My Biggest Money Mistake

This week, Maggie answers a listener question about the biggest financial mistake she's ever made.

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The theme music is called Escaping Light by Aaron Sprinkle. The podcast artwork design is by Maggie’s dear husband, Dan Rader.


Maggie Germano: 00:00 Hey there and welcome to the money circle podcast. My name is Maggie Germano and I am your host this week. I’m all by myself again answering a listener question. So this question came from Parissa from Chicago and she asked me, what’s been your biggest money booboo? So this is obviously not a specific advice question or a question where I will be telling you exactly what to do, but more so about me kind of reflecting on a mistake that I’ve made with my own money to show you that I’m not perfect. And even people who are out there giving advice on a specific topic are going to have their own history with making mistakes and even the current and the future of making mistakes because nobody is perfect and anything can kind of go wrong and things happen. And that doesn’t mean that you can’t get back on your feet and keep going.

Maggie Germano: 00:55 I was putting a little bit of thought into this and I was Kinda, I was not having a hard time answering the question, but kind of wondering what is the best answer to this question, what counts as a mistake? And what counts as a booboo and do I actually want to talk about it? The example that keeps coming to mind for me is related to um, buying our house. So two years ago, and actually two years ago and one week, uh, my husband and I, we were just engaged then, but my husband and I, uh, closed on our current house and it was our first time ever buying property. And so it was very stressful and emotional and overwhelming. And uh, it took a long time too. And so I think one of the biggest mistakes that I’ve personally made with money was related to some of the renovations that we did.

Maggie Germano: 01:51 So like I said, the process took a while and it was stressful and overwhelming and we were so sick of the home buying process by the time we actually moved in that we kind of wanted to just start from a clean slate with the house. So we knew when we bought the house that it was going to be a fixer upper and that there were going to be a lot of changes we wanted to make. But after the process of buying the house, we were like, alright, let’s tear a bunch of this stuff out and kind of make it our own and start from scratch. And so we bit off more than we could chew both financially and emotionally and just logistically. So we ended up, uh, kind of gutting the living room area. We moved a wall out of the way. We tore out kind of the entryway.

Maggie Germano: 02:42 We redid the floors, we had a new window put in the kitchen. We had new counters put in. Uh, what else? Uh, we had a new sink put at, basically we just did a ton of stuff all at once and because we were so eager to get it all done quickly, we hired the same contractor to do all of the work. And that was our biggest mistake because we kind of trusted this contractor who was a general contractor to have expertise in all of the things that we needed done. And it turned out that that was not the case and we should have had them just do the handful of things that we wanted them to do initially rather than adding on a bunch of other things just to get things done faster. And we had never hired a contractor before. We did not know this person.

Maggie Germano: 03:35 We read some reviews online, they seemed great when we met them, but we didn’t actually know them. So it went not great. It ended up taking way longer than they promised it would. Uh, some of the work was not done very well. Uh, some of the carpentry work was obviously not done by someone who was a trained carpenter. And so a couple of those things had to be redone and then we still weren’t super thrilled with how it turned out. And there were some sloppy things done in the kitchen that we’re still kind of frustrated with and that I try not to pay close attention to anymore. But yeah, so it was stressful, overwhelming, very expensive. And then we actually weren’t super happy with how a lot of it turned out. So the moral to that story is to kind of, you know, take your time.

Maggie Germano: 04:28 Don’t jump in with both feet all at once when you’ve never done something before, especially when it has to do with renovations and spending a lot of money. And when emotions are high, it’s easy to not think things through and make mistakes. So that was definitely what we did. We spent more money on not great work than we might have otherwise. Or maybe we would’ve spent the same or more, or maybe we would’ve spent more money but been happier with the outcome. And that is something to consider the, when the money is worth it for the quality or the peace of mind. So looking back, I wish that we had taken a step back, calm down a little bit and prioritized what we actually needed to get done right away in order to feel comfortable in the house or what needed to be done first so that we can move on to the next thing that we really needed.

Maggie Germano: 05:32 So, for example, we definitely needed those walls to be moved and that entryway to get kicked out because we were hiring a different contractor to put in new floors on the main level. So we needed those walls to be where they were going to end up being so that we could get those floors done. And so that could have been like the big project, getting those walls moved, maybe, you know, fixing the one window in the kitchen and then going from there. Cause we definitely did not need to rush to get the counters redone. We definitely didn’t need to rush to get the sink redone. Um, and even, you know, some of the other carpentry work like that could have waited. Those could have been down the line, but we were just so eager to make the house into exactly what we wanted, that we kind of lost sight on reality and rationality.

Maggie Germano: 06:25 And so I would, you know, recommend that you just try to remind yourself that it’s okay to be excited about big opportunities, but standing back and being thoughtful about priorities and making sure that you are actually properly vetting a contractor that you’re hiring or anybody that you might be hiring to pay. You know, and now that we’re two years into the house, we’ve hired many other contractors for different things. We’ve gotten of new fence, we had some work done in the backyard on um, getting bamboo removed and some other things like that and just got a new deck put on the house. And working with contractors is very frustrating no matter what I have found. But we’ve definitely been able to hire contractors that we feel more confident in and happy with the work that they do, even if it still hurts to pay for these big projects.

Maggie Germano: 07:20 And it still is frustrating to kind of project manage with a contractor. We still feel like there’s some faith and some confidence there and the quality is there. So, yeah, I mean we spent a whole lot of money on the initial construction and renovations that we did when we first moved in and it still kind of causes me some emotional pain to look back on it cause I’m honestly a little embarrassed that I did move forward so quickly with those big projects and that I did end up unhappy with a lot of the work was, especially with the amount of money that we spent. I actually had a hard time even talking about it with Dan initially after it happened because I was embarrassed and frustrated and I guess a slightly ashamed that I felt like I should be this financial person who’s responsible with my money and thoughtful with my money and I let kind of my emotions and excitement kind of take over and it ended up costing us literally in the end.

Maggie Germano: 08:24 And so that’s something that I, as of now I would point to as my biggest financial mistake. Like I said, I’m sure there will be mistakes in the future, I’m sure, especially as life goes on and we make more changes to the house and we have kids and we take trips and we just go through life as one does. I’m sure there will be more mistakes, but two years in looking back, that initial big renovation I think is my biggest money. But booboo, and it wasn’t just affecting me personally, it was also affecting Dan. Luckily we did have the money to pay for it. So it wasn’t like we ended up in a bunch of debt and also were unhappy with the work. So that’s another thing is if you are making big financial decisions and spending a lot of money on something, make sure that you either have that money and aren’t going to put yourself at financial risk and or make sure that you are going to be really happy and confident with the person that you hire or whatever project that you’re, you’re handling or, or money that you’re going to be spending.

Maggie Germano: 09:34 Make sure that you, uh, you take a moment to step back and think, is this the rational step that I need to be taking? Does this need to be happening right this second? And I think if you do those things, the mistakes and the, the regret will go down a little bit. You know, you won’t be making them as often or looking back and being frustrated with yourself as often, as long as you’re taking a moment to question yourself and make sure that what is happening is the right thing at the right time. That’s my current big money booboo. I know a lot of you won’t necessarily relate to that because you might not be on the home buying home owner track, but uh, that’s just something to keep in mind if that’s ever something that you decided to do in the future. So I hope this was helpful and I hope that it also shows you that even people who are out there giving financial advice can still make financial mistakes and it’s okay and we learn from them and, and move forward. Thanks again for listening and I will talk to you next week. Bye.

Maggie Germano: Thanks for tuning in to the money circle podcast this week. Make sure that you rate, review and subscribe so that you never miss an episode. This also really helps just as we’re getting off the ground so that more people get the money circle podcast in front of them and in their ears. If you’d like to get more connected with money circle or with me, there are lots of ways you can do that. To join the free Facebook group, visit to stay informed of any upcoming events, subscribe to my weekly newsletter at If you’d like to join the virtual money circle membership group, visit To learn more about my financial coaching services, my speaking and workshop offerings, or just to read my blog, visit You can also follow me on Instagram and Twitter @MaggieGermano.