When I was at my financial bottom, one of the strongest feelings I had about the situation was that I was dumb.
I should be smarter than this. I know better. I shouldn’t be in this situation. I’m an idiot.
That’s pretty much exactly how I felt when I finally started to comprehend how bad my financial situation really was.
The trick is that personal finance, on the surface, seems like common sense. Spending less than you earn is not rocket science, after all.
The problem is that actually spending less than you earn relies on repeatedly and consistently making good decisions in many different aspects of life.
You have to know how to shop around. You have to know how to control your impulses. You have to be able to truly assess the impact of acquiring debt.
These are modern life skills and, like it or not, we’re not born with them. These are skills that we learn.
Some of us are lucky and we learn these skills growing up. Others have a school with a great consumer education program and/or a teacher who can make the topics relatable.
A very large number of us had neither of these. We were dropped into adulthood without a good sense of the financial impact of our impulses and without a strong comprehension of how big of a hole we were digging for ourselves.
We learned these things the hard way.
None of this means that we were dumb. It just means we were never in a situation to learn a few lessons that we were never taught along the way.
So, stop beating yourself up. You’ve learned your lessons. Yes, you might now be sitting in a financial pit that’s going to be challenging to climb out of, but that doesn’t change the fact that you have a far stronger grasp on your situation than you’ve ever had before.
You now know what you’ve done wrong. Now’s the time to start learning how to dig out of this. It all starts with spending less than you earn.
Most of all, don’t despair. You’ve already gone over the first hurdle. You know you’ve made mistakes and you can see what many of them are. You’re ready to move forward with the rest of your life.