Budget culture is the damaging set of beliefs around money that — like so-called diet culture does for food and bodies — rewards restriction and deprivation, and promotes an unhealthy and fantastical ideal of financial success. …
The broader problem with budget culture is its emphasis on individual responsibility and insistence on ignoring the varying levels of access and privilege in our world. It vilifies and oppresses anyone who doesn’t live up to the ideal, regardless of their circumstances. And that ideal is, unsurprisingly, rooted in maleness and whiteness in the way many of our cultural ideals are. …
But all we’re really doing is peddling the same worn promises wrapped in a veneer of language around “wellness” instead of “being rich.” The brass tacks of advice for financial wellness still emphasize restriction and individual responsibility, and “getting our act together” is still predicated on the fantasy of being rich. Because actually countering budget culture is a tall order, for individuals and society.
- Getting comfortable not knowing the “right” answers.
- Changing not just how you talk about money to others, but how you use money in your life.
- Pay transparency — with your friends, communities and colleagues, and in job descriptions.
- Seeing and acknowledging your privilege.
- Rethinking how we compensate for every kind of labor.
- Framing taxes as sharing privilege, not impeding personal wealth.
- Admitting net worth is an imaginary number.
- Creatively supporting people with financial need and protecting them from the tyranny of credit reports.
- Reckoning with the fact that the American Dream of homeownership relies on hoarding stolen wealth.
It’s… a lot.
It sure is.