There’s one sure way I can tell when someone is not good with money, even when they feel like they’re really nailing it.
It’s not having lots of student loans or credit card debt (although those can be tough to deal with, there could be reasonable explanations for someone having debt they’re working to repay).
It’s not making a low income (because it’s not about how much you make; it’s about the percentage of your income that you save!).
And it’s not a lack of financial goals (since even really motivated, driven people can go through periods where they don’t have a specific outcome they’re hustling for).
The #1 indicator that someone is not good with money? You always have an excuse for why you can’t better your financial situation.
You’re Probably Not Good with Money If You’re Constantly Coming Up with Excuses for Poor Financial Behavior
People who are not good with money can justify just about any bad financial decision, and the excuse usually revolves around something that happened to them — meaning it wasn’t their fault, it was outside their control, and there was just nothing they could have done to change it.
Therefore, they had to spend money, or they couldn’t save, or they had to take on credit card debt to get through it.
Some people are masters as this kind of justification. They’re so good, in fact, that they’re fooling themselves. It’s not that they’re trying to lie or avoid.
They truly believe that all the bad financial decisions they make are completely out of their control. Something always happens to them that prevents them from succeeding.
People do this all the time with all sorts of things in life, not just money. We make excuses for ourselves because sometimes, that’s just a lot easier than owning up to a mistake or facing down a big challenge that might feel a little overwhelming.
If there’s an excuse, there’s an out. The problem is, those excuses will ensure you stay stuck and struggling. Until you step up and own the fact that you do have the power to succeed even in the face of some challenges or adversity, you’ll never move forward.
How to Make a Change — and Become Good with Money
There’s some good news in all this, though. If you realize you’ve been making excuses for financial decisions that aren’t in your best interest, there’s an easy fix.
First, pause and take a deep breath — then acknowledge that you are in control of your money.
It might not feel like it, and it might be really tempting to respond with “but!” and to think of all the times you felt like something happened to you that was unfair or you could not have done anything about.
But just try this. Try telling yourself you’re in control of your personal finances and you have a say in your own success. Try to identify where you can take responsibility for something that has happened and see how that changes things.
If you’re anything like me, you might find that taking responsibility actually leaves you feeling more empowered. Life is no longer something that just happens to you and drags you along for the ride.
Life is what you make it because you’re responsible for yourself and your actions within it.
Let Go of the Past and Focus on the Future
Next, let go of past money mistakes or bad choices. This isn’t about beating yourself up or agonizing over the fact that maybe you could have done things differently.
The past is the past, and there’s no use wasting today’s energy on it. The only thing to do is focus on the present and consider what you can do now to create the future you want.
That might mean making the decision you know is right, even when it’s hard (like choosing to invest for your future rather than spending every cent you make today). It might mean spending more time with your finances each month and using tools and apps to help keep you on track.
It could mean working with a professional to give you the guidance, accountability, and support that would make working toward your financial success an easier, smoother process.
Being “not good with money” isn’t how you are. It’s another excuse, a reason you are using to justify your financial situation. But now that you know, you can bust it and get out of your way. The life you want is within your power to create. You can choose to take on the challenge, or continue to make excuses for why you can’t.
Stuff you didn’t plan on, bad stuff even, is always going to happen. There are things that are outside our control. But what is always within our power to control is how we react and respond to life.