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Put Your Financial Past Behind You


Professional poker players often quip: “Don’t throw good money after bad”. At the poker table, you have to know when to stop betting a hand and admit that an opponent has you beat. The same holds true in your financial life. Whatever financial mistakes you made in the past are over. What matters is how you play going forward.

Some people grow up saving and rarely, if ever, make financial blunders. Many of us, however, learn the hard way. We make financial mistakes like:

  • Racking up credit card debt
  • Buying too much car or house
  • Defaulting on a loan
  • Failing to save an emergency fund or for retirement

If you have ever done one of these things, you know some of the consequences:

  • High monthly debt payments
  • Repossession or foreclosure
  • A tarnished credit score
  • Feeling behind your peers in savings

Learn and Move On

Yes, you’ll have to face the consequences of financial mistakes. But that doesn’t these mistakes should ruin your life. If you’re up all night worrying about a debt you incurred or a less-than-stellar credit score, ask yourself: “What’s all this worrying doing for me?” Instead of worrying, find a way to make financial decisions today to make sure that you aren’t making your financial situation worse.

Today’s Decisions Equal Tomorrow’s Stability

The reason building financial stability is not easy is the same reason it’s not easy to lose weight or quit a bad habit—all require making difficult decisions today for which we won’t see benefits for months, years, or even decades. That’s why—if you have made financial mistakes in the past—you continue to feel the pain from those decisions today. The good news, of course, is that you can reverse the trend.

If you’re struggling with credit card debt, it’s important to pay down your debts, but even more important to make a budget, live within your means, and not accumulate new debt. If you’ve tarnished your credit score, you can’t make the old late payments or defaults go away, but you can avoid new ones by paying all your bills on time.

If you overbought a car or a home, you can find a way to sell it and purchase a more affordable option. If you haven’t saved as much as you should have, you can start saving today!

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About David Weliver

David Weliver is the founding editor of Money Under 30. He's a cited authority on personal finance and the unique money issues we face during our first two decades as adults. He lives in Maine with his wife and two children.

Comments

  1. I like the fact that you brought this to light. It is really important to make decisions today that will affect our financial tomorrow.

    -Dan Malone-

  2. It’s really important, if you’re trying to pay off your debt, to simultaneously (1) not take on new debt and also (2) have a plan for not taking on new debt in the future. Because if you’re just going to use the cards again in the same way as before, it’s a waste of time. So take a balanced approach to paying them off, as well.