I’ve been thinking a lot recently about how we can mentally process these money regrets. It’s important to do so, because when we live in the past, telling ourselves that we should have done this or should have done that, it’s all too easy to paralyze ourselves from moving forward into the future.
So here are the ways I actively trying to move on from the mistakes I’ve made with money over the years.
Give yourself grace
In my perspective, a large portion of our financial regrets stem from a lack of knowledge. We get our first job before we’ve even been introduced to the concept of retirement savings. We take out school loans without fully understanding the long-term consequences. Without a crystal ball, we make crucial life decisions.
It’s sometimes just a case of “no one taught me that. “It’s crucial to remember that no one is born knowing how to manage money. Nobody is born with the ability to invest. And no one is born with the ability to budget.
Take some time to write down all of your financial regrets and terrible financial memories, large and little. Allow this to be a cathartic experience for you. You can either write a statement forgiving yourself at the conclusion of your list or rip it up. Whatever has more meaning for you will assist you in moving forward.
What’s on my list?
- I regret not negotiating my first full-time salary position.
- I regret not saving for retirement as early as that first job I had back in high school.
- I regret buying a home at the height of the housing bubble when I knew I wouldn’t be living there permanently.
- And I regret undercharging for private tutoring for years in my LSAT tutoring business.
- Plus about 3 more pages of smaller regrets or bad memories relating to money — everything from missing a payment to feeling guilty about spending too much on coffee.
Acknowledge your accomplishments
Even though we have a lot of regrets regarding financial blunders, we almost certainly have some successes. Because our natural tendency is to focus on the bad, we might be shocked at how extensive a list we can come up with when we really reflect about our accomplishments.
These accomplishments don’t have to be monumental, such as paying off your mortgage or keeping up with your retirement contributions. They can be successful steps in the right direction, such as establishing a dining-out budget, making a greater effort to buy used rather than new items, or launching a side venture to supplement income.