Top 5 Lies We Tell Ourselves About Our Money

Filed in Budgeting, Spending, Uncategorized by on January 6, 2013 42 Comments

Doesn’t it sometimes feel easier to lie to yourself about your money? Whether we are telling ourselves we have more money than we really do…..or lying to ourselves that things aren’t “that” bad, despite the rising credit card balance…..Even people that are banking millions still tell themselves that it’s not enough.

Where do these lies come from?

From two places: fear and laziness.

When you tell yourself the truth about your money, particularly your lack thereof, suddenly it becomes reality–“Oh, man, I’m a financial mess!” when all this time you’ve been fooling yourself into thinking that you’re doing just fine.

And you’re feeling lazy; not up to the challenge of turning your finances around. And once you’re truthful about your money, it means you have to do something about it

And THAT is the scary part.

It means we’re going to have to start watching our pennies and telling ourselves “no” to things that we once just gave to ourselves because we felt we “deserved” it, or because we said that “it’s just a $1.50 cup of coffee every day. What’s the big deal??”

The big deal is that it’s all built on lies.

The truth is, you’re really broke. You really have no emergency fund. You’re really only one paycheck away from being homeless. The truth is that you suck at managing your money.

You’re really in trouble.

I confess that I’ve been lying to myself about my money, too.

I’ve been telling myself that we’re doing okay because we have have a little stashed away in a CD and company stock. But we don’t have the recommended 9 months of living expenses should one of us lose our jobs. But the fact that we’re not saving any money, and hubby has to work 2 jobs in order to pay for daycare, we’re not doing okay. In fact, we could be doing much better.


So let’s take a look at some of the lies that I have been telling myself. Have you been telling yourself  lies, too?


1. “I’ll charge it now and just pay it off when I get paid.”

Yeah–right……And even if I DID pay it off when I got paid, it was only a short time before I charged something else, and started the cyclical pattern of charging…then paying back….charging…then paying back. So essentially what happens is that I’m JUST paying for what I’ve bought; I’m not even close to making a dent in the other debt that is sitting there, collecting interest.


2. “I’ve been wanting it for so long, and it was a good deal, so I had to buy it.”

Just because I’ve been drooling over something for a couple months (or even years!) doesn’t justify buying it on credit. It doesn’t even justify buying it with cash, until I have specifically saved up for it. The amount of time you’ve wanted something doesn’t justify when you get it. It just doesn’t.


3. “My $5,000 credit card debt isn’t THAT bad. Some people’s debt is $30,000! So I must be doing pretty good then.”

No, you’re not! I know it helps to keep things relative, in order to feel better about my own situation when I compare myself to people doing worse, but why not compare myself to people doing better? There are people with ZERO credit card debt (I know–I used to be one of them). So compare my situation to them, and the truthful statement is, “OMG, I’m really screwing up!”


4. “But it’s not like I’m spending money on frivolous stuff like massages, manicures, pedicures, or shopping for name-brand clothes every day of the week!”

You know what? That doesn’t even matter. Just because I am not buying these things, doesn’t justify all the other things I over-spend on. A dollar spent is a dollar spent, whether it’s on makeup and a “pedi” or on a last-minute dinner at Trader Joe’s because I didn’t plan a weekly menu and now I’m scrambling to feed my kids. It’s still over-spending, however you look at it.


5. “My paycheck isn’t enough.”

The truth isn’t that my paycheck isn’t enough. It’s that I’m over-spending. I’m paying for cable channels I don’t watch. I’m wasting money on money leaks that I haven’t plugged up, I’m pay on credit debt, I’m buying food without a weekly menu to guide my buying decisions, then throwing out things that go bad before we eat them…and the list goes on. My paycheck could suffice.


So there you have it, folks: the money lies I have been telling myself. The next challenge is to figure out how to live a financially truthful life, so that my family can start saving again. My goal is to build a reliable emergency fund, plug up those money leaks, learn to create a weekly menu, and curb my over-spending habits. Stay tuned for more!

I would love to know what lies you all have been telling yourself. And aren’t you ready for financial honesty again?!


If you want to see more money lies we tell ourselves, check out these other 9 money lies that we tell ourselves.



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About the Author ()

Serena Appiah is a wife and mom to 3 boys in the Washington, DC metro area who enjoys writing about family, finances, and raising children.

Comments (42)

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  1. Brandi says:

    WOW! Please get out of my head!!! No seriously this sounds like my husband and I right now. I swear I just talked myself into getting a Groupon that I truly did not need. Thank you for sharing this. I will be following right along with you trying to get our finances in order as well. Staying tuned for sure!!!

    • admin says:

      So I’m not the only one then! This past New Years I was doing some heavy thinking and admitted to myself that I am financially sabotaging us! Ugh! As for your Groupon, can you get a refund? I don’t know if they do that. Living Social does refunds! I had bought $200 of gift certificates (worth $400) to buy FABRIC from my favorite fabric store, but it was a total splurge, and I ended up getting my money back that week!!

  2. JaShawndra R says:

    That’s very true. The exact same thing my s/o says. I think people need to understand living within their means. Thanks for sharing

    • admin says:

      You’re right! And it’s hard to do that when you want to buy more than you can afford. It’s becomes a terrible cycle!

  3. Susan Bewley says:

    Great advice! I came from a family of overspenders and had to really get my act together. I have most of my credit cards in a debt consolidation program not because my credit is bad or they needed it, but I wanted something to force me to get back on track and would allow me pay them off fast. Our credit cards were an emergency fun when I started my online business and my husband was out of work. Now if only there was a magic easy button on student loans…

    • admin says:

      I agree! They call school loans “good debt” but since they’re a debt you can never get rid of until maybe you die, I would say that’s a pretty bad debt. LOL. I, too, come from a family of over-spenders, and I had to learn how to save money. Somewhere along the way, I have reverted. :-\

  4. Elizabeth says:

    Indeed. That’s why a budget and spending analysis is so important. It’s painful to look at the truth and realize that it is 100% our doing.

  5. Kelly R says:

    I was just telling my husband yesterday that we need to sit down and go over our finances and budget ourselves…

  6. Good article and I think alot of folks tell these lies to themselves myself included

  7. Scott says:

    Great minds think alike! We’ve been trying to keep things tight with our single income, but still find ourselves dipping into savings now and then to make up the difference. I’ve started tracking every penny (literally) that comes in and out of our lives and hoping I can identify some excesses we can cut out. Can’t wait to read your next installment!

  8. jamie says:

    Nice post;or blog

  9. J. Money says:

    Love this!! And so true too. It’s just like when people say they also “Don’t ever want any more money” because it means they’re greedy people and the devil is inside them 😉 Nevermind all the GOOD it could do if used wisely! Fear & laziness with this too… although more of the latter.

    I think you may have pushed me to write my thoughts on this actually… I’ll link back if I blog about 😉

  10. Tonya says:

    Oh my you are preaching to the choir. I’ve told myself each and every one of these money lies. Especially the one where I justify my spending. A dollar spent is a dollar spent! I hope you don’t mind if I borrow a few lines from your blog (credit due of course).

    • Serena says:

      Tonya, you are so right! I have really been working on reigning in my spending, even on the necessary purchases like FOOD! I just can’t justify it anymore, as long as I have credit debt and no real emergency savings! (And yes, borrow the lines!!)

  11. Katie says:

    I read about your blog on J. Money’s blog and had to follow. Love you advice and can’t wait to read more. Money is emotional

  12. purchasebaby says:

    Awesome article – and so true. Thanks so much for posting.

  13. Holly W says:

    such a great article, and you are absolutely right – there are many lies people tell themselves when it comes to money. I used to be one of those people before learning the Dave Ramsey plan. The problem is that it seems no matter what I do, it’s not enough. We have an emergency fund (although it’s not huge, it would fund a large car repair or our washing machine going out.) and our debt is completely paid off and we owe money to nobody (no student loans, car payments, credit cards, etc). plus we shop at discount stores, we have every single dollar accounted for with no frivolous expenses. I meal plan and shop for the whole week. I don’t buy random things that my son BEGS for. I only buy things that I have saved cash for rather than putting them on credit (because we own no credit cards)…
    but here is where our “perfectly awesome and responsible” financial situation fails us:
    *we don’t own a home and have to continue to pay a huge amount of rent every month (ie, throw away our money)
    *if we want to expand our family (which we do, but see next point) – we must get a larger place to live which worsens the first point.
    *in order to expand our family (and the clock is TICKING), we must pay $16,000+ for invitro fertilization (which our very expensive insurance pays $0 of…)
    *our total income has dropped $260/month due to the new tax situation that just went into effect.

    Sorry to vent, but today this post hit home. no matter what I seem to do financially for my family, I feel like we’re in between a rock and a hard place, and it’s tugging at my heartstrings. I feel some of my most near-and-dear-to-me dreams are quickly slipping through my fingers, and i’m not sure how to stop that from happening. I’m not suggesting that you have a solution. I’m not sure there is on. Like I said, I just need to vent… sorry (but thank you) for using your comment space for that 😉

  14. Serena says:

    Hey, Holly! Yes, by all means, VENT AWAY! It’s frustrating, I know, and I’m glad you are getting it out. As for not owning your home, oooohhh, well, let me tell you, it’s not all it’s cracked up to be! When something goes out, it’s on YOU; there’s no landlord to come by with the checkbook to pay for the things that go bad. You might have a home warranty, but still…it’s a cost, and that doesn’t cover every appliance repair. So, don’t feel bad! Renting is SUCH a breeze compared to dealing with home owner repairs and expenses.
    And yes, the larger the place, the bigger the expense. But check this out–YOU MAY NOT NEED MORE SPACE. When we were in our condo, it was a 2-br. And when baby #2 came, we thought we needed more space. And you know what?? Even now, in our 4-BR house, those 2 boys SHARE A ROOM. Hell, they even share a BED (their choice). LOL. So you can still have baby #2, and they can share cozily in one room, even if it’s a girl, for quite a while.
    As for IVF….yeah, that’s a problem because of the 0 insurance help. Not advice for that one!
    And yeah, the taxes kicked our behinds, too. Time to cut my cable off, if I can get the cajones to do it. LOL
    Hope this little vent session helps!!! 🙂 I’m glad that I’m getting to know you! You should come to BlogHer ’13 in Chicago. We could hang out!

  15. Wow! I really like your article. It hit home with many of the things I am trying to teach my children about money, managing money and yes how we think – or as you put it: lie to ourselves.

    Wonderful, I may have to quote you to my kids and on my blog.

  16. Shawn says:

    I disagree very much with #2, “It’s such a good deal & I’ve wanted it so long”. I have lusted after an Airstream for decades – since I was in Kindergarten. If I found a used Airstream for $200, I would break the speed of sound to go buy it! It’s not in my monthly budget, but if I found something I “always wanted” on sale for less than 1% of it’s value, I would hate myself if I didn’t buy it! I would be happy to go hungry for a month!

    • Serena says:

      Shawn, I do agree with you! I would say that’s a circumstance that MOST people would agree with! You’re talking about something so rare and deeply discounted that you’d be a fool to pass up! I’m talking about those purchases that are everyday–that cute sweater, the $400 blender that neeeeever goes on sale but is now $350, or, in my case, the crafting machine that went on sale on Black Friday and used credit I shoulnt have. lol That is the difference.

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