Being On A Budget Doesn’t Mean You’re Poor

Can I ask you a question?

Why do so many people think that being on a budget means being poor?

I’ve had many people comment about my frugality. Mostly it’s in a positive way like, “Ask Cat. She’s good with money.” However, there are times when I feel as though people are a bit weirded out by my whole budgeting thing. Perhaps it’s because I’m very comfortable talking about money and an advocate for talking about money because I believe it’s important. Most people are very uncomfortable with these topics, and that’s okay. However, I’m a proponent of financial literacy so I have no problem talking about when I succeed with money and when I fail with it too.

If I’m allowed to throw in my two cents (it’s my blog after all), I’d like to encourage everyone to think in this way about budgeting instead:

 

Being on a budget means you’re smartNot poor.

 

Everyone from little ol’ me to Bill Gates should have a budget. This doesn’t mean being stingy or not being generous. All a budget entails is writing down where you want your money to go every month, and then sitting down at the end of it to see where it actually did go and adjusting accordingly.

Furthermore, when you ask a friend to go to lunch with you, and they say, “Sorry. I’m on a budget,” that doesn’t necessarily mean they are struggling to make it. Maybe they just have great self control and know that they’ve already used up their “eating out” category for the month. People like this – like me – often have big goals that they want to achieve instead, and sometimes, saying no to the little things energizes them. Why? Well, it just means that we are one step closer to the goal we actually want.

 

People who budget have a good sense of the future. They aren’t tempted by day-to-day wants.

 

I acknowledge that the way that I am is a little different. I get exhilarated when I come in under budget. I love watching my “Europe Travel Fund” grow. I do splurge every now and then and can’t go into the grocery without buying a bottle of nice wine, but I say no to more things than the average person.

I may be a bit of a nerd. I may be a bit weird. But, the things that I am not are struggling, poor, and stingy. I’m just a gal on a budget who tips well and likes wine and cheese.

What about you?

About Catherine Alford

Catherine Alford aka "Cat" is a personal finance freelance writer who currently lives in the Caribbean with her husband and spoiled pup, Julep. To learn more about her writing services, please visit her Hire Me page or e-mail her at Cat[at]BudgetBlonde[dot]com. Follow her on Google + to get all the latest updates.

Lovely comments:

  1. Oh it’s the same way when you’re buying a house. People wonder all the time why we didn’t buy a place up to our pre-approval limit (which was about 2x what we ended up paying for the house), and it’s because we didn’t want to! Why double the mortgage payment just because we *could*?

  2. Could.not. agree.more. It amazes me what little effort people put into their finances. If they put half the effort into their finances as they did for they spring vacation they’d be a hell of a lot better.

  3. Oh, I hear that often about budgeting and only poor people do it’s a load of hooey. It reminds me of a post I did abotu grocery store snobs who only shop at high end shops because they don’t want to be thought of as poor if they are seen in the discount shops. It’s all a personal perception. I say do what you feel is right for you and forget about the negative people as we can’t change everyone’s minds, right. Great post. Mr.CBB

  4. I think you’re right. There is often that stigma when you mention your own budget that people think you’re poor. But I’ll bet MOST rich people do have one-thta’s one of the reasons they probably got there. Being on a budget just means vauling your money a whole lot more.

    • Totally agree. Some of the wealthiest people I know are very conservative with their money, and that’s why they have so much of it!

  5. Cat,

    I love your blog! Great advice, great read. Thank you for being a proponent of a budget and for making the statement that IT’S OKAY. I’m living at home right now, so I struggle with what people think A LOT, but I am saving so much money during this period of time because I know where I want to be. I am also on a budget, so when people ask to go to lunch and I say no because I’ve used up that category, they say “but you’re living at home”, and I reply “there’s a reason for that… to save as much money as I can during this year”….

  6. I use to think people on a budget were cheap but now I think that people that follow a budget do it because they have goals and certain priorities in their life. Such as saving for a nice vacation versus eating lunch out everyday.

    You are right that following a budget especially when you spent less per month then you estimated is a lot of fun.

    Budgeting isn’t easy and it takes work. My husband and I are following a monthly budget this year for the first time ever. Each month we manage to save a bit more than the month before. As well I think budgeting allows you to be in control of your money and while I am typically a be in control person I don’t really know why it took me so many years to take better control of my money. Hope you are doing well :-)

  7. I get that feeling at work often because I generally bring my lunch rather than buying it. Or my parents will wonder why we don’t spend more money on things when it seems like we could afford it. But my budget let’s me afford things like buying a condo and going on vacations in cash. :)

  8. I read another post about people having defined goals being way more likely to succeed. Having a budget means you are setting money aside for your future, and thus very likely to reach your goals sooner than a person with no budget.

  9. I can totally agree with you. I am also a nerd when it comes to money, but at least I’ll be a rich nerd! :) Every great business all the way up to Apple has a budget and a plan for how they want to allocate their money. In contrast, why some individuals don’t seem to think they need one is beyond me.

  10. K.K. @ Living Debt Free Rocks! says:

    In my situation, my budget has helped me to get out of debt, to increase my savings, to identify expenses that can be trimmed and irregular expenses that also needed to be added like the annual car registration and license fees. In short my financial progress leapt forward the day I had started to maintain a monthly & annual budget. Your post is dead on.

  11. I agree the term “budget” has some unfair negativity about it. It’s the most useful financial tool you can have and it’s often those who need one the most who claim not to need one. As if having a budget is admitting they have financial problems. We used to coast through life without a budget. We thought we didn’t need one because we made enought to cover everything including the recommended 10-15% for savings. Then an unexpected layoff caused us to quickly assess where the money had been going and what could quickly be cut out. Long story short, we were wasting a ton on nonsense that wasn’t really important to us. It turns out we can cover the absollute bare essentials on 55-60% of our combined take home pay. Armed with that new knowledge, once the job was replace we set up a budget where we spent only the essentials 99% of the time and all the excess goes (weekly) to either our retirement accounts or we make an extra mortgage payment. We’ve moved our retirement plan up from 65/68 to 55/58. Having a budget has may us wealthier because we now have a clear plan that recognizes our priorities. All the stuff we do without was stuff we don’t really care about and certainly don’t miss. We do take a trip every year and most of all look forward to our early retirement.

  12. Seriously????? You guys actually spend your time and energy thinking about what other people might think about you and your budget?????????????????????// OMG!!!

    Get this – you’re not that special and other people absolutely do NOt spend their time thinking about what you do or do not spend $ on.

    Please get over that and act in your family’s best interest.

    • Hey Jim. Thanks so much for taking the time to comment over here at Budget Blonde. I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy the post, but several other people did as they have experienced similar feelings about the topic. Thanks again for your feedback. I hope you have a happy holiday season.

      • Jim NEEDS a Happy Holiday season. Do you know what’s funny? Jim probably needed some budget help this holiday season and stumbled upon your amazing blog!! :)

        Still loving the blog!

    • Hi Jim,
      I can personally attest to Cat’s “specialness” that you are referencing. In our situation (foreign med school wives), people absolutely do think about how others spend their money and cast judgement because of it. Yes, if you splurge on something, it very well may be a topic of conversation at the next pool get together. But based on this post, my interpretation is that Cat isn’t worried about it–she’s simply encouraging others to internalize a different connotation of the word “budget.” Thanks for the refreshing post, Cat!

    • Sure looks like you spent time thinking about it, Jim. You single-handedly contradicted yourself. Smooth move.

      Great post Cat! It’s true. People TOTALLY judge based off of how you spend your time and money. Case in point? Jim.

  13. So I feel like if I am saying this out loud, to you – maybe it will be true… My goal for 2013 is living on a budget and you know, sticking with it. I am already in fear of how this is going effect my shopping habits and if I call you in distress please reemmber that you were warned :) xoxo

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