7 Lies People With Money Problems Tell Themselves

(Psst: The FTC wants me to remind you that this website contains affiliate links. That means if you make a purchase from a link you click on, I might receive a small commission. This does not increase the price you’ll pay for that item nor does it decrease the awesomeness of the item. ~ Daisy)

Money problems can happen to anyone.

But have you noticed, for some people, it’s ongoing and just continues to spiral downward, while for others it’s a shorter-term problem? National economy aside, why is this the case?

I think a lot of it has to do with the things that people tell themselves that are simply not true. These lies are very common, and they can keep you trapped in a bad situation for a very long time.

It’s not my fault.

Actually, it probably is.

I know that sounds harsh, but bear with me. Taking personal responsibility for your mistakes is the first step toward setting things right. Nearly every financial situation could have been different if a different series of decisions had been made. Your honest analysis of this will help you to refrain from repeating them and will also aid you in untangling your mess.

So while there are things that are not within our control, like a catastrophic illness or injury, there were also plenty of things you could have controlled. You need to recognize these things. It’s essential to own your culpability.

This doesn’t mean you need to beat yourself up about it. Put away the sackcloth and ashes because we’re all human beings. I know I’ve made purchases I regret in the past. I’ve made an insurance claim that caused a horrific cascade of events and I wish I’d never made that claim. I started a business with a large loan that was an awful mistake. I’ve made mistakes and I recognize this. I forgive myself and I move forward with the knowledge that I’ve learned a valuable lesson.

It’s just this once.

Whether you’re buying something frivolous on your credit card, going out to dinner because you don’t feel like cooking, or take some other shortcut, it’s really never “just this once.”

Now, don’t get me wrong – I’m okay with all of these things given the right circumstances. These are the right circumstances:

  1. You can pay your credit card bill in full before it comes due and you have to pay interest.
  2. You’ve budgeted for dinner out that week
  3. Your expenditure falls within your allotted amount of spending money

If these things are true, then go ahead and do whatever it is you’re trying to justify with “just this once.” But remember, once you do that thing “just this once” it seems a whole lot easier to do it again…and again…and again. It’s very rarely “just this once.

My children shouldn’t know we are having money problems

I talked about this in detail in this article last week. But let’s discuss it a little bit more here.

Why is it that you don’t want your kids to know? Is it because you think they’ll be worried and stressed out? Or is it because you’ll feel like a failure or bad example?

If it’s because of how them knowing makes you feel, then you need to consider that living in a glowing perfect world where every bill payment is met with ease and budgets don’t seem to exist – things just magically work out – that’s a fairy tale. And if they grow up believing in that fairy tale, you are setting them up for a life of difficulty.

Your kids need to know to an age-appropriate degree what is going on, if for no other reason than for them to understand why you keep saying no to that Slurpee they want to get every time you’re at the gas station.

Paying off debt is always the most important thing.

Most of the standard advice for people with financial problems is that once you pay off all your debt, the world is your oyster. People tell themselves this is the case and work diligently toward paying off their credit cards, their mortgages, and their car payments to the detriment of other things. They tell themselves that paying off debt is the most important thing.

That’s not always true.

I’m not saying that debt repayment isn’t important – I strive to remain debt-free or debt-free aside from one payment at all times. However, if you are in a bad situation financially, there are lots of things you should be paying before you exceed the minimum payment on your debts.

Paying off your debt is not always the best use of your money,  and it’s really difficult for most people to believe that. I always recommend this order: essential bills, food, savings, and then debt repayment. Having an emergency fund and a full pantry are insurance policies that will protect you during difficult times, and should, therefore, be a priority.

You have to have a credit card to get by in this world.

People believe that everyone must have a credit card to manage in the world. Admittedly, it does make life a bit easier. However, it’s far from a necessity, especially if you have a debit card with the Mastercard or Visa logo on it.

I went almost 50 years before getting my first general credit card. I had some store cards because of the discounts they offered by just didn’t feel that a general card was necessary. I have rented cars and hotel rooms, booked plane tickets and excursions, and managed to live my life perfectly well without using a credit card. I finally got one for business expenses when traveling and pay the whole thing off each month.

The thing to know about life without a credit card is that some places will put a hold on money in your bank account if you use your debit card in lieu of a credit card. This is especially true of car rentals and hotel bookings.  So be sure you have an extra few hundred dollars in your account so that you aren’t on vacation without access to the money you planned to use for spending.

I deserve a treat.

This is one of the most dangerous financial lies out there. If you believe that budget be d*mned, you have had a bad day and you deserve that treat regardless, you’re treading into dangerous territory.

I believe in treats. That is the entire premise of this website: Live large on a tiny budget.

But these treats must be a part of your budget. If you just go and buy yourself an unscheduled treat every time you have a good day, every time you have a bad day, every time your kid does something special, every time the weather changes, every time there’s a holiday…well you get the idea. That’s a lot of treats, and depending on the level of your treat, that can really add up.

You don’t “deserve” a treat if it’s going to mean you can’t pay for an essential later. You don’t “deserve” a treat if it means you’re going to struggle to put gas in the car.  If you are constantly worried about these kinds of basic expenses, you need to look at how you’re doling out the treats.

Also, take a hint from the dieting world. People in the weight loss business suggest that you make your treats non-food. Maybe make your treats non-monetary. Go for a walk, get a book you’ve been wanting to read from the library, or watch a movie online that nobody in your family wants to see, popcorn included.

Money doesn’t buy happiness.

I disagree with this to a large extent. I can tell you for a fact that I am a much happier person now that I have enough money than I was when I had to dig through a dumpster to find food that was suitable to feed my daughter. I’m far happier now than I was when I had to choose between buying groceries or paying the electric bill. I’m positively ecstatic in comparison to when I lost my home to foreclosure and my car to repossession.

So while having money doesn’t guarantee your life will be filled with angels singing “Hallelujah” and that nothing terrible will ever happen to you again, it does make things so much less stressful. And less stress, for me, is a huge component of my happiness levels.

Sure, there are rich folks who are miserable. We see reports of celebrities taking drug overdoses and committing suicide all the time. We hear about wealthy people getting divorced and becoming embroiled in heated custody battles. Expensive cars are involved in horrific accidents that cause injuries or death just like clunkers are. People in well-to-do families die just like they do in poverty-stricken families.

But I guaran-dang-tee you that being concerned about your electricity flickering off during the visitation of that lost loved one would make your situation a whole lot worse.

Money makes your life easier, more comfortable, and less stressful. And while that isn’t a recipe for joy, it sure does help make room in your life for seeking those things that make you truly happy.

What are some other financial lies people tell themselves?

Do you have anything I should add to this list? Do you agree that these are lies or do you think I’m wrong? Let’s talk about it in the comments section.

7 Lies People With Money Problems Tell Themselves
Daisy Luther

Daisy Luther

Daisy Luther is an author and blogger. She's the single mom of two daughters and credits extreme frugality and a good sense of humor for her debt-free lifestyle. She is the author of numerous books, the editor of TheOrganicPrepper.com, and is the founder of a small digital publishing company in the emergency preparedness niche.

19 thoughts on “7 Lies People With Money Problems Tell Themselves”

  1. Good article!
    Frugal tip for keeping your house warm in winter-
    Use bubblewrap on the inside of your windows for additional insulation.
    First cut to size, then mist the window with water from a spray bottle. This will help the bubblewrap adhere to the glass. No tape needed.

  2. Telling yourself that your home insurance company will take care of you in case of a house fire, rioter attack, or whatever — without checking their reputation. There are some insurance companies that make a practice of stiffing some percentage of legitimate claimants all the way through the various stages of the protest process. Those include filing a protest with the state insurance commission, filing a lawsuit, filing an appeal, etc. My buddy had a legitimate $25,000 hail damage claim on his roof. He had a 3-year fight with Farmers Insurance who pulled out every excuse in the book until he simply gave up. Do your homework up front instead.

    Telling yourself that if your house gets foreclosed, there’s nothing you can do about it. In fact, it depends. In some states if it’s a property tax or code enforcement fine issue, some cities will try to keep all your equity after they auction off your house on the cheap. In some states they can get away with that. In others you have the right to recover whatever equity is left over after the basic bill is paid — but the government will never tell you that. Here’s an example:


    If it’s a code enforcement issue, the city will never tell you that the US Supreme Court case of Timbs v. Indiana in a Feb 2019 9-0 decision ruled that the constitutional prohibition on excessive fines and punishments now applies not only to the federal government but also down through the state, county, and even city levels. But it might take a court fight to get that principle enforced so that the city gets a well deserved spanking. See these examples:


    and also here:


    If you get a surprisingly humongous medical bill, and believe there’s nothing you can do (or could have done) about it, think again. The vast majority of such US bills today are badly inflated … with such faults as double billing, billing for procedures not done, etc, etc. There are organizations that can either 1) negotiate your bill downwards to help to some extent, or 2) teach you how to do that negotiation yourself.

    And even that may not be sufficient. You may need to do some shopping around in advance, and even consider exercising your right to “medical tourism.” That is traveling to some other country where the medical cartel in the US has no ironclad control. You may even be able to get time-tested treatments in other countries that the cartel’s captive enforcement agency, the FDA, has zero jurisdiction. You would need a current US passport.

    Finally, you may believe that simply accumulating cash savings (whether in a bank, credit union, or under your mattress) is the best you can do for emergencies. In fact, the Federal Reserve’s system of counterfeiting the money supply to fund the permanent warfare-welfare state is a racket that has stolen nearly all the purchasing power of the US dollar since 1913. To understand the severity of this institutionalized crime, realize that the US 1794 Coinage Act specified the death penalty for such behavior in Section 17. (That’s not mentioned in any government school history book. Gosh, I wonder why…)

    So what can you do in the face of such legalized plunder to preserve the purchasing power of your earnings? Here’s a list — you’ll have to make decisions as to how to allocate your cash and efforts among them:

    Save as much as you can, given your own unique skills, knowledge and time limits.

    Squirrel away enough funds for mandatory routine expenses to survive.

    Squirrel away enough funds for surprise gotcha emergencies.

    Explore whatever possibilities make sense (given your unique skills, knowledge and resources) for earning more money — especially in ways that can operate online or in ways that don’t conflict with the Covid-19 rules that may last way longer than any of us right now can imagine. Also consider businesses where you have the ability to raise prices in case inflation goes through the roof. (Daisy’s digital and print information business is one sterling example.)

    Finally, convert some of the earnings above into precious metals — preferably some inside the US and some outside — in case you ever need to jump ship as many of your ancestors did in centuries gone by. Just remember that the TSA and many police departments have adopted the utter lack of ethics from the Sheriff of Nottingham plundering out of the old Robin Hood stories. Cash is one of their favorite targets of plunder. Monitor the TSA cash reporting rules so you don’t get snake-bit.


  3. Here’s another one: “I’ll make it up later.” meaning that I will get a better job in the future, I will save more money later, etc. It’s essentially kicking the can down the road.

    And another: “I can always go to one of those credit forgiveness companies that advertise on Fox News” They’ll get my credit card debt erased.

    And another: “Who cares how much debt I have. When I die I won’t have to pay it.” “As long as I can make the minimum payments and they keep expanding my credit, why worry?”

  4. We often end up in debt due to medical costs. The one important thing I have learned along the way is that when the debt collectors call, if you say “I plan to pay off all our debt” then they are willing to listen. They may not agree with the amount you can pay but if you keep saying “in order to pay off all my debt, this is how much I can send you a month.” Eventually they will work with you.

    With medical bills often you can work with the hospital and they can help with spreading out the payments or even forgiving some of the amount. The paperwork they require is invasive but if you truely cannot pay, they will help, we have had as much as $30,000 taken off based on that paperwork.

    1. beware of medical bills that you agree to make payments (most only agree if above certain percentage each month) because what they do not tell you is that after a certain amount of time (usually one year) that the account is handed over to collections without telling you until you get calls/paperwork telling you. then there is no more payments & the harrassment begins until you are sued/pay off debt.

  5. Daisy Perfect timing, and m guilty of I’ll make it up later. I always do but the stress it creates can be overwhelming. I’ve been thinking alot about prepping vs saving . It’s a struggle, I’ve spent more on preps since November than I have altogether in previous years combined. My budget is back on track but without spending the extra money early on I would’ve struggled in Australia with the panic buying in the supermarkets leaving shelves bare and I brought six months extra clothing for my kids which also was the right choice as there was a shortage on kids clothes as most comes from China for new and our local op shops were cleaned out too. I suppose what I’m asking is how do you balance both ? Probably a new article worth right here with that question. But I struggle with it personally and I know my friend does too.

    1. I struggle with this also, even at considered middle class but living with debt & continuing to save which for us meant living frugally (which is what I’ve always done. Thank god I am a prepper because otherwise we would have been in bad position during pandemic & unexpected changes. In Michigan we are still struggling with product availability & with inflation causing price increases.
      I actually just said that I need to unlearn how to be prepper because recent drastic unexpected changes left me with items no longer will use & can not return. while I have no problem donating but would like to be able to make some money back on these items.

  6. Helpful money saving insights from Daisy. Daisy is all good on financial advice except on the credit card. I am so happy to be credit card free I use my ATM Debit card for all my transactions at least that keeps you living within your means and tons of online merchants accept an ATM/Debit card. If you can, phase out the car go with ride-share service or public transportation even a bicycle I am going on year two of no car ownership. Yeah Daisy I like capitalism makes my life easier and happier brings me more comfort to my child-free lifestyle. Yeah I don’t own a pet so keep yourself free of any major commitments that will compromise your ability to generate an income go with minimal luxury-health foods and activities.

  7. How about “I’ll always have a car payment”. It was so liberating when I made the the decision to trade in the vehicle I was forced to buy on credit after Hurricane Dorian totalled mine (along with 2 ft water in my house). Yes, I had to pay some cash to do it, but over time the savings will be 4 times what I paid in cash. Also, the bank can’t reposses this one.
    The corollary lie is “old cars aren’t as reliable”. On the contrary, I had 3 recalls on the newer one in 12 mons & older vehicles have been through all those already. I routinely run my Tahoe & Subaru over 300K.That’s alot of money saved.

  8. Years ago, I had a creditor call, and I told them all I could afford to pay was $5 a month. I did not tell them I would not pay. They never contacted me again.

  9. Save all of your change and separate all coins.when buying anything example when an item costs $5.25 save the $.75 cents change it adds up quickly.In a years time you will have enough for plenty of can goods.And paying with cash could get you a Quite A discount.

  10. Hi Daisy! I’m thinking this is a new project of yours – looks great! I just paid off my car – feels good – but need to do some re-evaluating of my priorities. I’m very grateful to be working during these times, so i have not a thing to complain about. Just keep my head down & stay focused.

    thanks again for another encouraging blog!

    1. I heard this a lot when working the drive thru at a well known fast food joint. People would most of the time say “I need…”

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