I’m tired of saving money. I’ve saved ever since the Tooth Fairy was my sole source of income.
As a child, I stashed my allowance in a drawer. As a 15-year-old working at a McDonalds drive-thru, I stashed my paycheck in a savings account. When I was 17, I asked for a parent signature so I could open a brokerage account as a minor.
Well, guess what. Now I’m a grown-up. Now is when I start dealing with larger sums of money. Now is the time savings start to matter.
And I’m sick of it.
I recently was digging through some childhood items and I came across an old purse with $11 inside. I must have saved that, quarter by painstaking quarter, when I was a little kid.
All the grown-ups around me praised saving, so I saved. I never saved for a goal. I saved for the sake of saving. I thought it was the “right” thing to do.
I saved for the sake of saving. I imagined it would somehow – in some intangible way – benefit me as an adult. I imagined myself in 20 years, tall and well-groomed, proud of my young self for having the foresight to save her allowance.
Instead, my modern-day adult self thinks: “$11 is nothing. I’ve paid more than that for one day’s worth of event parking. Why didn’t my younger self just loosen up?”
DON’T MISS YOUR LIFE
Years ago I read an article – I think in Money Magazine? – about saving for retirement.
It was probably the 2,499,249,398th retirement article I’ve read, but it said something that I’ve never read anywhere else, which I’ll paraphrase:
Make sure you save enough for retirement, but also make sure you don’t save too much, or you will have spent your life living more frugally than you needed to.
That’s when it hit me: That’s exactly what I’ve been doing!
I had been saving not for a goal, because saving is my default method for handling money.
Savings help me feel secure, and that feeling of security is worth more than the “high” of a purchase.
But I might have been missing out on some crucial, enjoyable moments in life – some of which include things I can’t do when I’m older. I might be living too frugally, missing life.
Worse yet, I was at risk of snapping. I was at risk of knee-jerk splurging to overcompensate.
ALWAYS SAVE FOR A GOAL
The trick, I realized, is to save with intention. Saving for saving’s sake is hoarding.
I still save for long-term goals: retirement, creating passive income streams.
But I balance that by saving for short-term experiences, like flying to Europe or renovating my kitchen and boudoir with luxury bedroom furniture.
And I further balance it with spending on quality items: I work out at the best gym, not the cheapest one. I buy clothes because they’re well-tailored, not because they’re on the clearance rack.
No matter how your natural inclination leans – towards saving or spending – you’re best off doing a balance of both. We all know that spending indiscriminately is dangerous. Saving indiscriminately can be just as bad.
Crystal’s Comments: I am a big fan of savings goals. I am so glad Paula is allowing herself a little leeway now! Have you ever had to remind yourself to take a step back to see a big picture?