My biggest money mistake and how to avoid it. A hard one, there's no one thing that got us into the hole, no one 'I shouldn't have bought' moment.. which is my biggest money mistake. I can get it together. I can figure it all out. I can budget and plan and make all those numbers look fan/tas/tic. I can get little windfalls and pay everything off and get consolidation loans and then in 5 or 6 years time find myself right back in debt again. The devil is in the details, is how the old saying goes, and that's the truth of it for me. We get things paid off, we look at our finances and go 'hot diggedy! We've got some extra!' and then.. the budgeting slips (I'm sure we've got enough for just one little thing) and then the impulse buys slide in (GenCon dealer room.. nuff said.) and then an emergency hits (uhhh, is the spare room supposed to drip during every rainfall?) and then whammo, we're back in the hole. Rinse and repeat.
So that's my biggest mistake, I can't keep it together long term. Ultimately, I'm a creature of very little patience and a whole lot of 'ooh! Shiney!' and that's hard to batten down long term. How to avoid it? Bigger issue. I'm not sure I am very good at avoiding it. Making everything automatic helps a lot. The whole pay yourself first thing that everyone all over the place harps on and reinforces and hammers home. If things are automatic, then it's harder to wander off track too far. Involving my more level headed spouse also helps. He's a little less on the 'ooh shiney!' mentality, but unfortunately gives in to my whims perhaps easier than is sensible. :)