Every once in a while, I have to give one of my students some tough love. What I basically say to them – without actually saying it – is that they’re screwing up. Maybe that sounds harsh, but every so often a little dose of honesty does a teenager some good. We live in an almost nauseatingly positive society today, especially when it comes to kids (“It’s ok!” “You’re special!” “You can do no wrong!”) and in my experience most kids like it when you cut the bullshit and shoot them straight about what they’re doing wrong.
Similarly, I think that a little tough love – every so often – when it comes to your finances is a good thing. When we start to slip into bad habits, tough love snaps us back to reality; when we become complacent in our routines, tough love shakes us out of them. In other words, I think tough love is real love.
Here’s a few examples of the type of tough love comments I make to my students, which are also easily applicable to financial habits:
You’re not trying hard enough.
Have you cut your spending “significantly” but still can’t find the extra cash to get your debt paid down? Guess what: you’re not trying hard enough. Let’s be honest – you don’t need to go to happy hour, you don’t need a new dress for your cousin’s wedding, you don’t need cable T.V. Paying off your debt isn’t impossible, you just have to give it everything you’ve got.
“I can’t get another job…I won’t have any ‘me’ time!”
“There’s no way I’m giving up my iPhone. I work hard and deserve nice things.”
“Budgeting is too restrictive – it’s just not my style.”
If you’re saying these types of things to yourself, you need to toughen up. Getting your financial life in order is hard and it takes real sacrifice. Put on your big girl panties and get to work!
This is unacceptable.
In order to get real about your financial situation, you need to take a long, hard look at your debts and bank accounts and be really honest with yourself: this is unacceptable. It is not acceptable to have a large debt load and no plan to pay it off. It is not acceptable to not have a savings account. It is not acceptable to ignore the statements your banks are sending you. Once you stop thinking it’s ok to be a financial mess, you’ll be on the road to a financial recovery.
Do you practice tough love? How tough is too tough?