What does your mirror say about you?
In the first step of our budgeting process, we looked in our money mirrors. Maybe something about your spending, saving, or giving surprised you. Or it caught your eye. Now let’s go deeper — and see how our habits reveal what’s important to us. To do that, we need to step outside of ourselves for a bit.
We asked Karisa to imagine what someone else might notice if they looked in her mirror. She said:
“If someone else saw my spending, they would say, ‘Wow. She spent a lot on clothing. She must put a lot of value into appearance, having the latest styles, or the excitement of buying a new piece of clothing.’
“And I would say, they’re actually close to being right. There’s something fun about buying a new piece of clothing that I really enjoy. For me it’s a creative outlet. It’s a way to express my personality.”
That’s pretty insightful. Karisa pinpointed why she likes buying clothing by looking at her money mirror from another person’s point of view. For her, what’s important is being creative and expressing her personality. texct
Okay, now your turn! If your mirror’s a little foggy, take a step back and imagine it through someone else’s eyes.
- If someone else were to look in your money mirror, what would they see?
- What might the other person guess is important to you?
- How would you explain to them what’s important to you?
Share your reflection. Comment below!
33 thoughts on “Reflect”
If someone looked at our mirror, they would see that our mortgage payment is high and that the largest spending category after our bills is Home Improvement. They would guess that our house is very important to us.
My husband and I just got married, and now that we’re budgeting off of two incomes, we’re trying to pay off the house quickly. We’re still working on making the house a home so we purchased a desk for the office, some plants, a new faucet to replace the leaky one, etc.
My kids and my grandkids. That’s where my money goes. But I’ve entered full steam ahead into a moderate mid-life crisis. So I’m spending money on myself for the first time in my life. My wife kicked me out last June and never relented so I decided to do me unabashedly and unashamedly. Before when I did my own thing it was passively aggressively dragging my feet and digging in my heels to avoid being dragged in a direction I didn’t want to go. Now I’m walking, jumping, skipping, and flying in directions of my own choosing. Budgeting has become important in that I have to figure out how to use my limited (but decent) income to accomplish as many of the things I want to do as possible. It’s also for me an exercise in deciding what I can do without in lieu of something better. I spent $1,000 on fast food and restaurants in January. I don’t look back in January and reminisce about the great time I had. In February I spent $1,000 on a cruise (my first real vacation at age 49 other than going out of town to visit friends or relatives) and another $1,000 on a mental health seminar. I look back on both of those as seminal moments and think about what I learned and experienced almost daily. Indentifying my values and having the courage to put my money where my heart (and overcome habit/addiction oriented spending) has been improved my outlook on life 10-fold. I’m currently working on my first home purchase.
That’s super interesting that you spent $1000 on three different things that have different values to you.
An inspiring answer thanks for sharing your thoughtful
Charles, I was really impressed reading your story. I never thought of it in terms of looking back and seeing if I even remember what I spent money on that month. $1000 on fast food vs. $1000 on precious memories and improving yourself. What an eye-opener. Thank you for sharing.
This week I learned that my paying for my ex’s dogs’ food and even a vet visit were not just selfless acts. I can admit that I thought everything would balance out, and, in financial terms, it did ultimately. However, the term ‘codependent’ hit home as the term for my behavior. I put his needs before my own. I paid money for his dogs when: 1) he had plenty and should have paid for them, 2) I was not thinking directly of myself and saving for my own needs first and foremost.
If another person looked in my money mirror, they might think that I was being romantic and thoughtful (as I once did), or they might see that I took a dangerous personal financial risk.
Hmm — that’s insightful. Someone else could interpret the same spending in two very different ways.
People would look in and see that my wife and I love taco bell because it’s cheap and flavorful, that my wife also loves vanilla Iced coffee from Chick-fil-a because it keeps her alive, and you would also see that we spend more on diapers than we do on our rent because we don’t like poop all over the house. 3 Kids under 3. 🙂
Yes! We are anti-poop in our house too!
We spend a lot money on eating out too. Almost 3 times a week. I would say because I value having family time. Getting out of the house. Taking a break from the day to day of messy house and dishes. It’s a real treat to be able to sit and have someone serve you delicious food. I miss my parents since they divorced and went their separate ways. We used to have healthy delicious home cooked dinners together every single night and told me I didn’t need to go out with friends for a good time. I had them.
Well, now I don’t and am always hungry and looking for that same family togetherness. And will pay for it.
A little sad.
Someone else would say we spend too much on food. To me, food is love. And sometimes this mom is tired after working full time and wants to not have to scrub pots and pans every single day just to go to bed and do the same thing over again.
Quality family time is so precious! I hear you on how it can be tiring to work all day and then come home to either cook and clean or make the choice to eat out while keeping an eye on spending.
Most of our money, apart from the mortgage, goes to eating out, my wife’s spending on clothes, and me spending on books.
Hi Jan – Thanks for sharing! I relate all too well to clothing spending!
Someone looking at my spending would say that I like shopping. Most of my spending is on shopping for my home, clothes for the family. It seems that I enjoy taking care of my home and my family, entertaining them with streaming games and movies. And I do. That’s interesting.
People would think i have wasted money on frivolous spending because i have so much debt- that is 25% true but the bulk of my debt has come from medical emergencies where I have had to max out credit cards and struggle now to pay them off.
My husband and I started the envelope system when we were in our early 20’s and told ourselves never to have credit card debt and pay off our home once was bought quickly. We are now in our 60’s and hav been blessed with that early learning. If the money was not available, oh well, our kids did not need and neither did we. Since we are down to one income at this point as 1 is retired, we needed to get back in the saddle to see what our spending looked like. We sat down and did our budget together for 4 days in the envelope system on line. BY THE WAY, much easier as actual money is not used like we did in our 20’s. We have done for 1 month now and were surprised at what the groceries and the gasoline cost, but we were spot on for this time period. We have all the envelopes set up and did say to ourselves how nice to see what our money is being spent on and what is not necessary and what is necessary. We changed on the second month envelopes amount and will work on this system again to curb our spending and continue to save more for travel, emergencies, and grandchildren.
I’ve done my share of frivolous spending for no rhyme or reason. Shoes and purses are my obsession. Time to set up a yard/garage sale; will do that in the Spring. That’ll bring in additional cash to put towards my goals or paying off a credit card. I’ve got to get real here since I want to buy a house of my own. Can’t do this on the current income/expenses cycle. Too much credit card debt. I was scammed out of $1150, so had to resort to my credit cards to survive. That money was going to be used for rent/pet deposit, utilities deposit and just general setting up from a move recently. It was a nightmare. One step forward, two steps back. I have yet to recover from that little ordeal. Oh well, at least I wasn’t hit with identity fraud. I’m keeping my eye on that light at the end of the tunnel, metaphorically speaking. But I also have to learn from my mistakes in order to move forward.
I think I love to give….my grandkids, kids, friends, church…it makes me happy to make others happy. I’m not thinking of the big picture though – I need to make the long term goals, not just the ones right in front of me.
I thinkbpeople might say that it’s crazy that we’re living on one income because everything seems so stretched. But we homeschool our kids and the money represents the financial sacrifice we are making to do that. I regret none of the choices we’ve made.
They would see that I enjoy traveling and doing activities with my family. That spending for them to create new and memorable experiences is important to me.
They would see that we give 10% to Charity, live a full life by budgeting everything, yet find ways to cut costs on everything. A start is to pay your insurance yearly rather than monthly.
If you watch the pennies, the dollars take care of themselves…almost”
It looks pretty good, savings, kids clothes, food, I sold the car and now Uber and carshare – a great savings, and I am saving little by little. I would like to save a little more aggressively and have started a retirement fund now that I have a small emergency amount put aside. Overall I am pretty pleased.
In the long run, it will pay off big time because you are also going to realize savings on the mortgage interest. I did something similar and saved about $7,000 in interest. I had a second job and no commitments for the money so I targeted that money toward paying extra mortgage payments. I also bought an amortization book so I could monitor the progress.
I think another person would notice that, while I am very frugal when it comes to most luxuries, I eat out a lot. It is very clearly disproportionate to my general spending habits. The thing I find really interesting about this is that – while my spending records show it is clearly reality – it is contradictory to my health goals, my spending goals, and my interests. I say I want to spend less and improve my health, and I actually find cooking very enjoyable and relaxing – but somehow I’m not prioritizing a practical hobby that would facilitate my other goals. I think I need to tweak my work schedule so that I’m leaving a bit earlier and not driving home when I’m hungry.
Another person would notice half my budget is going to paying off mortgage. I would explain to them that it is very important to me to leave my daughters with a new and nice apartment, free of debt, should something happen to me. So I am paying well in advance. However, I am still taking care of the other important things in my and their life.
A look in the mirror at my spending, through my girlfriend’s eyes, is that I like the best of everything. I buy the most expensive items when I make purchases. Unlike her, I don’t go from store to store comparing prices. When I make a purchase, if I am in the store and see something, I buy it. She feels I waste a lot of money buying the most expensive items and that cheaper items will do just as well. I don’t agree with her because we all have a different shopping style. She derives a lot of pleasure going from store to store and haggling over the price of something and trying to get it for far less money than it’s priced. I don’t enjoy it and, I comparison shop on the computer. I also look at the reviews of products on consumer reports, she doesn’t. She doesn’t like to use the computer for very much. I’ve tried to show her the advantage of letting her fingers do the shopping, but she is old school and prefers to burn gas going from place to place. We are both retired. She is about 79 and set in her ways. I save money to buy what I want and when I feel it’s right for me, I buy it. I do not have any bills. Neither does she. She is Harriett the homeowner. I am not. I will call a professional to come fix my repairs. She is hard-working, kind-hearted, and stubborn. I am generous, hard-working, kind-hearted, and stubborn as well. Sometimes we agree to disagree on my purchases and sometimes the monster comes out of me and I have to distance myself from her for a period of time.
Hi Carole – Thanks for sharing a bit of your story! I can relate to having different shopping styles than my significant other. We also have very different budgeting styles. I think it’s been helpful for us to learn about each other and become aware of our differences when it comes to finances so that we can use those differences to our advantage.
I have found that the only place I spend my free money of 110$ Canadian is usually on products I have been wanted for at least 3 months. I never let myself buy an item immediately, I allow myself some time to really think about the new purchase I want. If I still want it for more than 3 months, I allow myself a treat -whatever that may be for listening to my head and not my heart ❤️.
I like spending money! On myself and on others! I’m a gift giver! It brings me joy to cheer others up, but I need to take stock of my spending, and mindfully spend rather than frivolously spend , because I will be possibly retiring in only 3 yrs time, and then what? I won’t have the same spare money available, so I need to train myself now!
It would be wise of you to set limits on your gifts. For example, 20 – 30 dollars a gift for adults, if that would be affordable when you retire, and less than that for children, depending on their age and what they did to deserve recognition. Each month, you may want to stash 10 – 20 dollars away in an envelope, so that when those gift-giving occasions occur, you can visit your envelope and take out what you need without creating a hardship on your monthly budget.
If someone looked in my mirror, they wouldn’t see much because I haven’t been using good budget long enough to have much history.
If someone were to look in my money mirror, they would see that I tend to eat out a lot or spend a lot on groceries. I like trying new foods, and cooking and I think it’s a reflection of my creativity and passion for cooking. I think based off my transactions and GoodBudget history, it would be easy for someone to guess that cooking and eating out is important to me For me, I would explain to people that what’s important to me is being healthy and enjoying good foods.
If someone looked in my money mirror, they would see that for my first month of using GoodBudget, the greatest percentage went to tithing, and that’s perfectly acceptable to me!