10 Things You Don't Want to Tell Yourself About Money
"The masses love the lottery because deep down, they believe it is their only chance to get rich," says Steve Siebold, author of How Rich People Think. "The fact is, they're probably right. Not because they aren't capable, but because they don't have faith in their own abilities, and their beliefs about money limit their financial success."
Simply put, says Siebold, "Beliefs dictate behavior and behavior dictates results." Translation: Stinking thinking gets in the way of financial success.
Here are 10 thoughts that will get you in long-term financial trouble.
1. What if I die tomorrow? And I could have spent my money instead of saving it? "This will prevent you from ever really saving for the future," says certified financial planner Karen Lee of Karen Lee and Associates. "Your chances of dying prematurely are minuscule [compared] to the probability of living to old age."
Don't give yourself a poor excuse not to save. "Replace that thought with, if I do without this one purchase today, I won't have to worry about money tomorrow, or when I get older," says Lee.
2. I can always figure out how to pay for it later. This deadly idea encourages you to spend money that you don't have. "Ask yourself, if I don't have the money to pay for this today, why do I think I will have it down the road?" asks Lee. Instead, wait until you've saved up the money for purchases. Practice delayed gratification. "You will actually enjoy the purchase more if you make yourself wait, as you build up anticipation along the way," she adds.
3. It's a good investment. "That's what millions of Americans told themselves in the mid-2000s about houses that were beyond their reach -- and look how that turned out," notes Lee. Overreaching financially sometimes can work out, but usually, it's a recipe for disaster. "Tell yourself that when you are financially sound, you can have the house of your dreams, the Mac Daddy theater system, the renovated kitchen," she adds.
4. I can do it, just watch me. Confidence is a good thing. Overconfidence that you can control your spending can be the beginning of your downfall. "We think we can control our behavior -- this time," says Ted McLyman, a consultant with the Institute for Financial Education. "We accept the teaser credit card application because we think we won't use it. We buy 'six-months-same-as-cash' because we know we'll have everything paid off in time."
"We want to believe that a bad spending choice in the past won't happen again. It can and it may," says McLyman.
5. It will never happen to me. That's true, of course -- until it does. "This kind of thinking has people overspending and under-insuring themselves, as it creates a false sense of security," says Lee. "They think. 'I've been at this job for over 20 years, they'll never let me go, I'm too valuable.' Or, 'If I became disabled, I could still do my job.'"
Maybe the worst-case scenario won't happen to you, but just in case, plan for the possibility, she warns. "The peace of mind that comes for knowing you can handle a setback in life is priceless."
7. It's my retirement money. That's the point, it's your retirement money. It's for later, not for a European vacation or a flashy new car. "Retirement dollars should always stay in retirement accounts," says Olivier.
The way to increase wealth is to consistently save over time in a diversified portfolio. When you take money out, you take many of the years of saving you won't be able to get back, and you will be penalized 10% by the IRS if you are younger than 59½.
8. I really deserve this. No doubt you work hard, but don't get it twisted. "What's deadly, is tying purchasing to rewarding yourself, whether it's for doing well on a diet, or actually for not spending," says Lee. The problem here, is that it's a vicious circle of spending.
Ask yourself the tough question: Why is "stuff" so important? "Why do you feel you have to have the newest, greatest of everything?" asks Dennis Marvin, a certified financial planner with Marvin Wealth Management. "Search your soul to determine why you're spending money to try to make yourself feel better."
Instead, recommends Lee, find other ways to reward yourself. How about taking off from work a bit early, fixing a special dinner for you and a friend or taking time out for a talk with an old friend.
9. I can't afford to save. Truth is, you can't afford not to save. "If we're honest with ourselves, we have money. We simply don't like to make the hard choices about spending," says McLyman.
10. I must have it. "The must-have attitude makes you hyper-focus on one thing, while losing perspective of everything that's around it," points out Gabriela Cora, author of Leading Under Pressure. "You convince yourself that you must have something and all your actions revolve around ways in which you can purchase those shoes, that car, or that house." Instant gratification might feel good, but just wait for the horrible financial hangover.
The good news is, change your thoughts and you change your results. Says Siebold, "Empowering beliefs about money lead to effective, daily action that serves as the foundation for financial success."