How to Turn Money Regrets into Lessons Well Learned

written by Bari Tessler March 1, 2022
how to turn money regrets into lessons well learned

Dear Money Adventurer,

When we look back on our lives, we may feel shame or regret at the past behaviors. The thing is, most of us make money mistakes. We all have parts of our life or money life that we wish we had done differently.

Hindsight really is 20/20 – and money is no exception.

The problem is that all too often, when we reflect on our journey, we carry shame over the mistakes that we’ve made, for “getting it wrong,” or being “bad with money,” even for not knowing better, sooner.

It’s an exhausting cycle that keeps us blaming and bullying ourselves instead of seeing, honoring, and celebrating the lessons we’ve learned, how far we’ve come, or the ways that we’ve grown.

So, when Chris Taylor, a financial journalist who writes for Reuters Money, reached out about an article he was writing on money regrets, I jumped at the chance.

We all have money shame, disappointment, or regret, over money choices we’ve made – even over choices we didn’t make!

Like not saving more when we were younger, investing sooner, or taking advantage of the 401K program at work years ago.

Maybe it’s paying off your younger self’s credit card debt or struggling with the high-interest rate on your student loan repayment.

Or investing in stocks or real estate at the wrong time – and losing your home or savings like many did when the economy crashed in 2008.

If you find yourself caught up in this self-defeating cycle of shame, blame, and regret, I’d like to share a little loving encouragement with you.

Starting with this: please, please, please have compassion for your past decisions and behaviors, even the so-called mistakes. Because when you stop beating yourself up about the past, you create space to learn and grow from it instead.

When you look back on the past with grace and gentle curiosity, you can be present with those emotions of shame and regret and find a way to honor the money mistake you feel you made, your younger self, or the person you were at the time.

When we drop the self-judgment, we can begin to explore the beliefs and actions that led you to make the choices you did and learn how to respond differently the next time you encounter a similar money moment or decision.

So, grab your favorite pen and your journal, your laptop, or even your smartphone, and maybe a few delicious squares of dark chocolate, and spend some time reflecting on the questions below.

Where can you go when those cycling thoughts about money mistakes or regret come up?

Do you have a tool or practice that you can turn to? I go for walks in the mountains, but maybe you get on your yoga mat or do some meditation? What might you want to try if you don’t already have a practice in place?

How can you understand and honor the younger self and how you got to that place?

What did you learn about money from your family of origin, your culture, religion, ethnicity, and experience of class? Here we acknowledge the positive, the negative, the challenging, the beautiful, the painful – all of it. What did you learn along the way that brought you to the decisions you made?

What can you do differently the next time a similar money moment comes up?

What baby steps can you take to get to a new place? What tools or resources would help guide and empower you along the way?

Money shame and money regrets affect us all, but we can break the cycle of guilt and blame. We can learn to offer ourselves heaps of compassion, love, and grace instead.

I’m excited to share Chris’ article with you because we all make money mistakes – and we can all learn from them. Click here to read Chris Taylor’s “How to harness the power of money regret”complete with a cameo from yours truly!

And please remember that there will be other money moments and decisions to make, more opportunities to act with conscious intention, to shift your Money Story, to grow from those hard-earned lessons you’ve learned.

Trust that we can make changes moving forward, know that this journey is constantly unfolding, and we can continually update our financial identity.

Then give yourself the loving compassion that you need to make that shift.

P.S. The Art of Money Workbook is coming June 7!

Pre-order your copy now.

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