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How do you get over shame about past spending?

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Good day!

Ms. Kristen, I’m feeling down right now and I’m having a hard time convincing myself to get over this feeling of shame.

Before I discovered your blogsite, I was a spender, then my husband’s company announces that they need to layoff some of their employees, my husband included, giving them only one month to look for another job, this made me realize how irresponsible I am financially speaking. Yes, I save, but not that much.   A little bit each month isn’t enough for my family of 6.   I can save much more if I’m not always having take outs or eating out, buying toys, clothes and make-up (hobby).

Cooking or planning a menu is my weakness, I’m not good at it but after discovering your site a lot of things changed.   I’m more inspired and motivated and trying things.. but this feeling of shame is still bugging me. I’m restless, because if I’d started early and saved more while I still had the chance while my husband was still earning high, that would have been helpful.   But now he’s having a   hard time finding a new job that pays well and the more I see him struggling to find a job, the more I feel guilty.   We’re in our 40’s… is it too late for us ??

-Cas

First off, I’m so glad to hear that my blog has helped motivate you to work at living within your means. Yay!

And secondly, I’m so sorry to hear about your husband’s job.   That’s so hard, for you and for him.

About shame/regret/guilt: While I haven’t had a lot of those feelings specifically about past financial decisions, I do know what it’s like to look back and wish you’d done things differently (the things I wish I’d done differently just don’t happen to be financial in nature!).

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When I’m faced with a situation based on regret from the past, here’s what I do:

First, I apologize to whomever I’ve hurt.   In your case, you could express your regrets to your husband and tell him you wish you’d spent less and saved more.   Hopefully he’ll be understanding and forgiving, but regardless, I think it’s good to apologize and get it off of your chest.

Secondly, I remind myself that I don’t get to change the past.   No matter how much time I spend wallowing in regret, the past will never be different.   All I have is today and the future, and I have to look forward, not backward.

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When I’m busy wallowing in regret over the past, that pretty much zaps any energy I have for moving forward anyway, which makes the wallowing doubly unproductive!

So, yes, do acknowledge what you could have done better, but try not to stay there.   You haven’t got a chance to redo yesterday, but you do have a fresh shot at today and the next day and all the days after that.

When you’re tempted to sink into that place of regret, remind yourself of the things you’re doing differently now.   Give yourself a pat on the back for cooking at home, or not buying makeup/toys/clothes.

And no, it’s never too late to change.   Doing things differently now will set you up for success in the future, and it’s better to start now than never.

Hang in there! And I hope things improve for you guys.

___________________

Readers, if you have some advice for Cas to add, would you share in the comments?

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Brook Hart

Thursday 1st of September 2016

I took many things for granted. When life's events changed and I had no control over them I panicked. I quickly realized several things. Feeling guilty over my many past financial mistakes did not really do much for me in my crisis. I often used that excuse as a reason to spend money and treat myself to give myself a boost. That small feel good moment did not last long and needed to be followed by another feel good moment. I also seemed to think that if I just waited it out , things would get better. I quickly learned that by making changes only I could improve my circumstances.

Please realize this comment truly comes from the heart. I was slow in making changes and still made the wrong ones based on pride. Giving up my house was something I could have done years earlier. But oh my, what would people think? When I realized I was going to end up sitting on the side of the road with my children, belongings and no money, I got serious. I made a plan to regroup.

I made a list of the most important things we needed. Shelter, electricity, water and food. These were needed to prevent the children from being taken away from me. ( I am living in a 5 bedroom house and this is how scared I am ). I needed money so my vehicle and car insurance came next. Moving forward and making the actual changes were not nearly as hard as fearing having to do them. Giving up luxury items like sodas and fastfood wasn't hard when I realized I could feed my kids a meal for that same 3 dollars. There are many great blogs about being frugal. Starting with any small decision can make it easier to move along and make even more frugal choices. Just start by doing something.

Anything....Make a list and then try to stick to it. Will power is the hardest for me. Saying you need to do something and actually doing it can be two very different things. Go slow but try to stay ahead of any issues. Losing every thing I had was the best thing that ever happened to me. Things actually were not as bad as I had feared they would be. Good luck and I wish the best for you.

farhana

Thursday 1st of September 2016

Please know that this event is temporary. Your husband will find another job and you will be fine. Remind yourself that good things are coming your way.

In the meanwhile, choose another feeling instead of guilt. Who did you get to be today because of your spending habits in the past? You chose to be frugal, you decided to take control of your finances and both makes you a great wife and mother. Don't dwell in mistakes, celebrate the lessons.

Carla

Thursday 1st of September 2016

Big yes to all the encouragement here. I also went through some bad spendy days and it was hard. Some practical that have been good to me: - Made a list of the things I was ashamed about. Then crossed out the title and called it "things I will avoid from now on". I see this as the positive result of wallowing which I also tend to do. - Told the kids when at a store that we could talk about what they like and not about what they want. Made a huuuge difference because we could connect over how fun something would be and there was no commitment from me when I say something is cool. If they said they wanted it, I said and still do say that maybe they'll get it for their birthday or Christmas (but truth is we rarely buy one is these things) My kids weren't too happy but the youngest has known nothing else and they value their toys a lot more I think - I looked for ways to share things with other people and told my book-lover husband that "Your favourite bookstore is now called the library". We all adjusted now and we only buy books we have already read and plan to reread or reference books. - I imposed a 24 hour moratorium on buying anything other than absolute essentials like groceries and medicines. And I took that time to think of alternatives or figure it if I need something how I could buy it cheaper. You'll find little tricks that help you along the way! Don't give up and show grace to yourself as you would any loved one.

Gina

Thursday 1st of September 2016

Hubby and I were in our mid-thirties with two small children, mired in debt with me back in school and him working a stressful job when we filed for bankruptcy. It was a dark and terrible time for us all around! But we managed to learn a lesson from that and move FORWARD. I felt lots of guilt over it, but I knew in my heart we could recover from that financial disaster. It was the worst way to learn how to manage our finances, but we made it through. I would suggest a simple truth - if you don't have it, don't spend it (credit cards) and pay yourself first (savings).

Sarah

Thursday 1st of September 2016

Very similar to what I posted about on my blog! Self kindness and compassion is so important. We all fall short sometimes and beating yourself up is a pointless exercise. I find that when I feel guilty about overspending that I am more likely to continue to overspend and create more bad habits. Personally it has always been more effective for me to forgive myself, learn the lesson and move on.

Wonderful content as always!

XX Sarah

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