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Looking back in anger? Tell us your greatest financial regrets

There are very few of us who wouldn’t do things differently if we could go back in time – the ponytail of 2007 is one of mine. But it’s  financial regrets – that missed opportunity or bad decision – that can linger over time.

Pop singer Lily Allen (estimated net worth £6m) once turned down a BitCoin deal to play an online show worth an estimated £118m at today’s rates. A decision she no doubt regrets.

Now, Which? members pride themselves on being ‘savvy’, finding the best deals, avoiding scams and generally taking care of financial business. But even the savviest of shoppers can get caught out in bad times.

Leaving money in zombie accounts

And given the financial difficulties faced by Brits at the moment, the possible repercussions of financial mistakes are arguably more wide ranging now than ever before.

I’ve fallen foul of keeping my money in a ‘zombie’ savings account offering a minuscule rate of interest before realising my mistake and moving to a much more competitive Isa. I learnt my lesson and only missed out on a relatively small sum in interest – yet it still rankles, especially as I know that it can’t be undone.

So let us know, via the magic of Which? Convo, what your greatest financial regrets are. By flagging them up here, you may help a fellow reader avoid making similar mistakes…

Comments
Guest
Lucy says:
8 January 2015

I am currently living with deep regret involving negative equity on several rental properties. Tenants who disrespect property and feel like it’s totally draining finances with no way out . Why did I not just put money under the mattress or even blow it !
Sure many others in the same situation .

Guest

I know a number of people who have regretted going in to property speculation and letting. The early business model, when values were rising and loan interest and management charges were fully repaid out of rents which could be edged upwards every year was tempting; the availability of high-loan-to-value buy-to-let mortgages made it seem a racing certainty. The old-fashioned advice to regard property as a long-term investment was scorned. Over the last few years the cracks have started to appear in the model: for many reasons yields are not what people were expecting and negative equity was always going to be a risk where the loan-to-value ratio was too high [as it usually was in the eraly days]; defaults, voids and repair & maintenance expenses have exceeded the original estimates; and in some parts of the country there are more lets available than tenants to take them, so it is difficult to move rents upwards and there is a decline in the quality of tenants. Rents are actually going down in some cities when tenancies turn over because of an oversupply of brand new apartments. As you say, there is no way out – so many landlords are facing the prospect of an ongoing trading deficit if they hang on to the property and a capital loss if they try to dispose of it. Unfortunately for them, the plight of landlords does not register very highly on the sympathy scoreboard, especially not among politicians and people wanting housing on the cheap. A good agent might be able to see a better future for you and help you achieve it but there are sharks in that pond too. Check any advice with a reputable financial adviser and see how you can optimise your tax position.

Guest

People should bear in mind the caveat given on investments – their value can go down as well as up. Property is no different, but fortunately over the long term it generally rises – and providing it is insured you won’t lose everything. But the British disease is to expect it to rise as a right, hence the injudicious investments made in the boom years.

Guest

There’s a clear all-time winner for me in terms of financial regrets.

Back in December 2011 a single bitcoin was worth about $2 (USD). Today a single bitcoin is worth about $375 (USD). If only I’d put £10,000 into bitcoin back in 2011, it would be worth around £1.8 million today. At the time, I didn’t take bitcoin seriously, because I didn’t know much about it.

Bitcoin isn’t just a currency, it’s a payment system that uses cryptography to create a decentralised public ledger that verifies ownership. It’s a really clever idea that could forever change how money is moved around the world, just for a start. It still has the potential to invade the global forex market in a big way.

However, the bitcoin community is in something of a crisis right now. There’s a big dispute amongst software developers in bitcoin concerning something called ‘block size’. It’s possible that if this crisis is not successfully resolved it could halt any chance of wider adoption for a very long time, which means the price would be likely to dive.

I do still own some bitcoin, but it’s a risky investment. It could go to zero, but if bitcoin can survive the current crisis and scale for wider adoption the price could yet go much higher, so I’m willing to take a risk.

I’ve sold a lot of my bitcoins recently due to the high risk situation re the block size crisis. If the crisis is resolved I’ll probably buy back in. I’ve made a reasonable return on what I sold, much better than any savings account or ISA would have given me. But nowhere near as good as getting 187 times your money back!