Financial Literacy
For Your Future



Coping with Bad Financial Choices - Life Goes On And The Baker's Dozen Can Help

It is important to understand that good financial decision making is a goal that everyone should work hard to achieve. Making choices that maximize benefits and minimize costs will enhance personal wealth, lower stress levels, and create an overall feeling of well being. Most people accept this premise, but what about those people who have already “missed the boat” and find themselves in a financial mess or at the very least moving in that direction. One could assume that some of the users of are worried about their financial position or the choice they have already made and that is why they are on the site and reading this document in the first place. An important question is “is there no hope for those of us that have already made bad financial choices?” 

The answer to this question is a loud and clear - YES, THERE IS HOPE!  Frankly, financial fitness is a work in progress for everyone. Nobody is born with the ability to make perfect financial decisions. The process of good choice making is learned and perfected over time with 100% being an unobtainable goal. There just are too many variables that change over time and simply choosing to spend the time necessary to have ALL of the information regarding a financial choice would, in fact, be a bad choice in and of itself. Consequently, people need to follow good decision making procedures as best they can at that moment in time, re-evaluate often, be willing to modify or change their decisions, and understand nobody is perfect.

With this perspective in mind, it is important to create and internalize a coping mechanism for decision making failure that will keep people from becoming paralyzed (unable to act) and foster a process that will facilitate change. The following BAKER’S DOZEN coping principles should help people who have made some financial decision making mistakes to stop doing what they have done wrong and begin to take some corrective actions to make things better:  

  1. Stop digging! When people find themselves in a financial hole, stop digging. It is ironic that people often make the same choices and expect different outcomes. Realize that different action is needed to make a bad choice go away.
  3. The decision making guide is your friend! Even if you used the guide to make a choice that turned out badly, don’t throw the baby out with the bath water. Realize that the problem is not utilizing the guide fully. Perhaps your information was incorrect or the values you placed on things didn’t reflect who you really are.
  5. One thing is for sure, nothing is for sure! Times they are a changing is a phrase that describes the environment in which we live. Information that was used to make a good choice could now be different and that change could turn a good choice into a bad one. Not many years ago most people would see owning your home as a very good investment-now not so much. It is possible that a bad choice was once a good one and the failure was in the area of the re-evaluation timetable.
  7. The devil made me do it! Many bad financial choices involve a miscalculation of what is important. Remember that determining the value of something should be all about you, but sometimes people let peer values/pressure take priority. Keeping up with the Jones might be too expensive. Choosing that expensive red convertible is more about them than it is about you.
  9. Life is good! Most people feel more comfortable looking at the bright side. Focusing on the expected benefits of a choice is so much more fun than looking for the downside or expected costs. This condition will, of course, make the decision making balance fall more often on the “let’s do it” side. When the reality of the costs are experienced we feel “consumer remorse” or it is not as much fun anymore.
  11. I told you so! Many of the financial decisions you make have been made before. Understanding that others have made both good and bad decision in the same area as you can help you obtain very powerful information to keep you from making mistakes already made by others. Seeking input from others before a choice is made or even when choices need to be made to get out of trouble is invaluable.
  13. My crystal ball is broken! Many financially related mistakes involve peoples' inability to think in the long run. Our culture is more about the here and now, and people tend to avoid thinking about the consequences of decisions one, five, ten, twenty years from now.
  15. It only spends once! Many people spend money that they don’t have. Even when it is assumed that the money will be forthcoming, spending it early just gives people more time to spend it again and again. The result is more and more debt.
  17. I am bullet proof! The attitude that bad things only happen to other people is a myth that gets many people into financial trouble. There are plenty of bad things to go around and many of these relate to your financial health. Oh yes, health problems is one of those bad things. Avoiding making good choices regarding risk management is a financial disaster waiting to happen.
  19. My  friends will bail me out! Money issues have destroyed a number of friendships. Relying on other people to make your financial decisions good ones will work some time but not always. Agreements are broken even when they are legal contracts; nonbinding agreements are broken even more. Relying on others to make your decisions good ones is like building a financial house out of cards.
  21. Don’t spend too much! Many people believe that the asking price is the price they will have to pay to acquire ownership. This fallacy has cost many people a lot of money.  First of all think about what asking price means. This is what I am asking, but I might take something else.  Negotiate with the seller. You might be very surprised how a seller might respond to the statement …”you have a very nice item to sell, but I can only spend (you choose) would that be acceptable to you? In addition, most items you buy have many sellers. They are competing for your business-SHOP AROUND.
  23. Money Doesn’t Grow On Trees! Understanding the value of money before you shop will help you not to waste it. Most people earn money by producing something of value or forgoing its use and letting others use it. Before forking it over for a purchase determine how many hours you or someone else worked to acquire it. Is that pair of shoes really worth half a day’s work?
  25. You Can’t Buy Just One Thing! Many purchases require additional purchases to work or be enjoyed to the fullest. Often it is the cost of the additional complementary items that break the bank. Gas and oil for the car-not to mention insurance, the purse to match the shoes, the software for the computer, the mustard for the hot dogs…you get the picture.  Calculate the total cost before you purchase.

Sound familiar? The coping principles should help people understand what they did wrong in making financial choices that failed and suggest what needs to be done to correct the failures or, at the very least, not make the same mistake again. As time heals most financial ills, if a person can just not make many more bad choices in their lifetime, they will eventually become financially fit.   

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