Money Avoidance: A Guide to Financial Failure

Annoyed woman plugging ears with fingers doesn't want to listen

“We’re both really busy.”

“My wife really doesn’t get involved with our finances.”

“I started to track my expenses, but then I got out of the habit.”

“I was using an online program, but stopped because it just kept sending me messages that I was overspending.”

The excuses go on and on, and they all seem rather reasonable, at first blush. But what they are really saying is that paying attention to financial issues is simply too painful to apply the time and attention necessary to make sure they’re on the right track.

Money avoidance can come from a variety of sources, but mostly it’s irrational fear. Fear stems from what you don’t know, and when it comes to the vagaries of money and financial decision-making, in many cases, it’s well founded.  Imagine being handed a scalpel and told to perform a surgical procedure. You would, but you’re not a doctor and wouldn’t know a vein from an artery. Fear might be pretty high on the scale in a situation like that. Of course, life and death is rarely in the balance when it comes to money decisions, but living a life centered on your values, clearly defined goals and a peace of mind requires sufficient knowledge to make appropriate decisions.

So to guarantee you that remain in a state of money avoidance, make sure you continue to do the following:

  • Remain non-communicative with other stakeholders in financial matters.
  • Do not read Jonathan Clements’ Money Guide 2016 or any other books or resources that will add to your knowledge.
  • Do not track your spending.
  • Do not, under any circumstances, create goals, dreams or other life ambitions that require financial awareness or discipline.
  • Do not hire and work with qualified professionals who can help guide you in your decision-making.
  • Do not reduce debt, create an emergency fund or contribute to a retirement plan.
  • Do not admit to yourself or others that you do not have the knowledge, experience, time or desire to navigate your financial landscape.

If you follow these seven items, you will definitely maintain your level of financial avoidance, and according to the most popular belief of those who live in this state, “It will all work out.”  The concept of magical thinking works perfectly with money avoidance. This way, you can continue to sidestep the daunting challenges while maintaining an optimism that it will be OK.

People who live in money avoidance most often were not raised in a family where money was discussed openly, and any reference to financial issues were uttered in hushed tones, if at all.  Let’s face it, we avoid things with which we are uncomfortable.

If, however, you want to break the chain of avoidance, you need to build your knowledge along with your confidence and build a level of trust and open communication. Changing from avoidance to action requires several steps, as outlined in James Prochaska’s Change Model:

  1. Precontemplation: Not ready
  2. Contemplation: Getting ready
  3. Preparation: Ready
  4. Action: Active change
  5. Maintenance: Sustained change
  6. Termination: A new model or habit is established

As in all decisions to change, there must be a motivating factor.  In the case of your money life, rational fear can be employed effectively by considering: “What is the likely outcome if I do not change?” This can be a very sobering moment for those steeped deeply in avoidance. But once you wipe away the magical thinking of the miraculous outcome, you are left with a reality that can kick you from stage to stage of productive change.

But hey, if you’re happily living your life with your head either in the clouds or in the buried in the sand, by all means, do nothing.

After all, what’s the worst that can happen?