I'm Single, Do I Need a Budget?
I'll cut to the chase on this question "I'm single, do I need a budget?". Absolutely. I think everyone who has money coming into their hands needs a budget and a plan on how it will leave their hands. Without a budget, our spending is not intentional and it won't properly reflect our values as it should. That's the easy answer, but recently I was reflecting on this question (yes, I think about it often).
I've never been single and on a budget. Kelsey and I stumbled into budgeting together and have had each other to lean on as we've tried to figure out how to budget our money, get out of debt, and build wealth. So, I don't really know what it's like to have to intentionally budget money while being single.
Although I got a taste of it recently as Kelsey and Rooney headed out of town to visit family and I stayed behind to work on finishing our basement. Finishing being a loose term here, the project may never get finished at this rate...
Anyway, I was home alone with some food money in case I needed to get some groceries or something to eat. It was a weird feeling to be home in an empty house, essentially knowing that I could do whatever I wanted until they got home, but there were a few motivators that kept me on track while my family was away.
- Purpose: I stayed home to get work done in the basement. This was the first time Kelsey and Rooney traveled without me. It was kind of a big deal for us as a family and I didn't take that lightly. I wanted to make the most of the time I was away from them.
- Accountability: I knew that Kelsey and Rooney would come home and progress in the basement would reflect how my time was spent.
- Quality Time: I was missing out on quality time with my family. A whole weekends worth. I didn't like that. But, since that was the decision we made, I wanted to be sure to get as much done as possible.
What do these factors have to do with being single and needing a budget? Well, I'll tell you that when I wasn't working, the temptations for going and spending money were prevalent. Nobody was there, nobody was watching. And I ended up caving eventually, but not how you might think...
My main goal for the weekend in the basement was to finish up the electrical work and get the insulation back up on the walls. As it turns out our energy bill that came the month before showed that over the winter without insulation on the walls "during construction" was going to cost us $30 extra dollars a month for the next year (budget billing).
Life got busy and the weather got warm and so progress in the basement has been halted. Until a financial consequence came into play. Money may not always be the only motivator in decision making, but it's always part of it.
(It took me about 12 hours of work to cut and hang all the insulation)
So, after I got that done, I was physically exhausted. I'm certainly out of "construction shape", although I've been keeping up fairly well with my pushup regimen this year. It was Sunday afternoon and I was just waiting for my girls to get home. So, I headed out to get a few things off the shopping list: carry-on luggage for the upcoming trip I wrote about last week, and some other toiletry items that were on our list.
And I found myself wandering around Target just looking for something to buy. I had everything on the list, but was just wandering. Kelsey and I have trained ourselves to only shop for things on our list over the years, but when I was on my own, old habits almost crept back in.
I'm proud to say I didn't buy a big screen TV or anything not on the list for that matter. That would have ended badly, I'm sure.
All that to say, if you are single, I'm guessing you face these types of temptations all the time and it must be hard. It must be hard trying to make ends meet for yourself and to try to get ahead every month without the accountability of someone else (if only in the back of your mind) helping to remind you of what your budget had to say about the tempting purchase.
It comes natural to some, but not to all. Discipline is a tough thing to master on your own. I don't have any magical advice; human behavior is a tricky subject. It might sound cliche but if you have this issue of spending, you'll need to get an accountability partner. It might be weird, but having someone to help guide your spending is about the only way to trust yourself. It's far to easy to justify spending when talking with yourself.
And if you are looking for someone to help you understand your financial situation, and start making your money work for you, I'm here to help! I spent last week with Dave Ramsey's team becoming a trained financial coach*. I'll be writing more about this process in the coming weeks, but wanted to let you know that I'm here to help.
If you think a financial coach might benefit you, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll set up a free consultation.
* Completion of this training does not make me an employee or agent of Dave Ramsey, nor give me the right to speak for or bind him, nor constitute an endorsement by him.