When it comes to finances, it’s easy to feel like a victim of our circumstances.
The wage gap, a minimum wage that no one can survive on, and enormous student loan debt are all financial obstacles we can’t do much about.
But we aren’t helpless. In fact, we have more influence and control in our financial life than we might think. We just have to get out of our own way. I learned this the hard way.
I used to feel so overwhelmed by the 87,000 dollars of debt hanging over my head and living paycheck to paycheck that I buried my head in the sand and wished it would all just go away.
I avoided tending to my finances. What’s the point? I wasn’t ever going to pay off my debt or have extra money in the bank.
Being surrounded by other people who also didn’t have their financial sh*t together only reinforced the idea that a perpetual financial crisis was typical. Ongoing financial stress was the norm, right?
My toxic narrative of “there’s no way out of this financial mess” came to a screeching halt as I came close to losing my house and making my family of four homeless. Sitting on the sidelines doing nothing was no longer an option.
I put on my therapist hat, evaluated my situation from a psychological perspective, and I thought about what I might say to a client in the same situation I found myself in.
Here’s what I came up with:
“Instead of focusing on the things outside of your control, look for the things you can influence in some way. Then, take action. Test out new ways of doing things and see what helps improve your situation.”
It was time to take my own advice and apply it to my financial life.
As I reflected on what I could control, I felt resistance bubble up. “This is impossible. That won’t work. I can’t do that.”
That’s when I realized I’d been making lame excuses for a long time—excuses that kept me from taking an active role in my own financial life. I was perpetually waiting for someone to come along and save me from my money problems.
Here are the lame excuses that were keeping me from being financially successful (and are probably affecting your financial success too):
1. “I’m bad with money.”
Because I’d made financial mistakes in the past, I created a story that I’ll be bad at all things money forever and ever. As such, I had no faith that I could make good decisions about money, so I didn’t even try.
Money Truth: the best way to get good with money is to forgive yourself for past mistakes and see each day as a new opportunity to do better.
2. “I’ll never pay off my debt.”
I didn’t know anyone who lived debt-free. All my friends were drowning in student loans and credit card debt just like me. Because I didn’t see it modeled for me, it felt impossible to pay off my debt, so I didn’t explore ways to do it.
Money Truth: it’s possible to pay off all your debt and live debt-free forever. Lots of people do it. You can too.
3. “The stock market is too risky to invest in.”
Once I finally paid off my debt (not only was it possible, but I did it in just two years), I had extra money every month. I didn’t know what to do with it. I knew nothing about the stock market other than hearing about people losing their fortunes when the market crashed. Too scary. Not happening.
Money Truth: investing in the stock market is one of the safest and most reliable ways to build wealth over time. It won’t happen overnight, but if you’re willing to invest over a long-term period, your portfolio can create a paycheck for life.
4. “I don’t make enough money.”
Back when I’d just started my business and was busy taking care of two babies, I was making peanuts. I didn’t see how I could gain any financial traction unless I was making six figures. I’d immediately spend the money whenever I got paid because it seemed pointless to save a measly couple of bucks each week.
Money Truth: it’s not about how much money you make; it’s about how much money you keep. Every dollar counts. A little money can add up to a lot of money if you have the discipline to save.
5. “I don’t know how to ______ (budget, reduce expenses, invest, ask for a raise).”
No one ever taught me anything about money. I was left to figure it out on my own. And because money felt confusing and overwhelming, I would have chosen a bikini wax over learning about personal finance any day. Being financially illiterate led to mistakes and bad decisions and caused the financial crisis I was in.
Money Truth: you can learn to do anything. Google it. Watch YouTube. Read a book. Educate yourself and gain financial literacy. Money is not as complicated as people make it out to be.
The first step toward turning your financial life around is awareness. Before we can begin to take any type of action toward creating change, it is necessary to have awareness of the lame excuses that are keeping us stuck.
Once I got clear on the excuses that were holding me back from having the financial life I wanted, I was able to start doing things differently. Having that clarity motivated me to flex my financial muscles, learn more about money, and change the way I looked at my finances.
Take a few moments and ask yourself, “Are any of these lame excuses keeping me from having the financial life I want?” Then, get busy trying new things.