Things I’m Glad I Learned on My Budgeting Journey

Posted on February 22, 2012 12 Comments

This is in no means a complete list, just a few random thoughts and lessons I’m glad I learned.

  • I’m glad I learned how to manage a budget. When I was broke in college, I didn’t follow a budget. I just spent what I earned, and paid no mind to savings or my loans. My minuscule income was spent as it came in, sometimes for critical items like ramen noodles and soap, and other times on frivolous items like cheap new shoes and make-up for an upcoming date party. It didn’t matter where these items came from or who sold them, it just mattered that I could get them cheaply when it mattered. I ended up with a bunch of crap I didn’t need, and when I graduated I had no savings and a ton of debt. Learning how to manage my budget changed my life for the better. 

Friends let friends talk finances through life stages.

  • I’m glad I learned that keeping up with my friends doesn’t matter. Different people value different things. Some people value cars and homes, some value family, some value experiences. There is no right or wrong answer, and there are plenty of different perspectives to go around. After college, my best friends and former roommates splintered into many different directions. At first I would find myself jealous at each new home purchase, new job offer, new anything. But it only took a few of these major life changes for me to realize I’m on a different tract, I value different things, and it’s stupid to try to compete. The only person I need to make happy is me. And once I’m happy, my relationships are just fine.
  • I’m glad I learned how to pay myself first. My savings funds and retirement investments are doing better than I could have expected because of it, and it’s so easy to increase my savings because at 1 percent changes every now and again, it’s hard to notice a difference.
  • I’m glad I started with small steps. Big ones would have just overwhelmed me.
  • I’m glad I have people I can relate to and talk with about finances. My brother and I are about as close as siblings come. We talk a lot about our finances, especially since we started in the same place and face some similar challenges. Likewise, although I know less about the exact status of their finances, I’m glad my best girlfriends and I can talk about money with each other and not always feel bad about it. We’re pretty open and can respect when people are trying to save and discuss our challenges with each other. Our advice may not always be spot on, but it’s nice to know I have support when I need it.

Those are just a few lessons I’ve learned over the last eight years since getting my finances in order. What are you glad you learned?

Category: Life


12 Responses to “Things I’m Glad I Learned on My Budgeting Journey”

  1. Laura Vanderkam
    February 22nd, 2012 @ 10:44 am

    I’ve learned that what people think is “normal” to spend on different categories is entirely variable. I might think it would be crazy to spend hundreds of dollars on flowers for one’s apartment… but if it brings someone happiness, and they’re willing to spend less in other areas to make it possible, why not?

  2. jefferson
    February 22nd, 2012 @ 1:49 pm

    We’re just getting started, but I feel that I have learned one very key lesson.

    I already have everything that I need to be happy.

    Meaning, craving a new car, a new tv, a new toy.. will not lead to any better a life.

  3. The Budgeting Babe
    February 22nd, 2012 @ 1:56 pm

    Love that. Good lesson to share.

  4. Allison
    February 22nd, 2012 @ 6:48 pm

    I am so glad that I learned it is ok to be where I am. I had friends do so much before me, and when I compared lives, I felt like a loser, but understanding that I have a different path made it so much easier.

  5. Missie
    February 22nd, 2012 @ 11:25 pm

    Excellent lessons, Nicole!

    I was raised by frugal parents, but they each could understand the psychological need for a “splurge” sometimes. So I grew up respecting and understanding the purpose of a budget, but also realizing that it’s okay to “splurge” sometimes, too.

    I also grew up learning to treasure and enjoy more affordable experiences, such as a home facial and bubble bath; good movie on TV (or, later, rented VCR tape — now DVD or Netflix streaming! LOL); a festive, home cooked meal; reading a good book; playing a fun game with family/friends…things of that nature.

    While it might seem like mixed signals or crossed wiring, I’m glad that I learned — and am happy to accept — that “necessities” mean different things to different people, but that sometimes a splurge is important, too.

  6. Allison
    February 23rd, 2012 @ 1:57 pm

    Hey, I finally got the post up you tagged me in!

  7. Yakezie Carnival – The Daytona 500 Edition
    February 26th, 2012 @ 10:58 am

    [...] Budgeting Babe: Things I’m Glad I Learned on My Budgeting Journey – Here are five important lessons I’ve learned about finances on my journey from [...]

  8. Savvy Scot
    February 26th, 2012 @ 12:11 pm

    I think CARS is an area where many people budget far too much money. It is a social norm / expectation to upgrade to a better car every few years – but why?? I will never understand why people sign up to spends 10s of thousands on a car when they can get one for a few thousand outright.

  9. The Budgeting Babe
    February 26th, 2012 @ 2:20 pm

    I bought my car new, for its safety among other things, and intend to keep it for 10+ years. We have very bad winters here, so I needed something dependable. But I agree, I totally do not get spending a ton of money on a status symbol like a Porshe when you can get a safe, reliable car for thousands cheaper.

  10. Kylie Ofiu
    February 26th, 2012 @ 6:39 pm

    So many great lessons. I have learned so much on my journey too. The biggest ones have been knowing what I really want and that I don’t love or want stuff, I want life experiences. This has really helped me tailor how I spend my money.

  11. Addie
    February 27th, 2012 @ 12:47 pm

    Awesome post! I had the hardest time budgeting in college, I’ve gotten better at it but I wish it was a skill I had mastered sooner in life. Not comparing yourselves to others in your life can be exceptionally hard, sometimes I look at my friends who are buying new houses and new cars and feel twinges of jealousy but I’ve been trying to become better at paying attention to only my own life.

  12. Lauren Sainz
    February 29th, 2012 @ 10:13 am

    I’m glad that I’ve realized what mistakes we’ve made (my husband and I). They started back in 2006 when we made the decision to buy a house instead of simply moving into a bigger apartment (to make room for baby). We wanted it all too quickly. While we managed to get all that we wanted, we’ve paid the price in credit card debt interest and student loan interest (I was stupid and took out a $30,000 student loan to pay off our credit card debt). Now, we are mile high in debts to repay and we’ve learned that we already have everything we could ever need. We only buy necessities and are forcing ourselves to save money every week, even it the amount is small. We’re contributing to my husband’s 401(k) and are watching it grow by $500 or so per month due to the company match. Things are finally on track, but it took going off track to get to where we are at. I’m gratful to my mistakes.

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