My Biggest Financial Mistake

my biggest financial mistake

WE all make mistakes. Some more than others. And I’d like to think I’m big enough to admit when I’m wrong, when I’ve made a mis-step.

Now usually when it comes to getting value for money, I’m pretty shrewd.

But that hasn’t always been the case.

Please allow me to unburden myself.

Confession Time

When I was younger I didn’t spend too much time focusing on finances. (What teenager does?) All I was concerned about was getting my driving licence and then getting a cheap but cool car.

I had this dream of buying something like an older model BMW 3 Series. However, I didn’t want anyone to know the age of my classic clunker. So I came up with an idea that was to prove costly in the long run.

bmw 3 series

I figured if I bought a private number plate, that would disguise how old my “new” car really was, since a standard plate in the UK indicates a car’s age. Americans call this type of plate a “vanity plate”. How right they are.

Mistake No.1

Rather than buy the plate direct from licencing authority the DVLA (DMV in the States) I instead phoned up a third-party reseller.

Now, in fairness, at the time I thought this was my only option. I had no idea this reseller was charging through the nose for something I could easily have done myself.

I wasn’t even after a specific plate that only the reseller had. All I wanted was a couple of numbers and my initials.

If memory serves, I ended up paying something like £300 ($450) instead of £150 ($225).

I should have done my homework and figured out the cheapest option.

Cost of Mistake No1: £150

If only that was the end of the pain.

Mistake No.2

In my youthful stupidity, I hadn’t thought about the future. Not even a little bit.

I’d forgotten that each time I changed my car there was a DVLA charge of £80 ($120) to transfer my number plate.


When I was younger I tended to keep cars for about three years before buying something different. (Nowadays I’m much more sensible and have had my current second-hand car for seven years).

But I’ve still had six cars in my life. So I’ve had to pay out six times (6 x £80) just to keep my silly number plate.

I didn’t plan ahead.

Cost of Mistake No2: £480

Now we’re really motoring in the foolish financial stakes.

But it gets worse….

Mistake No.3

I paid out to get the number plate BEFORE I found a classic clunker to put it on. As it turned out, I didn’t get anywhere close to driving that BMW 3 Series. In fact, I have never had a classic car. Instead I bought a series of modern cars that didn’t need their age disguising.

Plus, I quickly grew up and realised that I didn’t care about what other people thought about me when it came to my choice and age of cars.

Result of Mistake No3: A valuable lesson in planning and maturity.

Only one error left to admit…

Mistake No.4

Despite my number plate costing me £780 over the years, I still have it! Yes, it’s sitting on my car right now, silently mocking me.

I should just give it up when I next sell my car. Let it go, draw a line under the whole sorry episode, and move on.

But I won’t.

Even though I know it is the right thing to do. Even though I know it makes financial sense, and I love things that make financial sense.

I just know in as few years I’ll be making another payment of £80 to transfer it to another car. I can’t let this pointless piece of plastic go.

Maybe I’m keeping it as a reminder not to be so silly in the future. Maybe I’m just weak.

The bloody thing has no tangible value and is going to cost me thousands…

Result of Mistake No4: The realisation that I’m not perfect, that I make mistakes, and have to work harder to correct them.




Okay now I’ve confessed, it’s your turn. What has been your biggest financial mistake and what lessons have you learned? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below. If you found this article helpful, please share it using the Twitter icon. Thanks for reading.

Simon Saves

I'm a national newspaper journalist for hire who has a passion for personal finance. Currently saving and investing towards my first million. All comments welcome. Follow me on Twitter: @MyRichFuturecom

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2 Responses

  1. weenie says:

    Just as you were shafted by the 3rd party reseller, I was shafted…by my own sister, who sold me her private reg (we have the same initials) for a ‘bargain’ £400. I only found out much much later that she’d only paid £150 for it!

    My reg has been on just 4 cars over 22 years – on two occasions, the £80 transfer fee was paid by the dealers I bought the new cars from, so my total expenses are £560.

    I did a search on and a registration which is very similar to mine (only the numbers are different) is valued at between £1.8k – £2k.

    Maybe it’s turned into an investment of sorts!

    • Simon Saves says:

      Unfortunately, mine can’t be considered an investment in any shape or form. Pretty much worthless. Great story about your sister, she certainly had your number (plate)!

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