There are various situations in our lives when we look behind us and think - “If I only didn’t decide to go with this option.”
But we will not regret it if it didn’t leave a significant unfavorable impact on us. If we can live with it and gradually forget about it.
What about the situations where decisions like that have changed the course of our life for many years ahead. Maybe even for the rest of our life?
I’ve had several big inflection points in my life. It significantly impacted many years ahead of me from that fateful moment when I’ve made the wrong decision.
Living with the consequences of personal financial troubles for some, if not many years, gained invaluable experience.
The Early Adoptions
In my childhood, I was living modestly. My parents didn’t earn much, and we had to be careful with the money. We were not hungry or naked, though. But my sister and I didn’t get the pocket money to spend every month on things we would like to.
We were very rarely going out to the cinema or drinking with friends or dancing in the club. Not having much interest in hanging out with other young people was very much determined by the social model which my family has lived.
But even if my sister and I would’ve had more interest in going out having fun, it wouldn’t be possible for financial reasons.
So our activities for which we were allowed to actually spent some money were connected to our birthdays. For my birthdays, I was taking out my three friends for a pizza and coke. They did the same for their birthdays. It was kind of a ritual for the four of us. And more or less the only occasions through the year when I was going out to have some fun.
As a family, we did occasionally go to the spa. And every summer, we could afford maybe even a month on the coastline. We owned a very small, very modest, hard to live in, with no water, no electricity, full of various bugs cottage on a little, hard to reach Robinson island in the middle of nowhere in the Adriatic sea. 🙂
Needles to say, I actually learned how to live on a low budget. Of course, my needs as a child or a teenager were low anyway. But looking at my parents’ life and my own, I’ve adopted the mindset of anti needs.
What wasn’t broke or worn out - could be used for many years. Why change it just for the purpose of change itself? Even if it was damaged, it could be repaired. There was no need to immediately jump in the store and buy new shiny stuff while with little effort, we could have the old one back in function.
This concept was used when we were buying new stuff too. I remember when we bought our first color TV. After years of watching old black & white TV and changing broken tubes, we finally saw the outer world in colors!
But we’ve got the entry model, without the remote control. And it was no… oops, it was the last century, but no 70’s when first remote controls started to show up. There were late 80’s and all of my friends had color TV with remote control.
Living like this had some excellent consequences, as learning me not to go for neediness. But to be satisfied with what I have. There was simply no other way.
On the other hand, I lacked the experience of having more than just enough and how to cope with situations like that. I’ve had to learn it in my own lessons, and I’m still learning it.
Larger Than Life
Since I was an excellent student through all of my primary and secondary school, I managed to get in the most prestigious faculty in the capital and Croatia in electrical engineering and computing.
After graduation in 1997, I’ve been employed in a prosperous big company having a global customer base.
The salary, in the beginning, was not high, but I was still earning decently. I was quickly sent on the road, often traveling to many different countries, meeting customers, working on lucrative projects, and collecting money from daily allowances.
Since I’ve learned to live modestly in my childhood, I saved the substantial part of my allowances, putting it on the side.
In a couple of years, I’ve saved just enough money to start thinking about where to spend it. It seems that all those years of modest living not needing anything on one side, and, on the other side, suddenly having all that money on my bank account, finally born the appetite for consumption.
What I was doing in the coming years was classic over-budgeting. I was planning to spend more than I had available to budget. I didn’t sit down and didn’t make any plans. I thought everything will be covered somehow. But I didn’t actually know-how.
Worse of all was that I didn’t talk about it to anybody. Or I did, but those were just the confirmations on what I will do. I’ve already decided on it, without really consulting anyone.
It was when I indeed felt larger than life. But I felt like that in my own eyes only. In fact, I was in fallacy; I just didn’t know that. I have found it out much later.
In the next parts of this topic, I’m presenting three aspects of my life that were or still are shaped by the consequences of my wrong financial decisions.
At the end of each part, I’m giving the key messages. Together with my experiences, the key messages should help you be prepared and more aware of possible outcomes before making decisions with potential unfavorable impact.
→ Part Two