What Does “Being Responsible with Your Money” Mean to You?

I’m curious, what does “being responsible with your money” mean to you? I think the phrase can have negative connotations — not because it’s a negative thing to do, but because it implies that you’re being responsible instead of, say, having fun.

The two aren’t mutually exclusive by any means though. In fact, being responsible with your money can allow you to have a whole lot more fun and leisure time than you otherwise might.

Over the years, being responsible with my money has meant different things to me at different times. When I was a teenager, it meant making sure I had enough money to keep gas in my car so I could get to school without having to ride the bus, and so that I could get to work to make more money. It also meant paying back my parents for car parts.

When I moved out of my parents house, it meant paying rent and other bills on time, and trying to have enough money leftover for groceries. Although I didn’t realize it at the time, I thought of being responsible with my money as not falling behind.

In my 30s, it came to mean getting out of debt and creating an emergency fund.

It’s only recently that being responsible with money has come to mean getting ahead by saving and investing, and by not carrying debt. And what a difference that makes. I wish I’d had that mental definition 20 years ago, because I would probably be very, very well-off by now.

So what does being responsible with your money mean to you? Has your viewpoint changed with time?


  • Kim

    I could write you a book. I too followed your path. But it took me a long time to be responsible. I think we all grow up and become wiser in all areas of our life, money being one of those areas. Now I just want to get out of debt and save money. I want to retire in seven years with no debt and a good income. I just wish I had developed this new found wisdom when I was 40.

  • At this point in my life, it means living within my means, saving for the future, shopping responsibly (aka not supporting assholes. As in, I don’t support companies that exploit workers or manufacture/grow/produce their products in an unsustainable manner), and contributing a portion of my salary to worthwhile causes. I guess the short version would be: Using money like I’m actually an adult, even when I feel like a 15 year-old.

  • “Responsible with money” to me means doing the right thing such as paying my bills on time, saving, and avoiding debt. Being responsible provides me with a lot of freedom. My wife and I always saved for something, had goals, and live a low key lifestyle. Does your thinking evolve over time? Yes, but not necessarily change!

  • In terms of actions, being responsible with my money means investing like a maniac while holding significant enough amounts of cash to prevent financial problems arising.
    What does it mean to me personally? It buys me a small chunk of freedom in that I know I can quit my job tomorrow without needing to worry about finding a new one in a hurry.

  • Right now being responsible with my money means, spending less on eating out, saving money to buy my house and spending less on random purchases.

  • It’s really true! My definition changed from my 20s to 30s.
    When I was in College, I just needed to minimize spending and finish school with minimal debt.
    When I first started working and was single, it was making sure all the bills were paid on time and not accumulating any debt.
    Now I am saving as much as I can so I can quit my job early. ;)

  • Being financially responsible means having the knowledge you need to manage your own money so that you can live the life you want. Yes, saving and budgeting and looking toward retirement are all *components* of financial responsibility, but the biggest part of success with money is your mindset and know-how so that *you* control your money instead of it controling you!