Question of the Day: What’s The Biggest Money Mistake You Ever Made?

Jan 30, 2015
Activity, Behavioral Finance, Question of the Day, Personal Finance

Part of personal finance is having good habits (think budgeting, paying yourself first, comparison shopping for all purchases, etc.) but part of it is also avoiding financial disasters (think credit card debt and onerous student loan balances).

I am back in the classroom this week.  Just before class started, a student approached me to say he had incurred a checking fee this week (we are on the checking unit).  When asked for more details, he described how he had used his debit card one time too many and his account had fallen below the minimum balance threshold.  That was a perfect coda to the lesson on managing a checking account and the importance of tracking transactions and account balances.  I also thought this presented a great opportunity to make students aware of their ability to set up text alerts so that they would be notified at crucial points (e.g., balance falls below a certain level).  To which, this specific student said, “Oh ya, I got that text but just skipped right over it….”

Back to the Question of the Day.  Discussions are a great way to have peers teach each other.  If you can create the right environment in the classroom, this could be a great discussion where each student writes a paragraph about their biggest money mistake and what they learned from it.  Once completed, they can share with the person seated next to them before you select a few students to share their stories.  Hopefully, their financial disasters will inform their classmates so they can avoid the same mistakes.

About the Author

Tim Ranzetta

Tim's saving habits started at seven when a neighbor with a broken hip gave him a dog walking job. Her recovery, which took almost a year, resulted in Tim getting to know the bank tellers quite well (and accumulating a savings account balance of over $300!). His recent entrepreneurial adventures have included driving a shredding truck, analyzing executive compensation packages for Fortune 500 companies and helping families make better college financing decisions. After volunteering in 2010 to create and teach a personal finance program at Eastside College Prep in East Palo Alto, Tim saw firsthand the impact of an engaging and activity-based curriculum, which inspired him to start a new non-profit, Next Gen Personal Finance.