Career 19 December 2016
We don’t mean to lie to ourselves, but we do it in an attempt to justify our spending habits and reduce feelings of guilt or anxiety, and eventually, we start to believe them. But while these little lies may make us feel better in the short term, they can do some serious damage in the long run. These little lies we tell ourselves are all signs of financial denial and hold us back from true financial freedom. Here are 6 of the most common lies and the truths about them:
“I just need to make more money.”
We may have the best intentions when it comes to money – to save, to pay off debts – we know we need to do these things, but we’ll get around to them once we make more money. The truth? With this kind of mindset, you will never feel like you have enough money. There will always be temptations and other things you want to spend your money on, no matter how much you make. If saving isn’t a priority when money is tight, it sure won’t be when you have more of it to spend. And what if you never were to make significantly more than you do now? The lesson here is that now is as good a time as any to practice good financial habits and get a head start on saving and debt repayment. Even if you think you have no room in your budget to save, there are always ways to reallocate or reduce expenses, even if just temporarily. Factor savings and debt repayment into your budget and make sure to pay these first, not at the end of the month with whatever little is left.
“I Need This New ______.”
An important part of financial responsibility is learning to distinguish between needs vs. wants. We all have things we feel we need, but when we take a closer look, more often than not, it’s just a “want” and something we can live without. From a financial perspective, a “need” is something you can’t live without – groceries, heat, electricity, rent. A “want” is a discretionary expense, ranging from anything like lattes and movie tickets, to a new handbag and restaurant dining. Of course, no one is advising you cut out all your wants from your spending – but it is important to understand the difference between the two so you can make informed financial decisions that won’t negatively impact your ability to save, pay off debts, and pay for your needs.
“I can afford the monthly payment, therefore I can afford it.”
Ahh, the beauty of financing. That new, fully loaded car doesn’t seem so expensive when broken down into a nice little monthly payment – until you look closer and realize you’ll be stuck with said car for the next 5 years and paying well over the sticker price once you factor in interest. Anyone can “afford” just about anything with the right financing, but this is short term thinking. Extending the terms of a loan over a longer period of time just to lower the monthly payment isn’t doing yourself any favors and only makes something appear more affordable. Think big and look at the total cost of what you’ll be paying for and then decide if it’s really worth it.
“Budgeting is only for people who are tight on money.”
Budgeting has become synonymous with sacrifice and financial desperation. However, a budget is simply a tool to track money coming in and money going out. Businesses do it, and so should you. Just because you may earn a high income, doesn’t mean you are immune to financial hardships. In fact, with even more at stake, this should be even more motivation to budget and manage your finances responsibly.
After all, how many celebrities have we seen go into massive amounts of debt? Bottom line? Everyone can benefit from budgeting.
“I’m young, I can start saving for retirement later.”
Sure, you can start saving later (and later is better than not at all), but I can pretty much guarantee you’ll wish you started earlier. Retirement may seem far away and this is exactly why it’s good to start sooner rather than later, because the longer you allow your money to grow, the greater the effects of compound interest. Starting early means you can contribute less and end up with more. There are many different retirement savings options available, including ones offered by employers, such as a 401(k) or 403(b), and self-directed savings plans such as an IRA. Do a bit of research or consider speaking to a financial advisor about what options are best for you. Also consider looking into whether your employer provides any retirement matching programs – this is free money you should absolutely be taking advantage of! If you haven’t started yet, the good news is you can plan for retirement at any stage of life, but don’t wait another day!
“I’ll put the money back into savings, I just need it now to buy this.”
If you can’t afford it now, don’t buy it. Treating your savings account like a checking account is dangerous. Once the money has left your savings account, it will be hard to find ways to pay it back. It also creates a mentality that it is ok to dip into your savings here and there for indulgences. Savings should be just that – saved. There are times where you can justify spending your savings, but this can sometimes be a grey area. To avoid spending it on things you shouldn’t, consider making a list of appropriate things to use your savings towards – for example, a down payment on a house or using your emergency fund for things like unexpected car maintenance. Think of all the scenarios in which you might want to use your savings, write them down, and don’t make any exceptions.
Coming to terms with these little lies we tell ourselves is the first step in heading towards financial freedom. Once you stop denying the truth about your spending habits and financial mindset, you can begin to create a more healthy relationship with money and work towards achieving your financial goals.
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Help! My Friend Is a No Show
Dear Armchair Psychologist,
I have a friend who doesn't reply to my messages about meeting for dinner, etc. Although, last week I ran into her at a local restaurant of mine, it has always been awkward to be friends with her. Should I continue our friendship or discontinue it? We've been friends for a total four years and nothing has changed. I don't feel as comfortable with her as my other close friends, and I don't think I'll ever be able to reach that comfort zone in pure friendship.
Dear Sadsies,I am sorry to hear you've been neglected by your friend. You may already have the answer to your question, since you're evaluating the non-existing bond between yourself and your friend. However, I'll gladly affirm to you that a friendship that isn't reciprocated is not a good friendship.
I have had a similar situation with a friend whom I'd grown up with but who was also consistently a very negative person, a true Debby Downer. One day, I just had enough of her criticism and vitriol. I stopped making excuses for her and dumped her. It was a great decision and I haven't looked back. With that in mind, it could be possible that something has changed in your friend's life, but it's insignificant if she isn't responding to you. It's time to dump her and spend your energy where it's appreciated. Don't dwell on this friend. History is not enough to create a lasting bond, it only means just that—you and your friend have history—so let her be history!
- The Armchair Psychologist