It IS Your Fault

None of us like to hear that something is our fault. And that’s perfectly natural. We don’t want to be the cause of something bad, and we don’t want to mess up. If fault has to be assigned, we’d prefer it be assigned elsewhere.

Sometimes though, admitting that it IS our fault can be a very positive thing — especially when it comes to our money.

You see, while it seems to be a part of human nature to rationalize the way things worked out, looking at situations objectively instead to figure out where we went wrong is a good idea. It allows us the opportunity to improve next time, and that can set us on a great financial path.

Now I’m not suggesting that you beat yourself up over past mistakes. What I’m suggesting is that you take responsibility for past mistakes, figure out what you could do differently next time (or even right now), and then change your financial future.

Take getting into debt, for example. I was one of those people who opened a credit card “for emergencies only”. Except there were a whole lot of emergencies — emergencies that looked like plane tickets, car repairs, gas, and fast food. At the time, I really did believe that the plane tickets and car repairs were emergencies. And I lamented my debt and how I would be in a much better place if only I hadn’t had those emergencies. It wasn’t my fault. Or so I thought.

The truth was, I would have been in a much better place if I:

  1. Hadn’t gotten the credit card in the first place
  2. Had built an emergency fund
  3. Had said no to stupid crap that I didn’t need
  4. Had said no to things I wanted to do but couldn’t afford
  5. And hadn’t been living above my means

While it wasn’t my fault that my car needed a brake job, it was my fault that I hadn’t figured out that ALL cars are mechanical things that WILL need repairs and maintenance — and then saved up accordingly. It was my fault that I was doing all those other things. And it was my fault that I signed up for a credit card.

Realizing that my situation was of my own making was the first step to improving it.

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12 comments

  • Kim

    I think that this is the first step in any debt recovery program. Yes bad things happen and you have no control over them, but not being in control; after the bad thing is your fault! I blamed my husband because of his low wages for years. It was his fault I had to use credit cards to go on a vacation, he insisted on . It was his fault I had to buy all those expensive school clothes. I knew we had a vacation coming, I also knew school started every September. Guess what? Christmas is December 25th! It was not until I started planning ahead that we started to get ahead.

    • And it’s funny how we don’t even realize that what we’re really doing is avoiding responsibility for things we’re perfectly capable of controlling…

  • The credit card is not the problem! Learning how to use credit cards and money are just part of personal finance.

    • You’re right of course, the credit card itself was not the problem. (I use them responsibly all the time now.) But I meant that I would have been in a better place if I hadn’t gotten the card because I would have had few options to fall back on. Maybe I would have forced myself into responsibility sooner.

  • Jackie, I like to admit when I make a mistake, because it makes me accountable! It also forces me to look for a better way next time.

  • The sad thing is that my mistake didn’t just affect me….it affected my family as well. When I think about that, it just kills me. That being said, I’ve moved on, and am now becoming the financial leader of my family that they need me to be….

    • Don’t beat yourself up. The past is the past, and we’ve all made mistakes that impact people we love. And it sounds like you’re doing things the way you’d like now!

  • Even the smallest steps can feel so empowering. That $5 deposit into a house fund is enough to change your mindset. You go from feeling like ‘I’ll never get ahead” to “I’m smart about my finances and I can control them.” That sense of being proactive is priceless and once you start feeling that way you never really want to go back to your old habits.

  • Admitting you have a problem is super important to make any progress on an issue be it debt repayment or struggling with an addition (shopping, alcohol etc). I think this is why the 12 step program from Alcoholics Anonymous has seen such wide adoption for generalized use in a variety of therapy groups.