Don’t Be Scared To Bring Up Your Budget

Before I threw myself into raising my savings rate, I committed to a dinner with a friend I hadn’t seen in a while.

She had suggested we meet at a trendy new restaurant downtown for dinner, and after tightening up my budgets – especially on food and eating out – a dinner out of that scale wasn’t really in the cards anymore.

I had a few options.

  • Show up and stick with water. (A little awkward, but not unbearable.)
  • Ditch my budget and go to the dinner. (Already? Ditching the budget already? It had only been a week.)
  • Ask if we could meet for coffee instead.

It seems like an obvious choice, but just in case anyone is wondering, I asked if we could meet for coffee instead. I was really transparent with her, and just asked straight up, “I’m trying to spend less on eating out, would you mind if we grabbed coffee instead?”

Not only was she perfectly OK with it, after chatting for a bit she admitted that this plan was much easier on her wallet as well. As easy as it is to think people will judge you for making frugal choices, it turns out that most of the time, they’ll be perfectly lovely about the whole thing, and might even thank you for the impact you’re not having on their budget.

But what if it doesn’t go well? That happened to me once, too.

There was one time, ages ago, when I brought up my budget and it got a different reaction. I mentioned to a coworker that a dinner networking event was outside of my budget for that month, and instead of being understanding, she actually laughed at me.


Here’s the thing: that is literally the absolute worst thing that can happen if you’re transparent about how you’re managing your money. And it’s not even that bad! Sure, in the moment it’s not the best feeling, but my only real takeaway from the situation was “Wow, you’re kind of rude.”

So in the absolute worst case scenario, you find out someone is kind of rude to other people.

The best case – and much more likely – scenario when you’re open about what you can and can’t spend is that people will be lovely, gracious and even grateful for your candor and positive influence.

So the next time you’re in a situation where you’re stuck between a budget and a hard place, try being open about it. You might find people are much more understanding than you think.

Have you ever had to ask someone to adjust plans to fit your budget? Or gone a bit over budget because of plans someone else suggested?