Are your finances suffering from 'excusitis'?

Beat it, now

Are your finances suffering from ‘excusitis’? Beat it, now

Liar, liar, pants on fire. We Kiwis are masters at coming up with excuses for our spending and debt. I’ve heard it called “excusitis”.

We convince ourselves that “we’re different” or that “we need it”, or “everyone else does it”. It’s that six inches of grey stuff between your ears that’s at fault. And it’s getting worse. According to Payments New Zealand the average Kiwi made 58 credit card transactions in 2014, 86 in 2015 and 103 in 2016. Ouch.

You may not even realise you’re constructing a cock and bull story. There’s a common failing in the human brain called “cognitive dissonance”, which means we rationalise things that would otherwise cause us anxiety, guilt, or other pain. We’re all honest liars for this reason.

(You can find out more about the psychology of self-deception in this TEDx video.)

If you’re convinced you don’t tell yourself untruths about your debt then ask yourself honestly if you make any of these excuses.

Head in sand lie: I haven’t got that much debt

Too many Kiwis fail to realise that their debt is dragging them down. Debt has its uses, but it’s very easy to wake up one day and realise that you’re swimming in debt .

Spending lie: It was only $5

Five bucks every day adds up to $35 a week. Financial adviser Liz Koh believes many Kiwis throw away $20 a day, which is a shocking $7,300 a year frittered. Look at your bank and credit card statements and ask yourself honestly if you really needed to spend everything you did today. I saw some obvious candidates on my Visa bill. All of this wasted money could be channelled to paying down debt FAST.

The never never lie: I’ll start saving when…

That day never comes. Start saving today. Game yourself. During the day actively choose to say “no” to something you’d usually spend money on. Then in the evening go onto your online banking and transfer that money to your savings account.

The ‘I can’t’ lie: I don’t earn enough money to save

I repeat. Virtually every Kiwi alive spends money on non-essentials. Chocolate, soft drinks, coffee, petrol, cigarettes, package foods, and much much more. Saving is a habit and you need to start by nixing that little voice in your head that says “can’t”. Also question whether you’re spending more on essentials than you need to. We need a house, but does it need to have four bedrooms and two bathrooms?

Psychology lie: I needed it

Did you really? There’s hardly anything we own that we actually NEED. We don’t NEED holidays on credit or designer clothes. Beware that there’s a blurring of lines. We need accommodation. But do we NEED to live in a million dollar house in Herne Bay or Fendalton? Do we “need” to drive the car we live to get to work or a more basic model?

Poor me lie: Life’s hard

That’s true. But every dollar you spend on credit makes it even harder. It means you’re paying more than everyone else for the same things. If you think life’s hard and want to make it easier for yourself financially then cut up your credit cards and stop spending.

The great big mortgage lie: I’m wiping my debt clean

Homeowners are fast becoming the biggest liars in New Zealand. Over the past 20 years excusitis has mutated and it has become increasingly common to roll your credit card debt, and car purchases onto the mortgage. This hides your spending, but it’s still bad debt if you’re dipping into the mortgage to pay for living expenses.

Here’s a concept. Some people have no debt (other than the mortgage, and they’re paying that down, not using it as an ATM). We spend as a nation more than $35bn on our credit cards each year. Of that $22bn incurs interest. That means around a third of Kiwis pay their credit cards off each month in full. Another chunk doesn’t even have a credit card. And that includes plenty of young people.

Credit Simple

Credit Simple gives all Kiwis free access to their credit score, as well as their detailed credit report. See how your credit score compares by age, gender and community and gain valuable insights into what it all means.

All stories by: Credit Simple