We’ve been brought up to believe that screwing up in that one PSLE exam is going to doom us for life.
But making mistakes is a part of life. Learning how to bounce back from mistakes and not let them cripple you with regret is something that we should probably learn a bit better.
This is especially pertinent to financial mistakes. Sometimes sh*t happens and we end up losing huge sums of money.
Instead of curling up into a little ball and vowing never to face the world again, learn how to deal with some of the most common financial disasters that befall Singaporeans, such as the following:
Losing the HDB flat because of a break up
So you put down the cash for an HDB flat because your parents were putting pressure on you to settle down and make babies.
But when HDB sent you that letter telling you that it was time to ROM, you couldn’t go through with it. Losing a five figure sum can seem unfair—you followed the national narrative, and look where that got you. Not only do you have to deal with a traumatic breakup, you have to pay for it financially, too.
Dealing with this problem is hard as nobody knows it will happen to them when they’re at the balloting stage. What’s more, the BTO system is such that those who ballot earlier are often rewarded by lower prices and not having to wait till they’re senior citizens to move in.
In this case prevention is better than cure—make sure you are getting married for the right reasons before taking steps to acquire a home. Parental pressure, being desperate to move out of your parents’ home, being pressured by your partner when you don’t feel ready, or the ticking of the biological clock are not good reasons to commit to a flat.
Getting into credit card debt
A lot of people aren’t very careful about paying their credit card debt in full and on time every month. When this carelessness persists for more than a month or two, that debt starts to balloon very quickly.
That’s because credit cards charge very high interest rates, and you are charged interest every month not just on the original amount you owed, but also on the interest that’s accumulated till then.
Bouncing back from devastating credit card debt isn’t easy. Even if you’ve sought credit counselling and have escaped bankruptcy it can take years of repaying debt and living a very basic lifestyle before you’re debt-free. And when you’re finally debt-free it’s easy to feel like you’re way behind your peers who’ve had years to build up their savings, buy homes and invest.
The key to avoiding regret is to focus on the positive—having pulled yourself out of the abyss of debt—and applying what you’ve learnt to guide your future financial decisions. One huge lesson cripping credit card debt teaches is how to downsize your lifestyle and live within your means. These lessons will serve you well for the rest of your debt-free future.
Losing money in a scam
Singaporeans are used to living in a scam-free, corruption-free environment, which means that when scammers do appear on the scene, people tend to get tricked quite easily.
Recently, more than 40 people lost $2.4 million in a slew of binary option scams. Last year, over 20 people lost over $1 million in an offshore betting investment scam. The year before, there was the gold buyback scheme, which by the way wasn’t the first in Singapore and probably won’t be the last.
Losing money in a scam is a traumatic experience, and you’re likely to spend a dark period blaming yourself for having been so stupid.
The key to healing is to accept the fact that nobody is perfect, and that everyone can make expensive mistakes. Channel your anger into positive action—throw yourself into rebuilding your finances and educating others so they don’t get scammed. Concentrate on moving forward, not looking back and kicking yourself.
What’s the biggest money mistake you’ve ever made? Tell us in the comments!