Have you ever had anyone laugh at you for your spending habits? Or better yet, have you ever had anyone laugh at you for what you’re NOT spending?
This happened recently to my husband.
Now, before I tell you the story, I have to give my husband kudos for putting up with me. Not only does he actually enjoy my personal weirdness, but he puts up with having a personal finance nerd for a wife.
He’s also fully on board with our financial goals. We dug ourselves into a bit of a debt hole several years ago and we’ve been working diligently (mostly) to get back out.
We have a plan to pay off the last of our debts within a year, but to reach that goal requires sacrifice and it limits the amount of spending we can put toward other things.
Even though we’re not the strictest of budgeters, it’s easiest just to call our financial roadmap for the month a ‘budget’.
Mr. FC was hanging out with some of his buddies a while ago and they were talking about buying airsoft guns. He laughed along and enjoyed the conversation, but when they began to push him on it, he told them “It’s not in the budget right now.”
They proceeded to give him such a hard time!
”You make more money and you can’t buy this?!”
“You let your wife tell you what you can spend?!”
“Why do you put yourself on a budget? I don’t have one!”
He let them laugh, and gently stood his ground, and then came home and told me about it.
I was annoyed at them initially, but I quickly let it go. Because I realized that people judge what they don’t understand.
I’d be willing to explain our financial plan to them, but I know they don’t want to hear it. Sometimes people need to be ready to hear something before they’re going to learn the lesson.
It would do us no good to beat them over the head with talk about why it’s good to pay off debt quickly or track your spending, or why investing is important. Doing that would only serve to ruin a relationship.
I’m not averse to discussing personal finance in normal conversations and I strongly believe that it should be less taboo, but I’m not going to be preachy about it or sacrifice my friends for it.
So, they can go ahead and laugh. We’re going to stick to our financial plan because we know that’s going to put us on a path toward a better future.
Spending on Priorities
Part of our financial plan includes being more conscientious about spending on things that actually bring value and joy to our lives, instead of mindlessly consuming.
Even while paying off debt, we’re still allowing ourselves to have fun. For example, Mr. FC has always wanted a boat. So, two years ago, we bought one!
It was old and needed a lot of work, and Mr. FC didn’t really know anything about boats or engines, but he was willing to learn. So, he did!
There is hardly anything frugal about a boat (even an old used one). It requires gas, and maintenance, and a truck to pull it, and vehicle gas to get to the lake and don’t even get me started on the cost of fishing gear…
But that little boat brings my husband such great joy, that to us, it’s worth it!
That is the kind of spending we want to prioritize.
For Mr. FC, enjoying time on his boat is a higher priority than buying new toys right now.
Making Spending Decisions
One of his friend’s comments that really got under my skin was the one about the wife limiting his spending. It’s simply not true.
I am not my husband’s mother. We are a team and make our decisions together.
He knows he can spend money on anything, and if he has something that is truly important to him, he expresses that and we buy it (like the boat). We respect each other enough to communicate regularly and stick to the choices we make together. That’s what a mature relationship looks like.
We also each get fun money every month to spend on whatever we desire without having to consult the other (which his friends also make fun of us for).
All couples handle money differently but our system works for us.
The Power of Peer Pressure
I would like to think that as I’ve gotten older, I’ve matured and grown immune to the power of peer pressure, but that’s a lie.
I still care very much about what people think of me.
So, when people snicker about our choices, it can sometimes make me wonder if we’re really making the right decisions.
However, maybe the growth that I have achieved is being able to stand my ground even after second guessing myself.
Peer pressure can be a very powerful driver of our financial choices. But I’m actively trying to push back against that.
One thing that makes it easier is to focus on our big-picture goals. Having a WHY at the end helps to put the little pressures into perspective.
It’s not always easy to let your friends laugh at your expense, but not everyone wins with money, and therefore not everyone makes the same choices as you.
To get ahead financially, to be financially independent, is, in a sense, counter-cultural.
So, if getting laughed at is a necessary expense in order to be financially independent, it’s a price I’m willing to pay.