When it comes to money, almost everyone lies. Here's how to see through five common money lies so many people tell.

Money and lies go together like peanut butter and … more peanut butter. That’s because too often, they are one and the same.

People not only lie about what they make and spend, but they lie about what they want to make and spend and they lie about what they think others make and spend. They lie about how important money is to them, how much they give to charity and how much they contribute to political campaigns.

People tip big in front of dates to lie about how wealthy and generous they are. Boyfriends lie to girlfriends about how expensive their engagement rings are. Kids lie to parents about how much of their lunch money they have left over at the end of the week, and parents lie to kids about not being able to afford to buy them toys.

Since money and lying are so entwined, I thought it fitting to choose the most common/weird/enjoyable money lies I have come across. So here are the lies, what people who use them are actually saying and how to see through them.

1. “I’ll pay you back next week.”

What it really means: “I will never, ever pay you back because I am too irresponsible. But I sort of vaguely think I will at some point, despite all logic.”

How to see through it: If the person had intended to pay you back, he would have done so. Here are some ways to shake that deadbeat down for cash.

2. “I’m not rich.”

What it really means: “I am rich but I am one of the cool rich people. Really.”

How to see through it: Nearly no one who is wealthy considers themselves to be rich. This is because they spend all their time obsessing about people who are even richer than them, and have drilled it into their heads that they are poor. They also see “rich” as a derogatory term, akin to the country club people from Caddyshack. If someone ever has to defend themselves from an accusation of being rich, they are inherently guilty.

3. “I can’t afford that right now.”

What it really means: “I don’t want that thing. Now or ever. If I wanted it and couldn’t afford it, I would get it anyway, on credit.”

How to see through it: This is a line that salesmen deal with often, and they dismiss it like a splattered bug wiped off a windshield. It’s simply a term of disinterest, like a date who says it’s getting late or a prospective employer who says he’ll keep your resume on file.

4. This is my best offer.”

What it really means: “This really is my best offer. For this specific moment of time. Until you reject it, in which case I will give you my best offer for that specific moment of time. And so on, until I manage to get you to accept mediocrity.”

How to see through it: Negotiations only work if both people are miserable afterward, and rhetorical tools such as “This is my best offer” are just trickery meant to make you the one who leaves the negotiation being the only miserable one, while the lie-teller goes out happy.

5. “I don’t regret the investment. I learned a lot from it.”

What it really means: “Man, was I an idiot for investing in Nicaraguan timber.”

How to see through it: Get-rich-quick schemes that turned into get-poor-slowly ordeals make people feel like idiots. So to counteract their feelings of idiocy, they twist the embarrassment around into their minds into a feigned positive. The so-called lesson they learned was what everyone around them was telling them before they made their dumb choice. That lesson was offered for free and went untaken.

What money lies drive you nuts?

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About the author

Total Articles: 18
Phil Villarreal writes Funny Money weekly for Money Under 30. He lives in Tucson and works for the Arizona Daily Star. He's also an author, blogger and Twitterer.

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2 comments
Bruce says:

“Nearly no one who is wealthy considers themselves to be rich. This is because they spend all their time obsessing about people who are even richer than them, and have drilled it into their heads that they are poor.”

That’s quite a sweeping assumption, Phil. While this is most certainly true for many celebrities whose lives inherently revolve around wealth and fame and the competition with other celebrities for wealth and fame, the average run-of-the-mill no-name wealthy people really aren’t obsessive and self-conscious over how rich they are compared to others. They have no reason to be.

Gerogi says:

Ha, great article. I hate number one. When you are irresponsible you do not have to want money from your friends. But when I think now, may be I am irresponsible too to give this money, isn’t that right?