“Advanced Rationalization” – 6 Ways We Sabotage Our Financial Lives

I know what you see around you. Make a budget. Stick to it. Save save save. You dive in with gusto and are quickly met with obstacles, then frustration, then you avoid and back off, or just give up because it’s overwhelming.

Does this sound like your dance with money?

While there are obstacles, for many of us, it’s something else. I call it – “Advanced Rationalization,” and it serves as an acceptable reason to procrastinate. We come up with elaborate ways to avoid the topic and find short-term peace with ourselves. But, this only delays the inevitable and sets us up for even more significant financial issues down the road.

Why do we do this to ourselves?



The first step to recognize this is a solvable problem and the ability to solve them is within us. The next step is to identify what is getting in the way.

I’ve compiled a list of the most common reasons women aren’t advancing their financial knowledge as much as they should. These are the most common ways I’ve seen women avoid, fear, innocently sidestep, or straight up rebel against when it comes to managing their money.


1. No Time


NEGATIVE FRAMING: Even in this era of the working mom, much of the household chores still fall on women. After a hard day of work, closely followed by more work at home, you are simply too tired to put in even more work. The last thing you want to do is pick up a boring book on personal finance. You’re doing well enough with your money, so managing your finances isn’t an “urgent need.” Plus, that glass of Pinot sounds WAY better (not that you’re wrong).

POSITIVE REFRAME: The struggle is real. Life is busy. Too busy. But, too busy for what? It all comes down to priorities.

Truth is, we somehow find time for the most important things in our lives. Understanding how to manage our money as well as we possibly can should be one of the highest priorities in our life.

Money is a multiplier; it amplifies whatever we apply it to.

If we prioritize our money and maximize its use, we can do more for the important people and causes in our lives. We must view managing our money as an essential task and make time for it. The time investment is well worth it.


2. No Confidence


NEGATIVE FRAMING: You just aren’t sure you know how to do it. You’ve googled personal finance and even started following a couple of personal finance sites, but with all of their statistics and jargon, you’re lost before you’ve really begun. Or, you pick up your financial statement and see charts and graphs you can’t interpret. No wonder you doubt your ability to learn this financial stuff.

POSITIVE REFRAME: Find the right starting point. Personal finance is a big topic, and I see women jump into the deep end of the pool as their starting point. Not good. Start small, start with the basics. As you build your skills, your confidence will build right along with it.

Understand what your learning style is and run with it. For example, if you learn best by listening, check out a few podcasts. Or, if you learn best visually, go to YouTube. Some women learn best in workshops, one-on-one, or reading.

Play to your strengths. Find the right medium, start small, and be consistent. You don’t need to learn everything, and you don’t need to learn it all at once.


3. Biology


NEGATIVE FRAMING: You say things like “I’m just not good at math, I’m just not built for this.”

POSITIVE REFRAME: I’d say it’s 50-50 as to whether or not women really believe this. No doubt, many do. For many others, I suspect, somewhere, buried deep down in the depths of their subconscious, they know it’s advanced, rationalized avoidance.

If you’re not “capable” of doing something, then there’s no shame (or accountability) when you don’t do it. Most of us aren’t capable of doing astronaut level math, and we don’t feel bad about it (and rightfully so).

The problem is when we tell ourselves we can’t do something when it is well within our capabilities. The math of personal finance falls squarely in this category. Perhaps you haven’t found the right instructor or learning method, but most of the “math” required to make smart, values-aligned financial decisions is accessible to women. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise, including yourself.


4. Invisible Money Scripts


NEGATIVE FRAMING: Oh, our personal history and upbringing. Our relationship with money started long ago, and it’s never-ending. And like any other long-term relationship, our past has shaped our current views on money. Poor money habits created in our past often lead to poor habits in the future. Unfortunately, we are often unaware of how the money habits and traditions we learned in our youth affect our money habits today.

POSITIVE REFRAME: First, acknowledge that our past is affecting our today and, if left unchecked, our future. Next, question everything.

We learned our first money habits from our parents. If we had parents who valued saving and being frugal with their money, there’s a good chance we’d have grown up with some of the same money traits. Perhaps this upbringing has caused you to be too conservative with your money, and you’re afraid to use some of it to live a full life. Is that the type of life you want for yourself? It’s a fair question.

Finally, look inwards and see if your invisible money scripts reflect the person who you want to be as opposed to the person you are. Being like “mom and dad” can be a great thing, but only if you want the same life as mom and dad. Don’t be afraid to question the money traditions you’ve inherited from your past.


5. Societal Headwinds


NEGATIVE FRAMING: It’s human nature to look outside ourselves for validation. It’s natural to compare ourselves to others to see how we stack up. In this age of pervasive social media, we don’t even have to go looking for it, it finds us. And all too often, we’re hit with everyone’s “perfect life.”

Staged photos of the most exquisite vacation destinations. Photo filters to show perfect, glowing, impeccable skin. Tantalizing posts of the most exquisite meal they’ve ever eaten, and they’ve eaten a lot of amazing meals. You know because they’ve told you. It’s enough to make the strongest of us question ourselves and if we’re “good enough.”

POSITIVE REFRAME: FOMO, celebrity worship, food / travel / body envy are real things. Sometimes they motivate us to better ourselves. More often, they do just the opposite and make us depressed or feel bad about ourselves.

Even though we know how choreographed and photoshopped traditional and social media are, it’s hard not to believe our eyes. We know that’s not how she looks in real life, but there she is looking amazing. She ALWAYS looks amazing. Ugh.

Do yourself a favor. Stop looking. Just stop. Do whatever it takes to stop. Remove the apps from your phone. Delete the bookmarks on your computer. Create separate and complicated passwords for all of the sites that require you to log in. Make the task you’re looking to avoid so annoying, tedious, or involved that it’s not worth the effort. Sometimes avoidance is the better part of valor.


6. Financial Services Ineptitude


NEGATIVE FRAMING: Wall Street sucks. All they care about are the rich. They don’t care about the little guy, and they certainly don’t care about women. No wonder women are behind with finances. The game’s rigged.

POSITIVE REFRAME: It’s well established there’s a chasm between what women want from “Wall Street” and what they’re receiving. But, that’s a fight for a different day. Work on being a stronger you first. Forget looking to Wall Street for the answers. There are tons of other financial resources out there you can turn to. As previously mentioned, start small and build from there.

Once you have a base of financial knowledge under your belt (it doesn’t have to be extensive), seek out the rare female-friendly financial professional. Believe it or not, there are a few diamonds in the rough who can help you learn more advanced financial concepts and strategies. The first step is to build a stable platform for learning and learn just enough to be dangerous.



Do you see ways you are self-sabotaging on the above list?


We want to help. We can teach you everything you need to know about money’s role in your life and how to avoid making life’s biggest money mistakes. We can show you how to help your daughter avoid making the same money mistakes you made when you were younger while avoiding a few of her own. We’ll give you the resources to help ensure she avoids self-sabotaging her financial future. Perhaps most importantly, you’ll learn how to prevent money from ruining your relationship and connect with her in a more meaningful way.

This is why we created the Money Talks with Teens program!

With this program, we teach mothers to understand the role money plays in their lives, and how to start the tough financial conversations with their daughters.

We want to break the cycle of women avoiding money topics.

Sign up for the Money Talks with Teens waitlist below, and we’ll keep you up to date on this program coming soon!