I Have a Budget. Does It Mean I am Poor?

Whether I have a true budget or it seems to me that I have and follow one, I surely am rather quite careful with money and prefer not to spend it carelessly.  I have used the ‘budget’ word on my friends enough times that they know by now that I will not just go out for ‘a night out’ without a plan and without knowing how much I will spend. In NYC ‘a night out’ easily means $100 thrown out of the window.

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Just last week we had 3 birthdays at work. As tradition has it – Friday drinks are in order. Well, I did not join the drinks, just like I did not join the happy hour outing just a week before that, another birthday and drinks as a ‘send off’ for B. who was leaving our organization.  Well, I am pretty much known by now to not join any work outings, regardless of the occasion.

And then this happened.

Did I hear it correctly? Some of my co-workers were going out for lunch today and I overheard them considering to check in with me if I wanted to join when one of them said: ‘No, she will not join. She is ALWAYS ON A BUDGET’. And they left.

Well, the truth is if I was asked to join, I would have said ‘no’ for multiple reasons. Reason one is that I actually brought amazing mushroom quinoa risotto leftovers and reason two is because I am just not paying $15 for a hummus wrap. Anyway, the comment really hurt my feelings. Just because I am saying openly that I am on a budget, do people take it that I struggle financially? Do they think I can’t afford to buy a lunch? Do they think I am poor?

I don’t see myself as deprived of things or underprivileged in any sense. Quite the opposite really, I trust I am very lucky with what I have, with having a full time job, health insurance, being able to pay bills on time, putting 20% into 401k and having absolutely ZERO debt. Having a budget actually enables me to realize that I AM able to afford things. Once I allocate my $$ towards the needs I can see clearly what is leftover and how much I can allocate towards other things, be it vacation, investing, or simply a new dress or a lunch.

I couldn’t stop thinking about it for (almost) the rest of the day, asking myself questions (and answering them for myself). Do only poor people have a budget? How much would I have to spend if I were to join all the lunches, drinks and BDays that my office is celebrating? (Honestly, I think I would be in debt right now). Do people really just buy things as they think of them without having some sort of a plan for a month for their $$?

Are Mustachians really such a rare breed?

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