For those of us who have yet to at least adopt some measure of “frugal living” into our current lifestyle, I’d say it’s high time to get going. However, if you’re already at least doing something to improve your personal economy, hats off to you! No matter what steps you’re currently taking, you are at least on the right track.
But something that I have encountered a few times over the past several years has been “the screw up.” The financial “slip up”. It could be a lot of things. Say your son threw away one of your credit card statements, it simply slipped your mind and you forgot to pay it, costing you a good chunk of change in finance charges (true story). Or say you were trying to get too cute with moving your finances around, and didn’t leave enough in your checking account, resulting in $89 in overdraft fees (another true story).
These things do happen and happen to the best of us. The question is: What do We Do About it?
What To Do About Financial Slip-Ups
As a self-proclaimed expert in this area, I have come up with a list of do's and don'ts for these situations that may keep you from going insane should you ever encounter one of these “mistakes”.
First, see if you can undo the mistake.
Believe it or not, sometimes you can weasel your way out of some of these mistakes. Regarding the overdraft fees I mentioned above, after I realized what happened, I went into my bank and spoke with the bank manger. I explained to him I had been a customer there for 7 years, never had an issue before, explained to him why it happened, etc. He refunded me 50% of the overdraft fees.
Second, do not, I repeat, do not beat yourself up.
After you get over the initial self-loathing, you just cannot continue to beat yourself up about it. What’s done is done and you can’t undo it. Putting yourself through this mental anguish is not productive at all. Give yourself a good scolding as a deterrent, but stay away from beating yourself up. It serves no purpose.
Third, identify why it happened to make sure it doesn’t happen again. Now this is something that sometimes can get lost. My son used to get into our “bills” drawer and one month he threw away the water bill. Well, I forgot to pay it, but with our water company, there are no late fees, so I just had to pay two months at once. However, I didn’t do anything to change the situation. It wasn’t until he threw away a credit card statement that I failed to pay which cost me close to $100 did I actually move the bills to a higher shelf in the house, and also implemented a checklist each month to make sure everything gets paid.
Fourth, forget about it.
If you do make mistake, you need to try to undo it if you can, you need to do something to make sure it doesn’t happen again, and once all is said and done, you have to forget about it. You have to let go. I guess this is similar to the beating up part, but also, you can’t dwell on it. Again, it does you no good. Just get back on track with all of the other good savings things going on in your life, and don’t let that mistake get you down.
Finally, move on.
Yes, in closing, you need to move on. If you’ve turned your financial life around anywhere near to the extent that I have, you have so many other celebrations to think about rather than some little mistake you made that cost you a certain sum of money. Rather, think about all your successes, get back to doing what you know best (saving and spending wisely) and soon, it will seem as though your little “fall from grace” never even happened.
Have you recently had a financial slip up? How did you handle the situation, and are there things you could have done better? Tell us about it in the comments!
This article was by David of Your Finances 101. David is a reader here on Bible Money Matters and has just published his first book Don’t Be A Mule: A Common-sense Guide to Saving More, Spending Less, and Generating Extra Income in Your Everyday Life which is available at Amazon.