We All Make Mistakes with Money. Please Stop Judging Yourself.

We all make financial mistakes

Here’s one thing about money I know to be true: Rich, poor or somewhere in between, we all make mistakes.

And usually, at least in my experience, these aren’t mistakes you can easily fix with a calculator. No, these aren’t mere math mistakes — these are deep emotional mess-ups that cause us to have all sorts of bad feelings about ourselves. If you’re in the middle of a financial doozy right now, this post today is for you. I want you to take HEART!

I attended a fantastic conference last weekend called FinCon. One of the keynote speakers was Carl Richards, certified financial plan, best selling author and a whole bunch more impressive sounding jobs after his name. He is, as you might imagine, pretty brilliant and incredible. But the best part wasn’t what he talked about at his keynote, but rather THIS New York Times’ story that I read about Carl (written by him) after hearing him speak.

Carl Richards

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Here’s a little bit of what he said:

I’m a financial adviser. I get paid to help people make smart financial choices, and I speak and write about personal finance issues for this publication and others…

The thing that few people know, though, is that I learned a lot of this from experience. I made a bunch of mistakes, the very same ones that I now go around warning people to avoid.

So this is the story of how I lost my home, the profound ethical questions that arose along the way, and what my wife and I learned from the mistakes that led us to that point. It made me better at what I do, but it wasn’t much fun getting there.

Carl’s message is so freeing for people who are in the middle of a financial pit right. He is in such a different place today, just a few years after he wrote this article. But rather than tooting his own horn for being the “success” that he is today, or blasting his former self for being a “failure”, he has moved on to a better, more stable, more insightful place — without any judgement of who he was, or who he will be.

This message of No Judgement is something I try to give to the coaching clients I work with. I’m always reminding them that numbers don’t judge us. If you’re spending more than you make, if you’re making less than you’d like, if you’re staring into a bottomless pit of debt, if you’re worried that the bank is going to take your house… remind yourself that numbers are objective facts, not judgmental busy bodies.

Judgement just heaps on to the negative feelings you’re probably having anyway. Believe me, I’ve been there. The anxiety that comes from a financial mistake (or in my case, a whole decade of mistakes!) is paralyzing. What you need when you’re in the middle of that financial mistake (especially when it’s a BIG one, a decades-long one!) is a bias toward action, not paralysis.

So please, let those numbers can be your call to action. Look at the situation, take stock, commit to change, but DO NOT JUDGE.

If you are craving some more judgement-free inspiration, I encourage you to take 30 minutes to listen to this fantastic podcast with Carl Richards, when he was interviewed just last week at FinCon by one of my all-time favorite podcasters, Farnoosh Torabi.

I encourage everyone to read and/or listen to Carl’s message today. I know you won’t be able to help but be encouraged.

Are you struggling with negative self-judgment. Does forgiveness seem out of reach? I’d love to hear from you if you think I can help. Leave a comment below (anonymously is fine!) or shoot me an email!

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