The hardest lies to spot are the ones we tell ourselves. Nowhere is this truer than with debt. The concept has been so normalized that many of us have been lulled into a false sense of security about it. But if you’d rather the ugly truth than pretty (dangerous) lies, then read on to check whether any of these financial falsehoods ring true for you.
1. “I just have one credit card, so I’m fine”
It doesn’t matter whether you have one credit card or ten, debt can get out of control if you don’t track your finances and research your decisions. For example, you may be hit with an emergency that requires more funds than you have in savings. Rather than using your credit card, it might be more cost-effective to get a small cash loan; particularly when there are organizations offering low or even no-interest loans for people in difficult situations. Keeping your credit to a single card isn’t necessarily the answer. Being diligent with your finances and researching your options will get you much farther.
2. “My credit card is my emergency fund”
No. Just no. An emergency fund cannot be a line of credit because the last thing you need in a stressful situation is to know that you’re burdening yourself with more interest and exorbitant fees. Instead, work towards building an emergency fund that will give you cash on hand when you need it and that won’t push you further into debt.
3. “Being frugal is boring, I deserve to enjoy myself”
You 100% deserve to have fun in life, but you are kidding yourself if you think the only way to do this is with debt. All it takes is a quick Google search to discover things like free yoga classes, local hiking trails, fun swimming spots, free festivals, and more. On top of all this, the creativity involved in frugality can be pure entertainment in and of itself. And keep in mind: financial freedom is one of the greatest treats of all.
4. “This debt isn’t my fault”
Whether you’re blaming a spend-happy partner, excessive interest rates, predatory lending practices, or your college-bound kids, it’s time to take ownership of your finances. Even if you’re in the right, that isn’t going to help you get out of debt. If we’re being brutally honest, whatever the external circumstances, your decisions likely played some part in your current predicament. You will be so much better off if you stop blaming others for your poor financial choices. Ditch the excuses and formulate a plan to get out of debt.
5. “Everyone has debt, it’s normal”
Strictly speaking, this may be fairly accurate. Where the self-deception comes in is when you convince yourself that you’re happy to accept this brand of “normal.” Though the lives of your deeply-in-debt neighbors may look amazing on the surface, having hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt is a drain on your mental and emotional resources.
Though you may be able to deceive yourself enough to get through each day, there are moments when you become acutely aware of the fact that you are one accident or unexpected illness away from financial ruin. This fear keeps people stuck on a perpetual hamster wheel. How other people manage their money is their choice. The question that you need to ask yourself is whether this is really the kind of life you want?
When it comes to debt, holding onto your self-deception can have horrifying consequences. If you’re willing to do the hard work of being honest with yourself, you’ll have the financial freedom to look forward to.