Did you know that in Sweden all salaries are public?
You can just login to a database and take a browse through what all your friends make for a living… which from a North American perspective is a pretty hard thing to imagine.
What you make is something we tend to obsess about, whether we talk about it or not.
I think everyone has a basic idea of what an average salary range seems to be (even though I’m sure if we adopted the database system there might be a lot of surprise).
What we really don’t have much of an idea about is… what are people spending? And more importantly… is what I’m doing okay?
Is $2,000 of expenses a month a lot? Is $12,000?
What if I told you I spend $2,000 a month on my personal expenses?
Does that seem high to you? Way too low? Or are you just curious about how that might relate to what you spend?
What if I said I spend $10,000 a month?
… it’s higher… but what if that was total family income with 4 kids? Is that too much?
It seems whenever these kind of spending numbers come out, people get judgey without any real basis to make those judgements.
“Well… it’s WAYYYY more than I spend… so it must be too much”
“They spend half of what I spend… they must be some kind of wizard”.
This is where the view we have of numbers being black and white is kind of misleading. The numbers in isolation don’t matter in the slightest…
Saving is good, Spending is bad
“Everyone” knows that you should be saving all the money and spending none of the money, unless you have managed to spend that money getting something for an incredible deal.
But also… that’s stupid.
We all spend a ton of money on the present. It’s pretty damn important. And what that amount is doesn’t matter as much in relation to other people as it does in relation to your own personal ecosystem.
So the first thing that I want from anyone asking the question “am I spending too much” is not to worry about there being any cosmic absolutes. There is just you (and your family), your money, and what you’re trying to do.
After you’ve accepted that it’s about exploring that balance for yourself:
- What are you trying to do? How can money help with that?
- What do you need to run your life? What is important to you?
- How much can you expect to make? What feels like a safe estimate?
- How do those things balance out? Are you spending way more than you think you’ll bring in?
It’s in the balance, the relationship between your goals, your needs, and your resources.
That balance might be $2,000 and it might be $10,000 but if it’s not balanced… there’s probably going to be some stress… no matter how ‘normal’ you feel.
Rags to Reasonable Community Outreach Coordinator
Emily Nixon is an actor/writer/director/filmmaking Swiss Army Knife. She is also a big money nerd and Community Outreach Coordinator for Rags to Reasonable.
She came to this work after becoming completely fed up with living paycheque-to-paycheque and being too afraid to look in her chequing account. She is passionate about empowering other artists and variable income earners to keep doing what they love and feel confident about their finances.
Email Emily at email@example.com