I know a lot of personal finance bloggers write at least one post explaining their biggest financial mistake, and I’m sure I have a few of those to share. I could tell you about the credit card balance transfer I almost couldn’t repay during the promotional period, or the addiction to Amazon.ca that easily had me putting $200/month on my credit card. There are a couple of other decisions I made that I’m not proud of, but lately I’ve been thinking about the one big reason I got into debt in the first place. It’s the same reason I’ve always sucked at saving money, and why I kept eating while I was gaining weight, and why I kept partying and holding onto unhealthy relationships when I knew I shouldn’t: I was lying to myself. And each big lie included two small words:
I’ll pay off my debt one day. I’ll start going to the gym one day. I’ll stop eating so much junk food one day. One day, I won’t drink until I blackout. One day, I’ll give up holding onto relationships that aren’t going to work. One day, I’ll live a healthier life. One day, one day, one day – those two simple words paired together are full of both truth and denial. Each time I swiped my credit card, I knew it was because I didn’t have the cash for the purchase but I convinced myself I would be able to pay off my card. Whenever I gave into food cravings or declined invitations to go to the gym, I knew I was making the wrong decision but I convinced myself it was the best decision in that moment. If I had to guess, I would say 75% of the alcohol I drank went on credit, so we could call that a double whammy of denial. Somehow, I just always managed to convince myself that I was happy with my life, when secretly I knew the decisions I was making were wrong and that one day I really would have to do something about it.
The “one day” lie was finally up when I was 25 years old, maxed out with $28,000 of debt and weighing in at 209 lbs. At the time, most of my social life consisted of shopping, eating out and partying. The first “one day” lie I had to stop telling myself was that I would pay off all of my debt – I had no choice but to start doing that. In switching to a more frugal lifestyle, I slowly started to cut back on how much / how often I was eating out which resulted in losing a few pounds. Eventually, seeing the progress I was making with my debt repayment motivated me to start going to the gym. When I was in the routine of going to the gym 5 days/week, I started to realize that alcohol had to play a smaller and smaller part in my life. I was finally able to kiss that last “one day” lie goodbye, but I still feel those two words creep up on me all the time.
I keep thinking that one day I’ll have savings in the bank. One day, I’ll have an Emergency Fund. One day, I’ll save enough to buy my first home. One day, I’ll make $100,000/year. One day, I’ll be able to retire. Where do these thoughts come from and why aren’t there actionable steps behind them? Why do I continue to make silly little purchases, when there are more financial goals ahead of me that need to be tackled? Because it’s easier? Maybe in the moment, but making the easy decision now puts me in a tougher situation down the line. There really is no such thing as “one day” – today, and every day, is the day I need to start taking action. I’ve proven this by getting out of debt, losing weight and making healthier decisions overall. It starts with one decision, turns into a routine and becomes a way of life. So, I’m done with “one day” lies. The jig is up. I’m writing “One day is today” on a Post-It and sticking it on every mirror in my apartment.
What would you say is the biggest lie you’ve ever told yourself?