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Reflecting on Financial Mistakes

Reflecting on Financial Mistakes

I hate to make mistakes. I mean undeniably and unequivocally hate it. Rather than moving past the errors, I flip them over and over in my mind. Of course, I don’t like to make mistakes, but financial ones are the absolute worst for me. When I make a financial mistake, I struggle to move past it.

I’ve never made a significant financial mistake, but the little ones still bother me immensely. I can spend days feeling bad because I forgot to use a coupon, left money on the counter, or didn’t buy an item when it was on sale.

I’m over forty now and tired of feeling this way. My scarcity mindset has kept me trapped in this negative spiral for way too long.

It’s time to make a change. I want to stop obsessing over every lost penny. I’ve been working to change my money mindset, and I’ve tried a few things to clear my mind more easily.

Forgive Myself for Making Financial Mistakes

The other day my husband picked up takeout and accidentally left a $50 gift card on the counter. I called the store, found out the cashier put the card aside, and drove up to the restaurant to get it.

I was annoyed at the idea of driving late at night in the cold, but I immediately forgave him for the error. It was an oversight and nothing more.

Would I feel the same way if I left the gift card behind? Nope. I would have been angry that I wasn’t paying attention to what I was doing. I would replay the moments that led up that moment, rather than just letting it go.

But, what good does it do to stay mad for making mistakes? Why don’t I forgive myself like I forgave my husband? We all make mistakes, so why should I feel so guilty and remorseful about mine?

It makes me feel bad, but it doesn’t serve any other purpose, so I’m tossing that behavior out the window. I’m trying my best to view my actions from an outsider’s point of view. If I can forgive my husband, I should be able to forgive myself too.

Learning From My Financial Mistakes

I’m tired of kicking myself for financial mistakes. From now on, I’m taking a new approach to them. From this point forward, I am writing them down in an effort to move past them.

Journaling my mistakes helps me get them out of my head. It prevents the never-ending loop of thinking about something that I cannot change. After writing them down, I ask myself what I can learn from them.

Then, and most importantly, I forgive myself. Mistakes are not intentional or purposeful. I remind myself that I am careful with my money, and I don’t want these tiny financial mistakes to plague me unnecessarily.

This Year’s Financial Mistakes

This has been the year of financial mistakes. I haven’t made too many giant errors, but I’ve made plenty of small ones. By writing these down, I hope to prevent myself from making similar ones in the future. When I make new mistakes, which I will inevitably do, I will forgive myself again.

Here are my top four money mistakes of the year:

Failing to Insure a Package Shipped Through the Post Office

In preparation for homeschool, I bought a bunch of curriculums for my kids. I signed them up for the online version, then went out and bought the paper version too.

After a few weeks of using the online materials, I decided to return the physical books. I found a big cardboard box and sent my husband off to the post office to return them.

I packed over $200 worth of books into that box, and wouldn’t you know the package went missing a day after he shipped them. For two weeks straight I clicked refresh on that tracking link, but the status never changed.

Finally, I scurried over to the Internet in search of answers. I typed, “the post office lost my package,” and a post of mine from 2007 popped up. It seems I did not learn my lesson from thirteen years ago.

I filed all of the appropriate forms, but the post office never found my package —a total loss of over $200.

Money mistake: Not paying for shipping insurance.

Solution: From now on I am paying for shipping! It only costs a few dollars.

Failing to Return Items Before It’s Too Late

Speaking of homeschool, I bought too many curriculums in September. I considered sending one set of books back to the company where I bought them, but I wavered a little too long and missed the shipping timeline. To make up for the loss, I tried to sell them on eBay, but no one bid on them.

“Maybe, we are too far into the school year,” I thought. “I’ll list them in August and recoup some of the money.” Ha, ha, ha. Today the company announced a new line of books that will cost half as much as the books I purchased!

That makes my set completely obsolete. Worse yet, the latest version will cost half of what I paid for the current ones, so I can’t list them on eBay and recoup anything close to what I paid for them. That’s another $150.00 down the drain.

To add salt to my wounds, the company marked down its current inventory by 75%. The books I paid $100, for now, are selling for less than $25 each.

Money mistake: Not returning items in time.

Solution: Don’t waver. If I don’t think I’m going to use an item, I will return it. I can always purchase it again.

Failing to Use Gift Cards

This one stings more than my first financial mistakes.

Every birthday for about five years, my parents bought me gift certificates for the Red Door Spa. Every so often, I would schedule a facial, massage, and pedicure all on the same day. It was a once a year pampering treat that I thoroughly enjoyed.

After my kids were born, I never found the time to spend hours at the spa. I breastfed both of my kids, which means I couldn’t be more than a few hours away from them. The nearest Red Door was about an hour away with traffic, which didn’t leave much time for relaxation.

For years I stared at those gift cards but never made my way to the spa. My kids eventually got older, but I found other things to do in my free time. I went to the gym, ran errands, or wrote in this blog.

From time to time, I considered selling those gift cards, but I never did. I wanted to experience a luxurious day, but I never made time for it. There was always something more pressing I needed to do instead.

I wasn’t too worried about those gift cards. Red Door has been around for ages. Then, in July of 2019, the company changed its name to Mynd. My heart palpitated. Could I still use my gift cards?

It turns out I could. Mynd would accept all Red Door gift cards without exception. I breathed a big sigh of relief and left them in the safe again, fully intending to use them. Of course, I never did. As usual, I found other ways to spend my time.

My relief was short-lived. Mynd filed for bankruptcy this March, making my stash of gift cards completely worthless. I wasted over $500.

Money mistake: Not using gift cards.

Solution: Use them, sell them, or give them away, but no more holding on to them!

Using the Wrong Credit Card

My husband and I use Chase reward cards for all of our expenses. When our grill died a few weeks ago, we decided to buy a new one. As luck would have it, Chase had an offer that would save us an extra money on a purchase from Lowe’s.

That was perfect, because our grill cost $800! We logged in to Lowe’s and placed our order, but in the process, we used the wrong credit card. The offer was only valid on one of our cards, and it wasn’t the one we chose.

Money mistake: Not checking our credit card offers before making a large purchase.

Solution: Double check Chase offers.

Looking Past My Financial Mistakes

In the past, these mistakes would have broken me. I would have pined over them for days, weeks, and possibly months. I would have weighed the mistakes and kicked myself for making them.

None of these financial mistakes will break us. Thankfully, they won’t result in us forgoing anything we need. I need to reflect on them, learn my lessons, and move on.

It’s as simple as that. There is no need to dwell on things that I cannot change. I can only move forward in smarter ways from this point forward.

Have you made any money mistakes this year? What were they? What lessons did you learn? Have you forgiven yourself for making them?


Wednesday 13th of January 2021

It's funny how hard we are on ourselves. I'm getting better at this. I accidentally left the cast iron pan on a hot stove on overnight. the old me would've beat myself up for days. This time I was able to move through the emotions within a day.

One Frugal Girl

Thursday 14th of January 2021

Age definitely helps. The older I get the more forgiving I have become. Thank you for your comment.


Friday 1st of January 2021

It is very tough to forgive oneself for making mistakes. Also it is nice to see someone put out their mistakes for the world to see. Too often we hear only of other people's success stories and not really find out about all the failures they endured to get their. Therefore we are hard on ourselves even more when we fail because we are comparing ourselves to something that doesn't exist, financial perfection.

When I started blogging I decided to start out with a series of all the financial mistakes I made in my life. It ended up being a 5 part series and along the way I kept total of the estimated hit to my financial net worth. It was shocking but when I totaled it up I came up with close to $2 million dollar financial hit. But those mistakes shaped me in to the person today and I am happy to say I more than recouped that loss several fold over and became financially independent before my 50th birthday.

Am I perfect now? No. I still make mistakes. Most recent one was selling my tesla stock way too early (took a $7k profit when I sold in 2019 but if I held on to it would have had over a $160k profit. It stings but not the end of the world.

One Frugal Girl

Monday 4th of January 2021

Thank you for your comment Xrayvsn. A $2 million dollar financial hit is a big one! I've made minor money mistakes and some medium sized ones, but not too many giant ones that were out of my control. Honestly, all of them hurt about the same for me. The big ones stung just as much as the little ones, but you are right I learned a whole lot about myself and how to mitigate risks moving forward. Thank you for sharing your story and congratulations on reaching FI by age 50!

As a side note, I'm actually a long time reader of your blog, but I'm not sure if I've ever left a comment! ;)

T.G.I.F. Friday: Volume 33 - Accidental Fire

Friday 1st of January 2021

[…] on Financial Mistakes (One Frugal Girl) – “None of these financial mistakes will break us. Thankfully, they won’t result in […]

Dividend Power

Tuesday 29th of December 2020

Everyone makes mistakes. The real thing is to learn from them if you do.

One Frugal Girl

Tuesday 29th of December 2020

Thank you for your comment. I completely agree. My biggest mistakes in life have certainly provided the most profound lessons!

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Tuesday 29th of December 2020

[…] Reflecting on financial mistakes. [One Frugal Girl] — “I’ve never made a significant financial mistake, but the little ones still bother me immensely. I can spend days feeling bad because I forgot to use a coupon, left money on the counter, or didn’t buy an item when it was on sale. I’m over forty now and tired of feeling this way. My scarcity mindset has kept me trapped in this negative spiral for way too long. It’s time to make a change.” […]