Squawkback: What Are Your 3 Best Financial Decisions?

It’s Squawkback Wednesday. The “hump day” of the week where I squawk a question and you comment back. This past week was one of economic uncertainty. During these times of stock market swings and billion dollar bailouts, lets look at the positive side of life and consider our best financial decisions.

Where have you excelled financially? What have you done to be in a good financial position? Perhaps your comment will help someone find their financial way in this crazy a$$ed market.

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Question: What were your 3 best financial decisions?

Fox’s Answers:

  1. I paid off my student debt in six months.
  2. I invested in low fee index funds and exchange traded funds.
  3. I bought life insurance without getting screwed.

Your turn! Share your financial wisdom by Squawking Back!

Your two cents:

  1. Miss Thrifty October 15th, 2008

    1. Scrimping and jobbing my way through university so that I came out the other side just £1,605 in the red (a fraction of the UK average).

    2. Clawing my way into the first time buyers’ club 18 months before everything went boobs up. The value of my house has fallen by little, I love being a homeowner and I’d never be able to get a mortgage in a million years now.

    3. The Thriftymobile!
    http://www.miss-thrifty.co.uk/2008/09/01/introducing-the-thriftymobile/

  2. Frank Costello October 15th, 2008

    1.I refinanced my mortgage and left all of my equity in my home. (I live in Eastern Massachusetts and property values have remained pretty stable)

    2. I added a bedroom and full bath to my home six months ago, adding significant living space and overall value. I found a contractor who needed the work, and agreed to charge me for Time and Materials.

    3. I have ignored the turmoil on Wall Street and have held onto my investments. I’m patient

    F

  3. guinness416 October 15th, 2008

    Good topic, you should get some interesting responses.

    1 = I studied architecture for a couple of years. Dropping that to become a quantity surveyor was a hugely advantageous financial decision (got out of college earlier, more jobs, more money), and I still get to read architecture journals at work every day.

    2 = Opened an SSIA when I was 22 or 23ish. This was an Irish account (no longer existant) whereby you agreed to deposit X amount per month for five years without touching it and if you did at the end the govt gave you a 20% bonus. I put the max in, E250, which hurt a lot at the start because I was young and poor and in NYC but it all paid off in the end.

    3 = Probably starting to read moneyblogs when I moved to Canada and it was cold and I had no friends here yet. I’ve definitely picked up some useful tips, learned more quickly to navigate the canuck system and become more mindful of where my money goes. Thanks Four Pillars, Million Dollar Journey, et al!

    I’ve always been a saver, from day one, and somewhat suspicious of The Man so I’m not sure those are decisions so much as traits passed down from my dad.

  4. Susy October 15th, 2008

    1. I started my first IRA when I was in high school (I know my goal was to be a millionaire.

    2. Paid off Mr Chiot’s $12,000 student loan in on year after graduation by scrimping and savings and living like paupers (on a combined salary of $24,000).

    3. Starting our own business. We have much more freedom, less stress and we know we can work hard and it directly affects our bottom line, not someone elses.

  5. Amy @ My Daily Dollars October 15th, 2008

    1. I made use of the degree that I earned with my mountain of student loan debt by actually getting a job in my field.

    2. I paid off my credit cards before getting married.

    3. My husband and I did not go into debt for our wedding.

  6. Susan Lamphier October 15th, 2008

    1–I paid off all of my loans and credit card debt.
    2–I got rid of extraneous expenses, such as cable, my car, and cut down the thermostat
    3–I learned to pay with cash, only.

  7. Little Miss Moneybags October 15th, 2008

    1. I have avoided consumer debt all my life.
    2. I can afford to live on my own.
    3. I have been investing for retirement since my first job, and I have time for this dip in the market to correct itself.

  8. marci October 15th, 2008

    1. Filled out that 8th mortgage application, after 7 rejections, trying to buy a house when I had a good downpayment, but was newly divorced and the banks didn’t like that at the time. Got the Loan on the 8th try – Accepted an adjustable rate mortgage as that was the only one they would grant me, but Locked it in after the one year waiting period and converted it to a fixed 30 year. Then paid off the 30 years in 10 years :) That paid off house was my stepping stone to being debt free. Every property I have ever owned I paid off early – ALWAYS add something extra to that monthly payment, even if only $5.

    2. Sold rental properties on Land Sale Contracts – meaning I held the paper and collected monthly mortgage payments from the buyers at 11% interest… I’m still collecting on some of them almost 25 years later.

    3. Started a college savings account for each of my grandchildren within a year of their births. It may be small, and as the grandkids increased from 1 to 8 :), my contributions per child have had to decrease, but over 18 years per child, it will compound and it is better than having done nothing.

    ***And the bonus tip – Once I finally got debt free, I have done anything I had to (legally) to stay debt free! NOTHING would get me to go back into debt again! I sleep well at night!

  9. Beth October 15th, 2008

    1. putting more than 25% down on my house when i bought it, and having a 25 year amortization period, and putting an annual lump sum down towards my principal.
    2. contributing to rrsps for my retirement (and maxxing out what my work will match!)
    3. diapering my son in cloth diapers. i put down a one time fee of 350 dollars (plus laundry expenses) and watch my disposable diaper friends drop hundreds in a month.

  10. marci October 15th, 2008

    Re: Diapers: I just bought 5 dozen gently used cloth diapers at a garage sale for $10/dozen. So for $50, plus diaper pants, pins, and laundry, that takes care of the two years. This was for a new grandbaby. And yes, I used them for my 3 kids, even when I had two of them in diapers at once.

    Plus I used wash clothes instead of wet wipes – and just washed a load of diapers/wipes every night- no big deal – the wash machine did all the work :)

  11. Daizy October 15th, 2008

    1) Bought my first house when I was 24 years old (in 1999) before the house prices started to skyrocket in my area.
    2) Finished university without any debt.
    3) As soon as started working full time, put money away in RRSP and took advantage of employer’s matching program.

  12. Doctor S October 15th, 2008

    Wow! Some of these people have made some really good decisions!

    @Susy You started that thing in high school? I am 25 and barely am contributing to a retirement account, good for u!!!

    I would probably win if we did 3 WORST Financial Decisions, but here are mine:

    1. Living at home after college with my parents. I pay for groceries and contribute when needed, its a good deal.

    2. Paid off all my credit card debt. As of the end of this week all my CC debt will be gone and the cards are all out of my wallet.

    3. As soon as I started workign I began contributing to my 401k with 4% of my salary. My company has a very good match of up to 4% and a nice 10% annual gift to our retiremnet as well.

    Great work people and great post FOX.

  13. Treva October 15th, 2008

    1. Bought a used car when my other one was totalled (not by me!). Used cars are so much easier on insurance, taxes, etc. And since public transportation where I live is almost nil, a car is necessary. Oh, and we are a 1 car family! So few of those left!

    2. Got through college debt-free thanks to my dad’s Chap 35 benefits, working part-time, and then going into VISTA. I have never had school debt!

    3. Keeping a budget. I never did until about a year ago. Now I’m hooked. Even more amazing — there’s more $$ in my bank account now than ever before and I’ve not dipped into my emergency fund in over 6 months b/c I actually know when stuff is coming up due. Part B) Make a weekly menu. One stop to the grocery each week and that’s it. If it’s not in the house we just have to make it to the next shopping day. Saves oodles and makes us economize certain things we normally just plow through (like milk!). While grocery prices keep going up, my monthly grocery bill has been dropping.

  14. Tom October 15th, 2008

    1.) Learning to say ‘no’ to people – don’t know how many times I used to pay for people, ‘lend’ them money, etc.
    2.) Made a decision to not care about the latest fancy gadgets or what people think.
    3.) Pay myself first – set up an automatic savings plan to take the money before I can spend it.

  15. dawn @ iowahippiechick October 16th, 2008

    1.) I bought a house without asking my hubby – while at a high school football game.
    2.) Sticking with getting my husband on the same page as me financially. I’m a saver … He’s a former spender).
    3.) Doing the whole cash/envelope thing for our variable expenses: gasoline for our vehicles, groceries, and our personal allowances.

  16. chb October 20th, 2008

    1) educating myself about budgeting & finances.
    2) trying to forgive myself for the uneducated decisions I’ve made in the past.
    3) Not really a decision, but thanks to the way I was raised, I really don’t want a lot of “stuff”, and therefore I’ve never bought a lot of “stuff”.

  17. Bret October 21st, 2008

    1. I started saving and investing at age 21.

    2. I bought a nice house cheap in the ’90s crash.

    3. I focused on increasing my income.

  18. Rick S October 24th, 2008

    My best financial decision was to pull my 401k out of stocks and put it into Bonds about 1 1/2 years ago. I was concerned that this was a bad decision when the market kept going up but I left the decision as it was. My fear was that with all that was going on in housing and energy that the market would tank. I was right but a bit off on the timing. I had a decent year last year because I gained on my 401k when almost everyone I know lost significant amounts of value. Now I am considering re-entering the market but again I need to get the timing right.

  19. Susy October 24th, 2008

    Tom’s first decision is so right: 1.) Learning to say ‘no’ to people – don’t know how many times I used to pay for people, ‘lend’ them money, etc.

    Often family members try to guilt us into giving them $ out and we said “NO” from the beginning. We offer to come help them set up a budget and track expenses but will never give cash (sadly we’ve never been taken up on the offer for help in 12 years). If we had given we’d be roped into giving for the rest of our lives like a few other family members that gave in. Sadly, they’re all giving to the same family member (Mr Chiot’s mom). It’s hard especially when all the other members are in on in and also trying to guilt you into giving and complaining that you are a terrible child for not senidng money, but the gravy train stops here!

  20. Phoebe August 5th, 2010

    1. Buying the book “Debt-free forever” by Gail Vaz Oxlade and embracing her philosophy and methodology. You really should own this book.

    2. Telling my husband I wouldn’t give him any more of my salary to help fund his business. It has to make it on its own.

    3. Going back to living on cash only (Gail’s jar system) and finally saving again.

  21. Alice August 19th, 2012

    I am young yet…

    So my best decision were to buy a bike. A used one. Saves me at least 400 SEK at least (from bus tickets) each month! (Americans, your turn to do the googeling about exchanges!)

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