The Problem with Being Budget Minded is Other People
|October 8, 2010||Posted by Roshawn Watson under Uncategorized|
By: Roshawn Watson
Budgets are powerful tools. If followed, they force us to realistically evaluate our income and outgo to develop a rationale spending plan in line with our household or business goals. However, one of the biggest challenges to operating on a budget, past the initial dread budgeting in the first place, is that other people don’t. Thus, if you follow a budget, “they” (family, friends, society at large) will call you a zealot, fanatic, and extremely frugal. I’m convinced though that the problem isn’t you my friend, it’s them!
Our Societies and Our Need For Approval
We live in an overtly critical society. Go to nearly any entertainment or political news website, and the discord represented in the comments is phenomenally depressing. Everyone is so anxious to share their dissent about this or that regardless of how banal it is. At least on the internet though, you often don’t really know who the critics are. It’s an entirely different dynamic when the critics reside within your real life inner circle.
I was reading a story recently where a lady saw a beautiful piece of furniture that she would have loved to own except for the fact that it was out of her budget at the time. Her mom said “that’s fine. Use your emergency fund to purchase it.” When the daughter refused, her mother called her a miser. Her mom’s thinking was so warped that she misconstrued being fiscally responsible with miserly behavior. Personally, I think the real difference between this daughter and mother is quite profound. The mother can’t think beyond instant gratification. Obtaining what she wants right now is her priority. In contrast, the daughter is thinking about her risk tolerance and financial future. The mom’s inability or refusal to think ahead is commonplace among the poverty-minded. In creating phenomenal wealth over time, we discuss using the opposite mindset to build wealth long-term. The long-term implications of consistent fiscal conservatism to your balance sheet is remarkable. Being budget-conscious doesn’t make you any more miserly, than being a spendthrift makes you a giver.
Interestingly, there is another important issue at play. By the daughter’s refusing to embrace her mother’s advice for handling her finances, she is expressing a quiet dissent towards reckless spending (her mom’s path). Since people don’t like to be reminded that money needs to be managed well, this criticism was ill-received.The mom didn’t like the challenge and lashed out with a passive-aggressive statement, which is really thinly veiled manipulation through hostility.This story highlights the often dysfunctional relationships we have with our family and friends with regard to money. Fortunately, the daughter had the wherewithal to set a clear boundary for her condescending and unsupportive mother. However, all too often we give into the pressure, blow our budgets all in the name of maintaining approval.
Let’s Challenge Them
Well, I say forget their approval if it is contingent on “fitting in” financially. Relationships with friends and family members should not be based on whether or not I do what you want but rather determined by your love for each other. If they are so lame that they can’t stand you being responsible with your money, then it may be time to limit their exposure to your life in most financial matters. Two men cannot walk together unless they agree, and this explains why your income typically will reflect that of your 5 closest friends. The old adage is true: birds of a feather do indeed flock together and go to the same destination!
Your goals are vitally important because they will decide the direction of your life. Some people will be a hindrance to nearly everything you try to accomplish financially.Whether intentionally or subconsciously, they will take you down with them if you let them. Often, they will be dismissive of your wisdom while simultaneously asking for your financial help. While they certainly do have a right to not listen to you, they also need to respect your rights to keep them out of your wallet. However, instead of supporting your decision to not go out and have fun or help them, they will typically demonized you for not enabling their irresponsibility with your subsidies or for being too tight.
parasites, leaches, people generally don’t like me too much anymore. If they hang around me for too long, I’m gonna hold them accountable for their misbehavior (if they give me an adequate opening). I wouldn’t do this out of malice or spite, in fact it’s just the opposite. For example, I supervised someone at a company where I made nearly 7 times more than the person I was supervising, yet he was the one driving the Benz and couldn’t afford to get it fixed when it subsequently broke down. Rather than risk losing his social standing by purchasing a car that he could afford, he was broke and sometimes had to take the bus when his car wouldn’t start.The thought processes that people use to justify spending all that they have goes beyond my comprehension.We obviously had very different goals. I really wanted to say something to help when I first noticed the Benz but never got a chance. This is essentially watching a disaster waiting to happen but being told to be quiet (don’t warn them). I have learned not to stuff food down the mouths of the non-hungry, but it doesn’t change my compassion for them just my approach. If they are comfortable enough to air or discuss their ignorance, then I can be comfortable enough to tell them no (if applicable) or tell that they are making a mistake.
Stick To Your Plan, You Are Smarter
Additionally, I often think people misunderstand my motive for endorsing conscientious consumption. Frugality for frugality sake doesn’t interest me. Even more undesirable to me is frugality for the sake of living a high-consumption lifestyle (i.e. after you become debt-free, the money that was sent to Chase Auto now gets spent in its entirety on going more fancy vacations prior to building any real wealth). Here’s a thought, why go through the trouble of becoming debt-free only to blow tens of thousands of dollars a year on crap you don’t need without building any substantial wealth. Those aren’t reasons that would motivate me to live frugally. However, budgeting for the purpose of making my dreams happen is a different matter entirely. For instance, instead of spending money on a depreciating Benz, I would rather own additional dividend-paying investments. This isn’t an attack against owning nice things either, but their purchase should fit within your budget, values, and overall goals. I’m convinced by my own experience and those of countless others that if you operate frugally long enough, earn a reasonable income and control your expenses, you build wealth. This is the path towards having some serious financial game! As I have said before, according to the 400 richest Americans (Forbes 400), 75% believe “the best way to build wealth is to become and stay debt-free.” That’s a plan that I can live with: sacrificing to win.
Thus, before you give in to the pressure, thinking that something is wrong with you, realize that debt and consumerism have so infected most people that fiscal responsibility seems downright radical. It appears radical if you say “I’m going to go to school without student loans,” “I am going to buy a car without payments,” “I’m not going to eat out at restaurants four days a week,” or “I am going to live without worshiping at the altar the the great FICO.” In fact, there is an outright hostility when you suggest anything other than the aforementioned status quo.
Don’t yield into intimidation or manipulation. Refuse to allow others to set your household budgetary agenda. Normal is broke, so following their financial advice can be deleterious. If your family and friends or others are bullying you to discount your budget, consider this your call to action to develop enough of a backbone to tell them NO! Tell them you will not be manipulated into spending more just because they are out of control and won’t feel validated until you join them (okay maybe leave off that last part, but you get the point). You set your family priorities. You diligently pursue your goals. You reap the rewards!
The only thing wrong with us is our refusal to embrace this stance sooner!
Lastly, if you like this article, please subscribe to my FREE email updates or RSS feed (reader), Retweet it, Tipd it, Fark it, Stumble it, and tag it on Delicious. Also, click here to receive my eBook for FREE.
Copyright 2012, Roshawn Watson, Pharm.D., Ph.D. All Rights Reserved.