Budgeting – what is your view?


I have come across many arguments for and against budgeting. Some feel budgeting can limit your mindset to only aiming for what you know you can afford. Others believe that you should always live within your means whether you have little or much. 

The downside to budgeting is you can easily grow obsessed with your finances and allow it to consume you. As much as we require money to function in this world, it should not make us anxious or steal our joy. 

I am of the opinion that you should strike a balance between living within your means whilst accomodating the finer things in life, where possible. I am a great believer in budgeting but am also aware that doing so day in, day out can become a drudgery. We all need treats (well I do), after a long, hard day whether that be in paid employment, running a business or being a stay at home parent. 

Ways in which you can “cut your cloth” without feeling deprived;

1. You may be a lover of coffee but your budget does not allow you to buy an expresso on your way to work daily. Buy one expresso a week, perhaps on a day when you will be working late or have a busy schedule. 

2. Always, always allocate “spending money” for yourself every month regardless of how little the amount may be. You may have no need to use it all but it is there should you need it. Your spending money should cover your personal spends from a meal out with friends to purchasing a new jacket.  

3. Plan months in advance for big purchases such as a weekend break or concert tickets. Save monthly until you arrive at the amount you need.

4. Avoid making impulse buys and be wary of clothes sales. More often than not we buy items only because they are reduced. If they were advertised at the full price we probably would not give them a second glance.

Do you live within your means or do you buy as you desire and face the consequences later?

How do you strike a balance to ensure quality of life? 

28 thoughts on “Budgeting – what is your view?”

  1. I believe that there are two extremes with budgeting. The one extreme says “you must budget anything and everything that ever occurs in your life, and you definitely had better have a ‘miscellaneous’ category for those things that you forget to budget…but keep it small so that it’s not intentionally a cheat area or else YOU ARE FAILING.” That group cracks me up.

    On the other hand, there’s the folks that believe the money will just be there when its needed. These folks are the ones who end up $100k in debt with no idea how they got there. Also not good.

    As with most extremes, the truly good practice or belief is often found somewhere in the middle, and I believe that it is the same with budgeting. Thank you for shedding light on this topic Phoenicia! Everybody needs it!


    1. Thanks for your comment John. As with everything, balance is required.

      I am of the view that what you do the majority of the time is what counts. We will all slip up at one time or another whether intentionally or not.


  2. In sum, you’ve identified three ‘threats’ to a budget:
    (1) Big-ticket items
    (2) Impulse purchases
    (3) Relatively small but recurring non-essentials that add up over time

    (1) and (2) don’t influence me but I am susceptible to (3). I like going out – for a meal, for coffee, for ice cream – and I do have to watch my spending regarding this sort of thing.


  3. I’ve never had what I’d call a lot of money, yet I’ve always managed to live within my means without scrimping or budgeting. It helps that I have simple tastes and also that I generally do not like shopping!


  4. These are great tips for staying on a budget. And you make a good point. There has to be balance. I was brought up in a household that was very strict about money and nothing could be impulse. I think I brought a bit of that into my adulthood and that sometimes I can be too strict with myself.

    However, my one downfall is coffee. I love getting coffee out. And I’ve really had to limit myself with that because if I didn’t, I’d get coffee out every day. So now I try to get it out only a couple days a week. It is so difficult but worth it.


    1. Our childhood experience of finances has a knock on effect on us as adults. Some overspend while others underspend.

      Another coffee lover out there. I much prefer the smell than the taste.


  5. Budgeting is important, it is vital when you are just barely keeping your head above water. In these instances, a rare expense, car repairs etc, can throw a budget into a tale spin. In these instances, it is even more important to be prepared.


  6. Hi Phoenicia. Yes, it’s always a difficult balance to be practical, yet enjoy the finer things in life. My profession as a travel writer enable me to enjoy the trips I could not afford if I had to pay for them from my own means. That provides the balance in my life to keep me happy.
    P.S. if this comment appears twice, I apologize, as the system froze and would not complete my initial posting.


  7. These are great practical tips. I’ve always spent within my means, whether those means have been above average or below average. IT’s always wise to adjust to one’s current situation. I will charge one larger purchase at a time on my credit card, and then I pay it down before I charge something else. It’s also true about spending money. I wait until the end of the month to see what I have left. Then I think about what “extras” I might be well-served to spend it on.


  8. Personally am of the opinion that the reason an abundance of people all over the world is in debt is because they don’t live within their means. When I lived in Knightsbridge Harrods was my local supermarket. I used to be amazed at how ordinary people spent money there they obviously should not have spent. As a result, without a doubt, they are in dept. Is it really intelligent to spend money you can’t afford on say, Harrods because it makes you feel good? Those people would be much better off today if they had been on a budget.


    1. Catarina – some people are of the mindset that they “deserve” to shop here and there, they “deserve” a holiday. How long can one continue to shop where they truly cannot afford? Buying garments from expensive shops does bring a nice feeling but it can also become addictive.


  9. I’m like Ken in that I don’t follow a ” budget” but I’m also a very conservative spender. I always take care of the important stuff first, expenses, savings, etc., and can’t even remember the last time I splurged on anything that I didn’t save for. I’d have to say that I am more focus on increasing my earnings than always pulling back to fit into a predetermined limit.


  10. I don’t have a budget Phoenicia. But I am also a fairly conservative spender with modest tastes so I don’t really feel I need to impose any restraints in terms of living within my means.


  11. Great tips, Phoenicia! I started a budget when my husband and I got married 20+years ago and still update it periodically. It helps me see the big picture and allows me to see what I spend and what I need to wait on. I agree that it is a balancing act. There are months or years when you just need to cut back and there are some years, you don’t. But having a budget always helped with staying on track for our savings which I think is more important. Thanks for sharing.


  12. It can be tough to find the balance between living within one means while still enjoying treats from time to time and being consumed with finances. If possible, a budget should include room for some “extras”. The budgeting process can help one make trade-offs – where you are willing to cut back in order to spend on something else. Tracking how much you spend on things in your budget is also a good way to stay on top of it and learn how you might want to adjust the budget next year.


  13. As a frugalista, Phoenicia, I couldn’t have save it better myself, especially avoiding impulse buys and buying ‘because it’s on sale’. Most often those two are the biggest money wasters around.


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