Rescue fantasies are generally harmless, and they can be a great way to figure out your money “weak spots”—the subtle ways you might be avoiding full control of your life or your money. The fantasy only gets dangerous if you’re really, really counting on that scratch-and-win ticket to pay your bills.
Here are some of the most common rescue fantasies:
Prince Charming in A Porsche: Some of the strongest, most independent women I know still have this nagging sense that their financial situation isn’t quite real. Someone else is out there, waiting to take them away from all that nasty credit card debt. You met this investment banker last night, and he just may be the handsome answer to your financial troubles.
The Million-Dollar Screenplay: This is a common one. It’s also the fuel that fires reality TV and pyramid schemes everywhere. Your genius fantasy could involve anything from writing the Great American Novel to getting famous for your fabulous singing voice. The bottom line is this: You have an incredible talent that once revealed, will pay millions and put in you in limos and at the top of Oscar party invite lists.
The Family Windfall: This scenario can go two ways. Either a totally unknown, ridiculously wealthy family member leaves you a fat inheritance check. (You didn’t even know you had a Great Aunt Doris, but luckily, she knew all about you.) Or, every time you’ve maxed out your AMEX card, your family was there to help. Regardless of whether that help came with strings attached, or it was freely and graciously given, you’ve come to rely on your relatives. Deep down, you believe Daddy will always swoop in and make it better. This is a common (if not often-discussed) fantasy that’s especially potent when you come from wealth and abundance.
My Brilliant Stockbroker: You can sniff a great investment from a mile away. Problem is, you smell the questionable ones from six feet. That’s why your stockbroker (or brother, or father-in-law, or deli guy) is giving you tips that can’t lose. We’ve all heard tales of ground-floor stock purchases that turned, literally, into gold. You know it’s gambling, but hey, you’re a winner. Why should this be any different? All you need is a chunk of change to invest…
The Winning Ticket: Scratch-and-win, slot machines, super prize draws, Vegas—there’s a reason so many of us fantasize about beating the odds and escaping to Ibiza. It’s gotta be the most straightforward rescue fantasy out there. Invest $2, wait a few days, and head back to the 7-Eleven with your winning ticket.
Head in the Sand: Why bother saving for the future? And what’s all this talk of 401(k)s? Everyone knows the only constant is change. When my retirement party rolls around, nothing will be the same, so I’m just gong to wait and see what happens. At the very worst, the government will be there to help, right?
By figuring out how you really think and feel about money, work and relationships, you can move forward and manage your life in ways that are smart and sane.
- Excerpt from Earn What You’re Worth: A Wildly Sophisticated Approach to Investing in Your Career and Yourself, by Nicole L. Williams with Cheri Hanson. Published in Jan 2005 by Penguin Putnam. To read more, click here.