Paying off a substantial amount of debt is difficult, but certainly not impossible. With belief and commitment, you can tackle your debt and get rid of it for good. It’s all about getting into the right mindset and really wanting to be free from debt! The road to debt freedom contains plenty of ups and downs and as well as these, you might find yourself experiencing a rollercoaster ride of emotions along the way.
Every Wednesday for the next 7 weeks, I’ll be writing about some common emotions that go hand in hand with tackling your debt along with some practical advice on how to deal with them. So far, I’ve covered ‘Fear’, ‘Denial’ and ‘Anger’, so if you missed these, feel free to check them out!
Stage 4: Regret
After we’ve faced up to our debt, some of us start regretting the decisions we made which resulted in the debt we find ourselves in.
Even a small amount of debt can be enough to make us regret making that particular purchase on credit which left us in the red for longer than we’d imagined.
For those who have made bad decision after bad decision about finances, debt regret can be a crippling emotion to face. Especially when we feel like the damage has been done.
What is regret?
“Feeling sad, repentant, or disappointed over something that one has done or failed to do.” Source: Oxford Dictionaries.
Have you ever caught yourself thinking, “If only I hadn’t done that…” or “Why didn’t I pay more attention to what I was doing…” or even “I wish I could turn back the clock.” These are the kind of thoughts we might experience when we regret something that we’ve done wrong or something that hasn’t worked out in the way that we’d hoped.
Whether you’ve only had debt for a short time or have been ignoring it for years, there will likely come a point where you’ll hit that financial brick wall with a big bang.
It might be when you check your bank account and you realise with annoyance just how much money goes out of your account every month for debt repayments. Or perhaps you were hoping to fund some of your next holiday with credit to find that there’s not enough room left on your credit card to even pay the deposit. Maybe you were looking for a better credit card deal but your application was rejected.
A worst case scenario would be if you really needed a line of credit for a serious emergency only to hear those stomach churning words, “I’m afraid your credit card has been declined and I’ve already tried it twice.”
The fact is that being in debt means fewer choices; less happiness; more restrictions and more sacrifices. Whichever way you look at it, debt is a very limiting situation to be in if not managed carefully.
So it’s little wonder we often regret our debt. But having regrets about those choices we made isn’t a bad thing at all. We can pick ourselves up, brush off the dust and use our regret to help us move on.
Here’s how you can use your debt regret to your advantage:
Recognise that you’re only human
Most people have regrets about something that has happened in their past whether it’s bitter memories left over from a failed relationship, a major fall out with a family member or a bad decision at work which left them in a compromised situation.
We all make mistakes, but this is how we learn! Don’t get down about the choices you made way back when. Yes, in an ideal situation you wouldn’t want to be in debt right now, but don’t keep beating yourself up – the damage that has been done is not irreparable. Forgive yourself!
“Experience is simply the name we give our mistakes.” Oscar Wilde
Let regret change you
Are you a glass half empty or a glass half full type of person? If you’re the former, it’s time to start being the latter! We really can learn from our mistakes and past choices – if we allow ourselves to do so. Being in debt provides many lessons for learning about money if you can see past the bad feelings that come with regret.
Use your regret to change your mindset about money once and for all. It is possible to come back fighting from even the most deepest depths of debt, but first of all you need to know how you’re currently spending money and how you can spend it more wisely in the future.
Start by tracking your spending; making a budget; cutting down on your unnecessary insurances. Get rid of Sky TV and opt for Freeview. If you really don’t want to lose Sky, work out another area where you can save money instead. Cut down on your grocery shopping by planning out your meals and see if you can save money by swapping your mobile phone provider or utility supplier. You’d be surprised at how much of a difference can be made by streamlining your regular spending commitments!
“We should regret our mistakes and learn from them, but never carry them forward into the future with us.” Lucy Maud Montgomery
Take action if you want to live debt free
If you’re regretting your debts, now is the time to take action. The alternative is to do nothing and this will get you nowhere except possibly into a worse situation than you are currently.
Think about what you want for your future and plan a way to get there, starting by getting rid of your debt. Debt is just part of the picture when it comes to finances. Once you’ve got debt out of the way, you’ll have more choices again about how you spend your money. What will you do when you’re living debt free?
Set yourself some SMART goals about tackling your debts first and foremost and later, your long term goals. You may find that your view of debt freedom changes as you work to pay off your debt.
“I’d rather regret the things I’ve done than regret the things I haven’t done.” Lucille Ball
Remember regret (but don’t hang onto it!)
One day in the not too distant future when things are looking up for you and you’re back on track with your finances; take some time to remember how you regretted those decisions around getting into debt. Celebrate how far you’ve come and what you’ve achieved since then. Use that old feeling of regret to help you move forwards and make wise choices about money in the future.
“Make the most of your regrets; never smother your sorrow, but tend and cherish it till it comes to have a separate and integral interest. To regret deeply is to live afresh.” Henry David Thoreau
Have you experienced regret about your debts or finances before?
I hope you enjoyed this post as part of The Emotional Stages of Debt series. Don’t forget to subscribe by email to make sure you don’t miss any future posts!
Tomorrow I will be publishing a special interview post with Rob from Debt Advice Blog about his debt and how he’s tackling it. It’s well worth a read, so please pop back then!
Image © Live Life Happy at Flickr. This image has not been altered in any way.