Budgets are not one-size-fits-all

I read a lot of awesome PF blogs, each with their own perspective of what you need to do to build wealth and put your money to its best use. Some suggestions I balk at, others I get really excited about and immediately adopt with great success, and a few I attempt and fail miserably. I certainly understand that any suggestions that I make my own laundry detergent, live with roommates, or cut my coffee budget down by so much as $2 is a lost cause.

Everyone is in a financial situation unique to themselves, with their own set of priorities and expectations.

I know that when we find something that works for us, we’re excited to share it with everyone. When they say they won’t or can’t jump on board, we’re confused, or even take it personally. Handing someone a budget that is good in theory but bad in practice just frustrates both parties — particularly the budgetee that can’t make the math work.

I’ve frequently struggled with the personal criticism inside my head for not being one of the the PF bloggers that will eliminate their debt in record time or reach financial independence before age 35. Much of my personal finance journey has been a series of successes and failures, with many adjustments and compromises along the way. Honestly, I don’t “get” how some bloggers earn six-figures but live like they’re on $30,000/yr salaries and feel thrilled about it. Likewise, watching other bloggers make the same financial mistakes over and over again is equally baffling. Sometimes I’m part of the criticizing crew, sometimes I’m the target, but most of the time I try to take a step back and figure out if there’s other pieces to the puzzle.

There’s details you don’t know

My blog is more open than some, but less than others. I frequently share percentages of my earning and spending, but rarely will disclose dollar figures. This is primarily for privacy, but the omission of numbers and purchases can distort a financial story, and I think this is true for most blogs, not just my own. While it might be easy to tell someone they need to adjust their “miscellaneous spending”, you could be telling them anything from stop buying lotto tickets to giving up counselling sessions. Be careful with your words, chances are there’s circumstances you’re not aware of that are heavily influencing someone’s money management.

There’s habits that aren’t easy to break

I can be the queen of frugality until I set foot in a mall, and then I lose all sense of control. I don’t go shopping often, so I will frequently lapse into binge-buying and walk out with $300-$400 in purchases. This isn’t healthy or good but I haven’t found a way to curb this behavior even though I’m completely aware of it. Likewise, other people struggle with impulses that are not quickly abandoned. It’s hard to understand someone else’s perspective if you’ve never been in the same place before.

There’s a myriad of different priorities

Some people value financial independence so much they can’t really comprehend that not everyone is willing to make the same sacrifices for the same goal. Over a period of 13 months (May 2011 to June 2012) I spent over $10,000 traveling. I visited about a dozen cities in six different countries. Now remember that I have $8,800 of student loan debt. Yeah, exactly. This doesn’t bother me, but I can see why someone else might not be willing to join me globe-trotting.

What are your thoughts? Do you share any feelings of inadequacy for not living up to other people’s budgeting or financial aspirations?