Have you ever lied about money? I sure have.
Now, I’m a funny little liar. I never had a secret credit card. I never hid a bag of new clothes under the bed. Instead, my special brand of subterfuge went something like this…
It was August. As in, the end-of-summer sales were on. One day, as I picked up some essentials at a local hardware store, two lime-green lawn chairs caught my eye. The prices had been slashed to only $16 each –– a steal! Picture it: two vinyl, old-school loungers, reminiscent of a 1970’s pool party (add aviator sunglasses into the mix and you’d have a sense of my style).
My husband and I had talked about adding some more chairs and tables to various nooks around our property. We could immediately put these loungers to good use. So, I did what any vintage-loving, plein air aficionado would do: I bought them.
And my husband was psyched! (Important side note: this is a man whose favorite outfit is a green tracksuit with white racing stripes).
“Cool!” he said when I got home with the new chairs. “They look great. How much did you spend?”
I didn’t even hesitate. “Ten bucks each,” I replied.
This was one of my common practices: shaving off a few dollars here and there when recounting how much I had spent. Even when I’d actually spent very little, like in this case. This was especially true when said items were ‘extras’…you know, things I didn’t exactly need, but wanted.
But I had worse habits, too –– sneaky ones. I’d buy expensive supplements for myself at the same time I bought groceries. (As if drug store items and groceries were the same…and he would never know the difference!) I’d move over $50 bucks from a different account into our checking account in order to cover a new something-or-other that I wanted…without telling him.
Again, these acts were just “small” enough that I justified them. “After all,” I told myself, “it’s not like we’re talking about hundreds of dollars. Plus, I make plenty of money and I manage it for us. What’s the harm in taking a small perk? I deserve it!”
Ha! What a smart (and bratty!) voice I’m hearing as truth!
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At Handel Group, we teach that there are seven categories of lies, and we all have our favorites. I’ll walk you through each one, with a little example from my own life:
- Outright Lying: This is when you flat out lie. Like when I said the chairs were $10 and they were actually $16.
- Lying by Omission: This is when you don’t tell someone the truth, because they didn’t ask! In my case, my husband didn’t ask if I bought anything other than groceries at the grocery store, so I didn’t tell him.
- Lying by Exaggeration: This is when you exaggerate the truth (usually to make yourself look good). This could sound something like, “I saved tons of money on that dress.” When really you saved $5.
- Lying by Under-Exaggeration: We do this when we want to make light of things. For me, I pretended my student loan debt was no big deal because “everyone had it.” When in reality I ignored the impact that that hefty monthly payment had on my ability to build real wealth.
- Lying by Misrepresenting a Story: This is one of my favorites. This is when we misrepresent what happened in order to make ourselves look good. I do this often when people ask about books I’ve read. “I read the whole book on personal finance!” I’ll say, when in reality, I got through the first chapter.
- Lying by Avoiding Confrontation: This is when you lie to avoid hurting someone’s feelings. Like, if your friend asks you to share your honest opinion about his decision to borrow money to remodel the kitchen (and you know he’s already in massive credit card debt), and you lie and tell him it all sounds fine instead of finding the grace and wisdom to share your actual opinion.
- Lying by Keeping Secrets You’re Taking to the Grave with You: These are lies that are so hidden, goofy, upsetting, embarrassing, and devastating to you that you’ll never tell anyone. Like, for me, the time I stole a personal belonging from a former landlord. Yes –– definitely thought I was going to the grave with that one…until I wasn’t.
I don’t know about you, but I’m personally guilty of lying across all seven categories. My favorites are definitely lying by omission, lying by misrepresenting a story, exaggerating, under-exaggerating…oh, and let’s not forget avoiding confrontation…all right, all right, I guess most of them are my favorites!
Let’s be clear – like any other member of the human species, my lying trait stems from very oh-so-human desires. To look good. To have my way. To get what I want. Whether it’s a vacation, expensive supplements…or a lawn chair.
Yes. Very much the mindset of an 11-year old.
Sure, my habit of piling up small lies over and on top of one another “worked” for a while. I got what I wanted. But then the pile would smack me in the face. The trouble about lying in this way is that it impacted my ability to achieve my dreams. Until I woke up to how my lies were preventing me from experiencing real intimacy, AND how they were preventing me from the savings account I wanted…I was stuck.
What does it look like and feel like to be stuck in a particular area of life –– in this case, in the area of money?
At that time, we had a good income. We were saving into retirement. We felt fairly secure when it came to the future. But despite things being seemingly OK on the surface, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I wasn’t doing things quite right. I alternated between feeling frustrated, guilty, or anxious. Why didn’t I have more? Why didn’t it feel like enough? Why was money so hard?
When I started my coaching training with Handel Group nearly three years ago, I first had to write up my Money Dream. And boy, did I suck at it. It was riddled with negativity and small.
Jill’s Money Dream, June 2016: A weight has lifted. I no longer feel anxious about money or like I’m stuck doing work I don’t like. Money no longer feels like a burden or something to worry about. I do not hide purchases or lie about what things cost. We have enough money to go on vacation and do all the house projects that we’ve been talking about for years. Our house is paid off, we even have extra to invest and the savings are growing.
As coaches, we’re taught that when a person’s dream is small or uninspiring, it means there’s corruption in the foundation, and it’s time to look at the way a person is lying in this area. For me, I was definitely in a spiritual purgatory when it came to money. My seemingly harmless “little” lies about things like lawn chairs and expensive supplements had blocked me. It turns out, I had no power with my words because my words were full of sh*t. When I did the spiritual accounting, and came clean to my coach and subsequently to my husband about all of the ways I had lied AND about the ways I had justified the lies because they were “so small,” I was finally ready to author this area for the first time. I could say, “save money, make more money” and do it. I hadn’t considered the big impact of all of those seemingly little lies on my relationship to money.
Suddenly, anything I said could be possible.
See for yourself. Here’s my new Money dream: I am a millionaire in my early forties! Our retirement accounts are flush and growing, our house is paid off, and our net worth is nearly $2MM! I coach, write, speak at conferences, and lead workshops. I am compensated so well for what I love. Making money is so easy and fun. Our home is a gorgeous sanctuary. We give generously to environmental causes and are having a huge impact in the world.
So now, fast forward three years. Since making Money a priority area of life to work in, I’ve experienced remarkable change. First –– I’m proud. Proud of the new promises I have in place to reach our ambitious goals: paying off our house (!) in another year and a half, adding to our annual income, and increasing our nest egg and net worth. But the biggest change is my new promise around lying. I made a promise to myself that I’m not allowed to lie about anything. If I do, I have to confess to my husband within 24 hours.
Since making that promise, I’ve broken it and I’ve had to come clean…but my liar is sure in better shape than she used to be. And when it happens, I’m learning to laugh at myself, fess up, and dust myself off. So don’t you worry, I’ll be returning to the HG blog world soon to share even more stories about me, my money, and my marriage(s). Yes, that’s marriages with an “S”!
What? Did I fail to mention (a.k.a. lie type #2) that?!
In the meantime, you can know that each time I take a break to sit in my green lounge chair and soak up the sun, I’m a little closer to achieving my money dream. And for those who are wondering – yes, my husband thought I was a little crazy when I fessed up that I had lied to him about the cost of those iconic lime green loungers.
But given my impeccable taste (in him and chairs), he couldn’t stay mad at me for long.
P.S. Inner.U is a 12 session online course that gives you the tools to hack into your own life, hone your dreams, and have every last thing you want in the areas that matter most to you: CAREER, MONEY, LOVE, TIME, FAMILY, and HEALTH. Do this life thing better from wherever, whenever.