Honesty and the Truth Regarding Money

Move faster down your success road: Discern the difference between honesty and the truth regarding money.

“To be perfectly honest with you, I don’t like to talk with my partner about money. It’s such a heavy subject. She likes to save money, and I like to use it to buy the things I love.”

“To tell the truth, I just spent $120 on a blouse. It’s not in keeping with my budget, so I’ll reconcile it by spending no more than $50 for the next two weeks on eating out.”

To be successful in life, cultivate your ability to tell the truth about what you see in any given situation.  Learn to do this quickly before your mind begins to form a story about the facts that can leave you without the power to be resilient. 

I hope to clarify the difference between facts and our story about the facts in this edition. In our relationship with money, the truth is often obscured by our feelings, thoughts, attitudes, states of mind, or points of view. That’s what I call honesty. 

The definition of truth, according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, is:

            “The body of real things, events, and facts.”

When we look at our relationship with money, events and facts are often not palatable or comfortable to encounter. One thing I’ve learned is that this discomfort is normal and natural.

By normal, I mean it’s the norm. It’s something shared by many of us. By natural, I mean it’s clear that we associate money with survival. It doesn’t matter how much we make, the fear and anxiety can still arise. These emotions are there because our brain wants to protect us from harm, whether or not anything hurtful is waiting for us.

If you’ve read other editions of this newsletter, you’ve probably seen my definition of success.   I developed it over many years of working with thousands of people.

Success is doing what you said you would do, consistently, with clarity, focus, ease, and grace.

Clarity means being able to see two things clearly. First, to become clear about what’s truly important to us. The difference we might want to make with ourselves, our family, our profession, or our community. The values that we hold dear. When we see these, life takes on meaning. If you want to see one aspect of these values, please go here: 

Life’s Intentions Inventory »

You’ll see the Life’s Intentions Inventory. It’s a list of purposes that many people have found valuable. Fill out this inventory. Then, take three Life’s Intentions that score “5” for you, and print them on a card. Put the card where you can see the Life Intentions every day for ten days. See what happens to your sense of purpose and meaning. It’s an automatic process. You are teaching your brain to look for places you can demonstrate these Life’s Intentions. 

A second aspect of Clarity is being clear about how you use the energy of money. The facts. The truth. The second example at the beginning of this newsletter illustrates what telling the truth looks like.  It’s about how that person spent the energy of money. It’s not “sexy” to tell the truth. It can be momentarily uncomfortable. But only momentarily. Once you look at facts in the face, you have something that you can do about the situation. You have agency.  With agency comes resilience—the ability to bounce back.

Now on to honesty, which can bring only momentary relief, especially when it comes to money. Honesty in this context is about our story, feelings, or rationalizations for why we treat money the way we do.

Examples of honest statements include:

  • I know I spent more last month than I earned. I put everything I bought on a credit card. I’ll make it up later. My family never taught me how to save.
  • This is the way I honestly feel: I work hard.  I deserve an occasional treat. And besides, right now, I don’t make enough money to open a savings account.  

These people tell the truth about how they feel or what they think. They may tell the same story multiple times. I remember one woman telling me:

Clara: “These thoughts I think…these stories I tell myself and my friends…they get so boring. They don’t change anything.”

That’s the essential feature of honesty: nothing changes. And when nothing changes, we don’t move forward.

What you can do:

  • Now that you have three Life Intentions that score “5,” pick one of them to examine.
  • Ask yourself: have I had difficulty in demonstrating this Life’s Intention? For example, if one of your Life’s  Intentions is “to be a successful writer,”  ask yourself: “Is there some fact about my relationship with money that I am willing to tell the truth about?”
  • It may be that you haven’t paid credit cards down to zero, haven’t started a savings account, or haven’t created a budget. 
  • Pick only one money “fact” to clear up. Make it be one that would help you demonstrate that Life’s Intention.  
  • For example, one person had “to be a loving family member” and saw they hadn’t created a Christmas savings account to buy presents without going into debt every year.
  • Remember to just pick one money “fact” to handle.

I promise, if you do this, you’ll become more and more able to simply tell the truth when it comes to money. You will have come a long way toward creating “Clarity”, the first principle of success.

Wishing you all my best,


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