About iPhones, Extreme Sports, and The Mishclaimer.

One time I drove to a support appointment in my dad’s brand new Dodge Charger.

Because nothing says, “I need money” like a $25,000 muscle car with heated leather seats, a sunroof, and a HEMI.

I guess my thought was “I want people to partner with me to reach students, not to give because they think I just need to eat.” But what I communicated instead was some kind of Creflo Dollaresque “I am terrible at stewarding the money I already have, as a missionary. Will you please give me some more?”

I can see how that would happen. That’s why I began using the mishclaimer. (Missionary Disclaimer)

The mishclaimer is a crafty resource that every vocational missionary must have in his or her back pocket at all times. Here’s how it works: Every time someone sees something of yours of value, give a reason to justify owning it. The mishclaimer comes in the following varieties, all of which I have used:

The Replacer

The goal with the replacer is to distract people from the new hotness by replacing it with something old and busted. (Men in Black reference. I received no compensation for that reference. Yet.) The replacer only works with relatively small purchases. Here are some examples:
“I know the iPhone (new hotness) is so expensive, but man, you should see how the paint is coming off of my car (old and busted). At least it’s paid for, am I right?”
“The best part about the brand new living room furniture (new hotness) is the fact that I still have the donated kitchen table and chairs that don’t match (old and busted).”

You practically forget that I even have an iPhone, looking at my car.  And that’s what makes it such a great mishclaimer.

The Price-tag

I’m ashamed to admit how many people know what I paid for my MacBook Pro. It’s the perfect example of the price-tag. I see that subtle eyebrow raise screaming “man, I guess he doesn’t need money” on their facial region, and immediately say “I got this thing for like $300.” My wife called me on it once, early on in marriage. I was price-tagging everything. “We only paid $4 for this 3-pack of soy milk. And you should have seen the deals they’ve got going on masking tape.”  I’d print out a copy of our monthly budget and hand it to folks.  I made that up, but I seriously did go way overboard with telling people how much stuff cost.  If I’m honest, this is still my go-to mishclaimer at least 75% of the time.

The Discounter

Similar to the price-tag, the discounter adds a simple line to the beginning or end: “and it usually goes for $_______” There’s real power in the discounter. It distracts people from what is potentially the still-absurd bottom line by setting their expectations into the stratosphere. That makes it possible to slip in some really large items unnoticed. Consider using the suggested retail price on the front end: E.G.
“This Maserati normally goes for 85 grand, but I was able to get it for 26.” See what we did there? You are so distracted by the $85,000 figure that you didn’t even notice I just got away with spending my year’s salary on a car.

The Ramsey

Named after Dave Ramsey, purveyor of all that is good and right about the Fox Business Network, this one is simple. Just find a way during conversation to slip in the factoid that you paid off $_____ of debt in just ____ years/months/minutes. Using that fun fact, you can offset any suspicion that you are bad at managing money. How could you be bad at money management? You paid off debt. You deserve an extra trip to Starbucks (the finest purveyor of premium coffee in the world–and an opportunity for me to use the word “purveyor” 2x in one paragraph).

The Half-Ramsey

I’ve always wanted to name the moves in an extreme sport. You get to use words like “fakie” and “ollie” and “corkscrew.” So this one can also be called the “fakie backside Ramsey” if you’d like, but it is where you slip into a conversation something thrifty about your financial life. Examples from my own life include the phrases “I’ll walk before I have a car payment” and “I don’t have any credit cards, but…” These are excellent and easy to use, because the goal of a good mishclaimer is to give off a bit of a pretentious, holier-than-thou vibe. You are, after all, seeking to justify yourself, by definition, when using a mishclaimer. So go ahead and see if your fakie backside 1080 Ramsey with a kick flip can make it seem as though you are far superior to anyone listening.

What about you, reader?  Ever used one of these options to attempt to justify a big purchase/expense?  Comment below.

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