Ask the Readers: Budgets - Are They "Hot" or Not? (Your Chance to Win $10!)

by Linsey Knerl on 25 August 2009 53 comments

In a past life, I had a circle of friends that were were more "poser" than "investor." The common argument against socking a little cash away for a rainy day was, "That's no fun!" or "How can you get ahead when your money's collecting dust."  The allure of a concert ticket far outshone that of a certificate of deposit, and while I did my best to save, I did it in secrecy. 

Unfortunately, the girls were a bit worse than the boys.  They used every spare penny for manicures, highlights, low-lights, and gym memberships.  The reason?  To land the guy that would (hopefully) someday pay for the manicures, highlights, low-lights, and gym memberships.  They claimed that they invested -- in themselves.  But budgets were not only ridiculously lame -- they were horribly unsexy.  Luckily, I grew out of those friends, and saving is a goal that my Western Nebraska husband and I share together.  Consequently, we think the other one is plenty "hot" -- budgets and savings goals, included.  

So what do you think? Was a firm financial goal something that drew you to your significant other?  Was it even discussed?  Did appearing to "keep up with the Joneses" have any influence on what finally brought you together?  How does money, the cliches that surround it, and finding that someone special all get along in today's past-paced, make-more society?  Do you even care?

We'd love to hear whether you think budgets, savings, and personal finance topics are hot -- or not.  Tell us why, and you will be entered to win a $10 Amazon gift card.  (That's enough for a few club mixes -- if you're into that sort of thing.)

Those of you who aren’t familiar with the “drill,” read below for full details:

Win a $10 Amazon Gift Certificate

We're doing two giveaways -- one for random comments, and another one for a random tweets.

How to Enter:

  1. Post your answer in the comments below, or
  2. Tweet your answer.  Include both "@wisebread" and "#WBAsk" in your tweet so we'll see it and count it.

If you're inspired to write a whole blog post, please link to it in the comments or tweet it.

At the end of the drawing, we'll update this post to include (and link to) all of your helpful responses.

Giveaway Rules:

  • Contest ends Thursday, August 27th at 11:59am CST. Winners will be announced after August 27th on the original post and via Twitter. Winners will also be contacted via email and Twitter Direct Message.
  • You can enter both drawings -- once by leaving a comment and once by tweeting.
  • Only tweets that contain both "@wisebread" and "#WBAsk" will be entered. (Otherwise, we won't see it.)

 Good luck! 

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Guest's picture
Sarah

Personal finance is important for my generation (college age). I often think that we're financially coming of age as "Depression lite." While we may not be reusing ziploc bags and stealing ketchup packets into our 80s as our Depression-era grandparents do, we're combining environmental consciousness with a desire to spend less and use less.
I can't say that savings goals are "hot" among students at my college, however. Most simply desire to leave here with as little debt as possible, so I guess budgets matter more.

Guest's picture
cwaltz

budgeting. It's something that has evolved over the 17 years and involves give and take on both our parts. He has a tendency to be a spender, while I am more of a saver. He is more of a big ticket item person, whereas I have a tendency when I spend to nickel and dime our budget to death. We take turns at getting our goals accomplished. After he gets his hunting rifle I will get some new cabinetry in the kitchen.

During the first 5 years of our marriage we didn't even have a joint account. He would pay some bills and I would be responsible for others. I needed the separation though because I watched my mother and saw what being financially dependant on my father did to her. It took me a while to realize I'm not her and he's not him and that our problems would be uniquely ours.

Guest's picture
MichaelM

It was hot, only because I'm more of a have-fun-at-home type guy, and always have been. Girls that wanted to go to clubs or parties weren't that interesting to me.

That didn't mean I was guaranteed to get a thrifty wife, but I think there is less overlap in the ven diagram of spenders and have-fun-at-home types.

Guest's picture
Anonymous

Budgets are hot but rare. The fact that my guy would shop around or wait for a sale was hot. And having large consumer debt is a turn-off, but he had none.

He doesn't do budgets, though. He has an automatic withdrawal for retirement and another one for other investments and otherwise lives paycheck to paycheck.

Mostly I am attracted to people with big brains and in my generation, that means computer programmers. Programming is boring but at least most of those guys don't blow a lot of money preening and buying stupid cars. (At least, by the time they start buying stupid cars, they have so much money that it's just a small dent.)

Guest's picture
Sally

The more I gain control over my finances and how much I'm spending, the less I actually reference my budget. I use it as a guideline, something flexible. And it is it useful for paying myself first AND last - the budgeted savings amount plus anything that's left at the end of the month.

Guest's picture
Tamara

Budgets are definitely hot. My boyfriend and I both outline our expenses for the month, each month. We can't afford not to. I'm in the process of paying off a ridiculous amount of credit card debt and he is going to school full-time on the GI Bill. We have modest financial goals for the future and we understand that only patience and avoiding frivolous spending will get us there.

When we started dating, getting ahead financially was not even close to being a reason for spending time together. I've been raised to know the importance of supporting myself. And there's no way in hell my boyfriend would pay for my gym membership; why the heck should he?

And although neither of us have the financial freedom to do all of the things we really want to do (yet!), we're still incredibly happy. Until we're able to do things like buy a home and travel, we're perfectly content being frugal homebodies.

Guest's picture
Kate

Budgets are definitely hot. I am thrilled that my husband has a good head on his shoulders when it comes to finances. We've been very focused on our financial goals, and are well on our way to paying off our auto & college loans.

Guest's picture
matt

After 19+ years of marriage I wish I could get my wife to see what a help a budget would be. I guess I just mentally budget and adjust to compensate. I would not say budgeting would attract me to someone. She grew up with nothing and I was fortunate, now she feels that if she earned it she should get to spend what she wants. It's gotten worse over the years as our incomes have increased. It's a scary thought if they decrease, we don't have cc debt but do owe about 12k on two cars (7k and 5k) once they are paid off I will feel much better.

Guest's picture
cwaltz

when you have two people with two entirely different life experiences. It's kind of funny reading about your wife because I grew up in a household that had very little and I am the planner in our relationship(I hate having a mortgage and car payment hanging over our heads). My husband grew up with a father that had some finanjcial means so it has been a journey to get him to understand budgeting.

Guest's picture
ladygoat

Budgets, definitely hot. Because being stressed out about finances, having a worried look at the end of the month, getting your credit card rejected because it's over the limit ... that's not hot at all.

Guest's picture
jamie g

Budgets are sexy! I'm lucky in that most of my hobbies are free--going to public parks, using libraries, taking walks around the city, hiking and backpacking, dancing in my room (with the door closed). But I also make conscious decisions to save money and be responsible, too, especially on my teacher's salary. I would love to find a nice guy with a similar mindset. My ideal would be to find someone else with the dream of living frugally and hopefully retiring early.

Good luck everyone!

Guest's picture
Kelli

I've never really had a budget, but I'm pretty careful with money. I save a set amount from each paycheck, pay bills first, and there's some left for spending.

If a guy is financially savvy, I think it makes him more attractive. I like a guy that is smart with money.

Guest's picture
Ruth

Having been through some times when money was very tight, the one thing that got us through was having a budget. And even with the tightest budgets, it's possible, and even easy to have fun. How do I know this? Because in the not too distant past, I supported myself and my two daughters on a "below poverty level" income, and we not only survived, but thrived and had fun! Things have improved since those days, but the budget continues to be an important tool to ensure that there is always enough money to enjoy the wonderful things life has to offer!

Guest's picture
Kristin

My ex was awesome with money. Saved a ton, had a budget, and always urged me to do the same. I tend to do well for a while, and then suddenly WHAM my credit card is back up to insane heights (why oh why did they have to raise my credit limit...) I always detested when he brought it up, it felt like he was my dad or something trying to lecture me about money, so I started hiding my purchases.

I'm getting better now though; while I don't have a budget, I've instituted rules about when/how much I go out and so forth. If I just keep it in the back of my mind, rather then forcing some kind of insanely tight budget, I do much better and have less tendency to splurge later.

Guest's picture
Carole

Budgets are hot, but we never before discussed it. However, we do now. We have become very frugal and budget wisely.

Guest's picture
Sarah

Definitely hot.

My high school beau and I have been together for 8 years now, and despite all the ways we've changed over the years, we're both delighted and comforted to know that we have grown to have the same take on money, which is a huge hurdle for a lot of couples. When we sat down for the big post-engagement OUR-FUTURE-TOGETHER talk, we agreed on less house, no car, and waiting until we're financially ready before we start having kids. Done and done.

Money in the bank is a huge turn on, especially when you put it there together by keeping your financial wits about you (read: budgeting!).

Guest's picture
Jordan

I've met girls who max out credit cards buying clothes and stuff to look pretty, and at the end of the night they say they want to meet a guy who is rich so they don't have to worry. I'm assuming that some day I will be the breadwinner, and I would want a wife who will be responsible and budget wisely. So in my search, a woman with a budget is definitely hot.

Guest's picture
cwaltz

Lindsey,

For some reason my reply didn't go under matt's. Feel free to delete my second comment if need be and this one for the purpose of the giveaway.

I just thought it was interesting that two people could have similar life experiences and upbringing and get two entirely different perspectives from it as a result. Vive' la difference.

Guest's picture
Stephanie

I like saving up for a large, one-time goal in a separate account to motivate myself but otherwise I don't really budget. I think buying when food is on sale defeats budgeting- I might spend twice as much one week and nothing for the next two. It doesn't work for me- although I check my credit cards & bank accounts weekly to keep a finger on how much I'm spending & on what. Thanks!

Guest's picture
some woman on the internet

Budgets just plain suck. There is no way around it. But it is a necessity for most. Think about it, wouldn't you like a HUGE piece(s) of dark chocolate truffle cake everyday? But you know you will eat yourself into Richard Simmons' spotlight. We save because we have too, not because we want to. The only joy comes when you are in the black and someone reminds you of how bad it is in the red.

Guest's picture
Betty

I LOVE DARK CHOCOLATE TRUFFLE CAKE

Guest's picture

There's nothing wrong with having a budget in my opinion. If I didn't have one I wouldn't be sure where my money is going, which would seriously hinder meeting any future monetary goals. I'd rather do my own pedicures and save the money...believe me most guys aren't going to notice the difference. If one does, then I'm guessing that's not the type of guy I'd be dating anyway! When I do settle down with someone, I'd hope that he would be financially responsible. Making a lot of money does not necessarily indicate financial stability. I want a nice, long comfortable retirement.

Guest's picture
Jeremy

They might be 'hot' but that doesn't mean that they will continue to be. Obviously with the recession people have got a wake up call. The Credit Card debt meter is actually going down and the savings rate is going up.

Unfortunately, I fear that it's only a matter of time before people look at the stock market going straight up and consumer confidence rising and start getting back into 'old habits.'

Guest's picture
Emily

People need to learn that budgeting is the new trend. It's cool to save money. Because then you actually HAVE some.

Guest's picture
Guest

Keeping a budget is not not not sexy. HOWEVER - living below one's means, practicing frugality and understanding the ebb and flow of your expenses in order to save and plan for the future is sexy.

I am a die hard frugalista, and a big saver. But the thought of having a budget for everything and tallying up how much I spent on groceries v. going out to eat v. going to the movies v. a soda at the corner store is more work than it's worth. It's like the book "In Defense of Food" where the mantra is something along the lines of "Eat Food, not too much, mostly plants" rather than crazy dieting and calorie counting. My personal finance mantra would have to be something similar: "Be frugal, save money, enjoy life".

Guest's picture
ryan

If a girl was high maintenance, financially foolish, or wasteful, i wouldnt be interested in being with her long term.

so while my girl and i dont budget, she is good with money and so am I. There is no friction b/c our goals are aligned.

Guest's picture
Ivy

Especially in economic times like these, it seems like frugality is the new trend. I agree with this idea, but I think any shifts to sudden extremes may be hard to incorporate into one's lifestyle in the long run. Rather, I believe in modifications in one's spending so that frugality become habit. Also, it's nice to think about whether the time spent being frugal is worth spent.

Personally, I think men who are capable of controlling their money is a good feature. Also, I think likes gravitate toward likes-- if you like to spend money, I think it should be fair to assume the other person does also. Generally, I like those who are moderate. To me, I compare spending to staying fit (ie. extreme diets and gluttony aren't effective in the long run). Moderation = :)

Guest's picture
Will

Since I have always lived very simply, I always had money to save. My partner is the same, but I had to help him along boosting his income (I sent him to become a Nurse).

That was 23 years ago. In retrospect, I wish I has spent more along the way, and just stashed my saving into TIPS or something like that, and not worried about what investments to purchase. The investment racket is an insider's game....and I was as far from an insider as possible.

So when the crash of 2007 came, I suffered when I could have been surrounded with a lot more of what actually interests me.

I have never been sure exactly WHY I have been saving, I really don't have a goal, so it was a mistake to not live more in the NOW.

Guest's picture
stefanie

Budgets are totally hot, but not a make-it-or-break it factor for me. My partner doesn't have the same grasp on her money that I do with mine, but she's gotten a lot better over the years and we've reached a compromise that has me taking care of most of our dual financial stuff. I trust her to make her own good decisions, but I also hedge my bets by making sure we each contribute as much as we can when the paychecks arrive to a general and emergency savings fund, so as a couple we're not left dangling eventually.

Guest's picture
Greg

Hot, hot hot!

Guest's picture
anita

Every year I go in with good intentions, I write up a budget, spend hours on perfecting it but it tends to be forgotten. I just use it to gauge about how much I should be spending. Not a live or die figure. By creating a budget I try to use it to see where I can afford to cut back. Just my 2 cents.

Guest's picture
Nancy

While the word 'budget' is not very sexy, the results certainly can be. My husband had a totally spendthrift previous wife who left him incredibly in debt. By the time I met him, he had pretty much paid it off but hadn't learned to actually manage his money himself. Through a few object lessons - like, oh, you don't have any money to go on vacation with me? Maybe you should set aside a few bucks each month for that purpose. Bye. -- he learned to plan ahead for expenses.

We've always had his, hers and ours bank accounts. What the household needs gets deposited by each of us into the 'ours' account. Household includes joint goals, like vacations, new appliances/furniture for the house, gifts to families, etc. as well as food, utilities, mortgage, etc. The household contribution was based proportionally so if one of us made a lot more than the other, that person contributed more. What's left in "his' and 'hers' is spent as each of us sees fit. Saves enormously on arguments.

Consequently, we are now pretty comfortable and haven't had a serious money disagreement in years.

Guest's picture
Stephanie

I don't think you could call budgeting hot necesarily. But I'd rather date someone who has plans and goals and is saving money to work towards those things than someone who squanders every last penny.

On the other hand you don't want someone who refuses to have any fun because they are saving so much. Life is for living!

Guest's picture
BRB

It wasn't a factor at all during our relationship until we started living together. Then his lavish spending was an issue. It still is to some extent, but he has gotten much better about his spending.

Guest's picture
Steph

Budgets are hotter than ever! For the younger generations, there is never been a reason or need to put away money for various reasons and keep track of all your pennies. I'm 23 and I love my budget! Starting off in an entry-level job and being newly married, we probably wouldn't have groceries if we didn't have a budget for the various spending categories. And now that I've become a budgeteer, I would never go back!! I love working my excel spreadsheet and checking off the receipts -- it's so "hot"!

Guest's picture
dhanson

I hate budgets, but every time I've tried to live without one I've paid a high price. So I don't know if I'll ever enjoy the act of planning and accounting for every nickel, but I recognize that it needs to be done. It can mean some tense moments and giving up things we want, but budgets are like breathing--don't stop or you'll regret it.

Guest's picture
J. money

Contrary to popular belief, budgets are actually Sexy! That is all.

Guest's picture
spider

No, budgets aren't hot. When someone has this magical invisible bottomless pocket to splash cash around with gay abandon, that's exciting and sexy and that's going to make you want to hang around this enigmatic free sprit (and reap some of the rewards).

Of course, that's also a difficult façade to maintain and usually only lasts a little time. Then a hole is burnt through that not so magical pocket. What's left then?

I don't think budgets are meant to be hot. Is that really the point? It's about something slightly less sexy but definitely more long-lasting and therefore satisfying.

Guest's picture

I always work within a very loose budget (loose because I overestimate how much I will spend on gas, and sock what I don't use away). My boy does not operate the same way, choosing instead to purchase what he likes when he likes, without thought as to later on. He says once we get our lives together, I'll be the one managing our money.

Guest's picture
Laura K.

and will hopefully continue to be so. I love that I'm taking control of my financial future and security at such a young age.

Guest's picture
Katie

but I think dividends are among the sexiest things on earth. Especially for stocks you have held over a year. Then the tax rate you receive is equally sexy.

Not so sexy? Rates on student loans (aside from subsidized loans, which begin accruing interest eventually anyway) on higher than those on mortgage. I know you cannot secure a student loan per se, but I think it might say something about our nation's priorities when it is easier to buy a house than go to school.

Sexy things include sales, paying off credit cards and then cutting them up, rising credit scores, and public transit.

Guest's picture
Trang

These are definitely hot right now, but they aren't easy to stick to, unfortunately. I'd put these on the same level as going to the dentist or getting my car fixed. Not fun...

Carlos Portocarrero's picture

We never explicitly talked about it, but from the first time I had M at my place for dinner, I unconsciously knew that we both were the same type of person in terms of money.

In other words, she didn't mind that I didn't have a whole lot back then.

I invited her over to dinner at my efficiency apartment that only had a bed in it. It didn't hit me until I brought her plate over and realized the bed was all there was. Figuring that would be a little forward/awkward, I asked her if she minded sitting on the floor. She was fine with it.

Her memory of it isn't of eating on the floor, it's that she thought it was sweet that I was making her dinner.

A keeper.

The Writer's Coin  |  Follow me on Twitter

Guest's picture
Olivia

We were pretty dumb about finances when we first married, not spendthrifts, just oblivious. Our ability to budget and plan grew over the years and it's brought us closer, improved communication, helped us establish lifegoals and priorities. We budget rather tightly, as it's great to have what you need in hand when you need it. Like when our car died, and we had to dig in to find the cash. There's power in being able to negotiate because you're paying cash up front. You already know your limits. Married life has enough challenges in it, squabbling over money doesn't have to be one of them.

Guest's picture
Guest

Budgets are good as long as they're not written down to the dollar. A man who thinks and uses common sense to budget, to me, is hot. If he's smart enough to rationalize that he can afford some desirable electronic gadgetry *if* he cuts back on eating out or leisure expenses, then he's the man for me! If, on the other hand, he's so inflexible in budgeting that he can't compensate for spending a bit overbudget for groceries one month by cutting back somewhere else, then he is NOT hot.

Guest's picture
Amber

I got my financial house in order around the same time my boyfriend starting thinking about proposing to me. I'm not saying they're directly related at all, but knowing that we've both got our heads on straight certainly contributes to a healthy relationship and makes the future look much brighter than it might otherwise.

We don't have a strict monthly budget but we do write down where every penny from our (separate for now) spending goes. We may not be limiting ourselves much but at least we're honest.

Guest's picture
Kelli

When my husband and I first met we were 17 years old and working at the same job. The job paid fairly well back then for part-time teenage employees, and we were both in our youthful, fun-loving party days, so money was to be spent on going out, concerts, clothes, etc. When we started dating we would take turns paying for dinner and movies and such we were at the same income level. We pooled our resources when we moved in together during college and we managed to rack up quite a bit of credit card debt together. Eventually we got married and still had the debt. Only after years of marriage when we decided to finally make the leap from apartment living to owning a home did we truly get serious about digging out of debt, budgeting and saving. Now we share a common love for budgets, paying with cash, and building up our bank account. I regret that it took us so long but at least we learned our lesson in the end.

Guest's picture
D.D.

When first married, my wife and I had plenty of money to do whatever we wanted. But then we bought a house and had to tighten out belts.

But at the same time we wanted to furnish the house with a bunch of cool stuff. So we set up a bunch of different savings accounts: Vacation, Furniture & Bulldog.

In about two years (with modest salaries) we went skiing w/friends, bought a couple nice pieces of furniture and welcomed Sophie the Wonderdog into our home.

It was great!

Then we added layoffs and kids into the mix and our saving went the way of the dodo bird.

But we're back on track!

Guest's picture
Sherry

I stay at home with our four kids and would like to budget, but my husband just "does it in his head" so we don't really have one. I do have a savings account I add to regularly. That is why we are going to Disney World next month. Twenty bucks here and there adds up.

Guest's picture
allison taylor

I think this sums it up: When i first reached an age where i was being proposed to by a few of my boyfriends, a common statement of theirs was: "you can have anything you want." one of them, however, said, "you can have anything you want -- except if you want to do one of those million dollar deals of yours, then you have to discuss it with my uncle (as his uncle controlled the family money)." All people are on some kind of a "budget". It doesn't matter what their income is. If you have a billion and you spend a billion plus more, obviously you will be left with zero or subzero and may end up in a lot of trouble. It's not really dollar for dollar, its percentages of what ANYBODY has. understanding that "budgeting" of any sort exists shows that at least you are thinking about more than just your "pleasures" and have a clue.

with my first husband, i think personal finance was definitely part of the bigger picture. it WAS keeping up with jones and making the right choice. we had everything in common, but "choosing" each other for other reasons as well was part of it.

with my second husband we had a lot in common as far as outlook goes, but we married for totally different reasons. we didn't sign a pre-nup or anything. we just got married, because we wanted to have a marriage. the "wedding" wasn't even important, we had a reception a couple of months later.

Guest's picture
Mariel Martinez

If you have a lifestyle in which you spend more money than you earn, then, your finances will ALWAYS be a hot problem.

If you make more money than you spend, yet, you do not have the lifestyle you want and you are miserable, then, your own life is a HOT PROBLEM.

So, it is a matter of setting your priorities straight at all times, THINK if the urge to buy or do something is worth getting a hot red ulcer in your stomach later due to your decision, which in most cases makes you slave to your work, or, to your debt. REMEMBER, you were born to be a free being, not to be a slave... Not even to your impulses which are divided from your strong desire from the heart by a fine line...

Guest's picture
sbm

single

cake is good

budgets are sucky

Guest's picture
Guest

My husband hates dealing with the finances, but I absolutely love it. We lived with each other for a couple of years before getting married so we did talk about finances before marriage and our arragement works for us. I deal with the day to day and tell him about it as I do to keep him in the loop.