How did you spend it? Best and worst purchases

Our favorite financial guru Ruth Hayden joins us at 10 a.m. Thursday, April 17, to talk about your most memorable financial decisions. When you look back, what was the best money you’ve ever spent? What was the worst thing you’ve ever done with your cash?

For me, the best money I’ve spent lately was a two-week trip around southern Europe that was decidedly too expensive (even though I was traveling on the cheap!) but was such an amazing experience that every penny spent on train tickets and good beer was worth the hurt inflicted on my bank account. On the flip side, a recent memory of money poorly spent was the used car I purchased last winter. Of course I needed a car, but I wish I had done some research before I spent so much money and wound up with a car that’s been rocking a “Check Engine” light since the day after I bought it.

So share your money success – and shame – with us and tune in next week to get a little reassurance from Ruth.

  • tfial

    Best purchase: Trip to Scotland and Paris (France, of course) to celebrate getting out of debt a year prior to the trip. Don’t worry – we didn’t go into debt for the trip! We saved the money we had been spending each month paying down bills.
    Worst purchase: An expensive down comforter that needed dry-cleaning. Down alternative works just as well and doesn’t need the expensive and chemically-noxious cleaning process.

  • My most foolish purchase: a car. I bought a used Ford Escort and got bullied into overpaying for it — probably just a couple hundred dollars — but enough to make me feel like a fool every time I drove it. It was a constant reminder of my bad negotiation skills.

    So I avoid buying cars; I drive them to the ground. I currently drive a 23-year old Toyota that takes some minor upkeep, looks silly, and doesn’t have a working sun visor. But it gets good mileage and I don’t feel like a fool every time I drive it. (Although more than one person has suggested I should feel like a fool.)

  • Marc Sanchez, MPR News

    I don’t want to admit to how many strollers I’ve purchased over the first three years of my daughter’s life. I always wanted something different (and “better”) and usually ended up unsatisfied with a pricey piece of junk staring at me.

    As for best purchases, I’m going with a birthday gift from last year: a one cup coffee maker made by AeroPress. The coffee is fantastic, and I feel like a scientist every morning as I plunge down into the grounds. So satisfying.

  • Kryssy Pease, MPR News

    When I was in college and grad school, I bought a ton of “work clothes” in anticipation of my impending career. In public radio, you’re fine in casual, everyday clothes. When I moved last year, I purged my closet and donated so many things to Goodwill — complete with tags still on. I don’t want to know how much money I spent on clothes I never wore.

    • I wish I had the hideous “work clothes” that I bought after I graduated from college. They looked like they were from 1984.

  • Ralphy

    Best financial decision – camping gear (basic gear that is functional, practical and sturdy). Many, many treasured days and nights in the woods.
    Worst financial decision – staying the course with my investments in the first stages of the financial crash. Worst advice I ever got too, from my ex-financial planner, who refused to understand the sea-change we were witnessing.

  • Jeff

    Buying a house has been a pretty bad financial decision (I purchased in 2008, the market was on the way down but no where near the bottom). I’m still $20k under water, plus the furnace went out…the water heater…and I’ve replaced a leaking washing machine as well as the dish washer. It’s a pretty bad investment in reality. The other bad investment was putting money into a mutual fund…over the past 10 years the value of the mutual fund is pretty much equal to the amount I put into the account (along with the small amount my employer contributes)…earning me about zero percent interest in 10 years. I would have been better off putting the money into a savings account at 0.25% interest.

    • Ruth’s advice: re-balance and check it out every year.

      Also: check fees on those mutual funds!

      • Jeff

        Well, the fund did seem to be doing well when I first invested…then the crash happened so everyone’s account dropped significantly. Then the stock market started coming back in 2009-2012 and everything seemed to be good but I noticed that the account wasn’t going significantly higher than where it was before the crash….it wasn’t until the last year or so I was able to do the math and realized that the amount put in (which isn’t easy to find, I had to do a rough estimation) is equal to the value today. I will definitely have to re-evaluate the account when the financial adviser comes back around. Thanks for a great show!

  • Justin

    Over-borrowing on student loans was the worst financial decision I’ve made. . . as a new — mostly financially illiterate — high school graduate, I gladly accepted every loan offered to me.

    College itself proved to be the best financial decision I ever made, and SOME loans were necessary, but my worst financial decision is the wasteful, inefficient way I paid for my best financial decision!

  • Jayne Solinger

    Buying my first house was the best money I ever spent. I was in my early ’30s, and it was a stretch at the time, but I could make the payments work with a great interest rate. Plus it started what has become a succession of buying, fixing up and selling houses when the market was strong. I’m currently in my sixth house (probably not a good path to recommend, with the housing dive of the past few years). But it’s related to the worst money I’ve ever spent: buying new furniture for every house along the way. You can never sell furniture for close to what you spent, and no matter what it never quite seems to work in the new space.

  • Lee

    Some of the best money I ever spent was to hire professional movers. It didn’t cost as much as I had suspected, and it was well worth it. So nice not to have to impose on friends to give up a Saturday to move furniture.

  • Joe

    Seriously, my worst decision has been moving my residency to Minnesota. I am a retired part year resident who could have legitimately and easily maintained my previous state residency. For family reasons I moved back to Minnesota not realizing the income and estate tax consequences of making Minnesota my legal residence. Now it becomes very difficult to undo that. Big Mistake!!

  • Anne Winkler-Morey

    On a bike trip around the perimeter of the United States: riding another 15 miles to a campground instead of getting a hotel on a day when we were completely exhausted. The ambulance cost $800. Made this type of “money- saving” mistake several times on this trip. Penny wise….

  • Shawn

    By far, my biggest mistake was marrying someone who turned out to be mentally ill with a personality disorder. Everything became chaotic and expensive. The direct legal costs were close to $300,000, indirect losses were close to $1,000,000. People with personality disorders are not logical, practical, helpful. They are extremely expensive and work toward creating problems that can not be resolved.

  • Scott Iverson

    Public health impact of money-driven education: Child Psychiatry requires MD + pediatrics specialty + psychiatry specialty = most expensive medical degree. But they are paid the least. So few choose that path, and kids go untreated at a crucial time for prevention. Thanks to those few that choose that “mistake”.