Recently, my 25-year-old niece shared with me some of the strategies she was using to secure her financial future. She explained that she had rejected the credit-card consumption culture that was so prevalent in the United States, by only buying things that she could afford. Saving a good portion of her salary was her main aim, as she wanted to amass a significant down payment before she bought her own home.
Although I was filled with pride as I listened to her reveal her smart money habits, I couldn’t help but reflect on my own financial history, which was quite the opposite. When I was 25, my income was inadequate, my debt was distressing, and my net worth was nonexistent. As I mentally calculated how much wealth I would have possessed today if I had been wiser with money, I was filled with an overwhelming sense of regret.
After silently berating myself for a few minutes, I recognised that there was a positive side to my pathetic past. Once I discovered that my money woes were caused by my lack of financial knowledge and poor habits, I made it my goal to unearth all the money principles that could improve my situation. Today, I am able to use my former failings to educate and empower others who are facing similar challenges.
As another year draws to a close, take some time to contemplate the decisions you made and the events that happened, which are currently shaping your financial destiny. The year 2009 was fraught with many challenges, but as you look back on the past, try not to be consumed with regret about the negative things that took place.
In your reflections, you will probably realise that some occurrences, like the global financial crisis, were out of your control; while others, such as impulsive credit-card purchases, could have been avoided. If you are feeling despondent about your financial mistakes, it can actually prevent you from taking charge of your financial future.
Here are some tips that can help you to release yesterday’s problems, and create a tomorrow with no regrets:
Let Go Of The Past
If you are haunted by poor financial decisions, the most important thing you can do is forgive yourself for your mistakes. As the saying goes, “Hindsight has 20/20 vision.” Don’t be too hard on yourself, as you probably did the best you knew how to at the time.
Many of us learn the right financial moves to make only after turning the wrong way, as there is no encyclopaedia that provides us with a complete guide to money success. Even wealthy investors such as Warren Buffett and Michael Lee Chin have admitted to making unwise financial decisions, so don’t be overly distressed if you experience failure too.
While some people may feel sorry for themselves, others deal with their calamities by existing in a state of denial. If you are consumed by guilt and shame from the consequences of your money muddles, you may choose to avoid the issues altogether. This is even more self-destructive than rebuking yourself, as you have to admit that you have a problem before you can get help.
No matter how bad your mistakes have been, remember that they don’t make you a bad person. Even if you squandered your parent’s life savings in an investment scheme or you’re about to lose your home through foreclosure, acknowledge your errors and then commit them to experience.
Learn From Your Mistakes
Once you’re willing to be honest about your financial challenges, the next step is to learn from them. Examine the reasons that led to you making the wrong decisions – did you lack proper information, were you influenced by greed, did you ignore the professional advice you were given? This assessment process can help to ensure that you don’t repeat the mistake.
Many of our money problems are caused by bad habits such as spending more than we earn, not saving for emergencies, or not planning for future goals. Do whatever it takes – read books, go to seminars, or visit a financial coach – until you learn all the basic steps about managing, multiplying and maintaining your money.
Look To The Future
Although you may think that your money problems are too severe for you to overcome, remember that it is never too late to transform your future. Don’t take the easy route by giving up and not trying to do better.
You can’t go back in the past to change it; all you can do is focus on doing the right things right now. Once you have learned how to make good financial decisions, set clear goals and positive expectations. Armed with the right information and guidance, you can create a new pathway towards financial success.
“When one door closes another door opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door, that we do not see the ones which open for us.” – Alexander Graham Bell
Copyright © 2009 Cherryl Hanson Simpson