When one-size-fits-all budgeting doesn’t fit
As an avid sports fan, I like to wear hats from my favorite teams. I’ve never been a fan of one-size-fits-all hats. They’re stretchy and often lose their shape. I would much rather spend the extra money on a fitted hat that I know will fit like a glove, and I’ll look forward to wearing it all the time – it’ worth it. Hats are sold in quarter-inch diameter increases, so it’s very easy to get a hat that fits just right. One-size-fits-all just doesn’t cut it.
And yet, people often take a one-size-fits-all approach to something much more impactful in their life: Budgeting.
I’m often asked, “How much should I spend on *insert item here*?” My answer is almost always, “It depends!” Which is, of course, the last answer anyone wants to hear.
But shouldn’t it depend? What works for one person might not work for another – and that’s ok!
If you’re a homebody, you wouldn’t want to spend a large portion of your disposable income on going out to dinner or events, and you might want to spend more on a home that you’ll use and enjoy. The opposite is true if you’re someone who doesn’t like spending time at home. Why spend all that money on rent or a mortgage when you don’t think you’re going to want to spend most of your time at home? What you prioritize matters. Your lifestyle matters. Your preferences matter.
The first result of a google search for “budgeting” might give you a good guideline, but it won’t provide a one-size-fits-all answer on how to budget. Following arbitrary rules as to how much is too much to spend on one area of your life can lead to being unsure of yourself when your numbers don’t line up with the “rules.” You might feel guilty and end up not enjoying what you’re spending your money on. Who wants to feel bad about spending money on something they enjoy?
The Numbers Matter
Of course, the numbers matter too. You don’t want to find yourself living beyond your means and struggling financially. But far too often, people only focus on the numbers.
Finances are part art, part science. Understanding yourself and your priorities in life can do wonders for your relationship with your finances. Your spending versus saving dynamic is going to differ from month to month. Opportunities in life don’t present themselves uniformly, and they don’t follow a traditional budget. Splurging on something that improves your quality of life should not be viewed negatively or as a setback — everything in moderation, with occasional excess.
Part of your wealth manager’s job is to put context behind the numbers so you can have more knowledge and flexibility. Call it a more custom fit. You should enjoy spending on things that are meaningful to you, even if that means putting off saving towards a financial goal now and then. Life only happens once. Live it to the fullest.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Nick Kerger, CFP
Nick is a Wealth Manager and helps pursue your goals comfortably in life whether those goals are in their personal life or professional life. He wants clients to have the ability to focus on pursing their goals every day, free from financial stress. Nick is also a part of the Client Experience Committee.
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