Looking back at the beginning of my career, the first financial mistake I made in my career was when I bought my sports car.
Even worse was I was given advice by people older than me not to buy a car first, but to continue living with my parents and to save up for a house.
But being a 22 year old kid and graduating from the police academy a few months prior, I thought I knew everything in the world. And honestly, the monthly payments of the sports car did not really affect me until I bought my first house.
When I bought my first house, I was still able to afford the month payments for the car, which was approximately $650 a month. But adding the house payment, the insurance, utilities bills, and all the new future I had to buy, the bills were quickly adding up. On top of that, I was paying $60 every 3-4 days for gas (premium gas and during the time gas prices were $4-5) because I had to drive an hour to work and back.
At the time I was able to afford all my bills because there was plenty of overtime around. And as a first responder, majority of us like overtime.
I did not see my sports car as a liable until it started to have mechanical problems. One time my car would not start because rats chewed the wires. I needed new tires on my car and my car was not able to rotate the tires because the front and back had different sizes.
I finally decided to trade in my sports car for a more gas friendly sedan in March of 2015. My monthly payments went down from $650 to approximately $350. My gas expenses went down from $60 every 3-4 days to $30 every 3-4 days.
I was saving approximately $540 a month! That is a lot of saving right there!
I wish I learned about financial independence, investing, and saving after trading in my car, but I did not.
Whenever I see a young police officer starting their career in law enforcement, I ask them what their goals are in the department. After they tell me their goals, I ask them what their goals are in their personal life. It is funny to hear majority of them give the same answer I did, which was to buy a new car.
I always try to give them my advice regarding finances and investment. I told them the bare minimum they should do is put 4% into their retirement plan to get the company match, live below their means, and save up to put 20% down on a house before buying a car.
I can give all the advice I want, but I learned some people do not like to talk about money and always dreamed about that dream car when they could afford it.