3 Signs You'll End Up With Financial Regrets

by Christy Bieber | Updated July 25, 2021 - First published on March 19, 2021

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A young couple sadly looking through bills.

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Don't find yourself wishing you'd made different choices when it comes to money management.

No one can manage their money perfectly all the time. But you do want to try to make smart decisions about your finances as much as possible so you don't end up with major regrets.

It can be hard to know if you're doing that. But watching for these three red flags can help you figure out if you're likely to end up wishing you'd done things differently.

1. You aren't thinking long term

When you're trying to figure out how to spend your money or what financial goals to set for yourself, it's easy to focus on your immediate needs. But if you don't consider the long-term consequences of your choices, you're very likely to end up with financial regrets.

This can even happen on a small scale like when you buy a latte instead of investing money in a retirement account. If this is an occasional splurge, it's not a big deal and you're unlikely to regret it. In fact, you may even end up happier for occasionally indulging yourself rather than living with decades of deprivation. But if you take this approach with lots of little purchases every day, from lattes to lunch out because you aren't thinking about the future impact, you could really end up coming to regret that choice.

You could also end up with regrets if you make bigger decisions with a short-term focus. For example, if you fall in love with a house and take out a mortgage you can't really afford, you could struggle for decades and end up accomplishing little else with your money because of that decision.

2. You don't have an emergency fund

Not having an emergency fund could be something you come to regret quickly if you find yourself facing surprise expenses that you can't pay for. You may end up dealing with a lot of unnecessary stress when you scramble during a difficult time, trying to figure out a way to borrow the money you need.

Going without emergency savings can lead to major long-term regrets too. If you end up having to borrow a lot to cover your emergency, you may owe tons of interest and potentially face years of struggle as you try to get back to even.

Or you could face serious consequences such as foreclosure, eviction, or vehicle repossession due to losing income without an emergency fund. This could also set you back financially in a way that takes a long time to recover.

3. You're borrowing a lot for things that don't go up in value

Sometimes, it makes sense to go into debt -- for example, when you get a mortgage to buy a house that's a good investment and well within your budget.

But if you borrow to fund vacations, purchase assets that don't appreciate in value, or cover other unnecessary expenses that don't improve your net worth, you'll probably regret it. Indulging in these types of purchases now means you'll have to work harder later to pay off what you owe. It also means you'll sacrifice more since some of your money will be going to debt payoff instead of funding your current needs.

You don't want to end up without an emergency fund or wishing you hadn't borrowed large sums of money. So before you make financial decisions you may regret, think about the big picture. Consider whether your future self will thank you for the choices you made -- or wish you'd acted very differently.

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