Are You Making Excuses About Your Financial Situation?

When my husband and I first married, we were struggling college students, living off student loans and the money gifts received at our wedding. We were sure that we were living prudently with our money, proclaiming that we couldn’t cut anything from our budget, and certain that we would start “saving later” when we “had enough money.”

Looking back, I can see that we were making excuses about our money. No, we weren’t in the best of circumstances, but we certainly weren’t cutting everything we could. We had cable for heaven’s sake, and we were sure that we needed to have a “date night” at a nice restaurant at least once a month.

I remember, at one point, telling my mother about our priorities and what we needed, and feeling really, really stupid when she gave me The Look. All of a sudden my excuses seemed weak. And I started figuring out what I could do to change my narrative — and change the financial situation.

Making Financial Excuses

There are times when circumstances beyond your control really do intervene and cause problems and unexpected financial stress. However, letting those times get the best of you, and letting that become an excuse that holds you down, can be problematic.

Excuses are often rationalizations for times when we don’t want to do something. We don’t want to make changes, or think outside the box. Change can be difficult and unpleasant. Additionally, sometimes it means taking charge and being accountable. Many of us have a hard time with the idea of taking charge of the situation. It’s easier sometimes to blame what’s happening on someone else, rather than trying to improve the situation.

Some of the common financial excuses that can hold you back include:

  • “I don’t have enough money to save right now”: In many cases, it’s about starting the habit. If you can set aside a dollar a day, at the end of the month (most months) you’ll have saved $30 or $31. It doesn’t seem like much, but it’s something and it gets you in the habit. You can then look around to increase your savings to $2 a day. Once you start, it’s easier to keep going.
  • “I don’t have time”: This was one of my favorites at one point. Then I started keeping a time diary. I discovered that I spent two to three hours a day in front of the TV. I often surfed the Internet instead of working or self-improving. Re-evaluate your time-use. Chances are you do have a little extra time to start a side hustle.
  • “I’m really down to my needs already”: This was something that my husband and I used to say quite frequently — with straight faces. On further reflection, though, I realized that we weren’t “cutting to the bone” on anything. We ate out instead of planning meals. We had cable. We spent money on things we didn’t really care about. Once I really looked at the difference between needs and wants, and started focusing on cutting out some of the wants, things improved.

Think about the excuses you might be making, and then re-think your financial position. You might be surprised at what you can accomplish.

About the Author

Miranda writes about financial topics for several web sites. Her blog is Planting Money Seeds, and her book, Confessions of a Professional Blogger, is available on Amazon.