Forgive Your Money Mistakes

By Jennie Hastings
[Mindful Money]

Have you ever made a mistake with money? It can happen in many ways. You lend money to a friend or relative and they never repay you. Or you make a spur-of-the-moment buying decision, and by the time the ink is dry on the contract, you are kicking yourself. You spend too much on your credit cards or get in a hole with taxes. The business deal that looked too good to pass up takes you to the cleaners, or you trust someone who leads you astray.
Whatever it is, and whenever it was, most of us can probably own up to a money mistake. Our financial lives are potentially as fraught with peril as our love lives. And just like love, there is no right way to handle money, only the way that feels right to us as individuals. In the learning process, there are bound to be mistakes.
The amount we lose through our mistakes does not usually matter as much as the way our mistakes make us feel. Some people feel worse about making a mistake with a few hundred dollars than others feel about making a mistake with thousands of dollars. It’s all relative.

My Own Mistakes
When I think of my own past money mistakes, I think of my spontaneous decision to buy a new car. Without any forethought or research, I showed up on a car lot and returned home that day with a brand-new Toyota Yaris. The car cost about $14,000, and I had a loan for just around $20,000. I’d been sold on all the warranties and accepted only $800 for my trade-in, on which I still owed money.
I used to be really embarrassed about this experience. When I thought about it, I would get upset at the car salesman who preyed on me that day. I was ashamed of myself for being a gullible buyer. The fact that my loan had zero interest on it fooled me into thinking that everything else was fine. The truth is, I was hasty and emotional for the biggest purchase of my life thus far and should have known better.
And you know what? It was fine. Nothing truly bad happened. Yes, I paid too much for that car. But I also proved to myself that I can pay a $350 car payment if I want. I never missed a payment. I even loved the car. Granted, it wasn’t worth what I was paying for it, but I loved it anyway.
I’ve made other bad money decisions, too. I’ve jumped on the bandwagon of several multilevel marketing companies. I get drawn in by the high caliber of the products, and the people selling them, and before I know it I have bought way more health, beauty, or cleaning products than I ever need. I once had to take out a personal loan to pay off a credit card balance that was mostly products from one of these companies.
My most sensitive and painful money mistake was when I sent money orders totaling $5,000 (all of my savings at that time) to join a women’s empowerment circle in Canada. This was not my worst money mistake in terms of amount, but it was the worst mistake in terms of how I felt about it. This experience negatively affected my relationships with my friends and caused me to act in ways I would not have otherwise. I felt shame about the experience and how much energy it drained from me.
Money mistakes happen. We can always look back and bemoan our bad decisions. We can beat ourselves up for the indefinite future. We can hide our mistakes and pretend they never happened. But will that change where we are today? Will that bring back the money we foolishly spent or gave away? What would really be different in our lives today if we had not had that experience?
What if we could find peace in the moment by realizing that everything we have ever done was about getting ourselves to where we are today, and we are happy with that? Where we are right now is enough. Who we are right now is enough. And if it weren’t for every one of our past experiences, we would not be who we are today.

Forgive Yourself
Take a moment and draw a few deep breaths. Place your hands over your heart and connect with what a magnificent creature you are. Feel your breath move through your body and notice the beat of your heart. This journey of life you are on is a miracle. There is no one else like you, there never has been, nor ever will be. You are a unique expression of life and every step of your journey has added up to who you are now.
Say to yourself, I forgive myself for my past money mistakes (you can even be specific here and mention the exact instance you are working with). I realize I was doing the best I could with the information I had then, and I forgive my past self for not knowing what I could not have already known. I recognize this experience as a step in my journey. I have learned from this experience so my future decisions will be better. I am free now to love and honor myself for all that I am and proceed forth on my journey with more love and knowledge.
Learning to forgive ourselves for past money mistakes is a big step toward turning our negative experiences into wisdom that can serve us. Becoming good at something always involves trial and error. When we find compassion for our past mistakes, we also find trust in ourselves moving forward.

Jennie Hastings, LMT, BCTMB, has studied money in the therapeutic process from every angle: as a client, patient, and practitioner. From the very beginning of her bodywork career, she received business training and coaching. Now she helps other massage therapists break through limiting beliefs about money with private and group coaching. She can be reached at