I’m a recovering cheapskate. Looking back now, I’m somewhat embarrassed by my shenanigans and behavior over the years.
There was a time when I seriously debated whether to buy a medium pizza or a large pizza. I had my ex-wife give me all the receipts for anything she charged. I even brought a calculator to the grocery store (I warned you).
To be fair, 25 years ago my salary wasn’t exactly impressive. I was just starting out in my career and I had a mortgage and eventually kids and all the expenses that came along with that. But my focus on expenses was, in hindsight, excessive and short sighted.
I write a lot about making the most of your money, looking for ways to cut costs in order to save and invest more. And I still believe that’s extremely important to your overall finances.
But what I missed then, and I understand now, is that there are two sides to the financial equation. There’s the outflow (expenses) but also the inflow (income). What I started to realize is that both are important in building wealth and financial independence.
Put another way, there’s only so much you can cut. You can’t have negative expenses, after all. But income, if you really think about it, has much more potential because theoretically it’s unlimited. That doesn’t mean we’ll all make 7 figures, but the idea is that you need to focus on both sides of the scale.
Another equally important point that I failed to embrace over the years is the need to allocate some money to do what you enjoy most. Support a hobby, have Starbucks every morning, take a weekend trip, or whatever brings you pleasure and makes you feel alive.
So with this mindset, I slowly started changing my attitude regarding money. Still, even now, I admit to having the occasional relapse and I catch myself stressing out over small unexpected bills. If I don’t catch myself then my wife will almost certainly call me out on it and justifiably so.
Going forward realize that expenses are important. If we look closely, we can all find some excess to cut out of our monthly budget.
But don’t make the mistake I made and think that cutting expenses will be your only ticket to accumulating significant wealth, however it is you personally define, “wealth”.
Relax. Always look for ways to improve both your income and monthly costs but try not to stress too much. Just like any goal or challenge, if you’re truly committed to improving, you’ll get there.
If you’re an individual or small business looking for budgeting and financial coaching services, visit my website at http://www.rljbudgetcoaching.com.