on how the market for that asset class performs. Ex ante, there is no assurance that real estate, equities, crypto currencies, or collectibles will provide a good return. You can take these actions and the outcome is heavily dependent on timing, fortune, or luck in a specific asset market for the outcome to be favourable.

For young RFDers, I would suggest that category 1 are the sorts of activities that will provide a better framework for success. You can be inspired by the cost control activities, starting to invest early, and investing aggressively as actions that are almost certain to result in a favourable outcome. Some of the things in this category that I should have done sooner include:

1) Cut the cord - I probably waited about 5 years too long to cut the cord and switch to VOIP/streaming/OTA TV. This probably cost me $100/month for five years.

2) Cut bank charges - this one didn't cost me too much, but PC Financial, Tangerine, etc can easily save you $5 or $10 per month. Over 10 years, that's ~$1,000.

3) Manage transportation costs - the least expensive options are walking and public transit. Failing that, if you can manage to get by on a single, inexpensive car that you replace infrequently you'll save a pile of money. Some people sink astounding amounts of money into transportation.

4) Cut the fees for your investments - if you don't do your homework, a bank or investment company will charge your 2% or more per year to manage your money. There are options out there that are much lower cost. If you only have $10k of investments, then it doesn't matter as much, but once you hit $100k or $200k, then 2% per year becomes really big bucks.

5) Think carefully about your insurance expenditures - extended warranties are almost always a loser for the consumer. A low deductible for car insurance is frequently a loser for consumers because you want to try to avoid making small collision claims anyway. Use insurance to protect yourself against catastrophic losses that would inflict hardship on your family, but don't bother to insure chicken-shit losses that do not constitute a meaningful hit to your financial situation (like seriously, why to people bother to buy a warranty on a $500 TV? If you get unlucky and it breaks, it's not a major's only $500).

Anyway, those are some of the obvious and easy things that I should have done earlier and more often.
Jul 22, 2015
355 posts
Kitchener, ON
I wish I had purchased more rental properties 10 years ago. Back then, I could have purchased properties with 0% down. All that was needed was closing costs and some lenders were offering cash back to take care of closing costs. I could have been a multi-millionaire right now!
Sr. Member
Nov 8, 2006
646 posts
Buy tsla stock when it was 185 as i followed it, promised myself i will do it again if it drops below 190....didnt pull the trigger....

Other than that, save and invest rather than spending every paychecks in pubs every night when I was in asia.
Deal Addict
Apr 21, 2014
1527 posts
My biggest regret is selling my house when I went on an overseas assignment for 2 years. I would have been mortgage free by now. I bout the house for 350k now worth over 600 if not more by now. Should have rented it out. Mortgage was only 1600 a month.
Deal Guru
User avatar
Aug 8, 2012
10198 posts
vkizzle wrote:
Aug 11th, 2017 7:57 am
Should have bought more RE, instead of focusing on paying the mortgage off as quickly as we did.
Should have bought WAY more Apple stock and made way more than possible with real estate :)

AAPL is up 9x in last 10 years since iPhone came out.

With 50% margin, $20k could have bought $40k of AAPL now worth $360k
With 20% down payment on investment property, $20k could have bought a $100k property ... have prices quadruple in a decade anywhere in Canada?
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Deal Expert
Aug 22, 2011
19526 posts
ace604 wrote:
Aug 12th, 2017 4:55 am
Should have bought WAY more Apple stock and made way more than possible with real estate :)

AAPL is up 9x in last 10 years since iPhone came out.

With 50% margin, $20k could have bought $40k of AAPL now worth $360k
With 20% down payment on investment property, $20k could have bought a $100k property ... have prices quadruple in a decade anywhere in Canada?
I'm not flipping these homes, I'm renting them out.
Jun 19, 2017
256 posts
I don't think I would have done anything differently. Maybe I should have bought a detach at 23 years old instead of a semi... But back then I was shaking at an extra 80K on my mortgage lol
Deal Addict
Jan 21, 2014
2639 posts
should have bought bitcoin when it first came out :). Seriously that wasn't even on my thoughts. Never regret about real estate despite we were hunting for houses in early 2000s but never pulling the trigger. if we were to buy any of those 300K-400K houses back then, it would have been > 1M today. But our lives would have changed and things may not turn out the way we are today, so definitely no regret. The only thing I regret was we have 500 shares of Yahoo stock since 2000. I was contemplating swapping them with Amazon stocks when the two were about the same price, on many occasions but never did :(
Sr. Member
Jul 27, 2017
929 posts
blovelynow wrote:
Aug 10th, 2017 8:43 pm
If you can go back 10 years what is the one thing you would have done differently with your personal finances?
OP, on your question. For me it's an 'as is, where is', no different today than 10 years ago.

On crystal ball gazing, since no one can predict where the market or any particular stock or indices is headed. In my dreams of course I would have bought AAPL or some other stock that has done a 10 banger.

Maybe someone can crystal ball a pick today that will be a x10 in 10 years from now?
Dec 8, 2008
359 posts
I wish I sold my house in Canada earlier and then converted my cash to USD back when the CAD was above par.... (I'm living and working in the USA).
Jan 13, 2016
201 posts
Vancouver, BC
When i got my first job out of university i had my money in a money market fund for a few years. I cringe at the thought of it.
Deal Fanatic
User avatar
Apr 29, 2008
5928 posts
You mean with a crystal ball or no matter what?

If stock markets had stayed at early 2009 levels, nobody here would say I wish I add leveraged invest in 2007, or in AAPL, TLSA or another stock.

If real estate markets in Toronto-Vancouver were not that high right now... some would have been happy to sell their house at the price they did.


For me, the one thing I would have done differently, no matter what the financial / real estate markets did, is to invest more earlier. I was too high in cash in % of net worth because I was busy at work / scared about investing or buying a house at the wrong time. I never sold stocks during financial crisis, but I did not add much after 2008.

I think that even if markets dropped after I invested, it would have been the right thing to do.

I am happy markets have been okay since mid-2014 when I decided to lower my cash allocation in net worth, but no matter what markets did / what they will do in the next couple of years, it was the right thing to do.
Penalty Box
User avatar
Dec 13, 2016
1485 posts
I'd have to go back 25 years for this, but I'd avoid going to school. Cegep and University has been the biggest waste of time and money especially if you are not that much into learning and are "advised" by your parents it's something you have to do to be successful.