How Our Mistakes Can Become Golden Tickets to Prosperity

by Alonzo on July 28, 2011

“President Clinton today projected that the United States will have a $1.9 trillion budget surplus over the next decade. He said the increase in the expected surplus means the government will be debt-free by 2010.”

ABC News, December 28, 2000

Imagine, during the last years of the Clinton administration we were on pace to become debt free by 2010.

Instead, we’re now 14 trillion in debt and chaos reigns as Congress debates whether or not to raise the debt ceiling.


Tax cuts, unfunded wars, an unpaid for Medicare prescription drug program, and a recession all drove us off course.

We could’ve seen the insanity of cutting taxes on millionaires and billionaires who now pay a lower percentage of their income in taxes than the struggling middle class.

We would’ve paid attention to Wall Street bankers before they ran the economy off the cliff, leading us straight into the Great Recession.

We should’ve considered paying for two massive wars instead of borrowing the money to run them. Or better yet, we could have seen the insanity of such wars in the first place.

So instead of being debt free, we’re $14 trillion in debt. Could’ve, Would’ve, Should’ve.


We can all learn lessons from our nation’s financial woes.

You see, we all have could’ve, would’ve, should’ve revelations in our past; those decisions made years ago that have since led us into financial purgatory. Had we made different choices, we wouldn’t be dealing with mounds of debt, we’d have a nice fat nest egg, or we’d be experiencing the sweet taste of financial freedom.

Maybe it was that Lexus you craved 3 years ago, but which has since morphed into just another monthly bill you struggle to pay.

Perhaps it was a weakness for the latest fashions; those same fashions that now litter the floor of your bedroom closet.

Do you kick yourself for lending money to the sweet talker who left your heart and pocketbook broken?

Or could it be the road not traveled? Do you regret not going back to school years ago?

We all make mistakes. But mistakes become the building blocks to a better life, if we learn from them.


We all conveniently stuff our mistakes into the trash bins located in the deepest recesses of our minds. And embarrassment, shame, or a sense of incompetence ensures they remain there.

And therein lies the tragedy.

Instead of locking our financial mistakes away like a hidden love-child, why not turn mistakes into golden tickets, stepping stones to success?

Take a moment to review your greatest financial mistakes.

I know it’s hard.

It takes courage.

But, by being honest with yourself, you’ll discover the keys to avoiding the same type of mistakes in the future. In regards to past financial missteps, ask yourself:

Did a particularly bad purchase fulfill an emotional need?
Were you pressured into making a poor decision?
Did you purchase extravagantly out of a sense of “lacking?”
Was your over-sized spending the result of a “sense of entitlement?”
Did you get soaked on loans or purchases because you failed to do your homework?
Were you digging a hole trying to “keep up with the Joneses?”


There’s a saying that goes, “we learn more from our failures, than from our successes.”

Use lessons from your past failures to prepare yourself to make better decisions in the future, so that 5 years from now you won’t be saying, “I could have, would have, should have.”

Photo Credit: alancleaver 2000 (Flickr)

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