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I am so excited to share this guest post today. It was written by my favorite human, my lovely wife Jenna. She was reluctant to write for the blog, but I’m so glad she did. This post is seriously awesome and is jam packed with tips to live on a budget for all the “wanters” out there. Plus it’s hilarious and left me laughing so many times. Without further ado, my wife Jenna. Enjoy ~Jamie Griffin
I want ALL the Things, But I Have a Budget.
By: Jenna Griffin
Do you want ALL the things?
I do, I am a wanter.
I want all the things no matter the scenario. You name it, and I want it.
For example, breakfast is my favorite meal and my dream breakfast includes all the beverage options. Orange juice, coffee, milk, guava juice, pomegranate juice…you name the beverage, and I want it.
Same for shoes. Sign me up.
I could always find a use for a new pair of Dansko’s, or new boots. Then I think, oh, my Birkenstocks are getting a little old…and I think I need a new pair of those.
Seeing a pattern here? I WANT ALL THE THINGS.
I didn’t always want all the things.
Crazy to think now, but there was once a time where I was content as a cat sleeping in a window sill that wanted for nothing.
I am a middle child and am the classic example of getting stuck with hand-me-downs growing up from my older sister.
The thing was though, when I was younger I didn’t care.
I was the saver from the time I can remember all the way through high school. I would save all my birthday and Christmas money and never spend a dime on anything for myself.
At any given point, my family knew that if they needed to borrow some money from someone to ask me.
It got to the point where my mom and dad would refuse to give me money and opt instead to buy me an actual gift because they knew if I got money I would pay a bill with it or stash it away.
A Gift that was Way Better Than Money
By my 21st birthday I knew my parents weren’t going to give me money or a gift, so I knew I had to produce some form of “list” for them because they’re awesome and wanted to bless my socks off with a gift.
They knew that there were two things I had in mind that I always wanted. Obviously one was a puppy which I couldn’t get because of my landlord. But also in my heart of hearts I had always wanted a pearl/diamond ring but felt it was too extravagant to ask for.
We were at Old Country Buffet (not my choice, FYI) and I went to open my gift not having any clue what they were going to get for me.
Turned out it was a stuffed animal dog kit because they knew I desperately wanted a dog. I remember thinking — first off, super funny joke.
But second, gee, thanks, with slight disappointment.
I laughed and joked, and went to put the gift away when my mom stopped me and told me to keep looking (she was almost frantic). Well, turns out, they hid a BEAUTIFUL diamond/pearl ring in the dog gift to surprise me.
My heart sang. I got the piece of jewelry that I had wanted for so long! I treasure that ring, and to this day refuse to wear it except for fancy occasions to make sure that it doesn’t wear out or get damaged in any way.
For someone who is a wanter (and who’s love language is gifts), this was the perfect gift. I mean, most girls wouldn’t argue with diamonds!
When Pandora’s Box Opened
It wasn’t actually until college that I became a “spender”. I went from a mass hoarder/saver of money to allowing myself to be free to buy myself things that I wanted.
When that shift happened, it was like Pandora’s box opened.
All of a sudden, I didn’t mind spending money on myself and eventually I justified my spending. I had always been a saver, so I was fine spending a little on myself.
The thing was, I didn’t have money for that. I didn’t work a full time job the majority of my college years, so my spending money came from my student loans.
As one can imagine, I wracked up a lot of debt with my new “spending mentality” that bit me in the butt years later.
How to Budget When You’re a “Wanter”
Fast forward a few years and imagine someone who (combined with her husband) has $90,000 of student loan debt alongside $4,000 of credit card debt and was now accustomed to buying what they wanted.
Our first year on a budget produced ALL.THE.TEARS. Seriously. I felt like a child that had been scolded and was sent to the corner for a timeout.
Our budget was so intense we didn’t allow ourselves a date night. Not even to go see a movie on $5 movie night. Every penny had a place, and nothing I “wanted” was even an option. Eventually, we had to make a change because our budget was sucking the life out of us.
We sat down and looked at our budget together (over tears), and compromised on ways where we could still make drastic strides towards our goals, but also give a little breath of life back to us.
We settled on essentially giving ourselves an “allowance” where we each got a little money each month.
Our “Allowance” Saved Me
Most people think of being a child when they hear the word allowance. I intermittently had an allowance — occasionally I would get some money but nothing I ever remember consistently.
One year I was paid for my grades which I think my parents realized real quickly that that would be too expensive. I was a straight-A student and would always earn top dollar.
Once you become an adult, the word allowance almost seems offensive – like being forced to be a child again. Our allowance, however, offered me a little bit of freedom in our budget that I was craving.
Seeing as we were really frugal with our money, I didn’t get to go buy a new pair of jeans, or new shirts, or shoes whenever I wanted. Those things were off limits for the time being, only to be purchased on an absolute need-only basis.
This new allowance we gave ourselves was small at $25 for each of us but it allowed me to recover some freedom from restrictions that I was feeling.
The beauty of this allowance we had given us was that we could spend that money on WHATEVER we wanted – no questions asked. So, if I wanted to roam Target sipping my favorite Starbucks coffee drink, my husband couldn’t tell me no.
It was my money, and he didn’t get a say in how I spent it. And I didn’t get to say how he spent his. My allowance allows me to indulge once in a while in the things I want without breaking the budget.
Learn How to Budget from a Fellow-Wanter
If you are a wanter like I am and are trying to start a budget, or already have one started but need help, this is what I would recommend:
Define your priorities
If throwing awesome decked-out parties are your thing, then set it up in the budget! If you need a fancy coffee to enjoy Target runs, sweet. No shame. Just build it into the budget.
If you absolutely NEED a new couch because yours is old and wearing, then save the money and put it in your budget. I don’t think you have to give up everything, but you do have to set limits and stick to them.
Set a dollar amount
Once you have your priorities, you should really come up with a budget for those, and something that is reasonable. If it applies, make sure your spouse/significant other is on board as well.
Example: for my daughters birthday, I could easily spend $500 on food/beverages/decorations but we both agree that that’s just insane considering she’s turning one and won’t remember it.
We settled on around $100 to make a couple cakes and print some pictures to invite family over. That is more reasonable and bonus for me because I get to bake — which is one my favorite things to do!
Learn to say NO to yourself
This is the one that I am the WORST at, but the one I need to do the most. My value and worth does not come from the things I want (which I will deny that I said that every night when I NEED ice cream).
My house doesn’t need to be the most updated. And my dinner parties don’t need Dom Perignon everytime (hahaha, who am I kidding, we’ve never had that).
Even the new fancy clothes I buy won’t change the fact that I am a black shirt and blue jeans girl and I will never stray from that. Learn to say no and move on to my next advise.
Lastly, learn to be content with what you have
This is the absolute best and hardest journey. I have some support (thank you Marie Kondo) to help me learn that what I have is WAY more than I ever deserve, and way more than most people have.
So everytime I find myself completely discontented over what I DON’T have, I try to remind myself what I do have.
A question for the WANTERS like me…
Are you a wanter like me? What tips or tricks have you adopted to stay on a budget? What’s your achilles heel that gets you every time?
Last summer we went on vacation to Ireland, and the full wanter in me came out again. I wrote about how I survived wanting EVERYTHING and sticking to our budget while on vacation. You can read about it here.
Also, if you want to know how to get out of debt, download my STINKIN AWESOME husband’s debt snowball spreadsheet.
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Great post! It’s helpful to see that everyone struggles with wanting all the things, lol. I think having an allowance is a good compromise to prevent feelings of deprivation and resentment.
My husband is disabled, with severe short-term memory loss. Having a cash allowance works well for him, too, because he needs to physically “see” how much money he has to spend.
Thanks! I’m glad I’m not the only one too! But man is it hard sometimes to say no.
Cash allowance changed our budget and I’m so thankful I get even a small amount of money to spend guilt free.
This is real great Jamie! Thank you!
Thanks Carrie! All the credit goes to Jenna on this one!
Awesome read! Your wife has an excellent “voice” and I’d read her again in a heartbeat.
From Jenna. “Thank you! I don’t view myself as a writer so I really appreciate this. Maybe I’ll try out a couple more articles. Any suggestions?”
She says thank you! I’ll see if I can drum something up from her 🙂