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Who’s To Blame for Your Money Troubles?


A reader sent me a link to the following article by Liz Pulliam Weston on MSN, ” Money Trouble? It’s Your Own Fault.” The overall tone of the piece is on the negative side, and reminded me of someone giving “tough love.” I thought it was noteworthy to discuss some portions of the article.

“Here’s the thing, though: Reasons have expiration dates. Rely on them too long and they harden into excuses.”

I think probably a lot of us can give reasons as to why our debt is so high. For us,

– We live in an area where are very few good paying jobs.
– We could not find employment that utilizes our college degrees.
– We weren’t making enough money.
– Etc, etc, etc.

See how many negatives are up there? We did not…we weren’t…very few. Being negative seems to attract more negativity. Once I stopped giving reasons for our debt and started concentrating on the solutions things started to happen. I switched that negative energy into positive energy.

Now I am saying things like

– We are going to get a good paying jobs that have benefits.
– We are going to make it financially with where we live now.
– We are going to make enough money.

The debt is still there, but instead I am trying to focus on the positive things that will assist us with reducing our debt. If you noticed, I said I am “trying to” focus. I have my down days where I start thinking negative thoughts. But once I catch myself in that mood I try to turn things around as soon as I can.

“There’s certainly plenty of blame to go around. But if that’s as far as you get, you’ll never get ahead.”

Again, blaming something on someone will not get you very far. It’s all negative energy that you should be placing on rectifying the problem. I can easily blame the college for allowing credit card application booths on campus. If I didn’t get that candy bar for signing up for a credit card, I may not have been so far in debt today. But if I hold anger and blame for the college, I’m not doing anything productive towards reducing our debt.

The last section of the article has an exercise that you can work through. If you are having a hard time handling your money problems emotionally, I would recommend going through the exercise. Face your emotions head-on, then move on.


  • Reply Da big D |

    I agree with the tough love part. So why not move? Get something smaller, change your lifestyle and downgrade everthing. It sucks, but you will be out of debt and have a fresh start.

    Looking back, I can only blame myself for my debt. Its too easy to put it on my parents for not teaching me about money, but then again they didn’t have any either.

  • Reply DC Smith |

    Many of my acquaintances just love the Bad Luck excuse. The trouble is when they blame luck and shout “It wasn’t my fault!” they give up all power to change anything.

    Because you’ve discovered the secret to financial “luck” (hard work, advanced planning, living within your means) you are over $13,000 better off than when you started the blog, while others just look up at you from rock bottom and say “gee, you’re so lucky…” as if a sack of money fell off a truck or something. If you haven’t heard that yet, you will eventually.

    Last time someone said it to me was when a payroll mistake resulted in a check for about $50 instead of my normal salary. I let the payroll clerk know about it and she rushed over apologizing and offering to cut me a check immediately. I told her “Please don’t bother, just make sure the payroll provider adds it to the next paycheck.” It was easier to have it direct-deposited in two weeks than go to the bank and deposit a manual check.

    A group of co-workers somehow decided that because I was able to cover one paycheck – a whopping TWO WEEKS of living expenses – that I must be independently wealthy or paid much more than they are (I am not). “Must be nice not to need a paycheck” they grumbled on their way to their mortgaged luxury cars to go out to lunch like they do every day.

    “Yeah,” I thought, “it is nice” as I pulled out my brown bag lunch made at my easily-affordable anti-mcmansion house a three mile drive from work in my six year old paid-off economy car (but I live on a direct bus route just in case). “I sure am ‘lucky’.”

  • Reply Julia |

    Well, after a bit of self-examination a few years ago, I discovered it was MY fault! 🙂 I realized that I accumulated most of my debt after I got a line of credit. For some reason my brain does not process debt in a line of credit the same way as debt on a credit card. I can handle a credit card with a $10K limit on it no problemo, but a line of credit with the same limit? Eek! I can run that up in no time at all.

    It’s a matter of determining what’s your financial “latte factor” (to use David Bach’s analogy). Mine wasn’t going out for dinner too much in a week, or buying $5 lattes every day, but rather just having access to that line of credit. A $5 swipe here, a $10 swipe there, and suddenly I’ve used up the whole $10K!

    So now that I’ve been able to talk my bank into a slightly lower interest rate, I’m slowly chipping away at it, and once it’s done, it’s going bye-bye!

    Owning up to what has put me into debt is a liberating experience, because then it allows me to better plan my attack, instead of whining and saying “whoa is me”.

  • Reply pf101 |

    Good for you! It can take a while to realize it, but keeping a positive outlook makes a HUGE difference. People who are negative about everything just tend to not be happy people. However, people who can recognize that something is negative but still figure out how to put a positive spin on it will just be happier in general.


  • Reply Kevin |

    Good post!

    My family is working hard to put its financial house in order. For me it started two years ago when I started saying a little affirmation ten times every morning:

    I will be financially well-off within four years.

    At the time I had NO idea how that could be possible, but I decided to see what the power of positive thinking might bring. We were falling farther and farther behind, so the idea of being anything close to “well-off” seemed more than just unlikely.

    I stuck with it. Just a few repetitions every day. No money rained down from the heavens. No forgotten rich uncle passed away. However, we did finally start a budget, reduced our conspicuous consumption to a level we could live with, and began aggressively paying down debt — and we still had enough left over for a joint fortieth birthday present for my wife and I of a trip to London.

    I have two years left to go — and what do you know! — we should have our consumer debt eliminated in exactly that time.

    Oh — I did eventually rework my affirmation to spread it to more parts of my life. Now it’s simply:

    I will be happy, healthy, wealthy and wise.

  • Reply Annette |

    I think it is important to understand what you did to cause your debt. If you don’t, how can you stop yourself from repeating the same mistakes.

    However, this doesn’t mean you need to beat yourself up over it.

    Understanding a mistake, and punishing yourself for a mistake, are not the same thing at all.

  • Reply Stephanie |

    Tough love could be used in a lot of subjects, but as far as debt goes… We all (myself included) are in debt b/c we lived beyond our means, wanted instant gratification and thought we needed things we really didn’t.

    I’m with you lets move on and fix the problems!

So, what do you think ?