How To Forgive Yourself For Bad Money Decisions

The most precious thing that money can buy is time. But if you’ve spent a lot of money (and time) you didn’t have on wants rather than needs, coming to terms with the damage you’ve done can be difficult.

Forgiving yourself, and truly moving on from the financial mistakes of your past, is one of the toughest aspects of the journey toward Financial Freedom. Your head is filled with “I should haves…” and laments of “if only I had done…” And sometimes this negative self-talk is so loud you can’t think clearly.

But wallowing in self pity isn’t productive and won’t get you closer toward your goals. In fact, not forgiving yourself is counterintuitive. The relationship between shame and relapse is well documented. And trying to avoid experiencing those feelings of shame can translate into other behaviors like binge spending.

The bottom line: The key to changing your past is embracing it.


Moving On From Bad Money Decisions, One Step At A Time

Finding someone who has never made a money mistake—including the 4% who are living the true dream of Financial Freedom—is tough.

bad money decisions

So if you’re having a hard time forgiving yourself for bad money decisions, you’re not alone. These steps are helpful for letting go of past transgressions once and for all:

Step One: Acknowledge your financial wrongdoings. Write down what you did wrong. Or, if you prefer, say your mistakes out loud, so you can hear yourself acknowledge them (e.g., “I was wrong to blow $22,000 on a brand new car I didn’t need.”). Don’t linger on your bad money decisions, just acknowledge the damage so you can mentally push it into the past.

Step Two: Vow to use money differently. Once you come to terms with your past, put in place methods to avoid repeating past mistakes. Now is the time to seek guidance on creating a new financial plan. A money coach can help you allocate your income based on your needs (that would include food, shelter and emergencies) and wants (such as saving for vacation). A great place to start are other First Steps To Freedom articles.

Step Three: Craft a realistic path to Freedom. While everyone’s income and expenditures are different, the sooner you start sending money to your Freedom Generator the better off you’ll be.

Step Four: Incorporate motivation into your daily routine. If you have a history of bad money decisions, don’t make yourself vulnerable for a repeat. Re-read literature and motivational stories like this one to reinforce your new and improved money habits.

Step Five: Help others. The silver lining in making a mistake is that you have the opportunity to pass on the lessons you learned to individuals who are still struggling—with money or anything else. If you wasted a lot of time making bad financial decisions, and are now paying the price, consider sharing your story with the community. In addition to helping others make better decisions, you’ll reinforce your new way of living to yourself. And that’s something that will make you feel very good.

Let The Past Go

Letting go of your past financial mistakes might feel hard now, especially if you are paying off debt with funds you’d rather put towards your financial future. But the sooner you put the past in the past, the sooner you can push toward Financial Freedom.

Community Question: Are you finding it challenging to move on from the havoc you wreaked in your financially careless days? Or were you able to forgive yourself easily? Share your stories in the Financial Foundations Community.



image credit: Bigstock/iko


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