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.
In many ways I am a shining example of the American Dream. I was born in Hungary during the Communist era, and my family fled to Israel before coming to the U.S. in pursuit of freedom and safety. When we arrived, I was just a young, shy girl who couldn't speak English. After my childhood in Hungary, New York City was a marvel; I couldn't believe that such a lively, rich place existed. Even a simple thing like going to the market and seeing all the bright, colorful produce and having so many choices was new to me. I'll never take that for granted. I think it's where my love affair with color truly began.
One thing I had was a strong work ethic. I worked hard in school, to learn English, and at jobs including my first job at Dairy Queen -- which I loved! Ice cream is easily my favorite food. From there, I moved into the garment district where my brother-in-law's family had a business. During this time, I was able to see how a business was run and began to hone in on my eye for aesthetics and willingness to work hard at any task I was given.
Eventually, my brother-in-law bought a dental supply company in Los Angeles and asked me to join him. LA, a place with 365-days of sunshine. How could I say no? The company started as Odontorium Products Inc. During the acrylic movement of the 1980s, we realized that nail technicians were buying our product, and that the same components used for dentures were used for artificial nails. We saw a potential opening in the market, and we seized it. OPI began dropping off the "rubber band special" at every salon on Ventura Blvd. in Los Angeles. A jar of powder, liquid and primer – rubber-banded together – became the OPI Traditional Acrylic System and was a huge hit, giving OPI its start in the professional nail industry. It was 1981 when OPI first opened its doors. I couldn't have predicted our success, but I knew that hard work and faith in myself would be key in transforming a new business into a company with global reach.
When we started OPI, what we were doing was something new. Before OPI came on the scene, the generic, utilitarian nail polish names already on the market – like Red No. 4, Pink No. 2 – were completely forgettable. We rebranded the category with catchy names that we knew women could relate to and would remember. The industry was stale and boring, so we made it more fun and sexy. We started creating color collections. I carefully developed 30 groundbreaking colors for the debut collection -- many of which are still beloved bestsellers today, including Malaga Wine, Alpine Snow and Kyoto Pearl.
There is no other nail color brand in the world that touches the totality of industries the way OPI does.
With deep roots in Tinseltown, we eventually started collaborating with Hollywood. Our decision to collaborate with the entertainment industry also propelled OPI forward in another way, ultimately leading us to finding a way to connect with women beyond the world of beauty, relating our products to the beverages they drink, the cars they drive, the movies they watch, the clothes they wear – even the shade they use to paint their living room walls! There is no other nail color brand in the world that touches the totality of industries the way OPI does. It also propelled my growth as a businessperson forward. I found myself sitting in meetings with executives from some of the top companies in the world. I didn't have a fancy presentation. I didn't have a Harvard business degree. I realized that what I had was passion. I had a passion for what we were doing, and I had my own unique story that no one else could replicate.
Discipline, hard work, and passion gave me the confidence to grow from that shy immigrant girl to become the person that I am today
Bit by bit, I grew up with the business. Discipline, hard work, and passion gave me the confidence to grow from that shy immigrant girl to become the person that I am today -- an author, public speaker, and co-founder of OPI, the world's #1 professional nail brand.
I learned quickly that one can be an expert at many things, but not everything. Running a business is very hard work. Luckily, I had someone I could collaborate with who brought something new to the table and complemented my talents, my brother-in-law George Schaeffer. My business "superpower," or the ability to make decisions quickly and confidently, kept me ahead of trends and competition.
Another key to my success in building this brand and in growing in business was being authentic. Authenticity is so important to brands and maybe even more so now in the time of social media when you can speak directly to your consumers. I realized even then that I could only be me. I was a woman who knew what I wanted. I looked at my mother and daughter and wanted to create products that would excite and empower them.
There's often an expectation placed on women in charge that they need to be cutthroat to be competitive, but that's not true. Rather than focusing on my gender or any implied limitations I might bring to the job as a female and a mother, I always focused instead on my vision. I deliberately fostered an environment at OPI filled with warmth. After all, at the end of the day, your organization is only as good as its people. I've always found that being nice, being humble, and listening to others has served me well. Instead of pushing others down to get to the top, inspire them and bring them along on the journey.
You can read more about my personal and professional journey in my new memoir out now, I'm Not Really a Waitress: How One Woman Took Over the Beauty Industry One Color at a Time.