Today I’d like to welcome our newest regular contributor, Jen! Her blogging home is The Happy Homeowner, but you’ll find her here on Money Life and More on Thursdays. I’m sure you’ll love her insights, so let’s get to her first piece!
When I was 19, my grandmother secured me my first professional internship at her office. It wasn’t glamorous by any means (I spent more time filing and delivering mail than anything else), but it single-handedly opened many doors in the subsequent years.
While I was working there for the summer, I met another intern who worked in the copy department. Immediately, I was struck by how stylish and put together she was.
Gorgeous on the Outside, a Hot Mess on the Inside
On the surface, she seemed to have it all—nice clothes/accessories, gorgeous features, intelligence, and she was pursuing a dual degree. She talked about the vacations she took, the shopping she did, and the meals out that she enjoyed with her friends and boyfriend. If she was a Jones, my naïve college self wanted to keep up with her!
Little did I know that a mere year later, she’d be forced to drop out of school and work in that very same copy department full-time because she was overburdened with credit card debt. The news broke through the office like wildfire—she had over $40,000 in credit card debt!! When my grandmother shared this with me (I suspect as a bit of a “what not to do” teaching moment), I was utterly shocked.
As I mull over this story now well over a decade later, I realize that the young woman I’d worked with was living a lie—one big, ugly financial lie. While she might have looked like a million bucks on the outside, she was a penniless slave to debt on the inside. And she’s not the only one I’ve met in this situation over the years.
Keeping Up with the Joneses
Consider the family who drives the latest and greatest cars, takes the fanciest vacations and dresses themselves in only the best labels. I went to high school with a family like this—and they lived next door to my aunt and uncle.
I distinctly remember a hot summer day when we’d gone over to my aunt’s to swim in her pool and the lady next door came running over with tears in her eyes. While I couldn’t hear the majority of the conversation, it was something along the lines of her family was going to lose their house because they couldn’t afford to pay for it.
Time and time again, we see and hear stories of people who can’t manage their finances, live beyond their means, and continue to spend themselves into oblivion because they’re living a lie. If the examples above don’t paint the picture for you, here are some of the ramifications of telling financial lies. You can be the judge of whether or not having it all on the outside while struggling on the inside is truly worth the price you’ll eventually pay.
Financial Lies Destroy Relationships
At the root of it, a lie is a lie, and lies break trust. Once the trust has been broken in any relationship (whether marriage, friendship, or family), it may never be restored. Imagine waking up one day to your spouse telling you there’s not a dime left. What if they told you that they’ve been hiding tens of thousands of dollars of debt? A lie by omission is still a lie.
Financial Lies Breed Bad Habits
If you’re constantly telling yourself or others that you’ll ‘pay it off next month when the bill comes,’ that you ‘just need a raise and you’ll be fine,’ or that ‘you work hard, so you deserve it,’ you’re telling the very lies that will destroy a sound financial foundation.
Justifying impulse purchases, rationalizing how you’re spending your money, hiding purchases from others, or flaunting wealth that you don’t really have; no matter how you slice it, these are lies that will catch up with you.
The next time you see that gorgeous person walking down the street in their designer ensemble, don’t be so quick to assume that they have it all. There’s a good chance that they might be living a lie. And when it comes to responsible fiscal management, there’s no room in the budget for lies.
Have you ever told a financial lie? Do you know others who do or who have?