M&M – The Female Money Doctor Shares her Most Painful Money Mistake

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money mistakes
money mistake

Everyone makes some money mistakes. But learning from others is a lot less painful than making your own! I have benefitted from listening to tales from family and friends investing disasters and have confessed my own financial errors for readers, in turn, to learn from.

It is rare people are brave enough to share their financial horror stories. The shame and embarrassment of a huge financial mistake often prevent people from reporting or warning others.  But learning from others mistakes is sometimes more valuable than stories of success.

In the M&M series, I have asked financial content producers to bravely confess their worst financial mistakes. Read these warnings carefully. Learn as much as you can from them to avoid making money mistakes of your own.

Introducing the Female Money Doctor

I’m Dr Nikki, a GP in the UK and a money coach for women. I’m 36, and 6 years ago I came to the biggest epiphany… I was broke.

And for a doctor, this was worrying. What had I been doing with my hard-earned money over the past 6 years?!

This realisation came when I was sitting in a hammock in Fiji (yes I know how privileged this sounds). Whilst taking a break from a stressful career in Obstetrics and Gynaecology, I had flown around the world. I was deciding whether to go back to work in this field or do something else. 

While I was away, I had time to think. And time to watch my money dwindle away to nothing. 

I was in a huge amount of credit card debt, and travelling was just making things worse.

It was at this point in my life that I had had enough of being broke and in debt. I vowed to turn it around when I got home.

I then discovered the FIRE movement, and I was hooked.

After this discovery, I wanted to shout it from the rooftops! So many of my colleagues and patients had money issues. I noticed what a profound effect it was having on their health. It was definitely contributing to burnout, because so many people were working to pay the bills, not to buy back their freedom.

I started The Female Money Doctor blog to help others turn their financial struggles around once and for all, and because I didn’t want them to make the same stupid mistakes I did.

What is your Worst Money Mistake?

I got into a lot of debt in my 20s (this doesn’t include my student loan from medical school). 

This was through careless spending, not budgeting and generally saying yes to everything! It was a fun time, but definitely not something I would recommend.

To make matters worse, I tried to dig myself out of the debt-hole by investing in a property investing course. It promised I would pay off the course, and the debt with just one property deal over the 12 months I was on the course program.

I used more debt to pay for the course to the tune of £25,000, and guess what… it didn’t work. I was in a total of £60,000 after this. The course was way too advanced for the stage of the journey I was at. To be honest, I do feel like I was conned out of this money. They played on my emotions, and it was a mistake made from a desperate position, and it has taken me YEARS to make up for it.

With the benefit of hindsight, were there any warning signs your decision was a Money Mistake?

Yes, I was warned by one of my mentors at the time not to jump into anything too hastily, especially as I needed to borrow to purchase the course. But I didn’t listen. I had my blinkers on and I was determined to go for it. 

With hindsight, the course was not right for me, or for the other 12 people also conned out of the money they paid. 

It was the most I had ever spent on a program (and still true to this date), and I will never make that mistake again.

Is there any way you could have avoided this Money Mistake?

By listening to my mentors and stopping to think things through. I didn’t know anyone who had done the course, so I should have sought out other opinions first from people in the know. Now I realise that I made this decision clouded by emotion. I felt pressured into making a choice quickly, and like this was the only choice I had. If I had just taken a moment to breathe and think, I would have avoided the mistake. But then I made some fab lifelong friends, I wouldn’t have been inspired to start The Female Money Doctor, so it’s not all doom and gloom!

When did you realise that you had made a Money Mistake?

About 6 months into the course when I asked other people how they got into property investing – not a single one of them had heard about who I purchased my course from. They were gobsmacked when I told them.

That’s when the penny dropped.

I also realised that no one else in the course had made a property deal either – except one person, who already had investment properties under her belt and had the network in place, the money in the bank, and the industry insider knowledge to follow through on what was being taught.

How did you bounce back after making the error?

I doubled down on paying off my debt. Using Dave Ramsey’s debt snowball method, I consolidated the rest. I became totally consumer debt free in 2020, and now I’m focusing on building assets to support my FIRE aspirations.

Writing the blog also really helps me, because I feel like if I can just help one person avoid making a desperate decision like I did, it’s all worth it.

Thanks so much for sharing your money mistake, Dr Nikki. It’s so easy to fall for that magic bullet (fake) solution to problems!

Aussie Doc Freedom is not a financial adviser and does not offer any advice.  Information on this website is purely a description of my experiences and learning.  Please check with your independent financial adviser or accountant before making any changes.

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