Money Mistakes Chronicles #3: Insurance Settlement

by Matt B

A waste of money?

A waste of money?

Let’s flash back to the glory days.  I was a strapping young lad without a care in the world, save for what I was going to do after Preschool.  I do not recall my exact age, but I was young.  Most likely Five or Six years old.  I decided to run to the neighbor’s house to see what my friends there were up to.  They lived two houses down from us in our neighborhood where nearly everybody had children between 4 and 15 years old.  Almost every family was your quintessential American family.  Most of the parents were still married, and the sweet smell of values loomed large.

Here is what I remember:

I ran very quickly through our next door neighbor’s front yard and began to enter the next yard.  As I neared my destination, my friends played in the yard in my peripheral vision.  Their dog darted toward me, obviously enthralled by the excitement of another child to play with.

As I entered the yard, their excited dog, a German Shepard, lunged toward me.  I did not think I was in danger, and therefore did not protect myself from the oncoming collision.  Dogs play…I had owned and been around them all of my life, and not a single one had ever harmed me.

Then it happened:

Our imminent contact. The dog had jumped at me and bit the first place his mouth met.  That was my face.  His mouth clamped firmly on the area surrounding my nose.  He held on as we crashed to the ground.  It was only a matter of seconds until I realized what had happened and removed the dog from my face in what I can only describe as a fit of hysteria.  It was my first real traumatic experience.

The Immediate Aftermath:

Since I was in a state of shock, I have only a few memories after the bite.  I covered my mouth/nose and ran gingerly back home, as blood flowed quite freely from the bitten area.  I remember wondering if my face would fall off.  I do not recall the pain, but I’m sure that my blood was also diluted with a few ounces of tears.  Although I very clearly remember running home, I could not tell you what I did when I got there.

Flash Forward about 13 Years:

I’m turning 18 years old!  In light of such a momentous occasion, I decided to quit my job.  In addition to my freedom from the working world, came my graduation from high school.  Add to these two ingredients an insurance settlement from the dog bite incident 13 years prior, and viola!  A money mistake chronicle in the making.

On my Eighteenth birthday, in addition to the gifts I received from my friends and family, came an Insurance settlement for a little over $5,000.  Although my family did not sue our neighbors for the dog bite, a settlement amount was reached with their insurance company for medical expenses and cosmetic damage (which ended up being just a few scars).  With this money, I bought a car.  That was about the only decent decision I made with the money.  Sure, it paid for a lot of fun and entertainment, but hindsight shows me that it could have been spent in countless other ways that were more productive and smarter for the future.  I expanded my DVD collection…MISTAKE!  I went on road trips constantly….MISTAKE!  And I spent blindly on tons of crap.  Huge MISTAKE.

Had I been aware of how this money could have been working for me, I would have had a lot of different aims for it besides teenage fun and hi jinks.  A windfall of this amount should have gone toward my education.  It could have been used to start a business.  I could have saved it for an important purchase in the future.  Well, hindsight is always 20/20, right?
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Photo Credit: sledhockeystar7 through Flickr

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