There are a lot of four-letter words in the English language that can raise the hairs on the back of your neck. But for me, the worst one is a seemingly innocuous little word that we are all guilty of saying too frequently: “Just.” Read on to learn how this word can derail your financial goals, and how you can fight back.
1. “Just”ified: Using Just to Excuse Your Budget Infidelity
“I just got this one outfit.”
“I just thought my living room could use a little makeover.”
These excuses — er, sentences — seem fine, but the little things can add up and seriously impact your financial future. Even if you recently got a pay raise, don’t think that making more money means it’s okay to allow yourself to be nickel and dimed to death. It’s called “lifestyle creep” — justifying purchases by pretending they are smaller as your income gets bigger.
To resist the temptation to spend more, first pay attention to how often you use the word “just” when referring to your purchases. Then be honest with yourself about using “just” to avoid facing the aggregate impact that all of your little purchases has on your progress toward your goals.
2. “Just” Rewards: Using Just to Perpetuate an Entitlement Mentality
“I just wanted a small reward for pulling three all-nighters last week.”
“I am surrounded by people who have nice things; I just wanted to have a nice bag, too.”
One of my wealthiest clients drives a Honda, and would never drive anything else. Another very high net-worth individual brings his own lunch on a private plane. My point is that correlating big-ticket items with success can be a dangerous game —you’ll always be chasing material things and you’ll always be outdone by someone else.
Instead, look at what symbols you connect with success, and see whether they truly resonate with who you are as a person. Do you need a new pair of boots to tell you that the all-nighters will pay off or that you will kick ass during your presentation next week? Will your new Fendi bag make you feel like a better person? Maybe for a minute or two, but soon enough you’ll wish you still had an emergency fund.
3. “Just” Kick Back and Relax: Using Just to Shirk Your Responsibilities
“I’m so tired, I just don’t want to think about my retirement plan.”
“I hate the idea of dying and leaving my kids behind. I just don’t want to think about creating a will.”
Think of your finances the same way you think about eating healthy and exercising: You always feel better when you’re dedicating time and effort to the cause. It’s not always fun, and it can be emotionally and physically taxing, but you will never regret paying attention to your finances and getting your plan in shape. If women cared about the shape of their finances as much as they care about the shape of their bodies, there would be a hell of a lot more female millionaires and billionaires out there!
The bottom line is that even something as seemingly simple as the words you use can sink your financial plan. If you hear the word “just” coming out of your mouth, stop and resist falling prey to mindless purchases, competitive habits or avoidance.
Emily Boothroyd is a member of the DailyWorth Connect program. Read more about the program here.