Why you need to let go of your past financial mistakes

By Madge

Life is for the living. A ‘living being’, a verb no less.  We may understand our past by looking at it now, but we should never make the mistake of re-living the past, because however fantastic or bad it may have been, there is a lot more joy to be found presently and (possibly) in the future. Hope insists that we make a better day for ourselves today and tomorrow.

I love the quote by Jennifer Lim, ‘Mistakes are proof that you are trying’. I would venture to add, mistakes are proof that you are living! It is the mark of being human. More so a human being.

When we start earning a living, I can almost guarantee that we will make some financial mistakes. We may start saving too late, saving too little, investing our money in thin air, or not saving anything at all. We may not always have a blueprint of how to save and hence our topic for today, you need to let go of your past financial mistakes.

There are some very good reasons why you need to let go of your past mistakes.

  1. Everybody makes mistakes; We all have made our fair share of mistakes, financial included. So, it is not strange that you for the longest time used to save less than you should or did not have an emergency fund. The problem would be that once you had a financial aha! moment, you continued in your slumber. When we know better, we are expected to do better.
  2. We are our own toughest critics; and social media does not help. We often expect too much of ourselves, especially when all we see around are people with ‘perfect’ lives. We forget that almost everyone on social is only sharing their ‘Sunday best outfits’. They are showing only their good side. So, when you try to keep up with that kind of pressure you have the wrong marking scheme and you will fall short.

Isn’t it interesting that you can walk away from other people’s criticism of yourself, but you cannot walk away from yourself? We need to be less critical of ourselves. While we are it, let me just come clean since charity begins at home. Do you remember the time when Kenya had a wave of pyramid schemes?  I’m a bit of a nerd, so when the pyramid schemes were all the rage, I went full throttle research mode to try and figure this phenomenon. At that time, there were case studies of how those schemes went belly up in other parts of the world.

Which would then lead you to think that, when my friends asked me if we can invest together into the schemes and get three times our investment in three months, I would have been the first to say no, loudly. You would be wrong of course because peer pressure and greed were my guiding light. I will leave the outcome of that to your imagination but needless to say, it has not been easy to stop kicking myself.

  1. Forgiving yourself allows you to move forward; Ever tried to walk fast when carrying a heavy load. You may manage a short distance, but you will not go far. Letting go of your past financial mistakes makes you lighter and allows you to adapt quickly to new opportunities for financial growth. Forgiveness allows you to unburden yourself of old disruptive habits (who else has a weakness for those chocolate bars strategically placed at supermarket checkout counters) and acquiring new progressive ones.
  1. We learn from our mistakes; There is an advert for a washing detergent that has a tagline that says ‘dirt is good’. This is about children playing and exploring nature for themselves and returning home with soiled clothes. 

It is not the best way to learn when it comes to other areas of life. It is always better and cheaper to learn from someone else’s experiences.  You may end up with huge financial blunders, especially when you go into investments that you have not carefully researched and understood.

You may lose your hard-earned money and lose your reputation in the process. Take the learning and move forward. Do better research next time, ask more questions, visit the development/ construction sites often, engage a lawyer in your next transaction, get an accountant and a tax expert to look over your books, etc.

Having done all the unlearning and relearning from our past financial mistakes, we need to create better habits that move us toward achieving our financial goals. I love quick wins. So, on days where I feel low because my mind keeps reminding me of my past financial mistakes, I like to do something however small to counter it.

It is not unusual for me to deposit some money, as little as Kshs 500 to my money market fund, or to remind myself to carry snacks and lunch so I can make a saving from not buying them in the office. Such seemingly small wins add up and have held me in good stead when I have found myself dwelling on my not-so-good-financial past. 

In conclusion, if you have ever failed spectacularly in financial matters, cheer up, hold your head high, let go of the past because it belongs in the past. Take the lessons and soldier on. Remember, you’ve got this!

Madge offers financial coaching on her blog https://pesasense.com/self-evaluation-in-financial-planning/  Please check it out.

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