No one likes to admit when things aren’t going well, especially when it comes to money troubles. Some people go so far as to deny it even to themselves in an effort to maintain their current lifestyle. Being less than honest and unwilling to acknowledge the situation, they convince themselves that they’ve just hit a glitch and that all they need is time for the situation to right itself. But as anyone with a bit of wisdom will tell you, acknowledging the problem is the first step in resolving it. The excuses we use to delude ourselves that our debt isn’t a problem but an isolated incident can be seen in the way we frame the issue.
Here are some of the ways we delude ourselves about our debt:
- My problems aren’t as bad as so-and-so’s: Perhaps the most common way we rationalize our
debt troubles is by comparing them to someone else’s. If you’re not as hard up as a neighbor, colleague or relative, you may feel justified to continue living as you are, without addressing your precarious situation. Knowing someone whose car has been repossessed or who defaulted on a their home mortgage won’t improve your own situation.
- I deserve the best things in life: Clichés like ‘life is what you make it’ and ‘just go for it’, may have people believing that they’re missing out on the good life, if they don’t have the luxuries and toys that others have or that they see advertised. The notion that you should be able to have the things you never had as a child is dangerous justification for continuing to live a debt-plagued lifestyle.
- I have standards to maintain: If a neighbor or family member can afford to live extravagantly, then why shouldn’t you? By trying to keep ‘up with the Jones’ or on pace with a projection of what you expected your life to be, you will just be adding more damaging debt to a difficult situation.
- I just know my ship will come in: The deeper into debt you are the more you may be hoping to hit the lottery, hear from a long lost aunt who’s left you a huge inheritance or are hoping for a miracle. Escaping money woes in an instant rarely happens outside our dreams or a Hollywood movie.
Many people have a distorted idea of how much money they owe. In addition, they underestimate the work that will be required to pay it off, reasoning to themselves that it won’t take too long to fix the situation. Some people deceive themselves into believing they have a good handle on their finances by reasoning that they’ll be in better shape when their tax returns arrive or they get their next raise.
If you’re over your head in debt, you’ll need to look at your situation clearly and honestly and put limits on any further purchases. Work through your debt obligations one at a time and focus on paying them off individually. Obviously, your highest interest rate obligations should be the one’s you tackle first.
* If you have problems with debt, consider debt assistance.