When You Make a Financial Mistake

We all make financial mistakes - but the key is how we respond to them.

Photo by Proimos, used with CC license

I’m going to share something personal with you.

Last week, I made a financial mistake.

You see, like most people, I got caught up in everything going on. My schedule was packed, there were family matters that commanded my attention, and I just dropped the ball. Pure and simple. But I paid the price for it – both literally and figuratively.

I overdrafted my checking account. Not by a lot. In fact, it was a measly $10 charge that ended up costing me quite a bit more in overdraft fees. And you know what? It sucked. It sucked so much that I stared at my balance and just felt completely overwhelmed. I lost it. And I know I’m not the only one to have this feeling.

I, like many people, live on a tight budget. I’m a semi-recent college graduate with student loans. I have my own car, apartment, insurance, retirement plan, and day-to-day expenses. Everything gets paid on time. I refuse to carry a balance on my credit card and work hard to make sure that I’m always caught up with my bills. I also manage to put a little bit of money away each month.

I’m doing everything right – until that one moment when I’m not.

We all have moments like these in our financial histories. Moments where we didn’t think about something and made a decision that wasn’t necessarily the best one. Moments where we lose our focus and give into our impulses for takeout, new shoes, or another e-book. Moments where we just aren’t paying attention and let something slip. We’re human. We WILL make mistakes. But we can learn from them.

When I sat down to write this post, I thought about what I felt when I saw that overdraft fee notice roll into my inbox. Shame. Embarrassment. Anger. Frustration. Sadness. Anxiety. Worry. Overwhelm. A host of emotions that we tend to associate with money – and it really shouldn’t have to be that way. I shouldn’t have to feel terrible when I make a mistake, but I should have to recognize that it IS a mistake and that it can be avoided.

All of those uncomfortable feelings that made me feel utterly powerless are motivating me to take back the control. You can do the same thing. You can take control of your finances and gain insight from your mistakes. You can practice not giving into your impulses. You can plan and learn to budget. You can make arrangements and keep accurate records and get more organized. There are plenty of things you can do, but it all starts with that feeling that drives you to change.

When you think about money, how do you feel? Good? Bad? Indifferent? Tap into that and see where it leads you. What is that emotion telling you about your situation? I’ve heard somewhere that when it comes to dealing with choices, you have two options:

  • You can change the thing
  • You can change your attitude about the thing

Creating a healthy financial future is a little bit of both. You’ll need to take action and change some things, but you’ll also need to change your attitude about money. How you get it, how you spend it, how you manage it, how you save it…the way you feel about money and its place in your life will change as your own financial picture begins to appear. But recognize that first step: how do you feel about money in a moment of weakness? How about in a moment of strength?

This is what New Frugality is all about. It’s about recovering from the moments of weakness and building a life that is full and rich and vibrant. It’s about getting the most out of any situation. It’s about being creative and testing yourself so that you can enjoy more while spending less. The great thing is that it’s all possible.

We have the ability to change our financial pictures. YOU have the ability to do this. So why aren’t you? What’s holding you back?

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About Mandy Boyle

Mandy Boyle is a writer, marketer, and all-around nice girl. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication Arts – Advertising & Public Relations and a Master of Arts in Communication Arts from Marywood University. Mandy is currently the SEO Team Leader for Solid Cactus, Inc. and is a published freelance writer.


Great, great post @Mandy Boyle ...and it takes gumption to admit that you made a mistake and are willing to learn from it.


Ten bucks, ten THOUSAND bucks - here's to learning from it, taking control, and moving onward and upward!

Carrie Smith
Carrie Smith

This is awesome advice, and it's very easy to relate to. I like the idea of harnessing my feelings and attitude to use it as fuel for future decisions. It's a simple way to change my outlook, but it can have power effects when put into action. Thanks for opening up and sharing your story/feelings. It's nice to know other people experience the same financial setbacks as I do.