I was walking our dog around the lake when a young child on a scooter, accompanied by his running mother, cried out, “I’m never doing this again!” I speculated that the mother, wanting to go running, suggested to her son to grab his scooter and go around the lake, most likely overselling how much fun it would be. Ah, the seeds of mistrust can be planted young.

It’s unlikely that the mother said to herself, “My kid is going to hate this, but I have to get a run in.” She knew she wanted to go running and also understood that she couldn’t leave her young kid home alone. She most likely convinced herself that this was a nice way to get outside and spend time with her child.

We spend a lot of time convincing ourselves of things that probably aren’t true. This often happens in our financial lives.

It probably isn’t true that the home we are going to buy will be a great investment, yet we have to convince ourselves that it is. By treating it as an investment, we pretend that it is practical rather than personal. The drawback is that every subsequent decision we make around the home comes under the lens of what return we will get from it. This includes being stuck in a home we hate because we can’t get our money out of it.

It probably isn’t true that one-time expenditures in our cash flow plans are really one-time. Year after year, clients say that they had some unexpected costs that were one-time. This means they continue overspending. While the big ticket items may change, the recurring, one-time costs are about the most predictable thing we see.

It probably isn’t true that when you get past whatever is in front of you that things will slow down. Clients justify their frenetic pace by convincing themselves that they are one hurdle away from normalcy. Nope. Our most frantic clients often seem to need the frenzy that they complain about.

We fool ourselves into believing we can have everything even though we know we can’t. These tricks enable us to avoid weighing decisions that could lead to better outcomes if confronted.

If your home is your hamlet, you may derive great satisfaction from it. Why does it need to be a good investment?

If you are overspending today, you may get bailed out by not living very long. Is that something you want to count on? If you slow down and make conscious choices, you will find that you don’t need to lie to yourself.

Spend your life wisely.


Ross Levin is the chief executive officer & founder of Accredited Investors Wealth Management in Edina.