Don’t brag about success; tell me your failures

57 thoughts on “Don’t brag about success; tell me your failures”

  1. Oh how I understand the desire to eat out. I used to say one of my primary life goals was to be able to afford to eat out for every single meal. I would still love to do that, but I have matured enough to know how financially foolish that would be.

    But, that’s not to say I still don’t struggle with it every day. In fact, these days, whenever I fight off the urge to go out to eat, I take what I would’ve spent and transfer it into my investment account. Needless to say, it’s been working out well!

    1. Yup, so you feel my pain! I just love the whole environment of eating out, too. Everybody’s happy. People are enjoying themselves. And yes, there’s no prep or clean up after the meal, either – you just get up and leave. 🙂

      It’s the only thing that I really miss about our previous life. But, we haven’t cut it out completely, either. We just moderate it so we can stay retired.

      1. That is a really good idea! We love eating out as well. We limit it to 1-2x per week. I bet we’d save a ton transferring that money the other 5-6 days of the week! 😉

  2. You are the product of the decisions you make and the lessons you learn from them. We’ve made a multitude of mistakes over the years. From buying a forty thousand dollar Corvette when my net worth was 60k to investing in individual stocks during the dot com boom(and subsequently lost all of it in the crash). But each lesson learned has lead me to where I am today, so I wouldn’t go back and change them.

    1. I’m right there with ya, FTF. I made lots of mistakes, but I also feel that those mistakes ultimately lead me to where I am today. And best of all, it got all that stuff out of my system early. I no longer wonder what it would be like to drive a sports car or go out to eat all the time. Been there, done that.

  3. The road of life has many forks. We can’t back up and reverse course, but we all can (and hopefully do) learn from mistakes we’ve made. In my case, it was $10k (a lot for me, at the time) into a single internet stock right before the Internet Bubble burst. I lost it all, but I learned a lot. Glad it happened when it was only $10k, instead of waiting 10 years later when I may have blown $100k. Learn early. Correct course. Move on.

    1. Yup, totally. I bought a house in February of 2007, which was the exact peak of real estate prices – like, to the month. I lost over $100k, easy, on that home. Real estate doesn’t always end well. I learned the hard (and expensive) way.

  4. I think some of the mistakes Mr. Adventure Rich and I made are also the best lessons. Nothing like a personal experience to pound home a realization that you are doing something completely stupid! Haha- our big ones were when I bought a new car and when we made an investment with a friend that had unclear terms and has prevented other investments (still living with this one…). But hey, we lived, we learned and we are doing better for it!

    1. Amen to that, AdventureRich. Definitely sounds like you have the right attitude about the mistakes you made. That’s the only thing that we can reasonably ask of ourselves, too. None of us are perfect.

  5. Wow, that’s a lot of mistakes. It’s good that you made them early and got over them, though. It seems like a lot of people made those same mistakes and keep repeating them. What’s the difference between you and everybody else?
    I got a BMW Z3 in 2001 and we loved it. The only problem was the maintenance. These sports car are too expensive to maintain. Someday, I’d like to get a Miata. 🙂

    1. I almost bought a BMW 328i when I was looking for a new car in 2010. It was a very nice car, but the maintenance ultimately is what sent me looking elsewhere. I ended up with a Cadillac CTS – equally expensive, but maintenance was much more reasonable. Bought it with a 0% interest loan, too. I SO didn’t need a $40,000 car, though!

  6. Love this perspective. I’ve done a lot of things right over the years, but made plenty of mistakes and had a lot of “life happening to me” moments. One mistake that comes to mind was when I bought a motorcycle. I had always wanted to learn to ride, took lessons and got my motorcycle license, and then bought an “inexpensive” ($2,500) bike. Guess what? It turns out that I was terrified of riding it on the road and car drivers were all jerks. So now it sits in my shed because I’m embarrassed to sell it. Plus at this point I don’t even know if it works. So that’s another mistake, I haven’t sold the thing yet. I should write a post about it so someone can help me figure out how to get rid of the damn thing.

    1. Funny thing is if I lived near you, and we weren’t tootling around the country in an RV, I’d probably buy the motorcycle off of you. I love riding. 🙂

  7. I’ve been pondering this notion for the past few days mainly because I was thinking about all the woulda, shoulda, couldas. I was having a moment, ok? Haha. I’m only human, and many of the mistakes I have made involved going “all in” without thinking about the consequences. It took a few tries but it has registered that I really need to think before I leap.

    1. I suffer from a similar affliction and learned a very similar lesson. I do believe in going “all in” and committing when you decide on doing something, but recognizing what it is that you’re doing is also very important. Is the risk worth it? If so, then go for it.

  8. Great post Steve. I have learned more from my failures than my successes. The general theme from my failures was that it forced me to take different avenues. I had to break away from doing the same thing over and over, but expecting different results. Once I let go of the fears that were holding me back, my life got better.

    1. Good on you for recognizing that your choices weren’t contributing to your happiness! I finally recognized that as well, but way later than I would have hoped. But ultimately, it’s okay. Live and learn!

  9. Yep to all of this. I used to live life just waiting for things to happen to me, and then one day I got a lucky break and got a bit of a wake-up call, along with a huge career and life move. It’s funny how things happen; if I’d continued to let things happen to me I know where I’d be right now, and I’m much happier here. 🙂

    1. Hell yeah! Making things happen for you, rather than expecting things to happen to you, will definitely set your life in motion – in the right direction. Wake up calls are excellent things. 😉

  10. Hmmm… where to start 🙂 And kudos for this – I might have to write a whole blog post on this topic – “FIRE, in spite of messing up a lot”

    Dining out – did that a good bit in HS and college and having kids was the killer of that (taking a newborn to any kind of restaurant isn’t really fun)

    Financial advisor – thousands gone on commissions till I switched to Vanguard

    New cars bought in college – at least they were reliable and affordable and we financed them at good rates for only 3 year terms (and I at least had the cash to pay off the loan if I wanted to).

    Investing on margin during the dot com bust – at least $10,000 vaporized, and I might be lying to myself about how small that figure is. Might have been a lot bigger!

    I’m glad I made these mistakes when the monetary amount expended was relatively modest. I’d hate to learn these lessons when I could potentially lose six or seven figures (instead of barely five figures).

  11. I really liked your point on making things happen for yourself instead of expecting them to happen to you. Being proactive about your life is one of the most important points many people fail to realize, and it’s even more obvious when it comes to money. You can’t just do what the rest of society does and expect to reach financial independence. As soon as one decides to take control of their life, everything changes.

    Great post.

  12. My father defined success as “getting up one more time than you fall”. Our experiences define us. They make us who we are. Good and bad. If we are lucky (and smart) we learn from these experiences and over time, refine our actions until we are doing it right. One of the greatest things about this FIRE community is the opportunity for people who have not faced the opportunity to make some of these mistakes to miss a few potholes that, perhaps, we had to hit. Great piece, Steve.

    And, just to set the record straight, eating at Chili’s is not “living like a Rockstar”. Dude, raise your sites 😉

    1. Ha! Yeah, you’re probably right – Chilis ain’t exactly fine dining. But, rockstars do tend to never cook, right? I actually wouldn’t know ’cause I’m definitely no rockstar. 😉

  13. Damn – I’m definitely with you on the budgeting one; I never thought of it that way, but I really did treat anything outside my 401k contributions as money that “should” be spent. Even when I started saving for a house, I picked an amount and saved that monthly, but didn’t ever seem to have any extra.

    I like to say that I don’t live a life of regrets – not because my life has been flawless (oh no…FAR from that) but because I had to screw things up in order to figure out what was important to me. Nobody plays a perfect game in the game of life; the key as you point out is to get better every day.

    1. Thanks Chris. Yeah, that budget mistake is an interesting one, isn’t it? It’s like just having a budget lulls you into a false sense of security. You got a budget, so you must be okay to spend money. Not necessarily. 🙂

  14. Amen, brother. When I was young all I wanted to be was older. Seriously, I wanted to be an old lady. Much of that was because of the amount of time I spent with my elders and how wise they seemed in comparison to my young self. They didn’t get that way without tribulations. They got that way by surviving a lifetime of learning from their mistakes (not regrets), both little and big, each one making them a bit more wise. Now that I am approaching middle age 😳, I am proud of all the shit I know…even if some of it was learned the hard way. I mean, you don’t learn to shut off the power BEFORE changing a light fixture until you don’t. 😉 #LessonLearned

    1. Nicely said, and very true. Mistakes make us wiser, and we often don’t get to see those mistakes when we take a look at someone who supposedly “has it all”, do we? We just see the finished product. It’s far too easy to assume perfection in those cases. Ah, assumptions… 🙂

  15. Good stuff Steve! I’ve made tons of mistakes of the years that have been huge financial mistakes, but they are also part of what’s made me who I am today. I highly doubt I’d be worth millions without those early mistakes.

    Thankfully I learned from them, and can now live a wonderful life of financial independence. 🙂

  16. We learn lessons in life. Sometimes they cost us money. #Lifetuition Great post on keeping perspective. Especially for those of us who are shooting for FI.

  17. I think about my financial mistakes a few times and maybe it was a good thing that I experienced it because I wouldn’t learned from it. That’s an interesting point you made if the reverse had happen where you saved from the beginning and if you were more tempted to spend more today. I guess it depends on your personality, if you were raised to be frugal and save you probably wouldn’t be in a position where you want to suddenly start spending just because you have the financial backing.
    I was like you where I would go out to eat lunch everyday with co-workers. It’s great that we hang out, experienced the ambiance of the restaurants , enjoyed the food and shoot the breeze with each other. But you learn that it’s killing your wallet and you can find cheaper ways to go to lunch. My company now has complementary breakfast and lunch where I could still sit down and eat with co-workers. The food is alright but it beats going out and spending money on lunch for the most part.

    1. Wow! Your company has free breakfast and lunch!?! I guess that’s just a way to keep everyone in the office longer, but that’s still an excellent perk. Over the course of the year, you’ll save a good deal of money – even if you brought your own lunch. 🙂

  18. This is great! I love it when people show their ass a little bit instead of telling us about everything that went excellent in life.
    A couple of past failures: 1) I too bought an expensive car (a $12,000 USED car to be exact) very young. 2) I have gotten a few traffic tickets in the last few years and as a result my car insurance payments are astronomical. Lucky for me life is merciful and it provides many opportunities for learning. Thanks for making me laugh Steve

  19. I think it’s safe to say a lot of people make these mistakes right out of college. The sad part is, not everyone figures it out like you did. It’s hard to just snap out of a lifestyle and make real, permanent changes.

    I ate out all the time after college because that was th easiest way to hang out with my friends and coworkers.

    My biggest takeaway is that money is a tool that needs to have a purpose. I really like the way you phrased that. And then a budget is a tool to help give it a purpose!

    Really great stuff!

  20. I always knew how I wanted to retire since I was a little girl: I wanted a home in the mountains, a home at the beach and an RV to travel throughout the National Parks. Plus, I wanted to retire early, at least by 50 for me.
    So, after two failed businesses (one was with Apple Inc and despite it all, learned an awful lot plus propelled my two daughters into fab, well paying careers), losing most of my investments in the stock market crash of 1987 and dot-com disaster of 2001, plus getting hit with a $187K tax bill, a $100K loss on a sale of a beach house in Rhode Island, hubby getting hit with a deathly heart disease, thus being out of work for long periods at a time, guess where I am right now in my life?
    I’m going to be 67 next month, hubby is 60.
    We own a paid-for home in the mountains.
    We own a paid-for home by the beach.
    We own a smallish RV and on our off time we visit the National Parks.
    We drive two paid-for ‘used’ luxury vehicles (without the price tags!!!)
    I retired at age 50.
    DH will retire next year at age 62.
    And we juggle it all on our Social Security, one measly pension and very small, minute withdrawals out of our savings account (but we really don’t need that money….truly…it’s just nice to have). We live on about $32K to $35K a year and we couldn’t be happier.
    How it all worked out is beyond me BUT we both learned valuable, valuable lessons along the way.
    Perhaps we got ‘here’ in a convoluted way, but in any event, we’re here! And loving it!

    1. Thanks Cindi! You’re definitely an inspiration for those who might be going through hard times. Nothing wrong with getting there in a convoluted way, either. You’re definitely hitting on all cylinders. It worked out because you were focused and determined, I’m sure! 🙂

      1. Thanks Steve. I realize now that those life challengers properly prepared us for our own retirement challenges. We wouldn’t have made it without the failures along the way. Live and learn.

  21. I love the design of your site! Ahh a Corvette right out of school! I bought a Yahama FZR 400 as well a few years out of college and thought I was all cool and sh*t riding it around, until I dropped it a few times and cracked the fairing (on both sides). I’m glad I sold it and outgrew that phase. An R1 is a powerful beast!! I’m glad we are all grown up now and focused on bigger and better things, like FIRE!

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