When it comes to your finances, it’s much easier to lie to yourself than admit your shortcomings. But whether you have a bad habit of putting off retirement savings or ignoring your debts, little everyday lies can have long-term consequences. If you want to climb out of debt and save for the future, you’ll need to stop lying to yourself and start honestly assessing your financial situation. Start today by owning up to these 12 financial lies.
1. ‘I’ll pay back the money I’ve taken out of savings.’
If you have to tap into your savings because you don’t have the money to buy something outright, whether it’s a new TV or a pair of shoes, then you can’t afford it. Moreover, if you can’t afford it now, then chances are you won’t be able to replace the cash that you’ve taken out of savings.
2. ‘I have time to save for retirement.’
You’re young and have many years to save and plan for retirement, right? Waiting to get started on your retirement savings can make a big difference in how much you’re able to accumulate once you hit your golden years.
If you’re age 30, for example, and save 10 percent of your $50,000 salary in a tax-deferred account, you’ll have $1.1 million by age 67, assuming a 6 percent rate of return and salary growth of 1.5 percent. That includes your Social Security payout as well. Start at age 25 and your retirement savings jump to $1.5 million. If you get a late start at age 35, however, you’ll only have $717,021 to tap by age 67.
3. ‘I don’t need to worry about my credit score.’
You might not pay attention to your credit score until it’s time to purchase a new vehicle or house. But by then, it could be too late to get the loan rates you need to afford your purchase. While you don’t need to check your credit score or credit report every week, you should at least review them annually.
Look for suspicious accounts and inaccurate reports of late payments. Resolving errors in your report can boost your credit score in a short period of time and make a big difference in the interest rate you’re offered.
4. ‘The bank is the best place to keep my money.’
Using a savings account for an emergency fund is a sound choice. Unfortunately, many people put far too much money into low interest savings accounts.
If you’re earning next to nothing in a return, then when you take into consideration inflation, you’re pretty much losing money. Instead of using a savings account, consider alternatives like money market accounts that pay higher rates.
5. ‘I won’t be able to pay off my debt.’
As you mull over your budget, try to put additional money toward paying down your loans and debts. Take pride in small victories. If you bring down a $3,000 debt to $2,500, you’re moving in the right direction. Also consider alternatives like transferring your current credit card debt to a card with a 0 percent introductory APR. But watch out for the transfer fee — some charge 3 percent of the card balance.
6. ‘Only the rich can build wealth.’
You don’t have to be rich to accumulate wealth. Common mistakes people make include saving but without a financial plan, failing to diversify investments, spending excessively and investing in trends.
“Building wealth means earning your freedom and not just wasting your money on unnecessary or extravagant items,” said financial expert and entrepreneur John Rampton. “Anyone can build wealth. It comes down to not spending everything you earn. Then investing in the future.”
7. ‘I’ll rely on Social Security.’
Social Security benefits are meant to supplement other retirement income like workplace savings plans, investments and pensions. The federal government program doesn’t pay out enough to enable retirees to live comfortably on that income solely. The average monthly Social Security payment is $1,335, or $16,020 a year. It would be a struggle to live only on that benefit. Protect your financial future by saving early and steadily in a retirement plan.
8. ‘I can ignore debt collectors.’
You might believe that throwing away letters or blocking phone calls from debt collectors will prevent them from hurting you financially. But even if the calls and letters stop, your debt won’t be erased. In fact, that debt could continue to grow with interest and penalties, damaging your credit score.
Instead of ignoring debt collectors, know your rights and try to work with them. First, try to negotiate a better deal by getting your debt balance lowered. Consider offering a lump-sum payment if it would cut your debt in half. If you can’t afford a big payment, try to reach an agreement on a monthly payment plan.
9. ‘There’s too much uncertainty with investing.’
It’s true that the stock market offers no guarantees to investors and that can be scary to some. However, if you educate yourself on the market and commit to investing for the long term in a low-cost diversified pool of equities, then this strategy can pay off. Consult with a financial advisor if you’re unsure how to proceed.
10. ‘I’ll charge it now and pay it off when I get paid.’
If you don’t have enough money to pay for a purchase with cash, what makes you think that you’ll be able to pay it off when your paycheck arrives? Even if you are able to pay off this specific charge, you’re still using your credit cards for other purchases, which means you’re not tackling your overall debt.
11. ‘I don’t make enough money.’
You don’t have to earn a six-figure salary to pay down your debt or put money aside in a savings plan. You might just need to plug those money leaks. For example, are you paying for a cable TV package even though you rarely watch television? Maybe you can get rid of the high-priced package by downgrading or cancelling it altogether.
To curb money leaks, save your receipts, create a budget and leave the plastic at home. Also, delete your credit card number from sites like Amazon so you won’t be tempted to make impulse purchases.
12. ‘You only live once.’
It’s alright to splurge every now and then. But excessive spending prevents you from saving for the future and chopping away at debt. Learn how to restrain yourself. Even if you find a great deal, sometimes you’re just better off not making that purchase.