WRAL SmartShopper

WRAL SmartShopper

Moving on from financial mistakes

Posted June 12

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Have you ever made a financial mistake you came to regret? Most of us have.

What's the worst financial mistake you ever made?

In my case, I wish I had bought a used mini van when the kids were born and not purchased a brand new Honda Odyssey. I ended up driving it for 12 years and putting over 200,000 miles on it, but a used car would have been much less expensive. My next car will definitely be a used one.

Here are some ways to move forward and prevent those financial mistakes from happening again.

Read on for an excerpt from an article written by Joel Fink from

Wow. I wish I wouldn't have bought that expensive car. Those high payments are killing me.

We all experience financial regret at some point. It's easy to get frustrated by financial missteps, but how do you put them into perspective and move on?

Marcia Reynolds, Psy. D., wrote an article about "5 Steps for Moving Forward in Spite of Regrets" for Psychology Today. In her article, she discusses how regret is often based on false comparison. If you are defining happiness by the stuff that you own or the size of your house, you may be setting yourself up for regret.

She notes that humans are bad at estimating what what will bring them happiness in the future. We have only partial control over our circumstances and we make decisions based on past experiences. When life turns out different from what we expect, we blame ourselves.

She discusses 5 steps for dealing with regrets so that you can move on. Let's look at her 5 steps in the context of financial regrets.

1. Accept your regrets as part of being alive.

No one will make the perfect financial decision every time. My father used to tell me, "If you're not making any mistakes, then you must not be doing anything." You can't always buy that car at the lowest possible price or get that mortgage at the lowest interest rate. Make the best decision that you can at the time. Life is about learning. Learn from your experience.

2. Don't overemphasize what was bad about your choices.

Don't beat yourself up too much about a bad financial decision. Try to understand how you overpaid for that car or ran up all that credit card debt. You made that decision in the context of your circumstances at that particular time. Perhaps you got bad advice. Use your knowledge to avoid future mistakes and to share your hard earned wisdom with family and friends.

3. Claim today as the best you have with what you now know.

Focus on the positive aspects of your present financial position. Appreciate the things that you already own or experiences that you have been able to afford. Look for opportunities to improve your financial future by enjoying what you have now and using what you've learned. Find simple ways to enjoy your life like visiting a friend, volunteering, reading a good book, taking a walk, or .... To read the rest of the article, please head to HERE.

My thanks to Gary with The Dollar Stretcher for sharing this excerpt. See for many more frugal living articles.


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  • Faye Prosser -WRAL Smart Shopper Jun 13, 11:45 a.m.

    vlynn and Jdouglas - you both made excellent points. And by used, I am only talking about a couple years old, with a warranty. And you can certainly find some new cars priced less than some brands of used cars. But at the time I bought the new Odyssey, it was the IT car for parents and was expensive and I could have done much better with a slightly used Honda instead of the brand spanking new one. I won't make that mistake again. Thanks for your comments!

  • vlynn Jun 13, 10:47 a.m.

    I agree JDOUGLAS13. It really depends on the situation. A friend of mine bought a used car recently and she paid more for it than I paid for my new car! I was able to get 0% financing along with a lifetime power train warranty, 2yr maintenance included and a decent price. This made the new car much cheaper than buying the used car. Your credit score can make a big difference. Also, the maintenance history of the used car can make a huge difference. Sometimes, a used car can be a super deal, but you can also end up with a lemon! This doesn't mean that a new car can't be a lemon, too! It really pays to check out both options: new and used to see which is the better deal in your situation. I know that car values drop dramatically when you drive a new car off the lot, but there are lots of safety features included in new cars that may not be there in used cars, so again, you really need to compare both options to see what is really the best deal.

  • jdouglas13 Jun 12, 6:42 p.m.

    Thanks for sharing the article, Faye. It's interesting that you felt it was a mistake buying the car new. One of my financial regrets was the one car I bought used. Never again unless I have no other option. I think sometimes it is difficult to quantify what is of value to each of us in a oranges to oranges type of way. Everyone's personal situations vary greatly as well, so what may be a wise choice for one may be a bad choice for another.

    I'm at a point in my life where I've come to realize I do the best I can with what I've got. Sometimes what I've got isn't much. Sometimes my best might be pretty bad, but it's okay to cut myself a break.