If I told you that you’ll learn a lot about yourself by simply budgeting, would you believe me?
It’s true! And I’m living proof. When I started budgeting many years ago, I expected to learn the ins and outs of my money situation. I knew I’d find out about my spending tendencies and where I needed to cut back. I was prepared to discover some things I didn’t know about my money. What I didn’t expect, though, was to discover several new things about myself.
That’s what budgeting does. Your spending reflects your priorities, and your priorities tell you about the things you value. That’s what makes up who you are!
"Spotlighting your spending has a way of spotlighting yourself." @RachelCruze
Here’s what I learned about myself by budgeting.
1. I’m a spender at heart.
Many relationships have two types of people—the partier and the planner. The partier is the free spirit in the relationship, the spender, the one who naturally isn’t crazy about numbers. That’s me. The planner is a bit of a nerd (that’s my husband, Winston). They love running the numbers and planning the budget, and good for them. But me? I’m the partier in our relationship and proud of it!
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Even though they’re different, it’s important that the partier and the planner are on the same page. The planner can create the budget, but the partier has to be involved and have a say in it. They have to work together! That’s what Winston and I do, and it has greatly helped with communication between us.
2. Using cash helps me keep spending in check.
The envelope system is a lifesaver. I break my spending into categories (groceries, dining, entertainment, and so on) and designate a certain amount each month into those categories. So if we plan on spending $400 on groceries this month, I’ll place $400 in an envelope and use that throughout the month. When it’s gone, it’s gone. If I miscalculate, I’ll have to pull cash from another envelope.
This is a great way to watch your spending. When you spend with cash, you spend less. It’s much easier to swipe a card than it is to let go of a $100 bill. I didn’t realize how important that was until I started using envelopes as part of my budgeting process.
3. I love to eat out.
Dining out is my thing. Don’t get me wrong, Winston and I don’t bust our budget eating at restaurants. It’s all accounted for. But we might budget a larger percentage than most couples. We love trying out new places. As long as you’re budgeting for it, and you’re not prioritizing wants over needs, I’ll never criticize your spending. Bon appétit!
4. I feel secure knowing where my money is going.
I can’t imagine life without a budget. It helps me feel in control knowing where everything is going each month. Budgeting gives me a sense of security, and that’s so important for a lot of women. I’m no exception.
If your spending feels out of control, the quickest way to get it in check is to create a budget. You might take three or four months to get it right, but once you’ve got it down, you won’t believe how much better you feel about your money situation.
5. Baby clothes—I want them all!
Since my first little one came along last year, I’ve become obsessed with baby clothes. They’re so cute, and tiny . . . and cute! I can’t help it! When I see them at Target, I want to buy everything. But, reality is, my daughter will only wear those outfits a couple of times before she outgrows them. So I have to keep myself in check before she has more clothes than me and Winston combined!
Chances are, you’ll learn some totally different things about yourself. If you don’t have kids, I’m guessing baby clothes won’t be your thing!
But I can promise that making a habit of budgeting will reveal parts of your personality that you never realized. Spotlighting your spending has a way of spotlighting yourself. Give it a try, adjust where you feel necessary, and I bet you’ll love the results.
Rachel Cruze is a seasoned communicator and #1 best-selling author, helping Americans learn the proper ways to handle money and stay out of debt. You can follow Rachel on Twitter at @RachelCruze, online at rachelcruze.com, or at facebook.com/rachelramseycruze.