Skip to Content

5 ways to make yourself miserable after a money mistake

Did you incur a late fee?

Have you forgotten to pay a bill and been charged interest?

Did you miss the return window on a purchase?

A box of secondhand clothing.

Did canceling that appointment slip your mind? The one where you have to pay the full amount?

Maybe you broke something expensive or botched a repair.

melted tea kettle bottom.

Maybe you left a big piece of meat out on the counter overnight.

Whatever the mistake, if you need some unhelpful ways to deal with it, today’s post is for you!

1. Ruminate on the mistake.

Make a point of dwelling on it.  During the day is good, but nighttime is especially effective because you are less rational then.

2. Think about all the ways you could have prevented this.

Since you can’t go back and change the past, this is a super good way to feel depressed.

There are SO MANY smart choices you would make if you got to go back in time.  But you can’t! 

3. Think about how many frugal activities this mistake erases.

Sure, you made a $20 eBay sale last week, but your $100 mistake has negated FIVE $20 eBay sales.

You saved $10 on your grocery bill, but that was kind of pointless when you melted your $50 kettle on the stove.

A melted hot water kettle.

The spending and saving events are independent (you’d have melted the kettle regardless of your grocery spending), but don’t let that stop you.

Make them dependent in your mind to maximize your guilt.

4. Make unrealistic plans to “recoup” that money.

If you made a $150 mistake, maybe you can just starve for the next month, and then you’ll break even.

5. Give up on frugality altogether.

I mean, if you made a $100 mistake today, why even bother cooking dinner? Time for takeout!

Takeout is going to be kind of cheap compared to the big error you made anyway.


I’m sure this is not an exhaustive list, so if you have a surefire way of beating yourself up over a money mistake, please share in the comments!

P.S. I hope this is obvious, but I am able to make this list because I have lots of experience with feeling bad about money mistakes.  In fact, this post was inspired by a $150 mistake I made just last week. 😉

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Blue Gate Farmgirl

Monday 16th of October 2023

Loved all of the story shares. I know that I have many, many frugal fails. The most recent being after inheriting my dad's diesel truck, I bought up on the fuel additive. After getting codes I went to the dealership and started asking questions. The maintenance manager gave me a great deal of advice and spent 2 hours with me, which was priceless. I found out the fuel additive has a very short shelf life and I had about $52 worth of the stuff that I had to dispose of. Live and learn! I wish I could count how many times I forgot to put a soup or casserole in the freezer for saving. Can't dwell on it, only try to do better next time. Zoom out is a very good lesson and easy to remember. Thanks, Kristen! I also use the rule of 5. In 5 minutes will it matter? In 5 hours? How about 5 days? weeks? months? years?


Tuesday 19th of October 2021

I saw the link in your post today, Oct. 18, 2021, Kristen, and came back to re-read. This is fantastic! Can you do a similar type post about something else, or update and re-run this one? I guess it’s called “tongue-in-cheek” but it makes me laugh and learn. I even recognized my old comment. Really good post that’s standing the test of time.


Tuesday 19th of October 2021

Hmmm, I'll have to think of some other ideas.

But you have reminded me: I should republish this one, which is in the same style:


Sunday 27th of June 2021

Night time is always the best time to ruminate on an error because I tend to make myself so upset, I can't eat and I can't sleep. But, then I remember my daughter's childhood book--It Could Be Worse. Yes, it in many cases it could be and I feel so sorry for the person, who has it worse.

Robyn S

Wednesday 26th of June 2019

I'm super guilty of #3 and it doesn't necessarily have to be because of a mistake, but simply a life's happening. So, my husband may bring home a great paycheck one week and then the next week the car breaks down and I will think "Well there goes the extra money. We just can't get ahead!" But reading these comments reminds me that we all make mistakes and we all have money problems. It is just the way life is :-)


Wednesday 26th of June 2019

Stopped beating myself up over stuff. It is not worth it I will tell you I cut of the following habits: 1. Ordering crap I see online like the garden gloves with claws...useless. The 18.88 linen dress that looks like shit. The backless espadrilles that had backs on them in the picture. 2. Cut out 3 weekends a month of thrift store shopping. Only graze thru them on one week end a month. 3. Could kill myself over food waste. Started eating on sale mixed greens in plastic box. Three per week right out of container w sliced onion and pecans and ONE bottle of blue cheese.....not TWENTY choices of salad dressing. M, T, W are salad days. 4. Guilty of a margarita or two at restaurant when dollar cans are avail at Kroger. 5. Sure lots of quaint cute cheap old pieces of furniture out there. Beat myself up about not having a big house. Passed up an old round top trunk this week. So I really thought I had energy to wash it. Air it and paste some cool wall paper inside?...

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.