School yard bullies intimidate you, embarrass you, or force you to act in a way you wouldn’t choose.
But when you first begin your journey to financial freedom, you might find yourself being the target of a budget bully.
The dialogue might sound like this:
“Let’s go out for lunch.”
“No thanks, I’ll pass. I’m on a budget, so I can save for a house.”
“Really? You know, you need 20% down to buy a house. That’s a lot of money. It’s going to take you a long time to save that kind of money. Are you going to do without the fun things until you get the down payment?”
“Come on, let’s go out. One last hurrah, before you become a tightwad.”
Or something like this:
“My kid is doing this fundraiser for school. Will you order something small? Everything helps!”
“ We’re having a Secret Santa swap. I put your name in for you.”
There are so many examples of other people taking control of our finances. The friend who makes fun of your ten-year-old car, or a classroom parent who dictates the type of snacks you will bring for a party.
Bullies – taking your lunch money.
Peer pressure and bullying doesn’t stop after you leave high school. We succumb to these people for so many reasons. Perhaps we are still on the Keeping Up with the Joneses train. Or we don’t want to seem greedy, or Scrooge-like. We’re embarrassed about having to be so careful with money (shouldn’t we be rolling in dough by now?) Or we just start to believe that “just this once” won’t really hurt the budget.
But it does. Because it won’t be the only “just this once.” It won’t be the only time someone makes a statement about your finances.
But here’s the thing. You are the one who has to deal with the results of your ability or inability to stay within your budget. Who do you choose as the driver of your destiny? Someone who wants to run you off the road? Or do you want your own hands around the steering wheel?
You don’t have to explain anything to anyone. A simple “no, thanks” is enough.
Practice saying it – no thanks. No thanks. No. Thanks.
Now, I am certainly not saying that you shouldn’t contribute to society, and be kind and generous to others. I am saying that you must be on solid ground before reaching out to rescue others. Planning is the answer. Include a certain amount of money in your budget for gifting – and make that amount around 5% of your total income. Use it for charitable donations, fundraising, etc. Do you want to go out for lunch with your coworkers? Then plan for it by adding a weekly lunch fund in the budget. If you can’t find the money when you are working on the budget, then the money isn’t there for you when someone asks. If you go, you are using money that is delegated to bills or others responsibilities. Learn to say no to spur-of-the-moment expenses.
People will think what they want – but who cares what they think? It’s really not your business what they think of you. And with practice, it gets easier.
Feature photo by Andre Hunter of Unsplash