A few weeks ago, I wrote a post where I shared my biggest financial mistakes and asked all of you to share yours. When I began the post, I prefaced it by stating I wouldn’t change too many things–mainly because of the immense learning experiences all of my mistakes have afforded me (plus, I do live with no regrets).
But after thinking about this more, I realized that if life had a rewind button (could you imagine?!), there are some things I’d definitely do over again–both financially and personally.
If Life had a Rewind Button…
I’d avoid digging myself into credit card debt
Yes, I had a massive amount of credit card debt and yes, I paid it off years ago and haven’t looked back since. While I’m happy to have cleaned up that part of my finances at a relatively young age, I can’t help but wonder what I could have in the bank had I not been so careless with my money.
I remember going to the ATM with a friend in college. After he withdrew his money, for whatever reason he asked me to hold it and the receipt (details are fuzzy at this point). I’ll admit that I did look at his total balance on the receipt, and I remember feeling as if somebody punched me in the stomach. I don’t remember the exact amount but it was upwards of tens of thousands of dollars. I think at the time I might have had $100 to my name. If only that would have been enough of a kick in the pants to get myself on track earlier!
I’d make an effort to network more
I’m a horrible networker, but I’m an absolute people person–how’s that for an oxymoron?! Instead of hiding in the shadows at functions or standing quietly on the sidelines, I’d push myself to introduce myself to more people and learn how to network as early as possible. I’m learning now more than ever that you truly are your network when it comes to your professional life.
I’d educate myself about personal finance at a much earlier age
I essentially had no positive financial role models when growing up. Sure, I was given a modest allowance ($5 or less) when my parents could afford it, but that was for doing laundry for 6 people, cleaning the whole house and getting my little sisters ready for school in the morning. I earned every penny of that and then some.
But I remember my mom making a few poor choices when it came to money, and I think some of those stayed with me for far too long (one poignant example is her announcing one day that she didn’t care if she had the money and proceeding to spend hundreds on my little sisters at the Disney Store for new school clothes. This story should be continued at another point, but I have to decide how much I’m willing to share in such a public way).
I’d rebuild burnt bridges
As I said above, I’m a people person. But I’ve also been through some extremely difficult experiences that have somewhat hardened me when it comes to truly letting in other people and trusting new friends. I’d love to rewind and not make some of the mistakes I’ve made in the past when I had a wall bigger than the Great Wall of China built around me.
I’d teach myself that material objects charged today aren’t worth the finance charges and missed savings tomorrow
This is a huge one–for far too long I defined my self-worth in terms of how many courses I could take, how many jobs I could work and how many material objects I could amass. I filled voids and reduced stress by shopping instead of dealing with the problem head-on. Thankfully I’ve changed my super consumer ways, but I wouldn’t mind the opportunity to rewind and not buy all that crap!
I’d tell my family I love them more
Recent struggles and not so good surprises have reminded me that life is fragile and your family is your rock. No matter how messed up our families may be, there’s usually at least some members of it who will stick by our sides through thick and thin.
I’d like to rewind and tell all of the family members I’ve lost how much I love them and how much they mean to me. While I can’t reverse time, I can absolutely get better about telling the ones who are still here with us just how valued they truly are.
I’d start saving for retirement earlier
I was recently talking to a younger friend about money, and I was floored (yet very proud!) to hear how she’s socking away crazy amounts of money in her retirement accounts and has done so since she was 23 (!!!). I started saving a wee bit at 25 and really focused my efforts at 26, but I can’t discount the earning power I lost by not starting at 22 or 23…
I’d forgive myself (and others) faster and more often
This will always be a work in progress, but I’d like to rewind and not be so hard on myself. I’d also like to not have such crazy high standards for some of the people in my life. It’s a balancing act and one that I’m getting better at, but I could certainly do some things differently if I was ever given the chance to drive my little time machine back a few years…
But the reality is that life has no rewinds…
All this said, I of course know that life has no rewind button no matter how much I might want one from time to time. It’s all a matter of coulda, woulda, shoulda at some point but there are always opportunities to learn from your mistakes, stop repeating them and replace them with much better habits. You just have to be willing to process what’s happened and put in the hard work to make those necessary changes.
What would you do over if you could rewind?
Photo credit: AdamL212