How to Overcome Financial Mistakes with Grace

Published on June 1, 2017 by Lauren

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  • Have you ever made a financial decision that you immediately regretted?

    I’ve made SO many of those, as I document in my book The Recovering Spender. I’ve learned a lot about bad financial mistakes over the years, the good and the bad.  As we go through life and realize that we have little control over the things happening around us, I am reminded of what I do have control over. I only have control over my thoughts and my actions.

    This past week there was a member of my Financial Renovation Course going through buyers’ remorse. All of us participate in a private Facebook Group for the course, where I spend a lot of time helping people through their current financial situations. This is where this specific conversation took place…

    She had made a bad purchase – an impulsive one. This led her to beat herself up over it, and think that she could never get out of debt or learn the ropes of good personal finance. A great discussion ensued, and it inspired me to write this article.

    I see so many people depressed and upset over financial mistakes. This often flows over into life mistakes and so much more.

    Financial decisions

    How to Overcome Financial Mistakes in 3 Steps:

    1.) Stop beating yourself up over those bad financial decisions.

    We cannot move forward if we continue to hang onto the past.

    There are no right or wrong decisions in this life – it’s only what we make of them. Since you cannot change the past, learn from your mistakes and move on.Should you have made that bad decision? Probably not, but beating yourself up over it will not do any good. Learn from it by figuring out WHY you did it, the feelings behind it, and why you didn’t make another choice… then next time you will make the better choice. Progress over perfection is key when learning how to handle money and life issues.

    Should you have made that bad decision? Probably not. But beating yourself up over it will not do any good. And I’m not advocating that you simply move on and continue to make bad financial decisions… on the contrary, take some time and use this situation as the fantastic opportunity that it is.


    Learn from it by figuring out WHY you made that decision – explore the feelings behind it, and why you didn’t make a different choice. Then next time you will make the better choice. Progress over perfection is key when learning how to handle money and life issues.

    The faster we learn to be patient with ourselves, the faster we will come to peace about our current financial situation.

    2.) Don’t be paralyzed by fear of making the wrong choice

    Financial decisions

    Fear has also been explained as ‘False Evidence Appearing Real’. Fear will not only keep you from making bad decisions, it will also keep you from making good decisions.

    You have a choice to either avoid that fear – Forget Everything And Run.


    Accept the Fear – Face Everything And Rise.

    You have a choice.

    Don’t let fear of messing up keep you from making decisions in life – both good and bad. Remember, there are no right or wrong decisions in life. You will never have every piece of information needed to make a truly “perfect” decision. Progress can be made from every single decision you make – no matter what the consequences are.

    By realizing that there are no right or wrong decisions, you have freed yourself from the bondage of fear of making the wrong choices.

    If you mess up, learn from it, and move onto the next day. Mistakes are a daily part of life. And getting angry or upset with yourself will only keep you from learning the lesson that you might need to learn in order to progress and do better next time.

    3.) Realize that you do not have control over other people and what decisions they make.

    This is a tricky one especially when you are in a relationship. In most relationships, there is a spender and a saver. The spender will spend while the saver sits back in agony over the spender’s purchases.

    And neither partner can do anything to control the actions of the other. And any attempt to do so would be futile, not to mention extremely unhealthy for the relationship.

    We can only control what we do and how we react to things. Your perception of life plays a big part in how you react to things. Take a look at your perception of the situation and check that first, then react.

    For example: When your husband goes out and buys a boat without asking you, you may think he is being selfish and doing it in spite of your best efforts to budget. In reality, though, he may have purchased it to spend more time with you. And he might have even had a somewhat good financial reason to do so – maybe he wants to give you something fun to do instead of expensive vacations. His intentions may have been true to your current situation.

    But we have a tendency to assume the worst intentions in people, don’t we? This is what’s called the Actor-Observer Bias. We tend to assume that others have horrible intentions while giving ourselves a pass for our own actions. But a conscious adjustment of your perception can counteract this bias.

    Back to the issue of the boat purchase, your perception of the situation could have caused a big fight. A big fight that wasn’t necessary. By changing your perception of that purchase, you can now see that he was not selfish or spiteful, but had good intentions behind it. I’m not arguing one way or the other whether or not it was a smart purchase… but if you adjust your perception to assume good intentions in the decisions of others and recognize your inability to control them, you will react much better.

    And you’ll end up making a much better decision as a couple.

    So the lesson learned there is to check your perceptions before you take action and react.

    Just because you made one bad financial mistake, try not to go to the extreme.  You will not always be bad with money. And while you will always make mistakes, they will just be different mistakes as you move on to the next area of progress in your life.

    Have grace on yourself…you didn’t get into debt overnight so don’t expect to get out of it overnight. It’s a process.

    Embrace the journey and learn from it.  

    You will do better next time!


  • My friend tried to drag me into her idea of fun this weekend, playing slot machines at a casino. While I was thinking about how boring it would be to stay home and get some work done, working on my Master’s Degree, it occurred to me that I would have hated myself for risking my money being out of my own hands. I spent some money on pull tabs last week, and after only losing, I won’t say how much, my thoughts went to that place I would again feel like I was defeated. This time I would not be defeated, I would stop myself from causing my own sadness. Learning isn’t always easy, but sometimes we have to be adults about it. This can be harder on people who only have one adult in the household, because guess what? I am the only person I have to answer to, the only one who will feel bad about losing my hard earned money.

  • Hello,

    Thank you for the post. I’m dealing with buyer remorse for the past week on a new car purchase. I’m in my late 20s and I have traded in my car 3 times in the last 5 years. I should had learned from my prior 3 mistake but I don’t know what I was thinking and now I feel horrible and the guilt is really depressing me right now. I know I made a mistake and is hard to understand why I did it. I’m ashamed of my big decisions. The fears and doubt is a really feeling to deal with. Thank you

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