Of course, this month was especially challenging.
There was the time your work colleagues went out to that new restaurant.
You decided to join them even though there was a special dinner waiting for you at home. And of course you didn’t need to pick up the tab on the wine, but thought it would make a good impression on your manager.
The bill from the health club is also due. You’re too busy to work out, but don’t feel right calling the friendly sales person and cancelling your membership.
And if only your friend would repay the money she owes you. You know she means well, but the amounts seem trivial and you feel silly telling her “no” or reminding her to pay you back.
Meanwhile your debt keeps growing.
You wonder if there is a way out, something beyond a budget so severe it would mean the end of date nights with your spouse, owning a nice car and enjoying the latest phone.
The answer is yes.
Rather than adopting the world’s strictest budget, the one you won’t stick to anyway, consider these nine ways your people pleasing habit is really what holds you back financially.
1. You conveniently overlook the cost of not speaking up for yourself.
How often do you say to yourself “If only…” If only I had spoken up sooner, if only I had taken time to think before making a purchase, if only I had negotiated better?”
Not speaking up is expensive. Like the time my car died and the sales person showed me a used one I liked. I gratefully bought it, though a tiny voice whispered “Get your personal mechanic to check it out.” But the sales guy seemed so trustworthy and I didn’t want to offend him so I ignored the voice.
Less than 20,000 miles later my mechanic regretfully informed me the car wouldn’t pass inspection and couldn’t be repaired. An expensive mistake I could have avoided “If only I had spoken up.”
2. You honor your bank more than yourself.
Remember the time you made a big purchase like renovations on your home, all new furniture and appliances, a boat? Oh the joy!
You took out a bank loan. It was a stretch to make the payments but you managed.
You said “no” to a European vacation, pricey nights out with friends and upgrading to the latest iPhone. Finally the loan was paid off and you breathed a sigh of relief. Free at last!
Now that the debt is behind you, you intend to invest the amount of the loan payment into an IRA or other savings program. But somehow that never happens.
The urge to spend reasserts itself. Now that it’s your savings account instead of your bank that gets the money you suddenly can’t think of an excuse to say “no” to that big screen TV your spouse has been bugging you about, or the trip to Las Vegas with work colleagues.
3. You overbook your schedule and it costs a fortune.
As a people pleaser, you fear saying “no” will make others angry. And, you believe it’s your job to keep everyone happy. So your schedule is frequently overbooked.
Ironically this means people are unhappy with you anyway because you often let them down, calling at the last minute to apologize for not showing up after you promised you would.
Meanwhile you don’t have time to shop or cook so you eat out, or buy overpriced and unhealthy prepared foods. You lose sleep, don’t exercise, and ignore your meditation practice.
Stress and poor diet choices lead to costly health problems and down time from work.
You may also lose out on a juicy promotion, or find that your business suffers along with your marriage and your other relationships.
4. You respect others’ needs more than your own.
Someone needs a favor. They ask you to pick up their kids from day care and look after them for a couple of hours, help out with a charitable function, or drive them to the airport for a very early flight.
You’d like to help, but the time doesn’t fit your current situation. You are behind on your sales quota this month and will miss out on a bonus if you don’t catch up, which means working extra hours over the next couple of days.
You know you should tell your friend “not this time,” but instead you say “yes.” Your job security and your bank account both suffer.
5. You let friends take advantage of your good nature.
Your friend has a financial crisis and asks you for a short term loan. You sympathize with her desperation and write her a check. She thanks you and then doesn’t get around to paying you back.
You want to remind her, but she’s a good friend and you don’t want her to be angry or upset with you. So you let it ride, and then she does it again, and again, and you keep saying “yes.”
6. You overspend to avoid offending.
One of your good friends is having a birthday and there is a big party in her honor.
You know the gifts will be opened and exclaimed over and want to be sure your friend is happy with your choice and proud of your good taste.
Just to be sure you spend a little more than you had intended. That way she will be happy and the others will be impressed at your thoughtfulness. A win-win all around. Until you get the bill at the end of the month.
7. You undervalue the importance of self care.
It’s easy to forget that to honor the obligations on your busy schedule and keep your finances on track you need a functioning body and a clear mind.
And both require self care: scheduled downtime, a daily run or walk, yoga or meditation, massage, aromatherapy, a gratitude practice or journaling time.
The payoff (financial and otherwise) from making self care a priority is high, the cost of ignoring it even higher.
8. You underestimate the cost of fitting in.
It feels good to belong, to fit in. You enjoy events like vacationing with friends, inviting the neighbors for brunch, or helping to host a baby shower and you always say yes when these opportunities arise.
You want others to view you as one of them, someone who is generous and creative, someone they can count on.
So you go all out when it’s your turn to be the hostess, or to pick up the tab on a night out. You worry about the dwindling credit balance on your cards but go for it anyway.
It feels good to fit in, until you see your bill.
9. You suffer from your failure to save.
If only you could save a little money. You fantasize about the trips you could take, the clothes you could buy or the freedom from bill paying that could be yours if only you had a healthy savings account.
It’s tough to save with such large credit card balances. But if you continue to make pleasing others a priority, your debt will keep growing and your savings account will remain small.
Meanwhile, your dreams will remain unrealized.
You know saving is one of the pillars of long term financial security.
If only you could find a way to make it happen.
The secret to owning your finances
Few things in life are as frustrating as out-of-control finances and your stress increases as your bills pile up.
It’s not like you don’t know how to earn a good income. You definitely do. And you are well-educated when it comes to financial strategies.
So it’s not fair you are so often broke.
You deserve to enjoy your money, to be free of financial stress and to not depend on credit cards to get you through the month.
You’ve earned the right to feel secure even if your computer dies, your car needs unexpected repairs, or your children suddenly require money for a new laptop, a musical instrument or soccer camp.
You deserve to have money for the things you love to do: go on exotic vacations, attend a powerful yoga retreat, join your friends for a night on the town or splurge on great gifts for the important people in your life.
Fortunately the way forward is at hand: Say NO more often, and speak up for yourself with pride.
When you leave your people pleasing habit behind, your financial picture will shift dramatically.
You’ll be truly amazed at how different your life is.