“Too many people spend money they haven’t earned…to buy things they don’t want…to impress people they don’t like.” – Will Rogers
Have you heard this one before? Will Rogers definitely hit the nail on the head in terms of budgeting. I mean, where do we draw the line between what we want and what we need? When budgeting, we should ask ourselves if we really want something or if we are buying it to impress someone else. If that is the case, it is better left on the shelf.
It doesn’t help that 8 out of 10 of Americans are in debt (source CNBC.com). Money management has been left behind as we view commercials showcasing the “cool” guy in the car with a bunch of hot girls, the best hair, best clothes, and the best life! He is living “the good life” we all want, right? It is because of advertisements such as these that most people feel what they have is never enough and going into debt for “the good life” is as easy as a stroll in the park.
Yes, my friends…Advertising is at an all-time high. You may not realize you want that new lamp until you see a perfectly placed store display at Target and the lamp starts calling your name. After watching one cartoon, my kids now want three different toys they didn’t even know existed until the said cartoon was complete.
It seems the latest and greatest has replaced any concern for sticking to a budget. Credit cards are the norm and people spend on a whim without realizing the full consequences. These consequences of spending without a budget include the following:
- Huge debt
- Paying interest
- Paying more for items because of interest
- Losing your car
- Losing your house
- Unneeded stress and anxiety
- Debt collectors
Be sure to check out the other money quotes in this series:
Money Quote One
Money Quote Two
Money Quote Three
Suggested Reading: 7 Common Money Mistakes and How to Fix Them
Latest and Greatest
Have you ever went out and bought a new outfit before having lunch with your old friend you haven’t seen in a while? That word “impress” comes back to mind. Many of us want the people around us to know we are doing well. However, it is more of a status symbol to have your debt paid off and no car payment or house payment (we are working on that one) instead of wearing the latest and greatest.
Don’t get me wrong… I am not saying you should never buy anything. However, wait until the debt is gone and you are living within your means because there is nothing wrong with treating yourself if you have the money but many of these material items are not worth unwanted debt.
Buying to Impress Others
Are you having company over for the Holidays? Are you concerned about what they will think of your house? Is there a last minute home-project you want to accomplish before your guests arrive? Yes, it is nice to have a clean house but ask yourself – Who are you really trying to impress? If you want something done, then, by all means, do it, but if you are trying to impress others leave it as a thought of the past.
Yet, it is one thing to care about the people who matter in your life, but what about the people you don’t even know. Gong out this weekend? Clothes are a great example of this. Let’s say you buy a new outfit for a night out on the town. When wearing your new expensive outfit, you are trying to impress a bunch of people you don’t know. You may be spending money on items you “think” you need but do you really check the difference between a need and a want?
I guess the point Will is trying to get across is that we work hard for our money! (Diana Ross throwback) So we should be in control of our money. If you have the money to spend and it fits your budget, then, by all means, buy something you like! However, don’t just spend, spend, spend to impress others. It will not make you happy and you will never have enough. You will always feel empty and end up wanting the next latest and greatest thing, whether it be a new iPhone, purse, or home improvement.
Need Versus Want
Today there is a HUGE misconception about the difference between a need versus a want. Many include the NEED category for items that they could simply live without. The misinterpreted “NEEDS” start to reek havoc on your budget. So think hard and long about making purchases because patience is your budget’s best friend. After waiting to buy something, many times you will realize you don’t really need the purchases and your desire to buy it will wear off. However, after waiting a few days, if you still really want the item and you can afford it then go ahead and treat yourself. Just make sure you are buying it because you want it, not because some advertiser told you it was the “IT” item of the season!
Summary of a Need Versus a want:
NEED: This is something you cannot live without. Your basic survival is dependant on your needs. Needs include food, water, shelter, transportation, and childcare. When you create your budget, these are the must-have categories that will be included. Make sure your income is enough to cover your basics. If not, you may need to downsize, cut your grocery bill, or find cheaper childcare.
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WANT: This is something you desire but your survival will not be affected if left out of your budget. Gym membership, weekly manicure, cable, expensive purses, and the latest phone are all examples of wants that can be cut from your budget. If your budget is a deficit these are areas you can consider cutting out. Keep cutting things out until you can afford your lifestyle and start to pay off any debt you have accumulated.
Ideas to Cut Your Budget:
- Gym Membership
- Expensive Latte
- Latest Tech Gadget (new iPhone model)
- Expensive accessories
- Lottery Tickets
- Latest Car model
Suggested Reading: Why You Can’t Get Out of Debt
Suggested Reading: Get out of Debt in 11 Steps: 11 Actionable Steps to Live Better
If you want to build your wealth then add how many hours you had to work to buy that gadget our purse. Is it worth that much of your time? Do you really need it?
Would you rather invest that $100 in a dividend stock and make money down the road? If you are looking to build your wealth and live a debt-free life, you have to prioritize your spending. Needs must come first! Then save for an emergency fund and retirement.
If you have a little extra left over, then go ahead and treat yourself – but please buy because you like it! Don’t try to impress anyone else! If your friends only like you for your nice things, you need to evaluate your friendships! Learning how to budget is hard work and takes time and dedication, but if your goal is to build wealth and live debt-free it is SO worth it!
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Take care – Sarah