We all make money mistakes and we feel awful about them when we do. If you ever made a money mistake and are plagued with regret over what you did or didn’t do with your finances, you’re not alone. Just don’t let that mistake weigh you down and keep you from moving forward. Whether your mistake is minor or catastrophic here are a few suggestions to help you move forward:
Take ownership of your mistake
So you made a mistake with your money. It happens. Own it. Don’t blame somebody else. Point your finger at yourself and admit you made the mistake. Speak the truth out loud and name the error. Be specific about your blunder.
“I should not have taken out student loans and not finished school”
“I regret incurring that $20,000 in credit card debt over the last few years.”
“I was wrong for borrowing money from my friend and never paying it back.”
“I should not have purchased a house that I really couldn’t afford.”
“I regret I didn’t save more money.”
By doing this, you are taking responsibility. This is important because it helps you to learn from the mistake. If you refuse to take responsibility, it leaves you open to repeat that mistake and this is not the goal on your financial journey.
Name the belief behind the mistake
What basic belief do you think drove that behavior?
“I guess I had this unreal idea that I would make enough money to pay the loan back.”
“Well, I thought that my income would just keep going up.”
“I think I was at a loss on what to do with my life, so I decided to hide in school for a while.”
Naming the belief is part of healing. Without naming the belief, it’s easy to repeat the mistake.
Forgive yourself and move on
This is one of the best things you can do. You’re human and we all make mistakes. Staying angry at yourself and sulking doesn’t get you closer to your financial goals. Instead it keeps you discouraged and when you’re down, you’re more likely to make mistakes, including money mistakes. It can be a terrible downward spiral. Your past doesn’t have to determine your future unless you let it, so move on. Use what happened as fuel to drive you forward. If you don’t know where to start, begin by saying, “I am in the process of forgiving myself.”
Let it motivate you
Regret is a useless emotion unless you respond to it with action and a readiness to change. When regret appears, use that feeling to boost your financial planning into high gear. Intensify your efforts to get out of debt. Increase how much you save each month. Change those vacation plans to catch up on your retirement savings. Find the silver lining—and that lining is, what did you learn? What would you do differently? There is something to learn here. Find it.
Take new actions
There is good that can come out of this. You’ve learned some things. What are some new actions you can take to make your financial situation better? What are some new healthier ways to handle your money? Is it time to cut up your credit cards? Can you set up an automatic savings account? Do you need to talk to a CPA? Is it time to work with a money coach? Pick an action and move forward.
Tell your story to help others
I’ve learned lots of life lessons through storytelling. I plan to do the same with my daughter. When it’s time, I’ll tell her my story, and it’s filled with mistakes. I want her to build on my victories and learn from my failures. You can tell your story too. It may be a little scary, but God can use you to influence others. Wouldn’t it be great to know that you kept somebody from making the same mistake?
Don’t let money mistakes hang over you. Simply figure out how to move forward instead of dwelling on your errors. It’s okay to reflect on them every so often to remind you to make better financial decisions, but keep moving forward. Remember, to make mistakes is human. What we do about them though, does say a lot. Changing and fixing your relationship with money is crucial. Remember, money can be a great servant but it is a terrible master. It’s time to forgive yourself and get your hope back. And hope is what you need to keep moving forward toward your financial goals!