While we all know honesty tends to be the best policy, money lies can seem harmless when we want to believe them. The fact is, it’s easy to lie to ourselves about the things we’d rather not deal with right now, or ever. But avoiding tough financial realities will only leave us unprepared.
Let’s be honest. Money problems won’t go away simply because we pretend they don’t exist. And we can’t live that away forever. Over time, the damage typically collects, grows, and only exacerbates the problems we walked in with.
“The ‘money lies’ we tell ourselves can change the way we think and act when it comes to finances. And since most of us rarely talk about money with our friends and family, the money lies we tell ourselves stick around. That can lock us into destructive beliefs and reinforce poor financial habits,” per Kiplinger.
Even if you’re only telling yourself one or two little lies, you’re doing yourself a disservice. If have money problems you aren’t addressing, your financial health and bank account are both taking a major hit. No matter the reason, when we repeatedly tell ourselves lies about money, we adopt bad money habits that we’re always better off breaking. And there’s no time like the present to face the truth.
The sooner you acknowledge the realities of your financial situation, the sooner you can get better with money. Even if you’ve been living lies for a while, you can always start exactly where we’re at. These are the most common lies people tell themselves about money, according to experts.
Budgeting in Your Head Is Enough
If you’re going to manage your money, you’re going to need to build a budget. Even if you think you’re keeping up with it in your head, you can’t get a crystal clear picture of what you spend and where to cut back without a budget. No matter your mental math skills, financial experts say that if you are not working with a budget, you are definitely doing it wrong.
With that said, no budget is perfect. Nor is there a “one fits all” approach. The key is finding the method that works for you and making an honest effort to stick to it. Test a few before you commit to a strategy. You’ll be sure to find the right fit. To get you started, check out our breakdown of the best budgeting techniques.
Your Debt Is Under Control
Debt can make us feel stuck in a financial hellscape of our own making. So sometimes, it can feel easier to look away and pretend that the mounting debt pile is not there. But it is. Nine times out of ten, that pile of debt (and the interest rates) will only get more out of control. So face it head-on by not taking your debt too lightly.
Lying about just how bad it is will likely keep you in a vicious cycle of late payments and collecting interest. That’s why it’s important to be honest about the possible consequences now and make a change. Even if you’ve paid them late before and felt fine about it, having too many bills past due can wreak having on your financial stability, even if you’re keeping your head above water.
Start making your minimum payments on time. If it causes you too much stress to look at every month, set up automated payments so dealing with debt is done, but not bringing you down in the process. If you’re not sure how to address your debt, familiarize yourself with the best ways to go about it. Here are some debt payment strategies that actually work, no matter your situation.
Your Credit Doesn’t Need Improvement
Do you have big plans that are going to cost a pretty penny? Are you planning to buy a house? Or a car? Maybe you’re just looking to rent. No matter what you’ve got your long-term sights on, it will help to have solid credit. More importantly, a low credit score could wind up being the one thing that stands in your way, and it will certainly slow you down.
“Typically, the higher your credit scores, the more likely you are to qualify for loans with the most favorable terms, including lower interest rates, higher dollar amounts, and potentially lower fees,” per Experian.
Even if your credit score isn’t affecting your life right now, it probably will at some point. And if you’re credit isn’t great, it could take a while to get it to a place you’re truly comfortable with. So with your future in mind, take the necessary steps to improve your credit. Here’s how to calculate and improve your credit score starting today.
You Can Spend Money Whenever The Mood Strikes
Once in a while, we all like to treat ourselves. And there’s certainly nothing wrong with that. Sometimes, nothing feels better than an impromptu shopping spree. If you’ve just been paid, it might feel like you can easily afford it.
Overspending is the result of telling ourselves we have more to spend than we do. And it’s one of the biggest financial regrets older people face these days. So if you’re in the mood for an impulse purchase, be careful. It can be an easy lie to believe repeatedly and then wonder where your money went.
If you have built a budget, you have a clear understanding of how much extra money you actually have. Take that number seriously. And if your spending seems to be surpassing your saving no matter what you do, maybe it’s time to make a little extra money. For instance, you can do most of these lucrative side hustles without breaking a sweat.
Your Bills Are Already as Low as They Can Go
I’m not saying you should get out there and look for better deals. But maybe you should. It’s easy to get overcharged and not even realize it. All too often, we blindly accept the terms we are given without knowing the full truth or all of our options. Lying to yourself about this could mean you’re quietly burning a hole in your pocket. To get started, look over these 38 helpful ways to lower your bills, compliments of NerdWallet.
And don’t forget about those subscriptions. They’re a simple place to start.
“Most people don’t even know how many subscriptions they are paying for each month. To identify those charges, use your bank and credit card statements as a starting place. Then try alternating between your subscriptions. Pay for one or two subscriptions you are using the most at that time for a couple of months while cutting the rest, and vice versa. This way, you can see which services you can live without, and maybe cut them out for good,” per The Balance.
You Can Save Money Later
There’s nothing wrong with living in the moment. However, if you don’t think it’s important to think about your financial future, you’re lying to yourself. For instance, don’t let all the things you want and need right now overshadow the importance of saving money. Currently, the future may seem like an out-of-reach idea you can worry about later. But that’s not really true. The future will become our present inevitably, and we are moving toward it every day. So be prepared for the expected and the unexpected.
Again, every money step we take towards the future will count. You may think you have plenty of time to save, but the truth is, the time to save is always right here, right now. Even if you can only put back $5 a week, start saving immediately and exhaust your options. Don’t miss the opportunity to let your retirement savings account accumulate as much interest as possible. Putting it off will come back to haunt you, and the sooner you get started, the bigger your nest egg has the chance of becoming.
Sure, we can’t be totally certain about the future at this moment, but that’s no excuse to put off saving again and again. No matter why you might be saying, “I can save later,” you’re not being totally honest with yourself. Or rather, you’re not giving yourself the best chance at long-term financial stability. And why wouldn’t you want to?
In the end, procrastination won’t do you any favors. So in the words of Benjamin Franklin, “Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today.”
Not living these money lies can save you a lot of financial stress. And when it comes to saving for the rainiest of days, being honest about what’s really best for you financially may prove to be a lifesaver when you need it most.