Finances and Personal Responsibility: Who Is To Blame For Your Money Problems?

The Victim Mentality

I was reading a post over at the other day that really got me thinking about the idea of a victim mentality, personal responsibility and how people handicap themselves by blaming others when they have problems.

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I think it is helpful to first define when I mean by a victim mentality. gives a good definition for this discussion:

a tendency to blame external or uncontrollable factors, instead of focusing on internal or controllable factors for things that go wrong

I think this lack of personal responsibility is one of the biggest problems we face today as a society.  Much of the credit crunch and foreclosure crisis we’re having can be placed squarely at the feet of people’s lack of responsibility.  People are buying into the lie that there is always someone else to blame (and someone else to depend on) and as a result find themselves paralyzed when it comes time to make wise financial decisions on their own.   They feel powerless.   We live in a consuming society where if we want something – we buy it.  Never mind the consequences.  We’ll just blame someone else for our money problems later on!

Do You Know A Persistent Victim? (Or Is It You?)

Have you ever known someone that always has an excuse for every problem that they have?  When they can’t make their credit card payment, they blame the credit card company for giving them a card with such a high interest rate.  When they get into an interest only or adjustable rate mortgage and they end up in foreclosure, they blame the banks for giving them a loan on such horrible terms.  They always look to blame someone else when in reality they should have taken responsibility and made better decisions for themselves and their families.  They should have been more responsible with their financial choices.

When it comes to personal finance, playing the victim card instead of taking responsibility will get you to one place – broke and in debt.  It all comes down to how you think, and how you react to your thinking.  Henry Ford once said:

Whether you believe you can, or you can’t, you are right.

The power of positive (or negative) thinking is very real.

Ok, So I Want To Take Responsibility.  Now What?

The first step to turning things around, is just realizing that you are in fact in control of your own destiny. You don’t have to rely on the government, the banks or your credit card company to help you stay in control of your finances. You can take steps to turn things around, and take responsibility for your financial decisions.

Don’t want to be in debt?  Take control of your finances.  Follow a plan like the one laid out by Dave Ramsey in his book “Total Money Makeover” and get out of debt – and prosper!

  1. Decide to stop your debt spiral and stop taking on new debt.  Stop using the credit cards and don’t take on any new loans.
  2. Set up a monthly budget, and live by it!
  3. Save a baby emergency fund ($1000-2000) for little emergencies that come up.
  4. Set up a debt snowball, and pay off your debts with the smallest balance first. If you need to – get an extra part time job or make money online to help pay off your debts.
  5. Save 3-6 months of expenses in case you lose a job, get ill, or something else along those lines.
  6. Save 15-20% for retirement.

That is a good place to start.  If you have questions about where you should begin, drop me a line and I’ll do my best to help answer your question.

Freedom Through Responsibility

One thing that I’ve found that financial responsibility brings – is freedom. Freedom to know that you can rely on yourself instead of depending on someone else for your financial destiny. The freedom to be debt free. The freedom to grow wealth instead of wallowing in debt. You will find incredible peace of mind (like I have found) when your last debt is paid off.

The Bible says:

The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender. Proverbs 22:7

By the same token, those who don’t borrow are no longer ruled over, but are free!  Start on your own journey towards financial freedom today!

Have you ever engaged in the “victim mentality”, and what did you do to get yourself turned around? Do you agree that the “victim mentality” is pervasive in our society?

Last Edited: 15th March 2012

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  1. says

    Great post! Sometimes we forget that no matter the circumstances, how react can be key. Even in times of medical catastrophe, we can decide how we will respond. We were in a bad place once, through no fault of our own, but rather than wallow in self-pity about how there was nothing to be done, we went to friends and family and church to find out what we could do. We made a plan to get things right. With help, faith and blessings, we managed to overcome. But I think standing up and changing charge was a key.

  2. says

    This is a very very good post, and I am not saying that just because you linked to my article. I think you covered the topic well and offered great ideas on how to start improving one’s financial situation and get off the blame wagon.

    Pinyos last blog post..Ebates $10 Sign Up Bonus And Online Shopping Tips

  3. says

    Great post. This is a very difficult issue today and I’m not sure how to best approach the larger problem. There are and will always be people that need help for one reason or another. Yet, there are also lazy people that try to claim they are somehow victims and refuse to take responsibility. Separating the two is impossible. I don’t think the problem is going to be solved by simply telling people to start taking responsibility for them selves.

    We need to discover the root cause of why people are willing to be lazy without feeling a sense of guilt. A generation ago, people refused to take handouts because they didn’t want to be thought of as lazy. They wanted to work for their own way. There are several reasons why this is no longer the case; most of them can be traced back to socialism (high tax and government welfare). High tax has made it harder and harder to earn a living by working and government welfare has removed the responsibility of guilt because the government is not a person that you are taking money from. Over time as more people accepted money from the government, the government became their primary provider which led people to ask the government for more and more. The government how provides 23% of the jobs in our economy for all the services it provides. These are a few of the issues behind the victim mentality of today. These issues can hardly be addressed by a personal financial blog. They need to be addressed by congress that has the power to change the culture through changes in the way the government operated.

    Curts last blog post..10 Best Blogging Books

  4. says

    I just read an economics research paper that talked about a principle in psychology known as the locus of control. For people with an external locus of control, they feel life just happens to them. For people with an internal locus of control, they feel they drive their own life. The paper I read said people who had an internal locus of control at the age of ten were wealthier and more successful as adults.

  5. says

    The choice is ours, we can either be a victim or a victor. It depends on how we choose to react to a particular situation. It is completely up to the individual.

  6. Donna Freedman says

    Attitude IS key. I’ve been working on eliminating negative attitudes that come out when I’m stressed. Although it sounds corny, I’ve been using certain phrases such as “I get to” (instead of “I have to”) and “Wow, this is a challenge” (instead of “I’m never going to be able to do this”).
    My attitude DOES change and things DO seem a little easier when I say, out loud, “Okay, it’s going to be a real challenge to read this chapter of Nietzsche, and then I get to write a response paper.”
    (I’m in college at age 50 and yeah, it IS a real challenge!)
    Another one that’s working for me happens when I’m compltely overwhelmed by work and studies and other responsibilities. In the past I would sometimes say, “I can’t do this.” One day I realized, “Wait a minute — you ARE doing this!” And I was. So when I feel really tired or scared, I say to myself, “I *am* doing this. Just keep doing it.”
    Prayer helps, too. But even my prayer has changed. Now I don’t say, “Help me, God.” I say, “God, please help me to help myself.” Lately I’ve modified that further: “God, please help me to help myself AND OTHERS.” When I get too bound up in my own little woes, it’s good to do something for someone else, whether that’s physically helping my daughter (who has health problems) or collecting items for the food bank or young adult shelter. It’s a reminder that all in all, I am pretty darned fortunate — and that I’m only a victim if I allow myself to be one.
    That said, I’d like to remind everybody that victimhood, and the poverty that usually accompanies/encourages it, are very complex issues. There are a lot of reasons that people get mired in the I-can’ts. Rather than condemn and dismiss them as lazy, incompetent or selfish, try to remember that people need help to learn to live a different way. It’s not as simple as deciding one day to develop a completely different set of life skills all by yourself. Those who say things like “If I succeeded, anyone can” are generally overlooking the advantages (hidden or overt) they have had in their lives.
    So help people help themselves, and be patient with them when they mess up. Remember learning to ride a bike? You didn’t just hop on and roll away at top speed. It’s more likely that a parent held the bike steady while you practiced. Maybe you fell off a few times, too. But you learned. So can most people — even those who initially resist leaving the victimhood mentality.
    It will take time to un-learn everything they’ve known until now, and yes, some people never WILL leave it because it’s pretty comfortable there in the sense that you know exactly what to expect — specifically, that no one expects much of you.
    But to assume that people LIKE being poor is pretty counterintuitive. Who, really, would PREFER living hand-to-mouth?

    Donna Freedmans last blog post..Family matters more than finance

  7. says

    The hardest part for someone with a victim mentality is making the realization that they create their own world, that they are responsible for what happens to them – not anyone or anything else.

    How do you make someone realize this? That is a tough question. I suppose one way to do it is to ask them to look at the cause and effect principle at work in their lives. Take an event that happened in their lives and get them to work it backwards to see what the cause of the event was.

    Its not easy.

    Until Debt Do US Parts last blog post..Why die rich? Frugal Fascism

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