Budget myth busting

Budget myth bustingAJ: On Monday we issued a challenge to save an additional $100 in the month of November. We honestly weren’t sure how it would be received, as it’s a busy time of year for everyone, but you all have embraced the challenge in a big way. Not surprisingly, we could all get by with a little less and going into the holidays is an especially relevant time to do so.

As I started to think about where our extra $100 would come from, I immediately had visions of what the outside world must think of us super budget-ers and wanted to do a little budget myth busting, if you will.

KJ: Since budgeting often has a lot of negative connotations and can garner strong feelings of negativity, we’re here (with your help!) to bust those common myths of budgeting, so you can see the importance of setting a budget at all stages of your life.

You have to tell everyone you’re on a budget
AJ: NO, SIR. I can assure you that prior to Kirby and I airing our budgeting laundry via this blog 99% of the people in our lives did not know we were on a budget. It’s not their business, and it rarely impacts the lives of those around us. Even when we indulge in lavish meals or over the top vacations we plan for it. We don’t skip and make it painful for everyone around us: we plan well in advance. What you do or don’t do with your money is very personal and private, and I encourage you to budget for yourself and not for a new conversation starter with strangers.

KJ: You certainly don’t have to tell everyone (we kind of do, since we’re running this fun blog), but it’s not something to be ashamed of. Just because you budget doesn’t mean you should be shy about it. It’s not taboo, it’s not some hideous disease your doctor just diagnosed you with. It’s actually an empowering way of life, so you can enjoy the things that are most valuable to you.

You’re cheap, and you can’t have nice things
KJ: In fact, I think budgeting is often quite the opposite. Budgeting allows you to know what you are spending, and allows you to direct your expenses (most of the time, but not always!) to what you actually WANT to purchase and what you most value. Often, budgeting can mean you’re actually buying something more expensive that can last quite a bit longer because you have planned ahead to make it work within your income and expenses.

AJ: I’m an odd balance of obsessive about quality and obsessive about value. Trust me, it’s as confusing for me as it is for you. I am a super planner to the max which means I’ve been thinking about buying Christmas gifts since last March. I’ve been purchasing necessities for our home (laundry detergent, toilet paper, cleaning supplies) well before we were close to running out so that come November and December when we have so many financial demands, the basics aren’t one more thing we have to consider. I buy Kirby undershirts and socks long before he admits there are holes in what he has now. This time of year I’m lucky if I make it out to shop one time every two months for anything other than groceries: I simply don’t have the time. But when I’m out I’m looking for anything and everything we might need – a cocktail dress for a client dinner, a formal gown for a black tie event that’s eight months away, a thoughtful gift for my grandma. Literally every shopping trip I’m on is one where I’m trying to get ahead so we don’t wind up with odds and ends of left over sale items and crummy gifts.

You eat like you’re in college
AJ: I almost didn’t even write this one because Kirby and I kind of, sort of, sometimes do eat like we’re in college. Mostly because we like junk. I have written endlessly about ways to make your grocery dollars go further (see also meal planning and why grocery ads are so important) but it’s especially important to note that we are a meat eating, alcohol drinking, snack having household. Stock up on the basics, save plenty for fresh produce, and stop eating fast food (KJ: except for Taco Bell I hope). Done.

KJ: We don’t eat like we’re in college: I had WAY more Rosa’s Taco Tuesdays back then. We live by our food budget, and we certainly don’t eat ramen noodles and hot pockets as our primary meals. Quite the opposite I would say. With proper planning, use of grocery ads, and an eye for a bargain, we eat quite well at home and on the go. The key to planning for our family’s meals is to make leftovers to have at work. That way, you can buy in bulk to get cheaper prices, but you also reduce your expenses for lunch and the temptation to just grab something quick at the local cafe or nearby restaurant.

Only poor people are on budgets
AJ: This one really irks me. I have well-intentioned, kind people in my life who find out Kirby and I have a blog on saving money and say “but you both have good jobs!” as if having a good job equates to being financially irresponsible. The old saying comes to mind: people who have money don’t spend it. If you have money, all the more reason to have a budget. If you don’t have money, you HAVE to budget. If you don’t budget, you’re done for! Well, not quite, but I’m really passionate about the value of budgeting!

Wealthy people are on budgets. It’s part of the reason they’re wealthy. Stand tall, budgeters, and go forth and be wealthy.

You don’t give to charitable efforts
KJ: Charitable giving – whether through your time or money – is a very important part of giving back to the community, so just because “you’re on a budget” doesn’t mean you can’t (or shouldn’t) give back to those in need. In fact, this often becomes some of the most meaningful part of our budget where we can give back to our causes that are dearest to our hearts – our alma mater, Camp Fire USA, and our local church are top regulars, but we also enjoy the occasional $25-50 for walks, fund raisers, and other charitable gifting that is important to others.

AJ: For us, charity provides a source of fulfillment beyond our everyday lives. I often find myself in the weeds of the stress associated with my job, the demands of having so many obligations and the general narrow-sighted ways of our culture. Giving of our time and providing financial donations helps broaden my perspective and helps center me. I’m big on both giving of time and of resources, as we don’t have a huge budget that we are able to allocate monthly to organizations. We are diverse givers – we love the 5k runs, we love the hands-on projects, we love the swanky silent auctions – they’re all important in their own way, and the older I get the more I wish I had done more earlier. Much like saving, giving of yourself has increasing benefits over time.

We are SO appreciative that each of you has taken a look at your situation and are already embracing our challenge. I am inspired by so many of you and so many ways, and I’m thrilled that we’ve inspired a passion in you that we believe in so strongly.

    What budget myths do you believe in?
    What’s keeping you from setting up a budget?
    Tell us what goals motivate you to get on track!

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