Money Lies We Tell: What Lies Do You Tell?


money liesWhen I started to get on track financially a few years ago I realized there were money lies that I was telling myself that were keeping me in debt. Some were commonly held societal beliefs and others were convenient things that just seemed to make mathematical sense. That’s the trouble with beliefs, we don’t often stand back and wonder what’s behind them. We just sort of muddle through life with them until one day, hopefully, those lies get challenged.

A lot of getting on track with money is getting honest with yourself about where you’re at. You can’t begin to make changes if you don’t repair the faulty logic that got you off track in the first place. Money lies are super convenient and comfortable to hold on to, but they’ve got you walking up the down escalator wondering why you’re never reaching the top. Here are some of the biggest money lies you can clear out of your life.

5 Big Money Lies To Overcome

The Credit Card Is At 0% So I Have Time To Pay It Off

This is a great way to get in a lot of debt quickly. After all, it’s like free money! You might charge more than you can pay off this month but that’s OK because you’ll definitely pay it off before that 0% deal ends. In reality, you probably won’t pay it off and you’ll end up with a nice pile of debt on a card that’s jacked up to 12%. Why do you think credit card companies offer these cards? It gets people to spend money they don’t have.

What’s worse, some people will get a card at 0% and transfer balances from their other credit cards. The math on that makes sense if you actually pay off the balance but I rarely see that happen. If you’ve run up the balance on other cards, I think that’s a sign for you that credit cards are getting the best of you. More credit cards aren’t going to solve a credit card problem.

Action Plan: Set up a snowball repayment method to get out of debt once and for all.

I Got Approved For A Mortgage So I Can Afford It

Home ownership is one of those measures of success that’s getting further and further away from being viable for middle class families. Generally a bank will look at your savings, cash flow, and credit and try to determine whether you’ll be able to pay back a home loan. They’re not calculating whether you can afford it, they are essentially just calculating the chances you won’t have the resources to pay back the loan which is different.

More and more, people don’t even have a 20% down payment for a home so not only are they paying the mortgage for longer (which means more interest), they’re paying mortgage insurance to protect the lender. To comfortably own a home your monthly payment should be around 30% of your monthly income, not 50% as is practiced more and more these days.

Action Plan: If you feel like home ownership is an unattainable goal I recommend Rent vs. Homeownership.

I Have Plenty Of Time To Save

Ah time, that most precious of resources. Time tends to creep up on us especially when it comes to our money. Turns out to save a lot, time actually matters more than your savings amount. If you save $15,000 a year for 15 years you’ll have $225,000 at the end. If you spent 5 years in your 20s telling yourself you didn’t need to save yet and not really worrying about saving, then you ramped up and saved $20,000 a year for 10 years you’d have $200,000. $25,000 towards a down payment or a car was lost. The results would be worse if any of that money was invested, even at a lowly 1%.

Action Plan: Of all the money lies, this one is the most prevalent. To overcome this lie, start saving now! If you find you are procrastinating, then set up an automatic savings plan.

I’ll Invest When…

I must confess to this one. I think we’re always waiting for just the right time to put money into the stock market. The main excuses I hear are “I’ll invest when the market gets better,” or “I’ll invest once I do more research.” Everybody out there is trying to time the market and everyone is failing miserably. Warren Buffet can’t even time the market. If you have a year of expenses in an emergency fund and you aren’t going to need a major chunk of money for anything in the near future, you need to start investing now.

As far as research goes, I think it’s great to look into what investments are best for you but don’t let that be a driver of investing stagnation. There are a lot of investment options such as index funds that are diversified and low-fee that won’t require much research at all. After all, stock investing research is about as boring as it gets. That’s why you read articles like these and let us do the boring work for you.

Action Step: Take the time to learn how to become a stock market millionaire. It’s not that hard, trust me.

The Future Is Certain

We make all kinds of assumptions about the future of our money that we have no idea about. We think we’ll make more money, that our kids will go to college, that we’ll need to retire at a certain age, etc. We plan our career paths as if the job will always be there. None of these things are guaranteed in the slightest. It would be silly for us to try to plan our life around a future that doesn’t exist.

Follow the path that’s in front of you not the imaginary obstacles you’ve imagined five years from now. One of my mentors calls this following the shiny thing at the corner of your eye. Don’t be overly caught up in plans, take the opportunities that reveal themselves presently. Be smart about your money but don’t be rigid. Our world and our reality are constantly changing and we have to stay flexible.

Action Plan: Understand what opportunity cost is and start looking at you life through this lens.

Final Thoughts

When you look at the money lies we tell ourselves it can seem pretty silly. Never have I said to myself, “I wish I would’ve put off that loan payment,” or “I’m really glad I spent that money yesterday instead of saving it.” I’m much more likely to be grateful I know my money situation and I face the truth head on each and every day. I read lots of financial topics and I question everything. The world at large would be very happy to have us remain aloof spenders. Today you can wake up to the all-to-common money lies and get on the road to financial security.

The fact remains that the truth is not a very fun thing to face. We make lots of charges to the credit card then don’t want to look at the statement. We pay the minimum on the student loan and don’t want to think about how the balance isn’t going down. Slowly but surely the things we believe about money chip away at our well-being, our self-esteem, and most of all our wallets. That can change right now if you choose.

Author Bio: Elsie Brown is a student, blogger, and all around cheapskate who writes about how we can all live better on less. Visit her blog at

6 thoughts on “Money Lies We Tell: What Lies Do You Tell?”

  1. Tyler @ I Am The Future Me

    The zero interest gets my wife right now. We just got a new card for the family use to pay for the things we are going to anyway and pay the card off. But she keeps trying to pay more because “it’s no interest”. We all tell ourselves these lies it’s important we take a honest look at ourselves and our habits.

    1. Zero interest is one of those gimmicks the card companies use. This particular one has been all too close to home for me. My mom can’t stop her affair with 0% interest. She regularly says to me. Yeah, it’s $10,000 but, you know, it’s 0% interest so it’s ok. Personally I’m never comfortable with having debt like that. Sounds like you’re of a similar opinion.

  2. Time is really important, so it’s encouraged not to waste time especially in investing. If you don’t know how to invest and you feel you’re not ready for it, set some time and make sure you invest as soon as possible. Hurry up and make wise decisions.

    1. I agree. Time is probably our most precious resource. Time is the difference between having money and not having money, really. That can apply to investing, debt repayment, or just regular saving. Whenever someone implies young people shouldn’t be contributing to the collective voice of personal finance advice I remind them that young people have the most time and therefore the most potential. Also, I think holding back on investing is the biggest mistake you can make. If you make good decisions no timing will ever be bad.

  3. Elliot @ Our Growing Wealth

    So true on all counts! I’ve got to be honest, when my fiancée and I first got approved for a mortgage much larger than we expected we did start looking at what that would get us, but fortunately sense prevailed pretty quickly and only went for about a half or two thirds of that in the end! Glad I’m young enough to know that there isn’t plenty of time to save and can start early!

    1. That’s interesting to hear about your mortgage situation. It kind of reminds me of being a kid and mom saying “you can spend $10 today at the toy store.” Of course I looked for the most expensive toy the budget would allow. Clearly the most expensive toy is the best, just like the most expensive house is the best. Funny how that faulty logic prevails through years of education and life experience. Thanks Elliot!

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