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Signs You’re In Financial Denial



Financial disaster rarely comes about overnight. Even for those devastated by a sudden, tragic event, the foundation of their collapse lies in their daily habits and assumptions, and has been brewing for many years.

Whether overcome by an unexpected experience, or living in a state of horrible financial neglect, many people are in full-blown denial about their contributions to the event. ‘How can this possibly be my fault?,’ they ask.

My friends, you have more power than you think.

Defining Denial

My definition of financial denial is simple, although the effects are far from that:

Having a money problem and not being able to admit it.

Without getting past acceptance, the problem never exists in the first place, and you can’t begin to work at the root of the issue. Without diligence and a sound plan of action, a solution is impossible.

The form of denial most familiar to many of us is associated with substance abuse – alcoholism and drugs. In fact, financial denial is very similar, and you’ll likely recognize some of the symptoms on the list.

The Symptoms

Denying financial problems is as much a disease as substance abuse, and the effects can be damaging and long-lasting. Money affects every other area of life – including relationships, careers, and personal health.

Let’s look at some of the signs you or someone you know is in denial:

1. Using Lack of Failure as Evidence of Success. Many people without any visible or major money problems use their high success rate as an excuse to avoid saving or making other smart money moves. Unfortunately, getting lucky is not evidence that you’ve done all the right things, just that you haven’t been caught by Murphy yet.

2. Getting a Thrill From Living on the Edge. For many people, living paycheck to paycheck is a psychological thrill. They get a short-lived high figuring out how to pay their bills and successfully making it through another month. It may be fun for a while, but the likeliness of disaster looms.

3. Hiding Money Problems from Friends & Family. If you’re not willing to share your financial habits with your loved ones, you’re probably embarrassed about something. Hiding can extend the problem, because others it affects are often unaware that it’s even happening.

4. Making ‘Someday’ Statements Frequently. People who play the lottery, overspend regularly, or are living in a perpetual state of ‘it will be better tomorrow’ are victims of this symptom. When did we stop being happy with what we have today, and instead look for a quick fix in the future to fix our current problems?

5. Having a Rationalization for Everything. Excuses, excuses. The highest-level deniers can come up with a logical, thoughtful explanation for almost any expense or silly money move. These folks are particularly hard to break because they usually think that their logic equates to being correct in their assumptions.

6. Getting Angry When Confronted. One of the classical denial symptoms is using anger or blame to shift attention from the issue and onto something else. It’s often the most hurtful to those around you.

7. Believing You’re a Unique Exception. While we’re all unique in some way, it’s hard to say we are exceptions to the rule. Dealing with money follows a set of principles that, when violated, boomerang back and hit you in the face harder than you expect.

8. Thinking Emergencies Won’t Happen to You. I hate to break it to you, but none of us are God. Believing that you’re invincible doesn’t decrease the probability of a financial emergency striking at any minute.

9. Creatively Making the Problem Look Smaller. People in denial have the uncanny ability to disguise and downplay money issues in a way that makes them seem insignificant.

10. Being Scared of ‘Normal’. Many people have the genuine psychological need to stay away from ‘normal.’ They believe that life without debt, without money problems, and with adequate income and savings – would simply be too boring. See #2.

11. Not Having Hard Data to Back Your Claims. It’s great that you think you’re on your way to a comfortable retirement, but do the numbers speak the same truth? You may get a lot of psychological mileage by making generalized and inflated statements, but be careful of actually believing what you say! Do what you say.

12. Refusing Genuine Help. If this is your problem, you’re probably not reading my blog, or getting any other form of financial help. Whether it’s arrogance, ignorance or indifference, you simply will not seek assistance. It will be hard to help you unless you decide you want to help yourself.

13. Using Success in One Area to Overshadow Failures. It’s great to celebrate even the smallest of victories – lasting change does not happen overnight! But like making the problem look smaller, people in denial can often take the tiniest victories and use them as their victory speech for months, ignoring the rest of their declining financial situation.

14. Believing Your Actions are Independent. You are not alone in this world. Even if you’re single and live alone, your actions still affect others around you. If you’re in a relationship or part of a family structure, the effect is tenfold. Making decisions without considering their implications on others is a quick path to failure.

15. Missing Out on Promises and Responsibilities. Being unable or forgetting to pay your bills, or promising to go on a vacation with your spouse and never saving up enough money for it – these are both good examples of this symptom.

Somebody Save Me!!

If you’re nodding your head furiously, there’s a good chance you recognize some of these in yourself or those around you. It’s not a lost cause, just the first step!

While a detailed analysis might involve the help of a good psychologist, I’ve prepared a few tips to get you started if you’re trying to help someone get out of financial denial. Each situation will be unique and rely on the strength of your relationship and how well you know and respond to the person in question.

Consider the following:

  • If you’re not close, find someone who has a well-established relationship with your target (target being the person in denial).
  • Try to understand your target’s point of view and base your comments from that perspective.
  • Point out the potential consequences of doing nothing.
  • Ask your target to approach your opinions with an open mind and no commitments.
  • Never, ever accuse your target or use ‘you’ statements – it almost guarantees defensiveness.
  • Help your target see things from a different perspective.
  • Seek the help of a trusted or verified source, like an adviser or magazine.
  • Help your target develop an alternative financial plan. Walk them through it step by step.
  • Show your target how their denial is affecting their loved ones.
  • Don’t get frustrated – you can only make your target aware; they have to change their own behavior.
  • If you can, pick a day where they are feeling optimistic about their finances (like after a big tax refund).


Focusing on the future effect of your actions and on solid financial principles is the key to overcoming denial and moving forward.

If you’re in way over your head, please get some professional help. More often than not, the underlying issues are too personal and too in-depth to solve in a blog post.

What I can do is make you more aware of what to look for and spark a sense of acceptance within. Best of luck!

This article was written and produced by Fiscal Fizzle, a blog on all matters financial. see more.


Women on Top in Tech – Daphne Ng, CEO of JEDTrade



(Women on Top in Tech is a series about Women Founders, CEOs, and Leaders in technology. It aims to amplify and bring to the fore diversity in leadership in technology.)

Daphne Ng is the CEO of JEDTrade, a blockchain technology company focused on trade, supply chain, and financial inclusion projects in ASEAN. She is also the Scretary-General at ACCESS and Exco. of Singapore Fintech Association

What makes you do what you do?
I was introduced to blockchain technology in 2016 after I left my corporate banking career after 10 years. It was my mentor who first got me interested in this technology, which I then went on to delve further into, on its potential applications in the lending and trade finance space – domains where I came from.

How did you rise in the industry you are in?
Being in the space for 2 years and actively involved in the ecosystem, I was able to bring on the projects, network and a good degree of thought leadership in this vertical. Early on in the startup journey, our team faced many challenges. And to me, the key to rising above failures are two essential factors – resilience and support. While resilience is innate, I received a lot of help be it in terms of connections or advice. ‘Nobody succeeds without help’ rings very true for me.

Why did you take on this role/start this startup especially since this is perhaps a stretch or challenge for you (or viewed as one since you are not the usual leadership demographics)?
From the start, I focused on my domain expertise in trade finance and the application construct of how blockchain and DLT can be applied to these use cases. Also, my strategy from the start was to build a technology company made up of 80% tech and engineers, which is also our key competitive advantage today. At the end of the day, deliverables are about strategy and execution, which includes building and leading an ‘A’ team.

Do you have a mentor that you look up to in your industries or did you look for one or how did that work?
I have many mentors, which includes our company advisors (all of whom are well-known in this industry) and mostly informal mentors I meet via my connections, and on various occasions and circumstances. Creating opportunities also means putting myself in the right place, at the right time. And in my case, these were mostly organic and genuine friendships formed from the initial connection.

How did you make a match if you and how did you end up being mentored by him?
To me, a match in values is very important. It also takes humility to ask for help and be willing to listen to advice, which is important in order for mentorships to be successful – be it formal or informal.

Now as a leader how do you spot, develop, keep, grow and support your talent?
I love this question! I am passionate about building strong teams and helping my people grow. I abide by the 3Rs when identifying talents: resourcefulness, resilience and right values. And then I invest in the ‘potential’ and this means giving them room to lead, make decisions and take risks.

Do you consciously or unconsciously support diversity and why?
My support of diverse talents, skillsets and characters can be seen in the make-up of our core team – all helming specific roles and each bringing their own value to the table. We need the sum of all parts to build a great company.

What is your take on what it takes to be a great leader in your industry and as a general rule of thumb?
Great leaders emerge in times of failures and challenges, never abandoning the team, and always putting the team’s interests before her own. And I consciously live by these mottos every day.

Advice for others?
My advice to other entrepreneurs: be resolute and dare to be different. If you are going to follow others, then you will end up on the same path as them. No right or wrong; but I would rather chart my own path. This June, we are officially launching our blockchain project, Jupiter Chain (, which have garnered much interest in the industry, even before we made it public. We believe this project is the epitome of marrying innovation with practical implementation, and we want to be the first to truly operationalize blockchain for our ecosystem projects in this region.

If you’d like to get in touch with Daphne Ng, please feel free to reach out to her on LinkedIn:

To learn more about JEDTrade, please click here.

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Callum Connects

Jace Koh, Founder of U Ventures



Jace Koh believes cash flow is the lifeblood of your business. Understanding it will enhance your ability to run and manage your business.

What’s your story?
My name is Jace Koh and I am the Founder of U Ventures. I’ve always been inclined towards investment and entrepreneurship. I’ve played a hand in starting businesses across these industries – professional services, cloud integration, software and music. I believe that succeeding in business is tough, but that’s what makes the rewards even sweeter.

What excites you most about your industry?
Everything excites me. These are my beliefs:

  • Why is accounting important?
    The accounting department is the heart. Cash flow is like blood stream, it pumps blood to various parts of the body like cash flow is pumped to various departments and/or functions in a business. It is vital to the life and death of the business.
  • Is accounting boring?
    Accountants are artists too. They paint the numbers the way they want them to be.
  • What makes a good accountant?
    A good accountant can tell you a story about the business by looking at the numbers.
  • Why is budgeting and projection important?
    Accountants are like fortune tellers, they can predict the numbers and if you wish to understand your business and make informed decisions, feel free to speak to our friendly consultants to secure a meeting.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I was born and raised in Singapore, and here’s where I want to be.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Singapore is my favourite city. We have great legal systems in place, good security and people with integrity. Most importantly, we have a government that fosters a good environment for doing business. I recently went for a cultural exchange programme in Hong Kong to learn more about their startups. I found out that the Hong Kong government generally only supports local business owners in terms of grants. They’ve recently been more lenient and changed the eligibility to include all businesses that have at least 50% local shareholding. But comparing that to Singapore, the government only requires a 30% local shareholding to obtain government support. In the early days of starting a business, all the support you can get is precious. It’s great that we have a government that understands that.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
The best time ever to plant a tree was 10 years ago as the tree would have grown so big to provide you with shelter and all. When is the next best time to plant a tree? It is today. Because in 10 years time, the tree would have grown big enough to provide you shelter and all.

Who inspires you?
Jack Ma. His journey to success is one of the most inspiring as it proves that with determination and great foresight, even the poorest can turn their lives around. I personally relate to his story a lot, and this is my favourite quote from him, “If you don’t give up, you still have a chance. Giving up is the greatest failure.”

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
I’ve faced multiple rejections throughout my business journey, and recently came across a fact on Jack Ma about how he was once rejected for 32 different jobs. It resonated very deeply and taught me the importance of tenacity, especially during tough times.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
Nothing. I live a life with no regrets. Everything I do, regardless of whether it is right or wrong, happy or sad, and regardless of outcome, it’s a lesson with something to take away.

How do you unwind?
I love to pamper myself through retail therapy and going for spas. I also make a conscious effort to take time off work to have a break outside to unwind as well as to uncloud my mind. This moment of reflection from time to time helps me see more clearly on how I can improve myself.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Taiwan! Good food with no language barriers and the people are great!

Everyone in business should read this book:
I don’t really read books. Mostly, I learn from my daily life and interactions with hundreds of other business owners. To me, people tell the most interesting stories.

Shameless plug for your business:
We’re not just corporate secretaries, we’re “business doctors.”
U Ventures is a Xero certified advisory firm that goes beyond traditional accounting services to provide solutions for your business. You can reach us on our website:

How can people connect with you?
Converse to connect. You can reach me via email at [email protected] or alternatively, on LinkedIn here:

This interview is part of the ‘Callum Connect’ series of more than 500 interviews

Callum Laing is an entrepreneur and investor based in Singapore. He has previously started,
built and sold half a dozen businesses and is now a Partner at Unity-Group Private Equity and Co-Founder of The Marketing Group PLC. He is the author two best selling books ‘Progressive Partnerships’ and ‘Agglomerate’.

Connect with Callum here:
Download free copies of his books here:

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