When it comes to money, we all fib, avoid the issue or tell ourselves outright lies at some point. But the truth, however painful it might be at the time, is always what sets you free.
Here are my top four money lies – how many of them do you recognise?
If I don’t look, it isn’t happening
You know that something’s wrong with the state of your finances, probably very wrong and it’s almost certainly getting worse every day. So you try to put it out of your mind, perhaps spending a little extra to distract yourself from being stressed out about it.
You tell yourself that it might go away if you don’t look at it. Like when you were a little kid and you hid behind the sofa when the monsters came into shot on Doctor Who. Except you aren’t a little kid any more, and your money woes will still be there long after the end credits have rolled at the end of TV hour.
This is the typical ‘stick your head in the sand’ / ‘la la la I can’t hear you’ response to anxiety-provoking or potentially overwhelming situations, and I think we’ve probably all done this at some time or another. It’s an easy lie to tell yourself.
Ask anyone who’s successfully clawed their way back out from under a debt, and they’ll tell you that you first have to admit that you have a problem, and after that you have to work out the true extent of the problem. Only once you know exactly where you stand, can you work out exactly how to fix the situation.
It’s okay to be in debt, everybody is
Personal debt is undoubtedly a serious issue around the UK, and I don’t want to make light of that. Debt is forced on many people through life events and other trying circumstances, but if you aren’t in that situation then try to avoid getting into the mindset that it’s ‘what everybody does in modern life’.
Imagine the exasperated parent in a sitcom saying: ‘If all your friends jumped off a cliff, would you jump off the cliff too?’ That. Buck the trend.
I can sort it all out later
We’re all too busy, at least that’s what most of us tell ourselves. We’ll do it when there’s a calmer moment, but the moment never arrives…
Later has a funny habit of becoming now. Especially when you least want it to. Putting things off allows debts to run out of control, but it can also be the fundamental flaw in failing to budget and neglecting to plan for the future.
Starting early with savings and investments also means that in the long term you could benefit from compound interest and re-invested dividends. A little work now will give you a lot more clout a few years down the line, so you won’t have to work nearly as hard later. In fact, sorting it out now is the ideal lazy person’s option, when you look at it that way.
Somebody else will fix everything for me
This is one of the most disempowering and expensive lies you can tell yourself. If you’re sound in mind and body then you don’t need to hand your personal power over to others. Be the boss of you, or somebody else will be – and they might not have your best interests at heart.
Are you waiting for the white knight to ride up to the rescue on his fiery steed while you faff about in your ivory tower? Come on, don’t be a wet lettuce. Or maybe your life plan is to win the lottery or wait for an inheritance from a mysterious distant relative? You can come up with a better plan than that, even if it’s a modest one.
If you’re in serious money trouble then yes, ask for help and support from an appropriate source such as a registered debt charity. But remember that the charity will help you to help yourself, rather than take over and do every little thing for you, and that’s how it should be.
The people who do offer to wave the magic wand and make the bad stuff go away might well be charging you 1675% APR, or locking you into a 25-year agreement where you’ll be paying the money back over and over and over again. And you could lose your home or car if you don’t keep up with the repayments. Read the small print and never blindly trust the ‘experts’.
Have you been kidding yourself like this? What’s the biggest money lie you’ve told yourself – or been told by somebody else?