We find very unique ways of justifying our expenditure. Sometimes we justify something for so long that it becomes what we believe. Personally i have found it useful to be aware of the excuse just as much as as i am aware of the actual expenditure. I recently heard a story about a lady who justified consistently buying very expensive underwear. Her reasoning was that she could be in an accident and did not want to turn up in hospital with bad looking underwear. Think about it, in that kind of emergency is that what the doctor will be noticing? Secondly at that point would she really care? Whilst this is a more dramatic example there are some excuses that seem to have gotten away from us and we have just accepted it as the norm. Here are some common ones that are getting people into a lot of problems.
- “This new phone is an investment”. Buying a new phone has nothing to do with investments. It is a device for communicating with people full stop. When you really think about it how is that flashy new phone going to help you communicate better. For most people as long as they can make and receive calls, send and receive texts or WhatsApp messages, send and receive emails and maybe go on social media, take pictures, they don’t need anything else from a phone. A new phone might do something a bit faster but for many of us it won’t add that much value to the quality of our lives. A phone depreciates in value so quickly. It is not an investment.
- “I don’t carry lunch because I am single”. You can do many things with the cost of your lunch. Being single or being a bachelor is not an excuse not to carry lunch. That’s just being lazy and willing to give your money away to others. There are many single people who do carry lunch and are able to use that money for something else. The amount you spend on lunch per year can get you a holiday, a plot of land, pay your debts, handle your emergencies etc. I have met some young people who tell me that they carry lunch because they do not have a fridge. Meanwhile they are eating the same amount of money that they could use to buy that fridge.
- “This car will change my life”. Please ask people who often go through upgrades of vehicles, the same life they were attempting to disguise or run away from is still there waiting for them. You will definitely be more comfortable on the road but many times what we believe will happen when the car comes doesn’t. I recently talked to someone who bought into the famous lie that his position dictated a certain lifestyle and hence a certain car. Without that his peers and seniors would not see him in the right light and he would be passed over for opportunities and promotions. He got the right car. Nothing changed and these seniors did not notice his car. Many people who go into business delude themselves of the same thing only to realise that the client doesn’t care and rarely walks with you into the parking lot to even see it. If you are dissatisfied or disgruntled with certain areas in your life, a car will not fix it. If you’ve gone into debt to buy this car it might even make it worse.
- “It’s a collection”. Now don’t get me wrong. There are people who can honestly afford to be collectors of art, watches, cars, jewelry, shoes, wine etc. But there are many people who have started becoming collectors without the financial ability to do so. You cannot say you collect watches but then you default on school fees or should you lose your income you cannot sustain yourself for even three months. Just because you heard of some billionaire collecting art does not mean you can also do it or do it at the same level. Be humble enough to know what you can and cannot afford to do right now (Click to Tweet this thought). People also hide behind that thinking that a collection is an investment. Since the current intention is not to sell at a profit but rather for your own pleasure, do not consider them as investments.
- “This is the best school for my child”. I have to add this point because of the number of people who are in financial distress because they are taking their child/children to schools they cannot afford. A lot of the times this is to keep up with the perceptions of which schools are the best, that they should be seen to take their child to and belief that it will give their child a distinct advantage. Not to say that these are not good schools but the one you can afford is also good enough. Your child especially when young does not have those issues of which schools live up to expectations. It is you. There’s no guarantee that because you struggled to take your child to a certain school they will be the president. Many people will not be able to afford higher education or have a retirement fund because of what they started paying in nursery school. There is no perfect school. Make the right decision.
- “I have to network”. We are literally drinking ourselves into poverty because of this lie. Yes, there is a time and place to network but not when thirty percent of your salary is being drank. True networking stopped after the first fifteen minutes of that meeting. Also this networking does not need to happen from Wednesday to Saturday. Not only is there a financial cost today, there will be a very expensive health cost at this rate. Do watch your spending on entertainment.
It is not bad to spend money or have nice things but we must be very aware when that spending becomes a trap (Click to Tweet this thought). When there is constantly an excuse, it has become a trap that we need to look out for.
Waceke runs a Personal Finance Program, Centonomy 101. For more details Email her on email@example.com | Facebook/Waceke Nduati| Twitter@cekenduati |Instagram @centonomyig