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 2016, I finally found my voice. I always thought I had one, especially as a business owner and mother of two vocal toddlers, but I had been wrong.
For more than 30 years, I had been struggling with the fear of being my true self and speaking my truth. Then the repressed memories of my childhood sexual abuse unraveled before me while raising my 3-year-old daughter, and my life has not been the same since.
Believe it or not, I am happy about that.
The journey for a survivor like me to feel even slightly comfortable sharing these words, without fear of being shamed or looked down upon, is a long and often lonely one. For all of the people out there in the shadows who are survivors of childhood sexual abuse, I dedicate this to you. You might never come out to talk about it and that's okay, but I am going to do so here and I hope that in doing so, I will open people's eyes to the long-term effects of abuse. As a survivor who is now fully conscious of her abuse, I suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and, quite frankly, it may never go away.
It took me some time to accept that and I refuse to let it stop me from thriving in life; therefore, I strive to manage it (as do many others with PTSD) through various strategies I've learned and continue to learn through personal and group therapy. Over the years, various things have triggered my repressed memories and emotions of my abuse--from going to birthday parties and attending preschool tours to the Kavanaugh hearing and most recently, the"Leaving Neverland" documentary (I did not watch the latter, but read commentary about it).
These triggers often cause panic attacks. I was angry when I read Barbara Streisand's comments about the men who accused Michael Jackson of sexually abusing them, as detailed in the documentary. She was quoted as saying, "They both married and they both have children, so it didn't kill them." She later apologized for her comments. I was frustrated when one of the senators questioning Dr. Christine Blasey Ford (during the Kavanaugh hearing) responded snidely that Dr. Ford was still able to get her Ph.D. after her alleged assault--as if to imply she must be lying because she gained success in life.We survivors are screaming to the world, "You just don't get it!" So let me explain: It takes a great amount of resilience and fortitude to walk out into society every day knowing that at any moment an image, a sound, a color, a smell, or a child crying could ignite fear in us that brings us back to that moment of abuse, causing a chemical reaction that results in a panic attack.
So yes, despite enduring and repressing those awful moments in my early life during which I didn't understand what was happening to me or why, decades later I did get married; I did become a parent; I did start a business that I continue to run today; and I am still learning to navigate this "new normal." These milestones do not erase the trauma that I experienced. Society needs to open their eyes and realize that any triumph after something as ghastly as childhood abuse should be celebrated, not looked upon as evidence that perhaps the trauma "never happened" or "wasn't that bad. "When a survivor is speaking out about what happened to them, they are asking the world to join them on their journey to heal. We need love, we need to feel safe and we need society to learn the signs of abuse and how to prevent it so that we can protect the 1 out of 10 children who are being abused by the age of 18. When I state this statistic at events or in large groups, I often have at least one person come up to me after and confide that they too are a survivor and have kept it a secret. My vehicle for speaking out was through the novella The Survivors Club, which is the inspiration behind a TV pilot that my co-creator and I are pitching as a supernatural, mind-bending TV series. Acknowledging my abuse has empowered me to speak up on behalf of innocent children who do not have a voice and the adult survivors who are silent.
Remembering has helped me further understand my young adult challenges,past risky relationships, anger issues, buried fears, and my anxieties. I am determined to thrive and not hide behind these negative things as they have molded me into the strong person I am today.Here is my advice to those who wonder how to best support survivors of sexual abuse:Ask how we need support: Many survivors have a tough exterior, which means the people around them assume they never need help--we tend to be the caregivers for our friends and families. Learning to be vulnerable was new for me, so I realized I needed a check-off list of what loved ones should ask me afterI had a panic attack.
The list had questions like: "Do you need a hug," "How are you feeling," "Do you need time alone."Be patient with our PTSD". Family and close ones tend to ask when will the PTSD go away. It isn't a cold or a disease that requires a finite amount of drugs or treatment. There's no pill to make it miraculously disappear, but therapy helps manage it and some therapies have been known to help it go away. Mental Health America has a wealth of information on PTSD that can help you and survivors understand it better. Have compassion: When I was with friends at a preschool tour to learn more about its summer camp, I almost fainted because I couldn't stop worrying about my kids being around new teenagers and staff that might watch them go the bathroom or put on their bathing suit. After the tour, my friends said,"Nubia, you don't have to put your kids in this camp. They will be happy doing other things this summer."
In that moment, I realized how lucky I was to have friends who understood what I was going through and supported me. They showed me love and compassion, which made me feel safe and not judged.