Top 15 Blog Challenge: Claire Berger

Editors note: We asked each of our Top 15 to tell us a story about a money-related blunder that they've made.

Little Mistakes Can Lead to Big Losses

Everyone is aware of the huge money suckers, gas, groceries, tuition, etc. But what can really hurt your wallet are the surprise expenses. What do I mean by this? Well, sit back and let me tell you a little story to explain.

In the past few months I started working at a restaurant in Ann Arbor. Although the job is great, and I love working right downtown, they do not have a place for employees to park. If you’re from Ann Arbor, or any other big city for that matter, you understand the problem. When you’re only getting paid $8.00 an hour and you have to pay $1.10 an hour for parking it puts a pretty big dent in your pay check. That’s why I park in residential parking. Sometimes it can be a bit of a walk, but if I don’t have to pay for parking, it’s worth it. Usually I can park somewhat close, and I don’t have to walk very far. One of the very first days that I worked I was running a bit late and was in quite the rush to find a place to park. Even though it was easier to bit the bullet and pay to park, I was determined to avoid it. As I was scouring the streets for a place, and I spotted a vacancy and quickly pulled into it, then rushed off to work. When I returned to my car hours later I found a parking ticket tucked under my wiper on my windshield. In my haste to find a spot I failed to notice the fire hydrant that I parked right in front of. Now instead of paying $1.10 per hour, I had to pay a lump sum of $50.

Now, the lesson of this story is not to avoid parking in front of fire hydrants (although you probably shouldn’t do that). The lesson is that sometimes we are so focused on finding the cheapest option that we’re not thinking about the best option, and after we make our decision, it comes back to bite us in the butt. It’s important to consider all of our options before acting. We have to be aware of all the fire hydrants out there that we shouldn’t park in front of.