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Five Excuses You Should Never Use Again

Don't let excuses keep you from goalsExcuses. We all use them, sometimes out of convenience, sometimes to make ourselves feel better. They are a necessary part of life, but when you use excuses to the extent that they become reality and lower your potential, it’s time to learn some new ways of thinking. Here are five excuses you should never use again.

I Can’t Afford It

I have used this excuse a million times in the past. I think it’s truth in many situations. If you make $25,000 a year and want a $500,000 house, you really can’t afford it, but when you use this excuse to stop yourself from saving or investing, that’s when it becomes a problem.

I strongly believe everyone can come up with an extra $500 a month or more if they put their minds to it. The problem is that most people are unwilling to step outside their comfort zone and take advantage of all the opportunities that are available.

I can’t afford it is also a very negative way to view the world. Denying yourself something by thinking you don’t have enough money is the wrong way to go about it. Remind yourself that you can afford it but choose not to because you are saving for other, more important goals.

I Don’t Have Time

Have you ever spoken with anyone who claims not to be busy? I haven’t. Lack of time is a huge excuse, and reality is that there will never be more than 24 hours in the day. There’s no point in wishing for more time.

What you can do is make the best possible use of the time you have.

  • Get organized and keep clutter to a minimum.
  • Make a list and complete the most important tasks first.
  • Don’t get distracted by things that aren’t a priority.
  • Schedule down time. If you know you have an hour in the evening for browsing Facebook, you won’t do it during the day.
  • Accept that perfection is not always ideal. I could spend at least two hours a day cleaning my house, but I’ve realized 15 minutes a day works just fine. It isn’t perfect, but I have more time for other things.
  • Stay up an hour later or get up a hour earlier. Most people can sacrifice an hour of sleep without ill effects. It’s amazing what you can do in a focused hour, especially if no on else is awake!

I Don’t Know How

While it’s probably impossible to know how to do everything, it’s very possible to learn new skills and sharpen old ones. A few years ago, I barely knew what a blog was, let alone how to run one. I also had no idea how to search for and purchase income property. Both of those things became possible with study and research. It’s not always the best use of time to do everything by yourself, but if you want to make or save extra money or do something different with your life, I don’t know how needs to get kicked to the curb.

  • Don’t know how to get out of debt? Start tracking your finances at Personal Capital or Mint.
  • Don’t know how to get started with retirement savings or investing? Many online brokerages like Vanguard, Motif, and Betterment make it as easy as slicing butter.
  • Don’t know how to set up a WordPress site? There’s a YouTube video for that!. The internet really takes away the excuse of not knowing how.

This Is How I’ve Always Done It

I have to remind myself to stop using this excuse as health care rules have changed dramatically over the past few years. I think the way I used to do things was fine, but the government says otherwise. Besides, maybe the new way is better, even if it seems more difficult at the beginning.

Just because you’ve always done something a certain way doesn’t mean that it’s the right way. Have your habits kept you in debt or stopped you from advancing in your career? Again, there is nothing harder than stepping outside your comfort zone, but it can be very rewarding if you have the courage to try.

I’m Not Ready

We stayed in debt much longer than we should have because we were just not ready to put in the effort it took to be debt free. I see this quite a bit with patients as well. Most unhealthy people know they are not doing their best to live a long and active life, but they aren’t ready to give up cheeseburgers or being a couch potato.

People who are not ready usually end up in one of two places. Either they finally do get ready and wonder what the heck took them so long, or they keep putting change off until something catastrophic happens.

I kick myself for all the years we lost while we were building debt instead of wealth, but thankfully, we turned it around before there was an awful financial event like losing a job or not being able to pay our mortgage. The ones who really wish they’d been ready sooner are those who end up old with no savings or hope of a decent retirement. I promise that today is that absolute best day to be ready.

What other excuses would you add to the list? What’s your favorite excuse?


Image Credit: Freedigitalphotos.net/Miles

About Kim Parr

Kim Parr is a private practice optometrist, freelance writer, and personal financial blogger. You can follow her journey to 20/20 financial vision at Eyes on the Dollar.


  1. “This is how I’ve always done it.” Ugh…! Can’t stand this one. Now there is no reason to fix something that isn’t broken but our minds have to be open to new possibilities also. Too often this excuse keeps people from analyzing problems, breaking new ground and moving forward.

  2. All valid excuses that I’ve unfortunately used in the past. In particular, the “I’m not ready” one really hits home. When is someone ever “truly” ready for anything? Sometimes you’ve got to just jump in the pool with both feet and know that you’re going to swim no matter what.

    • Isn’t that the truth? If I waited until I was 100% ready, I’d never get anything accomplished. I’d probably never have even gotten a job.

  3. “I don’t have time” is a crappy excuse that I use all the time. If you want to do something, you make time for it. That’s the cold, hard truth, although I hate hearing it sometimes.

    • It is true that we can usually make time if we’re motivated enough. I don’t know anybody who doesn’t spend time on stupid things. I love to zonk out in front of a good Netflix show as much as the next person, but I can’t do that if I have deadlines and crap I need to get finished.

  4. Yah… I’m guilty of using all of these excuses. 🙁 Not really prioritizing my priorities is my biggest one, though. Finding a new, better paying job is my ultimate goal right now, but I spend more time cleaning the house each week then I do applying for jobs. Why do I do this???

    • I think because cleaning house is something you can do at this moment and see a result. It might not be a result that helps your long term goals, but it is a positive result. At least that’s what I tell myself.

  5. I probably use all of these excuses because as you say, there are only 24 hours in a day. We can’t care about everything at once. I just don’t care about some stuff that much. For the important stuff, there can be absolutely no excuses!

  6. I’m horribly guilty of #2, even though I hate it as an excuse. At the end of the day, if something is important to you or something you want to do then you need to do what it takes to make it a priority.

    • You can’t have enough time for everything, but you are right that we can prioritize and eliminate things that are huge time wasters with little to no benefit.

  7. I think “this is how I’ve always done it” is the worst. When people I say that I’m just like- so what? does that actually mean anything about it is right? haha

    • I think that mentality is even worse in small towns. You’d think we were starting nuclear war sometimes to ask for things like a mill levy to give more money for the schools or fire departments.

  8. We are in such a blessed financial position now that I really do need to use excuses. We can afford everything we need and pretty much every thing we want….just not all at the same time. I guess my excuse that I use the most is “I don’t want to” and that pretty much refers to exercising. 😉 When I was working and needed extra income, I didn’t feel I had time to take on an extra job and pretty much decided that there was nothing out there that would allow me to work at home after my full time day job, so the excuse then was “I don’t have the extra time to be away from home” and once again….”I don’t want to”. Hard to get around that last one.

    • There are lots of things I could learn or do better, but I don’t want to. I think after a certain point, I’ve earned the right to choose not to do things that I really don’t enjoy and that don’t bring me much in the way of rewards.

  9. I probably say “I can’t afford it” (although I try the positive spin version of it’s not in my spending plan”) the most. I sometimes wonder if I’m blocking my own possibilities with that “excuse” or am I being smart with money. Sometimes I have a hard time deciding. 🙂

    • I think it can go both ways. It’s that whole should I spend money to make money argument. Sometimes it works in your favor and sometimes not. I just don’t want to skimp out on anything that could be a potentially great opportunity to make more money or learn something valuable.

  10. I love the “I don’t have time” excuse. Usually it’s used by people who have PLENTY of time!

    • That is very true. I know so many online and entrepreneurial people who get a tremendous amount of things done in a day and who are always finding ways to do more while lots of people I know don’t work nearly as much or have nearly as many responsibilities but still complain about not having enough time.

  11. Actually, my husband uses the “we can’t afford it” rationale. That’s because he has ADD, so it’s the fastest way for him to stop the thought process.

    And right now we actually can’t afford it. We need to have $25,000 by the end of the year for his teeth. So we’re trying to pare down on things that aren’t necessities. “Trying” being the operative word, but like all things it’s a process.

    • I think not being able to afford unnecessary things in order to save up for an important goal is a fine use of this excuse.

  12. I am the WORST at saying I don’t have time. I know that I have wasted thousands of dollars with that excuse. Rather than say this now, I commit to finding the time. Yes, you may lose some sleep and some sanity, but doing it yourself is so much better than outsourcing just because you don’t think you have the time.

    • Most people can find an hour or two in a day if they are motivated. I know I waste tons of time getting distracted by things that are not important, like if I walk by my daughters room and see it needs decluttering or something similar. I should let her do it herself and stick to the things I need to get done.

  13. I have certainly heard and probably used all of these excuses myself. The one that I am probably most guilty of is not having enough time. Sometimes it is legitimate in that I struggle to say “no” and take on too much stuff. I’ve gotten much better there but I do know what you mean by those who throw that out as an argument but have lots of “free time” to do whatever.

    • Most of the people I hear complain about money or a lack of it certainly have time to do lots of unproductive things but surprisingly little time to earn extra money.

  14. “I Can’t afford it” is a terrible excuse for many people. What they’re really saying is, they’re UNWILLING to sacrifice some of the comforts they have now in order to prepare for the future.

    • I think it works in good and bad ways. Saying you can’t afford a new wardrobe might be a good way to use this excuse but saying you can’t afford to save for retirement is a terrible idea.

  15. I know this is a blog so you have to make claims that fit well with a topic, but I do think some of these excuses can be justifiable in some situations. I truly think some people do not have time for things that they commit to and in turn end up performing poorly in many areas of life. I also think there can be situations where you are simply “not ready” for something. You can say “I want to start a plumbing business!” but you truly ‘aren’t ready’ if you know nothing about plumbing. I did like your first example, though, because I am a big advocate of increasing income and figuring out HOW to afford something versus simply resigning yourself to what you can afford at your current salary level.

    • My hope was to make people think about stopping excuses if that’s what is holding them back. I am not ready to quit my job. It would not make sense financially or mentally, but I am taking steps so that I can quit down the road. To sit around and complain about my job but not be ready to change anything was more of what I was thinking with that excuse.

  16. In my professional life, nothing drives me more crazy than hearing someone say “this is the way we’ve always done it.” I just can’t stand it! But turn around into my personal life, and I do it all the time. Not necessarily using the excuse out loud, but certainly letting my actions say it for me. Why does the idea not cross over between the two?

    • We kept our satellite TV way longer than we should have because it was something Jim and I both grew up with and always had. I think there are tons of examples in our personal lives where we keep spending money because it’s familiar.

  17. ‘I don’t have time’ rings a bell with me. As a stay at home mom it seems like I should have all the time in the world, my house should be spic and span, and all of our projects caught up, right?! I’m learning to find balance and in the last few years have gone from volunteering full time to very part time. It’s a process to make time for what’s really important to you and let go of the rest.

    • I think SAHM’s probably have less time than those who work at a regular job. Your shift is always 24/7. It’s not like you can schedule time to get things done when you have kids and their needs to attend to.

  18. These excuses all look a little too familiar, I must admit. “I can’t afford it,” is something I used to say a lot. Now, I do my best to say, “We’re not budgeting for that.” But the old “can’t afford it” can still slip out if I’m not paying attention. Nothing sadder than for people to become “old with no savings or hope of a decent retirement.” I know someone whose mom is in that situation, and it weighs upon her heavily. Good reminders here : )

  19. “I’m just not luck like some people” I hate when people say that to me! It isn’t luck, it’s hard work.

    • I think you make your own luck in most cases. Forward thinking people turn bad luck into opportunities while complainers just use it as an excuse.

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