Something I have been wondering about recently is what is a mistake? Particularly, what is a money mistake? How do you know that you’ve made a money mistake? Isn’t it all just about learning and growing? Is it ever possible to make the best decision? I’ll discuss my ruminations on all these questions below, so keep reading.
Money Mistake or Learning
Let’s begin with the obvious. All mistakes are learning opportunities. That’s all. In fact, we should just take the word ‘mistake’ out of the dictionary and replace it with ‘lesson’ or ‘learning’ or ‘growth opportunity’.
I also want to say that what might seem like a money mistake at first, might turn out to be the best decision you ever made. Hindsight is always 20/20, right?
Finally, I want to add that there is NO way you will ever be able to take into account all the possible solutions to a conundrum to make the BEST possible decision out there. It’s just not possible. You don’t have enough time in the day to do that. And the world changes way too fast for you to be on top of everything.
For example, you might decide that you want to find a better car insurance company. You go online and search for a little while, and find a great quote. Awesome. Good job, you. But wait. A week later, your friend tells you that your company has started offering a discount on car insurance for anyone who qualifies. It’s too late for you to switch over. Boo-hoo.
Was that a money mistake? No, that was just circumstance beyond your control.
If you are spending more than 30-45 minutes making a decision, it better have something to do with the person you are going to marry, the university you are going to attend, or the next city you are going to move to. Besides these important lifetime decisions, the rest of your life should not involve stretched out decision-making processes.
We will speak more about time vs. money a bit later in this article.
If It’s a Lesson, Then Why Are We Mad at Ourselves for It?
Okay, so all mistakes actually carry lessons within them for us. The world is moving so fast, that we need to be constantly on our toes. The universe teaches us lessons through these ‘mistake’ or ‘growth’ moments.
I remember this one time I missed a flight, because I had my headphones on and I missed them calling my name repeatedly. I was so distracted by whatever I was listening to (I don’t even remember what it was now), that when I finally went to check on the flight, it had already been an hour too late.
Ugh. I shudder just thinking about my stupidity. But I promised myself that I would not berate myself for that incident anymore, so I try not to. I tell myself as long as I learned a lesson from that incident, that ‘mistake’ was not a waste.
And let me tell you – I NEVER missed a flight after that. In fact, I sit close to the front, and watch the airline attendants making annoucements like it was my second job. I will never ever let myself be too distracted to know what’s happening with the boarding process at the gate.
That lesson is imprinted in my mind. It will never ever be taken away from me. I am an expert now at ensuring I don’t miss a flight. I have a detailed checklist of things I do to ensure I don’t miss a flight.
That wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t taken that chaotic day as a lesson.
Jump into Lesson Mode as Fast as You Can
As much as I try, I can’t jump into lesson mode right away. For a few moments, after I receive a ‘mistake lesson’, I berate myself, call myself names, and go into a shame spiral. I feel my face becoming hot, and flushed. It’s all I can do from running away from the situation and crying in a toilet somewhere.
But I have trained myself to jump out of ‘I’m-an-idiot-I-can’t-believe-I-did-this’ mode to ‘what-can-I-learn-from-this-situation’ mode. I make the jump fast because I don’t want to waste any of my precious time berating and hating myself. It’s a useless emotion.
In fact, it’s a wasted emotion, because the lesson would have come some way or another.
That’s what I implore you to do. As soon as you make a money mistake (or any mistake), take 5 minutes to call yourself names. Time yourself. And then once that five minutes ends, go on with the business of learning the lesson and fixing the mistake.
For example, with that flight I missed, I called myself names for a few minutes, and then I started asking around for alternate ways to get back home. Someone told me there’s a bus station, and the bus will leave soonish, so if I want to catch it, I need to hurry. Now, if I had been in the self-loathing mode for too long, I would have missed that bus.
While I was sitting in the bus, I did allow myself some additional time to recuperate the lesson and understand what I will do in the future to avoid making this mistake ever again.
The Time vs. Money Conundrum – Age-Old as They Come
Let’s discuss the time vs. money situation. Okay, so you have a limited amount of time on this planet. In fact, the seconds are ticking as we speak. I would recommend that you spend as much as 30-45 minutes on making that decision, and then leave the rest to God, or the Universe. Use a timer, to make it official.
The problem is that some decisions, if we spend time on, we could save hundreds or thousands of dollars over our lifetime. That’s great. For example, you should spend time shopping around for a good mortgage interest rate.
BUT, most decisions will not garner those kinds of results. You might save $40 on that camera you want to buy. Or $100 on that flight. Is that really how you want to spend your time? Won’t you be better off making that money with your job rather than wasting it on these inane money decisions?
Here are some things to know about money and how it works:
- You can ALWAYS make more money, but you can NEVER get your time back.
- You can NEVER make the best money decision, as you will always miss something.
- If you were to die tomorrow, would the extra $30 or $100 matter that much?
- Always spend in line with your values and you will never have to think twice.
- Meet your present self’s needs first and then take care of your future self.
- Money is always flowing like water into your life – use this imagery for good.
- Set a timer and buy the cheapest thing you find at the end of that 30 minutes.
- Stop wasting money on useless things, but DO spend it on things that matter to you.
These are some of my observations about it, as I have been pondering about money mistakes and what they mean to me.
A Money Mistake Is a Money Lesson – Use It Wisely
The only time a money mistake is a complete waste of time, space, money, and situation, is IF you don’t inculcate the learnings and keep repeating the mistake. If I kept on missing flights, even after that one missed flight, that would mean I have NOT learned from my money mistake, and that is such a terrible thing to even contemplate.
Use the lessons the universe sends your way wisely. Put them into a little corner of your mind or heart and don’t ever forget them. They are sent to you for a very good reason.
What do you think of your money mistakes? Lesson learned or not? Let me know in the comments below.