Nobody Likes Being Reminded Of Their Mistakes

EOD_MistakesPicA high school science teacher from Iowa ate nothing but McDonald’s for six months. Maybe you’ve heard this story before, or maybe you’re thinking this was another one of those attempts to show the public the evils of fast food. If you fall into the later category, you might be surprised to learn that the man lost about 60 pounds, lost 21 inches off his chest, waist, and hips, and significantly lowered his cholesterol. The caveat here is that while he did eat fast food for every meal for 6 months, he also stuck to a 2000 calories a day and the recommended daily allowances for carbohydrates, proteins, sugar and fat all while walking 45 minutes per day.

Later, the science teacher went on a speaking tour at mostly high schools emphasizing the importance of planning and good choices. There are people that are very upset this man is speaking at schools because they think he is teaching young poor eating habits. They have this notion that eating at fast food restaurants is automatically unhealthy.

The problem is, fast food restaurants don’t make people fat. The choices people make when ordering at fast food restaurants make them fat. The critics are speaking from their personal experience from making poor choices at fast food restaurants. They don’t like to hear about a guy that made good choices and lost weight eating fast food. They don’t like to be reminded of their own failures, and of their own bad choices.

People don’t like to be reminded of their bad choices and failures.

It’s the same reason why some people don’t like stepping on the scale or looking in the mirror. If they find out that they have gained a few more pounds, or don’t like what they see in the mirror, they are reminded they are making the wrong choices with respect to diet and exercise.

It’s why some students dread report card time. Poor grades may reflect poor studying habits, or a lack of effort. The grades may reflect the nights they decided to watch movies or party instead of concentrating on their schoolwork.

It’s why some people don’t look at their checkbook and skip reconciling their account for weeks at a time, nor do they track their spending. Or why some people don’t even look at the balance of their credit card accounts, they just pay the minimum payment and move on. It also explains why people deep in debt may not know exactly how much debt they have.

I have a lot of experience with that last paragraph, I was guilty of all of them. I simply did not like being reminded of my bad spending habits, and my poor financial choices.

  • I didn’t want to track my spending, because it would show me all the unnecessary things I was wasting my money on.
  • I didn’t want to look at my credit card statements because it would remind me that I was supplementing my income with credit.
  • I didn’t want to add up all my credit card balances because it would show me just how deep in debt I was, and how badly I was managing my finances.

I was thinking about this over the weekend for a specific reason. We’re a full week into December, and the Christmas present shopping done is barely hovering over the zero mark. That means things are going to get crazy in next few weeks. The temptation will be to just put the blinders on and plow through the season without regard to the budget.

It’s happened before. I would just get a list of presents and supplies needed and just, โ€œget it done,โ€ and deal with the consequences later. I’d stop tracking my spending, maybe even swipe a credit card a few times without paying attention to how much I’m racking up. I’d stop looking at my account balances or reconciling my checking account.

I wouldn’t want to be reminded of my bad financial choices I was making.

Eventually, as with any other aspect of life, I’d have to own up to and pay for my mistakes.

Just like a report card that has to be shown to a parent, a larger than desired weight, or an unflattering portrait in the mirror, the credit card bill will need to be paid, and the budget redone.

Repairing the damage is always more painful and time consuming than preventing it in the first place. So I’m going to give myself a Christmas present this year. I’m not going to be financially lazy, and leave my eyes wide open. I’m going to shop within our means, and know where we are financially at all times.

When I ring in the new year, there will be no surprises when I open my bank’s online portal. There will be no credit card bills in the mail. There will be no mistakes to be reminded of.

How about you, EOD nations, have you ever shied away from reconciling your checking account, or opening a credit card bill because you didn’t want to be reminded of your financial mistakes?

About Travis

18 Responses to “Nobody Likes Being Reminded Of Their Mistakes”

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  1. This reminds me of when I was a teenager and would be cleaning our house (when my parents were going through their divorce), and I would find unpaid bills in the most unusual places. My mom is someone who has lived her whole life in denial. Bills, health, relationships, etc. She just tends to look the other way. But looking the other way does not change what is ACTUALLY happening. It’s a study of human nature itself to figure out why some people face their fears and obstacles, while others deny, look away, ignore, etc.

    • Travis says:

      That would be an interesting social experiment for sure, Tonya…..I’m guessing it has something to do with the perceived ability to conquer them. Thanks for reading!

  2. Sassy Mamaw says:

    You were at leas aware at some level that you were making poor choices. You just didn’t want to be reminded of them. But many people seem to have a sense of entitlement, especially about food and about money. They’ve had a tough day. They deserve a treat – whether it’s fast food, (calories) so they don’t have to prepare a meal, or a pair of new shoes or a tool (money). It doesn’t matter to them. They simply don’t care – not until it comes up to bite them in the behind.

    Failing to plan is planning to fail!

    • Travis says:

      I actually had both, Sassy mamaw…I knew they were bad choices, BUT I felt entitled to make them. I always felt that it would just sort of work it’s way out. yeah, that never works out well…..

  3. We tiptoed around our debt for a year or two before taking ownership and making the necessary changes to clean it up. All about mindset and behavior and you are in control of that. BTW never heard of the HS teacher story, need to check that out.

  4. Jen says:

    I know how it feels not wanting to look at the bills. I use to cringe looking at my bank account but now I use it as motivation to work harder. Time to own up! And I look at all my accounts now in case there’s fraud on there.

  5. When my wife and I were newlyweds she suggested we see a financial adviser to which I was offended and said “I WORK IN FINANCE!” In reality I just didn’t want someone else evaluating how I spend my money, most likely because I knew there was room for improvement. I have heard a few people say they were scared to read personal finance blogs because they were afraid about what they would find out about their own finances.

  6. This was what we did for YEARS. We were terrified of admitting how badly we were wasting our money and like two year olds in a tantrum, we didn’t want to be told we couldn’t get what we wanted, when we wanted it. The ironic thing is that facing up to what you’re spending actually turns into a happy task as you learn to spend your money more wisely and on things that truly are important to you. Growing up can actually be fun. ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. Christmas is still a classic time for me to fall into these patterns – for all of the reasons you mention. Like you, I have done ZERO Christmas shopping. With the need to rush in an already busy life, I’m setting myself up for overspending. Thanks for the reminder. (And I actually DO appreciate this kind of reminder : )

  8. This has always been an issue for me. I hate checking our balances and working on our budget when I know we’ve overspent. Strangely enough, I always feel better once I actually sit down and face those mistakes head on. Knowing where your money is going and seeing those problem areas can be really helpful and empowering.

    I think this issue of not wanting to be reminded of your mistakes is especially pronounced when it comes to money. I’ve always seen money habits as a true reflection of your personality and core values, and when those habits are questioned, it’s like getting punched in the gut for most people.

    Great post!

  9. I can remember living paycheck to paycheck and how I never wanted to check my account balances back then. Not because it reminded me of how poorly I was managing my money but because it would have confirmed it. Now that I am not living in denial I budget and look forward to checking my accounts. It helps me to make better decision being informed.

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