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First grade teachers are awesome.  I think they have more wisdom than most other people.  I was reminded of this with our recent parent-teacher conference.  When we met with our first grade teacher, we talked about how much they learn this year.  It can get overwhelming.  Kids can get scared to try something that they've not yet mastered.  She remarked that in this situation she'll simply tell them: “Pretend you can do it.”

It's brilliant.  And you know what, it doesn't apply to just first graders?

Can't you imagine a whole slew of areas where this can apply?


How many people don't budget?  A lot.  One of the top reasons given is that people don't know how.

OK.  So pretend you can budget.

How would you do that?

Maybe write down what you spend.  Also write down what you earn.  Sounds like we're doing good so far.  Then set a couple of limits and see if you can stick to them.

Voila, you pretended you can budget and guess what you did?  You just created a budget.


Trying to save money is so hard, right?  I don't know where to start, many will say.

OK.  So, pretend you can save money.  Let's take this one like a kid might try.

Take a five dollar bill, put it in an envelope, and set it aside.

You just pretended you can save, and guess what?  You just saved money.

Now that you've done that, taking that to the bank is easy.  Setting a few more dollars is just as simple.

You just pretended your way into becoming a saver.

Cut Expenses

There's so many expenses in life, how do you know where to start?  Many people don't, so they do nothing.  But if we're just pretending, we can pick one.

Look at your cable bill.  Find a premium service.  Give them a call and cancel it.  That sounds like a pretty easy game of pretend, right?

Guess what, you just pretended your way into cutting expenses.

Why This Works

This strategy works for kids because it takes the pressure away.  Think about it, when you're actually doing something you have to worry about many things:

  • Finishing
  • Being good at it
  • Worrying what others will think

But when you're pretending, you really don't have to worry about those things.  If you don't ‘finish' your budget on the first try, no big deal.  You're just pretending.  If you don't get to that $500 savings goal right away, who cares?  You're just pretending.  If you're trying to cut $300 in spending per month, but you're only 10% there, it's not a problem. There's nobody to judge.  Because you're just pretending!

Pretending Does Not Equal Lying

Now, let's get one thing perfectly clear. While pretending you can do something is a good strategy in many situations, lying is not.

I just finished the latest book by John Grisham.  It's called The Rooster Bar.  In it, a bunch of law students quit

school and start pretending to be lawyers.  That's not the kind of pretending you want to do.  Basically if it, breaks the law, skip it.

Even if it doesn't break the law, lying can and will probably catch up with you.  For example, don't lie on your resume.  If you claim to have a skill, you probably won't be able to pretend your way into having it.  Joey from Friends learned that lesson when he claimed to be an expert dancer.

Bottom line, while pretending can lead you to becoming an expert, it can also get you into trouble.  Know the difference.

I love watching our kids learn.  It's awesome when they have a teacher that really does it well.  And, look, the teacher can even teach us parents.  Just like our first grade teacher taught me.

Readers, have you ever pretended your way into something that you didn't know how to do?