Money Mistake Monday – Watching Every Last Penny Syndrome.

I am going to break from my usual lessons that I have learned along the way to discuss the exact opposite of myself – the people who track every single last penny that leaves their wallet. I do believe that there is such a thing as taking budgeting so far that you stop enjoying life altogether. I have written before that I am not a miser in the sense that I do spend money, even though sometimes it may not seem like it. And even though I do carefully watch where our money goes, I do not drive myself bananas over it – I believe that money is only temporary and as long as I am living comfortably, I have enough to spend some of it once in a while.

I could not imagine anything more miserable than not being able to have a cup of coffee out with my wife one Saturday afternoon because it was not in our budget. In the grand scheme of things, what is a few bucks in exchange for an hour or so of sitting outside chatting and enjoying the sunshine? Not much really…I would rather spend the few bucks than sit in my house staring at the wall because we don’t have a few bucks in the budget for going to have coffee once in a while.

Buying flat screen TV’s to replace perfectly good “regular” TV’s, buying a BMW when a Honda would do just fine, or buying a new purse or pair of shoes every week is a budget buster in our eyes, and there are better ways to measure your life other than money. Not worrying about a few bucks here and there is priceless to our lives and our relationship. We only live once and not for very longwhat’s a few bucks between friends?

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Comments (17)

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  1. HisMoney says:

    Couldn’t agree more with this. Budgeting should be for the big ticket items each month and in order to get a handle on your finances. Once you’re there, you should be able to set aside an amount each month just for things to come up and enjoy without having to worry about where the money is coming from.

  2. minnemom says:

    I completely agree with this. We need to live within our means, but also to enjoy life a little!

  3. Now, I do track every dollar because I’m trying to change some bad money habits that are deeply ingrained. However, I think you’re right. Here’s where the old comparison to dieting comes in. When I first started a diet, I had to count calories in order to know where to cut back. Once I reached a healthy weight and had a better sense of how to maintain it, I stopped counting every calorie. Now, I know roughly how many calories I eat at most meals, exercise regularly, and enjoy some quality treats once in a while!

  4. Mrs. Micah says:

    We specifically put date money in the budget so we won’t have to worry about this kind of thing. That way, dates aren’t guilty…they’re fun.

    However, I’m going outside the budget to meet up with PF bloggers, but I’ve given myself a spending limit so I feel comfortable about it.

  5. I keep track of every penny I spend and I don’t find it difficult. I don’t budget every penny I’m going to spend though, I’m frugal with my spending and I don’t have much income so my total monthly expenses are almost alway reasonable.

  6. Sherthebear says:

    I absolutely agree with you. Why save money if not to be able to use it for things that are enjoyable especially spending time with people you care about.

  7. David says:

    Glad I am not the only one! 🙂

  8. Good article, wish I would have read it a few hours ago. I just got home from teaching “Spend Smart”, one of the 2 PF classes I teach locally in the Philadelphia area. The main part of the curriculum is teaching “reverse budgeting” (or snowflaking, as some bloggers have called it). This article would have fit right in with the class as we teach that a) budgets don’t work because you spend so much time tracking the money you spent instead of finding quick and painless ways to save money and b) how much the true cost of that flat screen TV or BMW is in the long run.

  9. Wade Young says:

    Having to think about money is a bad way to live. You are right — go light on the big things so that you have plenty of money in the budget to spend when you are out and about. That makes for a much more satisfied life.

  10. Jo says:

    I disagree with the premise that people who track every last penny “taking budgeting so far that [they] stop enjoying life altogether”. I track every single last cent that leaves my wallet, and I totally enjoy my life. The tracking is a behaviour; the enjoyment is an attitude.

    One could track every last penny whilst also being a spendthrift, no?

  11. Kelli Myers says:

    Enjoying life as well as saving money for future are both very important. So the best thing is to make a balance between the two and live life the way we want to.

  12. I find that I enjoy and appreciate treats more when I limit them. I don’t plan every specific expenditure–for instance, I might plan to eat out four times in the month of April, but I wouldn’t say, “I’ll eat out on Sunday, April 20th.” You can still retain some spontaneity while living on a budget.

    And if I ever start feeling like I don’t have enough enjoyment in my life (which is surprisingly rare–most of the things that bring me significant enjoyment are free or extremely cheap), I do let myself break the budget!

  13. You know, my father in law was in management for AT&T for 35 years. He once told me that you “micro-manage something until it doesn’t need to be micro-managed anymore. But knowing when to let go is an art.”

    I think the same could be said of our finances, not that we should ever completely let go… 😀

  14. david says:

    So true Ron, that is a good anecdote to remember!

  15. […] at My Two Dollars last week David wrote a post arguing against what he called “Watching Every Last Penny Syndrome.” Since I track every penny I spend and earn I have to disagree with that post. This is […]

  16. […] 63. Money Mistake Monday – Watching Every Last Penny Syndrome […]

  17. I also agree with everybody else previously on this subject. Sad but, understandable at the same time on how people don’t know this.