5 financial lies we tell ourselves
"We lie the loudest when we lie to ourselves." ― Eric Hoffer
We don't mean to, but we lie to ourselves — about a lot of things. We tell ourselves what we want to hear to justify our choices, our behavior, and our avoidance of responsibilities.
Unfortunately, we believe ourselves. We repeat our lies so often, we eventually accept them as truths and continue in our self-deception. Lying is damaging, and telling ourselves financial lies has lasting repercussions.
Here are five common financial lies we tell ourselves.
1. I Just Need to Make More Money
We only have one problem. We don't make enough money. Once that tiny problem is solved, the keys to all doors will unlock. Nevermind our poor habits. Nevermind our inability to say "no" to ourselves. We need more money — that's it.
Increasing your income may very well contribute to improving your financial situation, but surely it's not the only factor. In fact, if you have poor money-management skills, give in to all your wants, forgo planning and budgeting, then making more money will only compound your negative situation, not improve it. This requires being brutally honest with yourself, but is your income the problem or are you
2. I'll Start Saving When I Make More Money
We have good intentions with this one. We know we need to save, and we plan to (really, we do), but we feel there just isn't enough money to pay our bills, AND have a little fun, AND save. As soon as we make more money, we'll save. (Uh-huh, sure.)
If saving is not a priority now, making more money won't suddenly make it one. Once you're accustomed to spending 100% of what you bring in, it will be incredibly difficult to break that habit. When your income increases, your wants and needs surprisingly increase too. Make saving a percentage of your income a non-negotiable, much like paying taxes (unless you lie to yourself about that too).
3. I Don't Make Enough Money to Budget
Hahahahaha...(ahem, excuse me.) We really do believe this. Our income doesn't cover all our expenses so we couldn't possibly dream of budgeting. As soon as there is enough money to cover ALL our expenses PLUS a little surplus, that's when we'll budget.
Not budgeting because you think you don't have enough money is counterintuitive. A budget is simply a plan for your money. If money is tight and you are struggling to cover all your expenses, then you NEED TO BUDGET! Budgeting will allow you to prioritize what you spend your money on, and often a surprising outcome is that you DO have the money to cover your needs and then some.
4. I Can Afford It. The Payment is Only...
We have short-sighted thinking. We focus on the "affordable" monthly car payment, not the $30,000 and almost six years behind it. We think about the "manageable" student loan payment, instead of the $37,000 it represents and the impact those payments may have on our career and life choices.
This is one of the hardest things to admit, but if we can only afford the payment, then we can't afford the purchase. Ouch! The good news is, if you can "afford" the payment, then you can also afford to wait and save up for it. A big difference between financing an item and saving up for it is which side of the payments you make the purchase. It requires a significant amount of maturity and discipline on your part, but by exercising patience and delayed gratification, you will come out ahead.
5. I Need It
We can easily talk ourselves into believing our wants are needs. We all do it. Unfortunately, we're good at deceiving ourselves, and before we know it we're plunking down money or worst, financing, an item that we convinced ourselves we can't live without.
It may seem like the lines between our needs and our wants are blurred, but it's only because we're doing the blurring. If you believe an expense is a need, carefully consider whether or not it is a legitimate necessity. What would happen if you didn't buy it? What are you giving up to buy it? Is there an alternative? If it is a need, is it possible to wait and save towards it? Rationally thinking about a "need" can reveal that it isn't one.
The Truth Will Set You Free!
Most of us have operated under at least one of these false assumptions at some point or another in our adulthood. It's so easy to believe these lies — especially when our culture and those we love and adore perpetuate them.
Thankfully, the beauty of making mistakes is that we learn from them and can move forward with new knowledge! Embrace the freedom that comes with squashing these financial lies!