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Your 3 best and worst financial decisions

One responder laments decision to get liposuction.

By Karen Datko Oct 18, 2009 6:40PM

"Fox" at Squawkfox once a week hosts "squawkback." She poses a question every Wednesday and invites her readers to sound off.

This produces instructional and often entertaining stuff. In one recent week, she inquired about their three best financial decisions. Then she hit the flip side and asked for the three worst.

Hayden Tompkins' three worst covered the gamut: "Co-signing for my brother's student loan. Signing up for a credit card in college. They need to get those people off campus. Getting liposuction. Sigh. Don't ask."

Reader Marci married a spendthrift and had to "hide money under the baby clothes to be able to get the baby in to see the doctor when needed." (That husband is now an ex.)

We like these exercises because they compel us to focus: Our worst was not periodically adjusting the asset allocation in our retirement funds. Personal bests: Paying off our credit card every month, closely followed by never buying more house than we could afford.

Fox paid off her student loans in six months, invested in index funds and ETFs, and "bought life insurance without getting screwed." On the minus side, she once allowed a so-called financial planner -- salesperson, Fox now says -- to invest her money, and didn't understand what the planner invested in or the impact of high fees.

Many of the readers' comments are indicative of what ills the overall economy. Many people used credit cards to buy things they couldn't afford. Lise said, "Can I list 'buying my house' as all three of them?"

Buying a house before prices jumped was among the good decisions made by several readers. "Miss Thrifty" said, "I'd never be able to get a mortgage in a million years now." Many said they've never had consumer debt or have paid it off. Some also began saving early in life. Susy wrote, "I started my first IRA when I was in high school (I know my goal was to be a millionaire)."

Published Oct. 23, 2008



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