Why Are We Such Hypocrites?

We all make promises to be better, to make a change, or to take advice, but far too often we don’t actually practice what we preach. We tell our friends one thing and then go home and don’t do it ourselves. We read about what experts think, but don’t take their advice.

Here are a few examples. Do any of them resonate with you?

We know not to be emotional about the stock market. Everyone knows that the first rule is to buy low and to sell high. We know that buying high and selling low is a losing proposition. Then why did so many people pull out of the stock market when the market started tanking (after losing 25%) and are only now getting back in (when the stock market has doubled in the past two years).

Still, most people don’t practice dollar cost averaging. They let their emotions get involved in their business decisions.

We pretend we have budgets: do they own us or do we own them?

For some people, even if they have budgets, when one category starts getting a little bit too close to the limit, we can simply ‘adjust’ and increase it, so while we are technically staying within the budget, we’re really breaking with what we originally scheduled to spend. Tricking yourself into thinking you’re keeping a budget doesn’t account!

We pledge to use credit cards less: Credit.com thinks otherwise! While lots of people say that they want to decrease their credit card debt, they rarely do. According to a study, 69% of Americans said they were going to spend at little as possible on their credit cards this past Christmas, the results were that Americans actually spent more with credit cards than last year! We just can’t control our spending even if it’s something we pledge to do. What is going on?

Take Action and Follow Your Own Advice!

It’s not easy to be perfect all the time. But we must learn from our mistakes. Here are 3 quick tips for how to avoid being a hypocrite:

1. Make it Automatic

Unless you’re an active trader, make automatic investments in your investment plans. Don’t simply follow the hot stocks; instead invest regularly and you’ll come out ahead in the long run.

2. Set Small Goals

Give yourself some room in your budget by adding a ‘miscellaneous’ category. Once you get used to consistently staying under budget, you can adjust and tighten up. The encouragement will keep you going and help you achieve your budget goals!

3. Hold Yourself Accountable

Instead of vowing never to use your credit card, try only using it for necessities. For ‘fun’ purchases, pay in cash and you’ll feel the pain of handing over a wad of cash. Maybe you’ll think twice about that sweater!

Readers, how else do you find yourself being hypocritical? How do you put a stop to it?

8 Responses to Why Are We Such Hypocrites?

  1. I dont try to say “no spending on cards”…though I used to. After I paid off my cards a year or so ago, I kept using them, but pay them off every month – I enjoy the airline rewards!
    As for savings – I need to start saving more, so in Jan, I made it automatic – more more debating how much to save, now I save the same amount every month!

  2. Ravi Gupta says:

    I think you make some great points. On investing I would say make sure to keep your expenses low. I’m looking to invest my entire Roth IRA all at once, one time a year so that’s it’s set it and forget it. I think it depends on what your time horizon is. I’m more preferential towards long term so I feel that it’s more worth it for me to get the investment in rather than at what time.

    -Ravi Gupta

  3. Perhaps b/c it feels good to be hypocrits?

  4. Patrick says:

    I think another reason we’re hypocritical is by having selective memories–we don’t want to think about all the small purchases throughout the day, which add up over the week, and then over the month. I’m a strong believer in using budgeting tools like Mint.com to help people keep track of those amounts and see where our money tends to ‘leak out’ of our wallets.

    Great post!

    theexperiencecurveblog.com

  5. MoneyCone says:

    Small attainable goals are the key. And as you point out, don’t make your plans too rigid – tweak it along the way.

  6. Super Frugalette says:

    We just do not use credit cards. Period. We also ditched the “misc” category in our budget. You are right it started to grow and grow. What helped us, is having larger discretionary accounts. These larger accounts helped us more personal choices or “fun” choices so we did not exceed our budget.

  7. Doable Finance says:

    We know not to be emotional about the stock market: Panic to buy and panic to sell. Humans have the best quality there ever can be – big and bold PANIC.

    We pretend we have budgets: We follow it for one or two months and then forget about it. I think budget is for weak-minded.

    We pledge to use credit cards less: Use them all the time but only for things you absolutely need.

  8. Leslie says:

    I used to adjust my budget throughout the month but not by cheating the way you suggest it. If I realized I was going to go over in groceries, I would increase that budget my $50 by taking away $50 from another category. That way I was still spending the same amount of money total. But I stopped that because I realized I wanted to see exactly how much I go over in certain categories so I can actually budget better the next month.

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