“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:
Hi, I’m Sarah and my husband and I have paid down over $100,000 worth of debt combined. We are close to being totally debt-free when we pay off our mortgage this year (2021). Read more about our story here.
If there is one trick that has helped us pay down debt and stay out of debt, it is tracking our spending.
Have you ever considered using a spending journal? You may be thinking, “Why would I want to add one more thing to my “To Do” list?”
Yet, tracking your spending could be the one aspect of your budget you are missing to put the “debt-free” back into your life. Nonetheless, journals come to mind when writing about feelings and yes, they are more commonly used for this type of writing, yet isn’t your money journey just as important as your emotional journey? These two aspects of life are intertwined immensely.
Writing down what you spend will give you a clear picture of where your money is going and help you solve your debt puzzle. I suggest making this the first step to beginning your budget and obtaining financial freedom.
What is a Spending Journal?
Spending Journal: A written journal of all the money you have spent that week or month. I recommend tracking your spending for at least a week, but a month would be better and will give you a clear picture of how you spend. Moreover, once you have this in place you can begin to trim the fat off of your budget and use the extra money to pay down debt or save for an emergency fund or retirement.
We often hear people talk about “needs” versus “wants” and the impulse to spend? However, for the average impulse spender, this may sound like a foreign idea. If we want it, we need it, right? Impulse buys are one major way to throw off your budget. Nonetheless, being able to have impulse control over spending could really save you money.
Why Should I Stop Spending Freely?
You may be asking, why would I want to do this? I like shopping! I love treating myself and I love the thrill of spending!
Yet, do you ever have that feeling of emptiness after you bought an expensive item you didn’t need? Have you ever bought something to make yourself feel better? Well this post is for you (and let’s face it 90% of us have-including myself!) Retail therapy used to be my stressor’s best friend.
What is a need?
There are the basics. For example, we need food, water, clothing, and shelter. Additionally, paying your mortgage/rent and utilities are big needs. If you have children you will need diapers and baby food. Additionally, we all have transportation costs. In fact, needs vary from person to person. Therefore, prioritize what you really need. Then if you have money left, buy your want! (That’s after saving too.)