Most of us were taught as children about the importance of telling the truth, and for many of us the consequences of being un-truthful meant some type of punishment (except if we were lucky enough to not get caught in the lie.) As adults, there isn’t much of a punishment for being un-truthful to oneself. Or is there? Consider the self-inflicted punishments that come each time we are un-truthful with ourselves about relationships, family, work or our money. I’d like to share a short story with you about a fictional woman named Joanne. Her story could be your story if you are someone who has a tendency to be un-truthful with yourself about your money.

Joanne considered a trip to the mall as a relaxing celebration marking the end of her work week. She could spend hours hunting and gathering items in department stores, especially clothing items. As she slipped into one item after another, she totaled the cost of the items she wanted to purchase. The store offered an additional ten percent on sale items when purchases are paid for using their store card – making it all too easy for Joanne to exceed any preset spending limit she may have given herself. Item by item she begins justifying each purchase and mentally figuring if she has enough room on her store credit card. As she approached the cash register, anxiety mounted. She wondered if she was exceeding her credit limit, not wanting to be embarrassed by a rejection as she swiped her card. There’s a part of her which is carefully tucked away that knows she’s out of control in her spending, but for right now that part doesn’t get a voice as she forges ahead with her purchases.

I don’t remember how old I was when I first realized the degrees of truthfulness. While my parents and teachers imparted the importance of telling the truth, I became aware that there were also unmentioned truths that co-existed with the spoken ones. Spoken truths such as “who broke the glass?” co-existed with unspoken truths such as the fact that my father, no matter how many hours he worked, could never make enough money to satisfy my mother!” Years later as I began an examination of my life, the blatant evidence of the many unspoken family truths became apparent.

These unspoken truths could be the ones that we hide from our friends or family, but even more damaging are the truths that we hide from ourselves, especially the financial truths that remain buried. Joanne in the above example hides the truth that she is willing to spend to the point of harming her wellbeing as the stress of this addiction begins to set in. She carries with her a layer of denial that keeps her in this addiction accompanied by a stream of justifications, such as there is a raise coming within the next six months that will be the solution to her unspoken problem.

In years past many of us saw a generous increase in the value of our homes. This coupled with a more lenient lending strategy by the banks, allowed many to over-spend using credit cards and then consolidating using newly acquired equity, now days however this is rarely possible. Most department stores carry their own credit cards because they know what studies have already proven - that as a consumer, you will most likely spend more if you can charge your purchases.

The way out of a spending cycle is blatant honesty with oneself. Telling the truth and nothing but the truth to yourself. Put the truth on paper. Accurately list every debt you owe. Start tracking how and when you’re spending your money. Go through your credit card balances and categorize, noting purchase dates. This exercise will tell you when and where you’re most at risk for overspending, and if you have developed habits in the course of your life that use more funds than you have available. The consequence of avoiding the truth will eventually lead to fewer resources such as constant debt, less money in savings plus keeping you in a state of financial stress.

Author's Bio: 

Written by Tracia Larimer, she helps clients understand their money psychology, bringing a gentle, respectful and nonjudgmental approach that allows clients bring order to their physical and emotional chaos and free up whatever is holding them back from creating a prosperous and thriving life. She can be reached at or 503-746-8303.
Permission to reprint with full attribution © 2013 Tracia Larimer