Do you use of the following excuses to spend money you don’t have? If you do, it’s time to change, or risk being broke forever.
How we spend money (or save money) is often due to our past. We grow up influenced by our family’s attitude towards money and the scarcity or abundance of income. These attitudes are compounded by the media influencing us with the capitalist culture of ‘buy more, buy expensive’.
This sets the stage for a toxic relationship with money. And unless you resolve it, you’re going to continue to make the same mistakes again and again, ultimately making you broke, undoing all your good work with savings and investments.
There are four excuses that can set you up for financial problems and create bad money habits.
Excuse 1: I’ve Worked Hard
What this sounds like: ‘I’ve worked so hard this week, I deserve this treat’.
Do you think that someone working on minimum wage, like a cleaner, doesn’t work hard? Do you think the person who washes dishes at a restaurant, delivers your courier parcels, or grows your vegetables, don’t work hard? Do you think a mum, stuck at home raising children and unable to work in paid employment, isn’t working hard?
Because here’s the crux of this: You don’t work any harder than most other people. It’s your circumstances that have enabled you to be making the level of income you are.
There’s nothing wrong with rewarding yourself for working hard. Eating out on a Friday night probably isn’t going to break the bank. But awarding yourself a house you can’t afford the repayments on, or buying a lush boat on tick—they are going to make you poor.
It’s a hard truth to hear: You have done nothing that makes you deserve financial success (or a boat) more than anyone else. Everyone works hard.
Excuse 2: I Deserve It
What this sounds like: ‘This house with a pool is my reward for years of living in a tiny two bedroom house. I deserve this’.
Why? Why do you deserve this more than anyone else? This is called entitlement. Does Jeff Bezos deserve his money more than anyone else? No.
When you start thinking you deserve something, you diminish the needs of those around you. You justify spending money by putting what you feel you deserve over that of others, such as your partner. By saying ‘I’ deserve it, you’re putting your needs ahead of your spouse/ children/ family. Then, this makes them responsible if you can’t get your way, for example if your partner says hang on, we can’t afford that luxury car. This creates resentment.
Sure, work hard, chase your goals, and get those things that you want. But you deserve nothing; what you think you deserve is irrelevant. And it certainly should not dictate any financial choices.
Excuse 3: It Will Make Me Feel Better
What this sounds like: ‘I’ve had a horrible week- time to buy those new shoes I’ve been wanting’.
Emotional spending is impulsive spending when you are feeling heightened emotions. A study showed that people are prepared to pay up to 30% more when they were feeling sad; you’re not alone.
We understand; life gets tough. Parenting is relentless, work is tough, you’re exhausted, and a bunch of bad things happened. But spending money isn’t going to make things better. Apart from that brief burst of dopamine when you purchase something, long term, life is not going to get better or less stressful. In fact, if you’ve spent way more than you can afford and you’re in debt you can’t service, it’s a lot worse.
Find new, healthy ways to cope with your emotions, or be prepared for a lifetime of getting yourself into financial problems.
Be aware that impulsive spending is also a symptom of the manic phase of bi-polar affective disorder. Please seek medical assistance if you think this is you.
Excuse 4: I Want to Show Someone I Love Them
What this sounds like: ‘Hey honey, I haven’t been spending as much time with you lately, and I want to show you that you’re still SO important to me! Here’s a massively expensive bouquet of flowers’.
Even if your love language is gift-giving, that doesn’t mean spending lots of money. It could be picking a bunch of wildflowers or making a cute Spotify playlist. If you think that showing love is buying a car or expensive jewellery; that’s not love. There is no substitute to kindness, and your time together.
Lavishing expensive gifts isn’t love.
Ditch the Excuses, Fix Your Finances
At the heart of all of these excuses is your feelings. Are you trying to make yourself feel better? Do you feel inadequate, or like you have to prove yourself to others? Do you feel that you deserve things more than others, or that you work harder than everyone else around you?
No matter what excuse you try to sell yourself, unaffordable is still unaffordable. There are better ways to treat yourself and others to show genuine care and love.
It’s absolutely mad to spend money on yourself if it keeps you stuck in the rat race, working hard to pay for it. You’ll be poor in money, time, and relationships forever unless you address these four flawed beliefs.
Contact us here at Smart Adviser if you need help untangling your finances. Contact a counsellor if your feelings are creating the money problems, because you need to address these before you can truly be financially successful.