About a week ago, I was sitting in a cafe while working when I overheard a conversation at the table next to me. It was three young ladies who I assume were in their early to mid 20s. They wanted to plan a “girls weekend” and were trying to decide where to go.
The topic wasn’t interesting to me until I heard one gal say, “I really can’t afford to go anywhere. I’ve been working to pay off my credit cards.” To which another replied, “You only live once.”
This phrase, “you only live once” or YOLO is showing up in advertising all over the country. It’s meant to encourage people to get out and enjoy their lives. It’s meant to inspire people to try new adventures, to love harder and play more often.
However, YOLO does not mean "ignore your finances and spend freely." YOLO does not give you an excuse to accrue debt in the name of fun.
I began to wonder about other phrases people use to justify their lack of financial responsibility.
“You can’t take it with you.”
It’s true — when you die, you can not take the money you’ve earned with you. What you can do is leave behind a generous gift to make sure your loved ones are taken care of. This statement is also used to justify spending money now rather than saving it for the future. That is just irresponsible behavior. People who say this are looking to justify their poor decisions or their unwillingness to work at improving their financial situation.
“I deserve this.”
Many people justify spending money on a vacation, a new pair of shoes or a coveted electronic by telling themselves that they deserve it. They may have been working extra hard at work recently or are having a tough time with a relationship. What this statement is actually doing is avoiding the truth.
While treating yourself is great when you’ve worked hard to attain something, if you don’t have the money to pay for it with cash then you do not deserve it. Acquiring more debt to reward yourself is not, in fact, a reward. It is a punishment, one that you will pay for more times over with interest.
Using a statement like “I deserve this” after going through a tough breakup or fighting with your best friend can also harm you. By using this statement and the action that follows, you are avoiding your true feelings and denying yourself the opportunity to grow and move forward.
“It’s a great deal.”
Not all things are a great deal. If you aren’t planning to buy something and only do so because it is a good deal, you are not being financially responsible. If you are using a credit card to take advantage of that great deal but won’t be paying off the card within the month, you are not getting a great deal.
The only time a deal is great is when you had already been planning to buy the item, had saved the money for the item and then searched for the best deal. Buying something just because it is a good deal is only justifying frivolous spending. It will not get you to where you need to be financially.
If you are trying to improve your financial situation, you must change your thinking. You need to be aware of the statements you make that justify poor decision making. What I found, as I began this process myself was that changing the way I spoke opened my eyes to my actions. I found that talking the talk helped me walk the walk.
Think of your own situation, what statements are you making that is affecting your spending habits?