We all have those lies, large and small, we tell ourselves to justify why we do the things that we do. The reality is, however, that every single decision we make is either helping us or hurting us. There really isn’t much grey area there. Whether we choose to acknowledge it or not now, really doesn’t matter. Our long-term financial standing will inevitably show us what we found important during our short-term decision making.
5 Lies That Keep You in Debt
1. I deserve it.
Do you work hard? Of course you do. Do you deserve to indulge every once in awhile? Maybe. The question is, however, whether a new dress is really worth you staying in debt? Sometimes you may need to ask yourself, “As much as I deserve… don’t I deserve to be debt free even more?”
If you answer,“No, I deserve to work my entire adult life and still end up with nothing at the age of retirement,” then continue on. Buy all the dresses you want. Remember It’s the constant conversation you have with yourself to justify unnecessary spending on an ongoing basis that hurts you.
2. But, this is an emergency. . . isn’t it?
Let’s be clear about what emergencies are. Merriam-Webster defines the term emergency as “A serious, unexpected, and often dangerous situation requiring immediate action.” With that being said, dipping into your emergency fund for items that you were fully aware were coming up is not an emergency. It’s important to make every expense a line item on your budget, even those things that are quarterly or annual expenditures such as car registration or dues.
3. It was on sale!
We’ve all fallen for this one at one time or another. The reality is most people are in debt because of stuff. It’s impossible to get out of debt if you are committed to buying more and more stuff instead of truly being financially free.
One way to avoid this trap is to stop walking around the mall and “window shopping” or curtail online shopping. Perhaps it’s time to unsubscribe from tempting emails with the “great deals” in your email box or texted to you each morning. Instead of convincing yourself that you’re saving, begin to ask yourself, “Do I really need this?”
Remember that buying something you don’t need is never better than saving money for your actual needs.
4. A couple of bucks won’t hurt.
I heard someone say once that the $1 menu is the quickest way to being broke. It’s the small charges that add up and inevitably break the bank. I have more clients that get caught up in $34 overdraft fees for a quick $5 swipe at the gas station than anything else.
Again, it’s important that even with the small purchases, you ask yourself, “Do I really need this?”
5. If I made more money, this would be easier.
No it wouldn’t. Without discipline, you could double your income and still have tons of debt and no savings. Don’t assume that more money is the answer. We’ve all heard of the entertainers, athletes and my favorite, lottery winners, who end up flat broke and in deep debt despite having access to tons of money at one point.
Wealth is about a mindset. No matter what your financial goals are today, get real with yourself.
-Editor’s note: This post was updated from its original publish date in 2012.