Have you ever opened your credit card statement and felt like you really messed up again? My hand’s raised ;).
Those feelings of regret can become overwhelming. Even paralyzing.
I know about regrets first hand. Take my Pink Floyd box set I got when I was 16. Bought it, loved it, couldn’t afford it — and regretted it.
You can swap “Pink Floyd box set” for “fancy dinners” or “skis” or “sports car” — all of those I regretted too.
There’s one thing that all these “financial regrets” have in common — that sinking feeling that I will never change.
But when harnessed the right way, regrets can be healthy. Seth Godin put it best when he said: “If regrets about yesterday’s decisions and actions help you do better work today, then they’ve served a useful purpose.”
I’ve put together 3 steps that will help you move past your financial regrets and take action.
Step 1: Forgive Yourself
Sometimes the hardest person to forgive is yourself.
Like my eight week sugar-free streak that was over when a Snickers bar mysteriously ended up in my throat. Okay, it wasn’t so “mysterious.”
Next thing you know I was wolfing down Doritos and Fudgsicles. My Snickers regret morphed into an excuse to eat more sugar.
The same thing happens with financial regrets. Feeling disappointed in yourself can lead you down a path of bad buying decisions.
But let me ask you: How long are you going to let those decisions hang over your head? And what purpose does your regret serve?
Acknowledge your mistakes and forgive yourself. Because you can’t return that fancy dinner out.
BTW: I forgave myself and now my sugar-free diet is back in full swing and going great.
Step 2: Find the Lesson
Here’s what you shouldn’t do: My friend Sam was a fan of the show Big Brother. He signed up for the 24/7 live feed for $5.99 a month. Six months later, he looked at his Visa bill and couldn’t figure out where this recurring $5.99 fee was coming from. Then he remembered Big Brother and felt like a fool. The season was long over, and he’s still getting dinged for the live feed.
Did Sam learn his lesson? Nope. Now he’s complaining about his Sirius subscription but still hasn’t canceled it. I wonder how long it’ll take him this time…
Just like Sam, I’ve also fallen trap to the “monthly subscription” thing. Mine was with a business software on a free 30-day trial. I never used it. But when the free trial was over they started charging my credit card. It was months — and hundreds of dollars — before I finally I canceled it.
But — unlike Sam — I learned my lesson. I never sign up for a “free” subscription unless I’m going to use it. And if I do subscribe, I set an alert in my schedule to remind me to cancel if I need to.
So bring it on LinkedIn, send me your free 30-day premium offers, I’ll never bite.
Bottom line: Every financial regret is an opportunity to learn.
Step 3: Forge Ahead
Sometimes, financial regrets bog us down and stop us from moving forward. They’re a reactive response.
The flipside is that regrets can be proactive and help you take action. Instead of getting bummed out, make a commitment to change and start moving forward. Do something positive. Listen to a financial podcast or read a book on budgeting — in fact, here’s a free one that I wrote.
Deepak Chopra says that “All great changes are preceded by chaos.” Let your financial chaos help you forge ahead.
So forgive yourself for past regrets, find the financial lesson, and start moving forward.
Have you ever been bogged down by financial regret?
And if so, what small steps have you made to take control of your money?
Tell me in the comments…
P.S. If you have nothing to write because you never made a money blooper in your life, I’d still love to hear from you. Here’s a Q for you: Do you think my pics are funny or cheesy? Let me know in the comments below.
P.P.S. Wanna learn the easiest way to budget? CLICK HERE and download my ebook Your Magic Number for FREE (20-minute read).