Setting and maintaining boundaries is perhaps one of the most important things we can do for our mental and emotional well-being. Boundaries are a commitment to respect ourselves and our priorities.
Here’s the thing: boundaries aren’t just about interpersonal relationships. Most of the time, we think about our relationship with our significant other, coworkers, boss, roommates, peers, friends, parents, and kids.
But what about our relationship with money? Why don’t we approach finances with a similar mindset?
You see, interpersonal relationships naturally have built-in accountability. If you don’t respect each other’s boundaries, then the relationship is strained or becomes toxic. On the other hand, if both parties have clearly defined expectations that everyone respects, then the relationship is much more likely to thrive over the years.
When it comes to financial boundaries, the consequences of “crossing the line” aren’t as obvious. It can take time for our budget missteps to catch up with us.
Yet, everyone who has clear and defined financial boundaries is much more likely to have a healthy relationship with money. Instead of being stressed and overwhelmed, you find yourself in mental and emotional peace. The best part? This healthy perspective positions you to be able to accomplish your financial goals.
Let’s look into this.
Understanding the Difference Between Financial Boundaries and Financial Goals
Most of the time, when people talk about money boundaries, they are referring to spending. But here’s the thing: financial boundaries are less about money and actually more about financial mindset.
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We set boundaries to improve our mental and emotional well-being. For example, just like I set clear expectations with other people, I also set boundaries in my life to improve my relationship with money.
I know this may seem really technical and detailed, but trust me — specificity is key.
Think about it this way: a professional football player and an Olympic gymnast are both athletes. Each athlete is at the top of their game. However, despite the athleticism, each athlete has their workout routines and nutrition requirements are extremely different. Why? Because they’re two different kinds of athletes. Specificity is required in their training and preparation.
Specificity Is Key
Another specific point that I recognized during my financial transformation is that boundaries and goals are not the same.
Goals are something that you will attain (such as a down payment on a house, paying off your debt, or meeting your retirement goals), while boundaries are established parameters to help you reach those goals.
For example, you might have a goal of paying off your credit card debt. A boundary you might establish is to put your own financial needs before others.
“Wait! Isn’t that a bit selfish?” you might be thinking.
No, because setting boundaries is about protecting your mental, physical, emotional, and financial well-being. It is not about greed. Therefore, setting boundaries should never make you feel guilty.
In the example above, putting your financial needs above others means that you will be able to give freely and generously once your cup is full. It’s similar to the emergency oxygen masks on airplanes. You have to take care of yourself before you can safely assist the person next to you. By setting these boundaries, you will be in a better financial position to help.
What Are Specific Financial Boundaries That I Can Establish Today?
Personal finance is… well… personal.
So I can’t tell you what specific boundaries you should implement today.
However, what I can do is share my story and reasoning so that you can better understand how to implement this practice into your own life.
Remember what we talked about above? The difference between goals and boundaries?
Goals are what we attain, and boundaries are what help us achieve those goals.
In order to establish specific financial boundaries, you must have a clear vision of your financial future. In other words, you must have clear and specific goals.
By framing the discussion this way (it’s all about mindset!), boundaries will begin to feel more empowering rather than limiting. You are deciding that you have rights — whatever those might be in your life.
Some Boundaries You Might Want to Consider
- No shopping past 9 pm. This is a boundary that I use in my own personal life. I don’t get on my favorite retailer’s websites or allow myself to open Amazon. Simple browsing isn’t even allowed. Why? Because I noticed that a lot of my impulse and unnecessary online spending happened late at night out of boredom. Again, the boundary isn’t meant to be restricting. Instead, it gives me permission to say, “Hey, Miko… spend less on useless things so that you can spend more money on things that matter.”
- Setting a hard limit on holiday or birthday present shopping. This may be a challenge for some of us, especially if your Love Language is gift-giving. Gifts are a tangible way to let those around us know that we love them. However, this doesn’t mean that gift-giving should be at the expense of your financial security. This boundary empowers you to spend freely and joyously, knowing that your gift budget is still keeping your financial health in mind.
- Asking for a day to think about something rather than immediately saying “Yes.” When a family member or a close friend asks for money, it’s easy to say “Yes” immediately without thinking through the potential consequences. However, big asks deserve big consideration. There’s nothing wrong with saying “Yes” as long as it isn’t hindering your path to a financially fulfilled life.
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If setting boundaries feels tough, then remind yourself that these boundaries are all about affirming your own needs, knowing who you are, and helping you achieve what you want. It is recognizing and honoring the fact that it is not your job to make others happy.
Yes, you can help. Yes, you can be a cheerleader for someone else — in fact, I encourage it! But other people’s happiness should not come at your expense.
By establishing this mindset, you will have the clarity to see that boundaries are not there to limit or restrict you. Instead, they are there to honor your wants and needs in a healthy way. It boils down to self-respect.
How to Honor Your Money Boundaries
Creating your boundaries is one side of the equation — abiding by them is the other.
There are only two obstacles to your boundaries: yourself and others.
When it comes to yourself, it’s important to make sure that your perception and relationship with boundaries is healthy. If you view boundaries as limitations, then it will be more difficult to actually follow through on them. However, if you view boundaries as a healthy tool to ensure you are better positioned to meet your goals, then you’ll see the endless opportunities ahead. Mindset matters.
When it comes to others, communication is key. Talking about money is difficult because it is considered taboo, but you must communicate yourself honestly and effectively. Remember, people can’t respect your boundaries if they don’t know what they are, so you must talk about them openly.
I encourage you to communicate your boundaries because otherwise, the conversation steers towards beating around the bush and unnecessary excuses. You owe it to yourself and your relationships to be honest, and transparent. True friends will honor your boundaries and help you stick to them, too.
Pinpointing financial boundaries can be tricky! What boundaries have you created in your life? And why? Feel free to share your story in the comments below! You never know whose life your story might touch!