Often people ask me for budgeting tips. It could be a general question such as what’s the best way to budget, or sometimes it gets a bit more personal e.g. how much do I save and how much do I spend?
I don’t get into exact numbers when talking about my personal budget, but what I do share is percentages. I like to breakdown my budget into percentages to see how much I’m spending and saving. How I budget is irrelevant to everyone else; budgets are unique and my priorities will always be different from others.
Too often we get caught up comparing ourselves to others. The term “Keeping up with the Joneses” usually applies to spending but it equally applies to saving. We might convince ourselves that spending every thing is normal because our friends are doing it; alternatively we might think that we need to save more for the same reason. Getting advice from others can help, no matter what, you always need to budget for yourself.
Stop comparing yourself
For whatever reason our brains are wired to compare ourselves to others. The Joneses have a big house, a fancy car, and they take vacations every year, so that means we should be able to afford that too right? The thing about the Joneses, they’re probably broke.
Too often we see what others are doing and use that as a way to justify our own spending – that really doesn’t make any sense. Our incomes and priorities differ from others, so when we build our budgets it’s based on our own income and expenses. Just because others are putting everything on credit, it doesn’t we should too.
The same concept applies to saving. Some of us convince ourselves we don’t need to save yet, or we don’t need to save more because no one else our age seems to be doing it. What exactly does the savings rate of our peers have anything to do with us? We all know that the earlier we save, the more we can make from compound interest, and obviously saving more can only benefit us so why compare? How we save and spend should always be based on our own individual goals.
Don’t get upset
As weird as it sounds, sometimes getting advice from someone who has control of their finances can be a bit upsetting. We see that they’re saving a ton of money and we may not have even cleared our debts yet, so how can we possibly get to where they’re at? Again it’s all perspective, it doesn’t matter what someone else is doing, we just need to focus on what we’re doing.
When we create our budgets we need to base it on our individual needs. If we have debt then obvious that should be one of the things we tackle first. Once we’ve addressed that, saving becomes a lot easier.
Also don’t forget that everyone values things differently; it’s okay to spend more on travel or eating out as long as we’re meeting our savings goals first. What we shouldn’t be doing though is sacrificing our savings to justify our spending.
I like to think of personal finance as a map. Everyone has a different starting point and a different final destination. It’s okay to get advice from each other but in the end, we’re going to pick the route that suits us best. Just budget for yourself and don’t worry too much about what others are doing.