As I was driving home from from the grocery store yesterday, I was thinking about how I hate spending money. I’d gone to the grocery to pick up just a few items, and somehow my grocery bill had ended up costing almost $100. When the cashier had told me the total, I’d thought, Yikes. Guess I wasn’t paying as close attention to costs as I’d thought. I even double-checked the receipt to make sure nothing was charged incorrectly. And this is a regular occurrence for me — not the overspending part, but rather the aversion to even the slightest overspending.
I wasn’t always this way. There was a time about 10 years ago when I loved spending, and I limited my spending only to the degree that I had to limit it (i.e., until my bank account was empty). But that all changed once Johnny and I got serious about budgeting and changed the way we thought about money. Budgeting didn’t just change our finances, it changed our brains. And now here we are, debt free, and I still get hung up on spending extra money. I don’t think it’s a bad thing, but sometimes it spills over into aspects of my life that I wish it wouldn’t. For instance, when I think of having people over for dinner, I can’t help but calculate the costs involved. Or when I think of going on a vacation, I can’t help but start calculating the huge chunk of money we’ll be saying goodbye to. Or if my sisters mention doing brunch, I immediately think of the money instead of the delicious pastries I’m going to consume.
So even though we’re no longer in the trenches of paying down debt, I still don’t enjoy spending money. And I don’t know that I ever will, although I’d love to be a little more relaxed about it. We talk about how budgets give you freedom, and I believe that wholeheartedly. We were able to become debt free, start saving for retirement and our girls’ college educations, and put enough into savings to start our own business, all things that never would have happened otherwise. In every sense, our budget has changed our lives for the better — probably more than we’ll ever know. But ever since we began budgeting, my mindset towards spending is just different. I think part of it is that I’m painfully aware of just how hard we’ve had to work to have savings and being on a good financial path. And knowing how hard we’ve had to work for every little dollar makes me want to be extra careful with how it’s spent. That’s not to say we’re cheap with gift giving or being charitable. We make a point to set aside money so that we’re not. It’s more to say with day-to-day expenses, I have a hard time ever spending extra or splurging.
So I guess it all comes down to this: has budgeting made me stingy? Or I guess to put it more specifically, has budgeting made me more stingy with myself? It’s definitely changed my mindset towards money — and Johnny’s, too. And I think that mindset will be key in ensuring we’re always responsible with our finances and always on track towards meeting our financial goals. But I also want to be careful not to take it too far.
What do you think? What are the pros and cons of having a budgeting mindset forever?
I don’t think it’s just fact you spent more than you thought. It just plain S**CKS how much money is required for things we NEED! I hate grocery shopping. Even on weeks where I don’t have to buy dinner food (because we have things stocked up or my husband is out of town so I just eat cereal!) I’m still spending too much money on food. I buy breakfast, lunch and snack items for my kids. It’s about $80 just for that. Craziness…still don’t understand how you keep your grocery budget do low!
It’s painful because it’s money just to live and then there is never enough for what we want!! Every time I complete my budget for the month I resent the “necessities”. It’s starting to get real sucky with summer coming. I will be paying out over $1200/month just for daycare/camp. I hate making that payment. I know I have to but do you know how many pairs of shoes I could buy with that?!?! I really wish in all the education revamping that gets done they would really consider year round school. Maybe then our kids wouldn’t be under so much pressure and I wouldn’t spend most of our precious evening time doing homework instead of running around having fun and I wouldn’t have to pay so much for my kids to sit around playing electronics all day (not really, but sometimes).
I paid off all my student loans on 30k and it took a lot of effort and time. It’s definitely made me hyper aware of my spending, to the point where unnecessary spending seems like a sin. I dont want to be cheap, and I would like to feel more free, but every penny still matters so much. For me, I hate spending because there’s still so much for my money to do- invest, beef up savings, start a business. If you’re achieving those goals though, I think you should feel more free with spending!
I’ve been feeling this lately! Before we started budgeting, I was the one who didn’t want to talk about it and just spend spend spend. Now, I shutter when something comes up that we haven’t planned for, even SMALL, good things (preschool snack box, having people over for dinner, a lunch with co-workers). I relate to the first commenter in that it’s often spending for things that we NEED that just drives me nuts…because it’s never-ending!!!
Also, our 10-year wedding anniversary is coming up this year and Eric wants to go on a big trip and all I can think about is how else that money could be used, when – really – we should totally celebrate big! Will I ever be OK with this kind of spending before we have every single other thing in line (house paid off and maxed out college savings, etc.)? I’m frustrated with myself and want to relax a bit…
I too have this exact same problem. Although you probably know that about me already! I do much better when the money is planned. If I know that I will need personal supplies and clothes for the kids, I budget it. I also budget a misc category so that when an unexpected field trip, or a fee comes up, I’m not throwing my hands up and saying “there goes the budget!” I still think every occasion I will calculate the costs, but try to enjoy the details of your planning. Think more about your lack of debt when you plan. That’s an accomplishment! Are you feeling guilty at the amount you are spending or just that you went over your budget? You may need to re-evaluate your budget. As your girls grow, groceries are going to get more expensive. I used to spend $100/week for 2 adults and 3 kids. Now that I have two teenagers, my bill is closer to $180/week. But my diaper bill is zero!
I am definitely stingy now that we’ve started budgeting and working to pay off our debt early. I won’t be stingy with food like groceries, but going out to eat and shopping are things I don’t enjoy doing anymore – unless it’s for a specific celebration. I guess it’s a good thing, but I need to learn to find balance.
You don’t sound stingy to me, you sound careful and there is a huge difference. We all have life experiences that change how we view monetary increments – for me it was visiting Zambia in 2010. When I met my sponsored child and saw the amazing things my money was doing, I started seeing my life in $39 increments. How often have I spent $39 or double or triple without blinking an eyelash?
Another is watching our mortgage shrink and increasing our payments – when I see the needle move and I see how much a few hundred dollars here or there affects my balance, it’s mind-blowing. These things have made me more picky with how I spend my money. I demand value now that I didn’t before – I just blindly spent.
It;s good to be mindful. As long as you have fun sometimes (and budget for fun), it’s all good and heathy. 🙂
I used to worry about money because (in hindsight) I felt SO out of control of my money (I just always felt that I never had enough to do what I wanted–not taking into account that a lot of my bills were debt related). It was a source of anger that I didn’t make more.
I still don’t make a ton of money and due to how I am saving don’t see a lot of extra cash/paying bills is sometimes an acrobatic exercise. BUT, I see an end in sight to my debt (that didn’t even occur to me before) and see how I have been able to save money even with a limited income. With that I have been able to feel in control. And while, yes, spending extra money makes me feel guilty (that is something that I absolutely want to address) I would not trade being guilt free at the grocery store for feeling out of control with my money–ever again!
Oh gosh, this is me all over. Any time outings, get togethers, activities are mentioned I see $$$ in my mind and “how much is this going to cost?” My husband actually recently accused me of being stingy and won the argument about home party vs paid party for our son (who didn’t get one last year). I feel like it’s a sigh of relief but I still see $$$ in front of EVERYTHING. It’s something I’m trying to work on, because everything is not about money, and it really puts a damper on everything, but when you’re the one paying the bills every month (he works, I handle the house, including the cash flow), gee it’s tough and so hard to relax!
I’ve recently stopped spending money for fun (which sounds dumb, but anyone who enjoys shopping knows what I mean), and I find it increasingly difficult to enjoy it when I do. I constantly second-guess the purchases I make. I’m trying to find a balance between saving money and not beating myself up when I do spend it. It’s just part of the transition, I suppose!