Sometimes, we hide things from ourselves. We even hide from our own financial realities sometimes.
It’s hard to be honest with yourself sometimes, but if you want to improve our finances, it’s important to be honest — even brutally honest — about the way you handle money.
Whose Fault Is It, Anyway?
Back in the day, when my husband and I were just graduating from school and we were trying to pay down our credit cards, I used to blame him for our money troubles. Even though I knew that a lot of the credit card debt was mine, from before we married, I was convinced that I had changed my spendthrift ways.
Just when I have a handle on things, I thought, he comes in and ruins it.
Did my husband have a penchant for spending money we didn’t have? Yes. But it’s not like he was the only one. I blamed him because he spent on stereos and TVs and action figures. But I was doing spending of my own. I was all about the fancy dinners and the travel. Both of us were still spending when we shouldn’t have been.
It’s never fun to look at yourself and accept the blame. Even when you have good reason to put some of the blame on something else (lost job, medical catastrophe, divorce, or some other problem beyond your control), it doesn’t do much good to sit and contemplate your bad luck. Even if you aren’t in your jam due to your own bad mistakes, you still have the power to work on getting your finances back in order.
Honestly look at your situation, and be real about who’s to blame. It just might be you. And once you recognize that, you can begin to make changes to yourself and your spending habits. As long as you don’t think that you need to change, you never will.
Why Are You Spending?
Next, you need to figure out the why behind your spending. Not too long ago, my husband realized that he spends money when he’s stressed. He gets on eBay, and goes a little crazy. I don’t spend more when I get stressed. However, I do often spend more than I should on something because I don’t like to go through the effort of shopping around (sacrilege, I know).
There are plenty of other reasons that we spend money on things. Sometimes we spend because we want to impress others. It can be a status thing. Other times, we spend because we think something will make us happy, when in reality we need to find ways to be content in ourselves.
If you are spending money just to “be like folks” or to impress someone else, you might want to rethink the strategy. While there’s nothing wrong with trying to impress others if it’s very important to you to have the “right” image, you need to be honest with yourself. Is it really making you happy?
There are some types of spending that are worth engaging in. If you truly feel as though your life is being enriched by what you do with your money, whether it’s travel or donating to charity or buying your kid a great birthday gift, then it makes sense to keep spending on those priorities.
However, you need to be honest. If you’re not really happy with your financial situation, it might be time for a change.
Image: Chris McBrien via Flickr