Have you ever made a financial decision that left you feeling so bad, so embarrassed or ashamed of yourself, it made you want to bury your head in the sand - literally? Maybe you invested in a pyramid scheme, or discovered that you have no savings to show for after years of earning, had a business that went down faster than the sun or bought an asset that turned out to be a liability. Most of us have been there, done that. 


Regret is such a strange feeling because it’s one of those things that you really can do nothing about, yet it nags at the back of your mind. Occasionally, if you let it, it can thoroughly thwart your self image. Financial regret is a whole new ballgame. It’s made even more complicated by the fact that we look to money as a measure of how well we’re generally doing in life. It’s that status game that we’re all born into one way or another. Everyone has at some point harbored a superiority or inferiority complex because of their earning capacity or the level of wealth they were born into. It’s one of the unspoken mysteries of being human. 

From a psychological point of view, there are a whole lot of emotions tied into our finances. That’s why sometimes, when you look back at a bad financial decision, you can feel deep shame and regret and think to yourself, “Aarrgghh! I should have known better!” or “I should have listened,” or begin to believe that you’re inherently bad at managing money. 

Fun fact: all of us are either making big financial decisions for the first time in our lives and are bound to mess up occasionally, or we’ve been making them for a while now and have accumulated a little regret here and there. How do we move on when we’re not proud of our money mess?

1. Acknowledge it

Holding yourself accountable sucks! It’s hard. It takes a really big person to own up to their mistakes. Sometimes, and you know this well, when things go wrong, you want to first start playing the blame game. It’s the easiest thing to do. But if you made a bad financial decision; gambled the big bucks away, made an expensive depreciating, non-refundable purchase or invested in a weird get-rich-quick scheme and lost your cash, you have to look at yourself in the mirror and admit it to yourself. 

Acknowledge that you made a mistake. As long as you don’t, as long as you pretend it was someone else’s fault or make excuses for yourself, you’ll never be able to challenge yourself to go on a learning journey that’ll ensure you don’t repeat it.

2. Talk about it

Did I mention that accountability sucks? Well being accountable to someone else is probably even suckier. Those deep feelings of shame surrounding your ability to make sound financial decisions can bubble up pretty quickly.

But you know what helps? Talking to someone you trust about it. It can help give you a little perspective on what exactly happened. Maybe the other person has done something equally as bad, or has made a few mistakes of their own that you too can learn from. Sometimes, once you talk about it, you’ll feel better.


For example, we had a whole Weighty Wednesday conversation on the Kuzah Community  about financial decisions we regret. The knowledge that I wasn’t the only one who had lost my money to a business I didn’t own, or been tempted to invest in AIM Global was as funny as it was comforting. It also helped me to see that it wasn’t that I was stupid. I just didn’t know any better. It clearly highlighted the importance of financial literacy for me. Which brings me to my next point…


3. Invest in your learning journey

The truth of life is that you spend your formative years learning about things, then once you’re an adult, you start both unlearning and relearning things. Finances are no exception. 

You’ve spent all your life learning about how to handle money by watching the people around you handle theirs, and your financial regrets are as a result of poorly informed decisions. 

But you have a right to change that narrative. Like I said, this is where financial literacy comes in. We’ve developed a 6- week intensive financial literacy course to help address these financial issues so you can make financial decisions that you can be proud of. Whether you’re just starting out and are struggling with an inherent belief that money really just isn’t your thing or you want to get better at saving, spending, investing and creating a portfolio that you can flaunt proudly, this program might just be the key to your financial success.


4. Focus on what you can do better

The brain has a way of constantly reminding us where we went wrong in the past. It’s precisely why we find ourselves rehearsing arguments in the shower and ruminating over suboptimal decisions. But you can call yourself to the present moment. 

What do you have to do to get out of the mess you might be in? How can you diversify your sources of income to make up for what you’ve lost? What will you do the next time a similar situation presents itself? What lessons have you learned from this? How is your investment strategy still aligned with your goals? What small steps can you take today to get to where you want to be? This should be your focus.


5. Move on

Now that you know better, the hope is that you can do better. So it’s time to let go. You’ve acknowledged your mistake, opened up about it, been accountable for it and you’ve learned your lessons. It’s time to forgive yourself and move on :-)

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