I believe that one of the reasons that Til Debt Do U$ Part has had such a big following is that it made the people watching the show look at how they were dealing with their money. If those people on TV could be in such huge denial, could watchers also be in the dark about what they were doing with their money?
Recognizing you’re in denial is the first step to getting your financial life in order. As long as you maintain the illusion – or should I say “delusion” – you can’t move from where you are now to where you really want to be.
How do you know if you’re in denial?
Do you think because you’re keeping up that you’re doing fine? Loads of people believe that a lack of disaster means they’re successfully managing their money. Often it’s just that they haven’t had any major crap hit their fan yet. Sure those interest payments are only a small part of your monthly income. But if your income falls by even a tiny percentage you’ll watch interest gobble up more and more of your disposable income.
Do you think YOUR situation is different? We’re all unique. And you do have to find the way that will work for you. But if you’re using your uniqueness to violate the basic principles of sound money management then you’re in denial.
Do you believe that financial stability will come with time? Some people like to delude themselves into thinking that tomorrow will be better. They buy lottery tickets. They’re always talking about how their incomes will go up. They’re waiting for their expenses to go down (read, the kids to leave home). Hey, I know lots of people for whom time has not brought more money or more financial stability. If you’re waiting for some date in the future to take control of your money and your life, have you set the date?
Do you work hard at minimizing the problem? If you quote your debt in small chunks instead of adding it all up, you’re in denial. If you look at only the minimum payment instead of what you would need to cough up to pay off the debt, you’re in denial. If you claim to be saving but you’re planning to spend the money on a new car, a family vacation, or heading back to school, you’re in denial.
Do you hide your money issues from family and friends? If you bring home shopping bags and hide them from your mate you already know you’re doing something wrong. Ditto if you rip off tags, have a credit card your partner doesn’t know about, or took out a loan without telling your mate. And if you haven’t told your mother, brother, best friend that you’re barely making your minimum payments on all your debt, you’re hiding. Come clean and get busy solving the problem.
Do you think being in debt is “normal”? Well, it may seem normal given the huge number of people who are up to their eyeballs and the willy-nilly way in which credit has been handed out. But it’s not. And if you haven’t woken up and smelled the coffee yet, you’re in denial.
Do you say, “Yes, but”? Are you a master at rationalizing your spending? Even when you don’t have any savings? Sure you have to live. Sure there’s got to be some fun. But if you haven’t taken steps to create a sound financial foundation, you’re deluding yourself into thinking that bad things can’t happen to good people. And you’re wrong. If you feel you have to justify spending the money you spent, then you’re in denial.
Do you get angry if you are confronted? Do you get royally pissed because you don’t want to hear the truth? Do you blame someone else, trying to shift attention away from your own negative behaviour?
Can you see yourself in any of this? If you can, it’s time to get busy facing up, ‘fessing up and getting to work to make things better. Or you can continue to live in denial until the whole house of cards comes tumbling down. You decide.