Sunday, May 18, 2008

Are You Living A Lie?

I was watching one of my favorite shows over the weekend, The Suze Orman Show. I happen to think that Suze normally gives very sound financial advice and really enjoy watching her weekly show and hearing about other people’s financial difficulties and triumphs and getting inspiration from them; these are the same reasons why I enjoy reading PF blogs. A lot of Suze’s advice is common sense, but I’m learning that common sense is not so common anymore.
One comment that Suze made to a caller during this past Saturday’s show stuck in my mind, so I wanted to blog about it: “Debt comes because we live a lie.” This statement made me think, is it really true, does my debt really come from my living a lie? Here are a few reasons why I think we all at some point in our lives have lived a lie when it comes to our spending and personal finances.

‘Keeping up with the Jones.’ It’s why you wanted the same kicks in elementary school as the popular guy (during my experience the must-have kicks were the latest Jordan’s). It’s why your parents may live in a home that is in a certain neighborhood or has certain furnishings. It may even be why you want that S class when all you need is a used Honda to meet your driving needs. It’s that ingrained desire we Americans have ‘to keep up with the Jones,’ or have nice things equal or better than that of our peers. Peer pressure is the worst and it doesn’t necessarily go away with age, in fact, I think it gets worst with age. In some cases, people can truly afford to purchase the expensive items they ‘must have’ but in most cases, I think many people are living a lie like Suze says.

‘I work so hard, I deserve this.’ Yes, many of us work hard, whether we are students or working professionals, working hard is the norm these days, not the exception. I know in many instances since I have entered the working world, I have cheered myself up after a tough day by buying those really cute shoes I saw at Nine West, after all, I work hard right, I deserve a treat. But I really should have saved that money, or made an extra loan payment. I could have treated myself to a nice walk around my favorite Smithsonian museum or borrowed a DVD from the library and not spent money I had no business spending, but I chose to lie to myself.

The media influences spending habits. I have a communications background and I love commercials. Some of them are very creative and innovatative (some of them are also just plain stupid). I must admit, I watch the Super Bowl every year simply to see the commercials, unless the Eagles have made it to the Super Bowl in that given year...I am from Philly after all! But marketing and advertising people get paid big bucks for you to want to go out and grab that burger after you see that McDonald’s commercial, or to buy an iPhone when the phone you have really does meet your needs just fine. But not falling pray to advertising and a part of not living a lie is evaluating wants and needs. You may need to eat, but you probably have food in your own kitchen that you can eat and keep your money in your pocket. But we sometimes lie to ourselves and do otherwise.

I think I’m going to stick a post-it to my debit and credit cards that says ‘Don’t Live A Lie!’ to keep myself focused on my goals and remember that we all live a lie at one time in our lives when it comes to our money. It’s time for me to stop living mine. What about you, are you or have you ever lived a financial lie?


Anonymous said...

Hmmn, very insightful. At my job, there's a class of people who make a LOT more money than the rest of us. They're kind of the bread and butter of the company, and they're paid accordingly.

Sometimes, I'll notice their fancy cars in the parking lot and think I want one, even though my salary in no way would justify a similar purchase. Same thing for when I saw the one guy's condo (400K+)--I want one! LOL.

And I could have a fancy car (or a condo, I guess), but my debt would be huge.

Great post.