There are people who constantly complain about their finances, whether they’re not happy with their salary or they never have extra cash for unexpected expenses. Both are common struggles; and no matter how hard we try, sometimes it’s difficult to get ahead. But I’ve learned one important truth from my many financial discussions with others —we can be our worst financial enemy. It’s not always our circumstances that keep us stuck in the same financial rut, but rather excuses that paralyze us.
Here are six money excuses that we need to stop making to get serious about our money.
1. I Can’t Afford to Get Serious About My Money
It doesn’t matter whether you’re talking about retirement planning or building your emergency cushion, telling yourself that you can’t afford to take your money to the next level can become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
You’d be surprised at how positive thinking impacts expectations and outcomes. If you’re constantly telling yourself that you can’t achieve something, you’ll start to believe it, and then you won’t do what’s needed to fix the situation.
The truth is, you probably have the power to accomplish more than you give yourself credit for. For example, you might think that you can’t afford to start saving money, yet you may spend money every month on stuff, such as blowing $50 every weekend on drinks and food. If you prioritize, that could be $200 in your savings each month.
2. I’m Young and Have Plenty of Time to Save
While we’re on the topic of saving money, constantly telling yourself that you’re too young to think about retirement doesn’t exactly secure your financial future. Even if retirement is 20 or 30 years off, every financial decision you make today can have a tremendous impact on your future.
I’m not a math person, but a financial expert explained this to me in lay terms. If you start saving for retirement at 25 and contribute $4,000 annually to a 401(k) plan, you’ll have approximately $3.9 million by the age of 67. This assumes a 50 percent employer match and an 8 percent return. But if you delayed retirement planning until 35, you’ll have about $1.5 million less. If you don’t want to work after retiring, or if you want to maintain your lifestyle, you need to get on board sooner rather than later. It’s better to outlive your money than not have enough.
3. I’ll Only Live Once
This is true, and I’ll be the first person to say that splurging is a healthy way to avoid overspending later. But saying, “I only live once”is often nothing more than an excuse to spend recklessly and not plan for the future. There is a difference between splurging and overspending, and if you’re not responsible with your money, splurges can cut into bill money, drain your savings and jeopardize your retirement.
4. I’m Stuck, What’s the Point of Trying?
Telling yourself that you’ll never get ahead is one of the biggest ways to stay stuck in the same spot financially. Everything in life takes work hard. Those who want to pursue a certain career path have to go to school and get experience. And people beginning a new relationship have to get to know the other person over time. Personal finances are no different.
The situation might seem hopeless today, but if you take small steps to improve things, your financial outlook could be entirely different in one, three or five years. You’ll never know what you’re capable of if you tell yourself that you’re going nowhere. You need to be your biggest cheerleader.
5. I’m Doing Better Than My Friends
Just because you’re doing better than most of your friends doesn’t mean that you’re doing well. Sure, you might have less debt than your peers, but the amount you owe might still be high in comparison to your income. And the $1,000 you have in your savings account might be more than what your peers have, yet this amount isn’t going to carry you after a job loss.
Personally, I don’t agree in comparing ourselves to others given how everyone’s situation is different. However, if you want to make comparisons, don’t compare yourself to those who aren’t in the best financial state. Compare your efforts to those who have their money under control.
6. I Can’t Ask for a Raise
And why can’t you? You have to be reasonable. If the company isn’t doing well, or if your boss constantly complains about money, this isn’t the time to walk into his or her office and ask for a big fat raise. But if the company’s thriving and you’ve demonstrated over and over again that you’re an amazing worker— and you have proof of accomplishments— don’t be afraid to ask for more money. Your boss will either say, ‘yes’ or ‘no’ – but you won’t know until you ask.
What excuses are you making that’s keeping you from financial happiness? Let me know in the comments below.