21 Days to a Better Budget, Day 14: What’s Your Sacred Cow?

21 Days to a Better Budget, Day 14

Did you get a chance to read yesterday’s post – about prioritizing expenses when you spend more than you make? The truth is that prioritizing is really just a fancy word for “learning to saying no”. Two short little letters; long on meaning.

Even when you know that you need to make changes, it can be very difficult to figure out what has to go. When Frankie and I first decided to get out of debt (eight years ago this month!!!), I honestly couldn’t figure out where we had gone wrong.

It wasn’t like we had been doing anything “extravagant”. So how could we have been spending $1,000 a month more than we were making?

Cable? That can’t be our problem, I thought – everyone has cable, so we must be able to afford it too.

Going out to eat? It’s not like we do it every night, I rationalized. Two or three times a month isn’t that big of a deal.

Kids after-school activities? It’s just one or two lessons a week – that can’t be our problem. Can it?

Gifts for all the birthday parties my boys were invited to. I mean, what? Are they supposed to show up empty-handed?

Clothing and shoes? Well, that can’t be it. My kids are growing like weeds. It’s not like I can send them to school in too-small pants!

Tuition? Non-negotiable. Next.

Our grocery bill? No way. That’s not the issue. I mean, it’s food. We have to eat.

What I eventually realized is that, yes, it was the cable.

And the restaurants. And the after-school activities, birthday presents, clothing, shoes, tuition and even the grocery bill. Along with every other thing we were doing and spending our money on.

All of it was a problem. Not our spending per se, but our entrenched thinking that “this can’t be the problem”. Or worse, that “this is non-negotiable”.

Living below your means doesn’t happen with $10 here and $20 there. Everything needs to be re-evaluated with an eye toward whether it makes sense in your overall financial picture.

What are the “sacred cows” holding you back from living on a budget? You may still decide that they are worth keeping in the budget, but at what price? I strongly encourage you to identify them and have the conversation.


  1. Where is yesterday’s post (Day 13)? Can’t seem to find it on the website anywhere… I’ve been really enjoying these series! Definitely making me rethink my budgeting strategy.

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