How to deal with guilt of past financial mistakes

May seemed to fly by and now the official start of summer is nearly upon us. Summer always starts early in Texas so the weather here has been warm and muggy. For the past few weeks, summer storms have been rolling through the area, bringing lots of rain and wind.

Mr. Cents loves to watch thunderstorms. When the thunder rumbles and lightening starts flashing, he sits on the back porch trying to capture pictures of lightening and comments on what he thinks the clouds look like. The latest formation he saw in the clouds was “Asgard”. If you aren’t a comic book nerd, here is an explanation of what Asgard is. As far as I know, he hadn’t been drinking.

Do you see Asgard?

Our porch overlooks an old farm in a pasture filled with yellow wildflowers. Unless its boiling hot (like it will be in a few weeks), we like to sit out there, eat some dinner, and watch the sunset while enjoying a glass of wine. Its easy to have a conversation out there, away from the TV and computer. Frequently, our conversations will involve money and what our future plans are.

The future is frustrating to talk about sometimes. I like to think about all of the possibilities for our lives, and make plans to get to where we are going. But at the same time, I wonder if we wouldn’t be there already if we had made different choices. Where would we be right now if we I hadn’t taken out so many student loans? Where would we be if we had kept renting that small townhouse instead of upgrading to a big house with a big mortgage? Where would we be if we had been smarter with money when we were younger? Truth is, I don’t know. I have no idea how different our lives could have been.

I have a tendency to wander down this crazy thought process a lot. When I start talking about the “what if’s”, my husband has to remind me that beating myself up about past decisions isn’t really going to help me plan for the future. He points out how far we’ve come since the early days of our bad money habits. And he’s right! We have done some smart stuff with money, even though I have a tendency to focus on the bad stuff we did.

We got rid of our gas-guzzling truck and bought a used two-door commuter car that gets amazing gas-mileage. We even paid it off completely in less than 6 months. Our other car still has a loan, and now we are working on paying it off too.

We both started saving for retirement in our mid-20s. We didn’t save a ton but that small chunk of change we deposited per pay check added up quick and will be worth a lot when we are older.

We moved out of a high cost of living area to somewhere much cheaper. AND we got rid of our giant mortgage in the process. We still want to downsize even more in the future, but for now, our house situation is good.

Don't let guilt ruin your financial mindset. Learn from the past.
Learn from past financial mistakes

 

We stopped shopping like it was a freaking hobby. When I was younger, I can’t tell you how many times I bought something just because it was “on sale”. I still slip up sometimes, but, for the most part, our purchases are more purpose driven and not “just because”.

We paid off all of our credit card debt. A few years after we got married, we racked up thousands of dollars in credit card debt. I’m happy to say that debt is all gone, and we will do everything within our power to never have it again.

We decided to learn from our idiot choices. I love reading financial blogs and listening to financial podcasts. There is a ton of great advice out there from people who have made better decisions. OR even people who were dumb like us and turned it all around.

Guilt is a powerful force. It can overwhelm you and turn to shame if not properly channeled into something productive. Its easy to focus on all of the bad financial decisions I’ve made, and overlook the good ones. Its easy to feel guilty for the stuff I did wrong rather that channel that energy into learning from bad choices. In the future, I am going to do my best to focus on all stuff I did right and learn from my mistakes so I can do better.

Do you feel guilty when you think about all of the things you could have done better financially? What are some of positive things that you have done? Leave a comment!

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