How Making Excuses Stops Your Success

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Making excuses can save you from failure, but they can also prevent you from succeeding. The excuses we make can hold us back a lot in life. Here's why.

I remember some years ago my money was flying out of my wallet faster than it was coming in. It wasn’t the best time in my life. While I was making money, I couldn’t stop spending it. I spent it on things I wanted, needed, and rationalized in minutes.

One of my worst purchases was a Jetski just because I thought it would be cool to own one. I thought I would be the envy of my friends. Well, that whole situation ended poorly for me, but it was a huge lesson learned – not just about the danger of reckless spending, but of making excuses as well. I learned that making excuses can stop you from achieving success in life – whether that’s in attacking debt, reigning in expenses, achieving other financial goals or just living life in general.

Excuses Only Hurt You


While my spending was out of control, my excuses for every purchase were out of control. They didn’t make any sense when I look back at them. I “needed” this or that and my credit card was my savior. It was so easy to pull out the credit card and swipe it. I was the owner of a new trinket almost every day. I was out of control and it was due to my willingness to make excuses.

The same goes for reasons why I didn’t do this or that with my money. It took me years to start investing because I didn’t want to take the time to learn about it and I had debt. Had I known what I know now, I would have invested and saved more, even when paying off debt. I did save some while paying down my debts, but not nearly enough. I lost a lot of years that I could have used to compound interest to my advantage and propel our savings forward. It was a mistake and my excuses only perpetuated this mistake.

Making Excuses for Everything


I’ve been doing this blogging thing for over two years now. While that might not sound like much, it is in blogging terms. I’ve also been helping people get out of debt, and make extra money for some time. It’s something I’m passionate about. One of the biggest factors in the financial arena that I deal with are excuses. They are rampant. Anytime someone emails me or reaches out over social media, I tend to dig up an excuse as to why they hadn’t done something or won’t do something. It’s frustrating, but I can certainly relate. I’ve been there too.

When you make excuses for everything you do, then you really don’t ever do anything. People are always fearful of failure. It’s a natural thing. Who loves to fail? I can’t name anyone. While I don’t mind failing as it’s one of my ultimate motivators, I guess I can’t say I love it. I respect it.

Personal finance bloggers talk a lot about cutting expenses. It’s a big limb in the tree of personal finance. You need to cut expenses to live a financially manageable life. It’s not a secret. What I’ve seen over the years is that many people have a hard time actually doing it. Why? I’ve heard every excuse in the book as to why this expense can’t be cut. These excuses range from weak to complex, but they all go back to one thing. Fear of change and the unknown.

Making excuses can save you from failure, but they can also prevent you from succeeding. The excuses we make can hold us back a lot in life. Here's why.

One of my favorite things is hearing people create excuses for keeping their high-priced cable package. Now, I used to have a very expensive cable package. I watched TV regularly and it was hard for the first few weeks after I cut the cord. What got me through it was knowing I would be saving $80 per month and not having to watch most of the terrible programming.

Now, I still get to watch TV through my antenna and some other services, while still saving money. The best part about the lack of cable TV is I get to spend more time doing things I enjoy. It was amazing to me how much I got accomplished when the TV was off.

I’ve heard every excuse in the book about why cable is necessary, but it is most certainly not a need. It’s definitely a want. It’s hard for some to distinguish the two. It’s only a need if you use it to create income, whether for your job or own business. That’s when it’s a need. Any other time, it’s just a want. We, Americans, have a hard time distinguishing the two. I know I did for a long time. Once I figured it out, my financial life changed and so did my decision making. I ask everyone I speak with to understand the difference and embrace it.

One thing you should do when making decisions is to listen to yourself. Figure out if you are rationalizing your decisions based on real information or just emotions. Are you making excuses for this or that? If you are constantly making excuses, then you are just harming your ability to create change. You are holding yourself back and staying in the status quo.

You don’t want to be status quo, trust me!  It’s time to kick your excuses to the curb and start taking chances. Your future self will thank you for it.


What are some of your favorite excuses for not saving money? Or not learning to invest? Or not cutting expenses? What’s one “want” you’ve labeled a “need” and refused to cut? How would your life change with that expense not in it?


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Grayson is the owner of Debt Roundup and Empowered Shopper. He also co-owns Sprout Wealth and Eyes on the Dollar. After going to battle and winning against consumer debt, he decided it was time to learn how to use credit wisely and grow his wealth. He discusses all things personal finance and is not afraid of being controversial. He also is a freelance writer and blog manager.

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  • I agree that we have completely blurred the lines between needs and wants. Most wants are now seen as needs – cable as you’ve said, but also a smartphone. I think it is when we see so many other people with the item, like a smartphone, that we think it is a need and not a want. We have to take the time and really think things through to determine what really is a need vs a want.

  • I think with saving, you have to first admit to yourself that your spending is out of control. I think it’s a tough thing for people to realize, but once they do, they’ve taken the first step.

    Something that has helped me determine wants vs. needs is to put a certain expense on trial–I truly question it and if I’m willing to devote my hard-earned resources to it. Often, I’m not, and it’s a new area for me to save. But in some cases, like the coffee we make at home, I’m not willing to spend less–I know it’s a want, but I need it :).

  • I don’t have nearly as many excuses as I used to, but my main excuse now is time. I am pretty much booked up from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. There are times when I don’t have time to do the cheapest or most cost efficient thing.

  • FinanceValley says:

    I used to get caught up in the actions of others; items bought, entertainment events, expensive drinks at a bar. At some point, even though family and friends would brag about all this great ‘stuff’, I came to the realization it did not make them happy. After the initial excitement and ecstasy of a purchase, you come down from this feeling.

    Psychologically speaking, spending is actually a defense mechanism for some people to help fight depression, sadness, anxiety, etc… It certainly doesn’t create or support happiness.

  • Not many excuses these days. I used to use the “I work hard, so I deserve this” excuse all the time to justify overspending on credit cards. I’m glad those days are behind me.

  • There’s also the possibility that people just value having cable. We all have entertainment budgets for things we enjoy.

    We have only mortgage debt, save a lot, and have cut expenses way down, but have chosen to keep cable because I really enjoy college sports. It’s high enough on our value proposition to keep it for that purpose.

    I agree with the sentiment of excuses though.

  • Tonya Stumphauzer says:

    Food is always my toughest areas. I somehow find a way to justify everything I’m purchasing. “But it’s for my health!” is one of the things. Really Tonya? That powdered peanut butter you add to your oatmeal is going to make a huge difference in your health? 🙂 So yeah, stuff like that.

  • I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing to not cut out a want. I think it’s good to spend money on wants (when it fits within your budget). Cable is definitely a “want” and I think it’s perfectly fine to pay for it. But yes, you do have to recognize that it’s a want.

  • Our biggest excuse for spending money used to be that it was okay, because “we don’t spend nearly as much as everyone else does”. Never mind that that “not nearly as much” was getting us deeper and deeper into debt. Denial is a serious and dangerous game, isn’t it!

  • Nunzio says:

    Excuses still get me every once and a while but I’ve learned how to identify when I’m trying to take the excuse-train out of being-accountable-ville. I see this the most with the businesses I work with.They get so used to doing things the way they have always been done that they refuse to consider the financial implications of their actions. Sometimes the hardest battles are trying to get people out of excuse making habits because there’s a stigma still around not wanting to be wrong or acknowledging that there needs to be change. It’s that insiders view where everyone else is subject to making excuses but my excuses are real reasons that can’t be avoided.

  • Travel is my biggest excuse! I could definitely save some more if I allot my travel funds to savings but I just couldn’t live without some travelling! But I think it’s definitely worth it. Plus I do it on a budget too.

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