The 7 Worst Financial Excuses That Are Keeping You Poor

I'm an expert at making excuses. At this very moment I can think of a dozen reasons to put off filing my tax return for another few weeks, procrastinate about seeing the dentist, or wait until Sunday to scale my mountain of dirty laundry. (See also: The 7 Stages of Procrastination)

And while my personal excuse-making ends at my bank account, I know that for many, that's exactly where the excuses begin. If your financial life is languishing, it's probably buried under a pile of excuses. Here are seven of the worst.

1. I Don't Make Enough Money to Save

If everyone put off saving until they made more money, every piggy bank in the land would ring hollow. Start by creating an emergency fund. Forget the idea that you have to save a certain amount in order for it to matter. An easy $10 a week is a modest start, but it's a start. Increase your savings rate as your income grows and sock away annual bonuses or money earned from part-time work.

2. I'm Expecting a Large Inheritance

If you suspect you're in line for a large inheritance, I'll keep my fingers crossed for you. But remember, it's not yours until it's yours. Besides being just a little creepy, banking on your beneficiary status to solve your money problems is a powerless stance. Your success not only depends on someone else's generosity, it depends on that third-party's financial situation staying exactly the same. What happens if your benefactor makes a bad investment? Bets it all on red in Vegas? Or decides at the last minute that the ASPCA should get every dime?

3. I'll Start Later

By this point, you've probably read all the startling statistics on the power of compounding interest. You already know that when it comes to saving, you should start early and save often. Blah. Blah. Blah. So why are you putting it off? Do you thrive under pressure? Enjoy getting less for your efforts? Embrace the power of now. Start today.

4. I'm Just Too Deeply in Debt

High debt loads can be daunting, but giving up won't get you out. The first power move is to stop creating new debt by living within your means. Then, start paying down what you owe by using the debt snowball method. Give yourself a clear goal and specific timeline to be debt-free and — most importantly — don't get distracted or discouraged. Once your debt is history, direct that same laser-like focus on saving for the future.

5. Life's Too Short to Live Like a Miser

You're right; life is much too short. But the best way to make it seem entirely too long is to outlive your money. Sure, being frugal does require some discipline and sacrifice, but the perception that all savers are misers is a common myth. For most of us, saving and investing just takes a reasonable level of commitment. A big part of that commitment means knowing the difference between a want and a need — and realizing we live in a society that's built an entire economy around confusing the two.

6. I'll Never Save Enough to Make a Difference

I get it. Saving can often feel like an uphill battle, especially when incomes are stagnant, prices are on the rise, and it takes nearly seven figures to retire with any sort of security. But like with any challenge, giving up before you begin is the surest path to failure. The curious thing about saving is this: Momentum builds once you start. The process gets easier as your nest egg gets bigger.

7. The Game Is Rigged Anyway

Without wading into deep political waters, it often seems that banking and finance regulations ebb and flow with the righteous indignation of the middle class. Financial crises spur tighter laws and boom times encourage more and more loosening. If it feels like the game is rigged at times, all the more reason to figure out exactly how the rigging works. But whatever the economic climate, there's no secret to saving; live below your means, pay yourself first, invest prudently, and try not to panic over normal market fluctuation.

In good economic times and in bad, excuses slow us down and keep us from the constructive process of trying, stumbling, learning, and ultimately succeeding. This year, resolve to starve your excuse-making behavior and start feeding your financial future.

What excuses keep you financially stuck? How have you motivated yourself to move beyond the excuses and start building wealth?

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Guest's picture

Regarding #6, as Wayne Gretzky said: "You'll miss 100% of the shot you didn't take".