My Biggest Financial Mistake: over A Million Dollars Worth!

I am very frugal with my finances. Back when we got married over 12 years ago, my husband was not. Over time, he has embraced my frugal gene as well: We do our own yard and pool maintenance. We do all our housekeeping and home maintenance. Cook over 90% of our meals. Shop yard sales and hand me downs for clothes. Buy used books online or at ‘Fill a Bag’ sales at the library. No pricey vacations except for our biannual trip home to Asia, we did splurge a little and finally went to Disneyland in 2016 – using our credit card points for hotel stays, shopped online for 12% savings on entrance tickets. You get the idea…

Over the past 3 years, and excluding paying cash for our home and rental properties, our savings rate is over 80% of our gross income. I maximize my 401K savings, HSA savings and FSA when I did qualify for it.

Despite all that, I knew nothing investments. Every cent is saved: in a (low-yield) savings account! The only thing I did right was to put some of it in (slightly) higher yield online savings account – I have accounts with Ally, Discover Bank and Renasant Bank (previously Metropolitan Bank).

Assuming that I had invested 100K in the Total US Stock Market in 2008 and put another 100K every year, the principal amount of 900K (these are conservative numbers) assuming that the dividend is reinvested, would be worth over 3 million dollars today! Instead, with the same amount in savings, it amounted to less than 1.2 million dollars. That is one big, over 1 million dollar mistake.

One of the first personal financial blogs that changed things for me was White Coat Investor. The other is Physician on Fire. The Women Physician Personal Finance on Facebook has been a treasure trove of information for me. It was not until February 24, 2016, that I opened my first Vanguard account and a quarter of our savings over.

My husband was pretty mad initially, as he felt I was speculating on stocks. Over time, as I shared blog posts from other personal financial bloggers and mainstream media, and he is now getting to be on board with investing. Within the past few months, I started investing some of my Health Savings Account (HSA) money as well.

I can tell you that I am very Type A, and investing, even in index funds, till today, scares the bejesus out of me!

What money mistakes have you made? Or are still making? Comment below, and perhaps we will all learn from it.

This is a series of articles from other Personal Finance Bloggers sharing their money mistake(s):

  1. ThinkSaveRetire – Don’t brag about success; tell me your failures
  3. Chronicles of a Father – My Financial Mistakes
  4. OthalaFehu – Budget Bungles, Money Muddles, and Fiscal Flubs
  5. Turning Point Money – My Financial Mistakes
  6. Femme Cents – 7 lessons I learned from my biggest financial mistake
  7. Jumpstart From Scratch- Recent Financial Blunder
  8. The Frugal Gene – Top 5 Sorry Financial Mistakes Of My Early 20s
  9. Gen Y Money – My Tell All: Investing Mistakes in my 20’s
  10. 99to1percent – Our 6 Financial Mistakes and 15 Lessons Learned
  11. Atypical Life – 5 Super Lame Financial Blunders From My Life
  12. Winning Personal Finance –
    My 7 Most Regrettable Financial Decisions
  13. Overdrawn Checking Account – CMO Clan Makes a Big Mistake
  14. My Biggest Financial Mistake: over A Million Dollars Worth!
  15. Is An Emergency Fund Necessary with a High Savings Rate


Click here to subscribe to my updates (no more than once a week).


News Reporter

18 thoughts on “My Biggest Financial Mistake: over A Million Dollars Worth!

  1. Thanks for sharing! It’s great that you are indexing, it’s the way to go! If you had invested your money in stocks before 2008, and you lost 30% of it, it might have made you glad you invested your money with high interest savings! Just tell your husband to be prepared for the crash, it will come again because bull/bear markets are cyclical, and just buy more!

    1. totally get it! we are in our 30s, so we have time. however, the downs get a little hard to stomach at times.

    1. Yes, we are still (fairly) young – in our 30s – and I work full time, so I look at this as a learning experience. Part of why I started this blog: to share financial literacy, especially among immigrants like myself. We started from scratch (credit scores including) when we first moved here, but with perseverance, anything is possible. I learn more every day, from your blog and many other personal financial bloggers.

  2. Investing can be scary at first because you are putting in money and hoping to get some gain out of it but as long as you are in it for the long run then you should be alright. Index funds is perfect for that and you will see your money grow over time. You guys are still young(early 30s?) so at least you know about starting to invest rather than starting when your in your 50s.

    1. Thanks for your thoughtful comments. We are in our mid 30s, debt free, and still earning an income, so we are definitely in a good place financially. There are many things I would have changed if I knew more about personal finance and investing earlier in life, but better now than never. We are in it for the long haul (probably our first major expense will be college for our kids – who are now 10,7,3).

    1. hopefully 🙂 we have a pretty high savings rate! we live on about 20% or less of our income unless we happen to buy a house or car that year. next goal: Donor Advised Fund and giving to causes we believe in.

  3. Starting your investing career during a major recession is pretty scary. All the news at the time was dire. ATM’s running out of cash. Financial institutions going under.

    It’s understandable to stay on the sidelines. The most important thing is to understand these things happen maybe more than once in your lifetime and take advantage of it next time. Congrats on taking the time to learn from your mistake. The good thing is you have plenty of time on your side.

    1. Thanks for your comments – yes, things were dire then, we just started working. Moved to a new location where we knew my spouse won’t be able to find a great career in his profession. Nonetheless, we didn’t come out too badly, thanks to our frugal lifestyle. Now we need to learn more about passive income and investing from those who are more experienced.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: