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“You only live once! Spend the money!”

I’d like to hear your comments on your balance between “You only live once” (so spend) and….needing to be responsible and save.

Many thanks!


I definitely understand this dilemma! I think it’s something common among those of us who are natural-born savers.

I mean, people who struggle to save should probably avoid, “You only live once!” kind of thinking because for spenders, it’s way too easy to justify irresponsible spending.

But for people whose default is to save, I do think that, “You only live once!” can be helpful.

Or maybe what is more helpful than that specific phrase is an attitude of mindfulness.

Ask yourself questions

If you automatically go to SAVE ALL THE DOLLARS mode without even thinking, then it can be good to routinely think about the why of your saving.

“What am I saving this money for?”

“Why am I not wanting to spend this money?”

“What’s the worst thing that could happen if I spend money on this thing?”

I think the answers to those questions can help you figure out if save or spend is the right choice in a specific situation.

Trying to find the balance between 1) wisely saving for the future and b) enjoying the money now is a challenge, and no on else can really tell you what the right balance is for you.

But questioning yourself is a good first step in figuring that out!

Save for specific purposes

One other thing that really, really helps me is to have money earmarked for particular purposes.

For instance, having a savings fund for home maintenance helps me to not feel like, “Oh, I should save every possible dollar because who knows when our hot water heater will fail!” Those funds help me relax enough to spend in other areas.

And having funds for, say, vacations and gift-giving, help me to feel much better about spending on things that like that, which are not absolute necessities.

(Because natural-born frugal people sometimes have a hard time dropping money on things that feel non-essential, even things like vacations!)

If I know the money is set aside and saved for a vacation, it’s so, so much easier for me to happily spend that money.

Remind yourself that money is a tool.

Money is here to be used, not just to be mindlessly amassed.

It’s a tool to take care of yourself and your household, to provide for the future, to cover emergencies, to bless others, and yes, also to provide fun and pleasure.

If you’re like me, you probably have an easy time remembering that money is a tool for feeding and housing yourself, but a much harder time remembering it’s a tool for bringing joy to your life as well.

So, try to remind yourself to keep a versatile money toolbox…money is a tool for practical needs and also for fun, and it doesn’t need to be all one or all the other.


Reader, if you are a diehard saver, what helps you to remember to loosen up and spend sometimes?


P.S. I just want to add this: Spenders and Savers alike will probably never find exactly the right balance between spending and saving. We both need to move a little more toward the middle, though, rather than staying comfortably at our opposite ends of the spend/save spectrum.

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Monday 12th of November 2018

for a lot of my life I oscilated between periods -sometimes quite extended of dedicated saving then having a big splurge. I'm trying to learn more of a balance & this year I have budgeted for myself $25 week pocket money. I wish I had known more about money growing up; saving & investing as it would have made such a difference to my life & choices now. It think the reality is that a lot of people (including myself once) live beyond their means with no consideration to a plan for the future. There are no guaranteed investments but I think a good rule of thumb is give away 10%, save 10% for the future & live on the 80%. I didn't do that so I spent probably 10 years saving a LOT to make up time but I think I will have to watch the pennies for a while yet.


Friday 9th of November 2018

I'm both.

I don't like spending money on groceries but I have too : I live with a foodie and we are 3 gluten-free eaters (by need). We also eat a lot of produce and my husband likes certain things to be organic. So I let you do the math.... I also am not big on spending for toys and trickets for the kids so this happens on birthdays and Christmas only. I do not spend a fortune on clothes, I prefer to shop thrifted. I don't buy books (yay library!), fancy makeup and body products (I'm low maintenance). I don't pay for services like esthetician, hairstylist, etc (because, again, low maintenance). I personally don't really care for fancy vacations but, then again, hubby does more than me, so... Etc!

I spend on: good shoes for myself and the kids, quality equipments (like kitchen appliances, car, etc) because they last longer and function better. I allocate money towards experiences rather than material. We love to eat out and it's costly, so we go once or twice a month only. But we treat ourselves with this. I pay for a car because I need one and it's a good one because I want it to be reliable. But it's a basic model ( they say!). I pay for healthy food because of health. Etc!

Heidi Louise

Thursday 8th of November 2018

Greatest condolences on the loss of your brother, Nan. Thank you for sharing your story. I hope you have many good memories of him.

Another thing your husband provides to enhance your frugality is anticipation. Anticipating him finding a deal, and anticipating your next trip, are a big part of enjoying them. Studies (seriously, though I don't quite know who studies such things) have shown that the preparation is a big part of the excitement of traveling.

Nan Ward

Thursday 8th of November 2018

I'm a naturally frugal saver and often classify things as essential or not. My husband is a spender but not in an irresponsible way.

We recently got married and when we started talking about a honeymoon, I just didn't see the point of taking one. I knew we were both working hard and needed a break but I thought taking a day off work to hang out together was sufficient. He urged me to consider the deal he'd found on an 8 day cruise. We had the cash and our wedding was very simple and frugal. I'm so glad he convinced me.

We booked the cruise and 2 weeks later (3 weeks before the wedding) my younger brother passed away. He was 36 with special needs and my only sibling. I was very close to him and it was hard moving through that season with such a mixture of grief and excitement.

Fast forward to our first day in port. We've rented a golf cart and we've pulled over to take a look at this incredible caribbean beach and the first words out of my mouth were "I'm so glad you suggested this cause I'm definitely not thinking about money right now." It was the week off we both so desperately needed for our physical and mental health.

We'll continue to cook most meals at home and use coupons to save, but I'm also learning that I need to find the why of doing all those things. And when he finds awesome travel deals, I'm learning to listen!


Monday 12th of November 2018

That's so cool you are growing together, sorry to hear about your brother it is a challenge when there is a mix of good and sad in your life at the same time so glad for you you went


Wednesday 7th of November 2018

Oh yes, I struggle - naturally frugal! But earlier this year I decided my mortgage pay off was within reach 1-2 years away, and to knuckle down to pay it off.

Things I've 'allowed' myself that aren't the most frugal option: daily take away coffee, prepared meal plan (5 days of lunches and dinners, healthier than eating out, and gets over my lethargy to cook healthy for one), owning a car (didn't until 18 mths ago), occasional ubers & taxis home from the train stations (cold, wet, sore feet, tired).

Things I smack myself mentally for spending on: any clothing bought new, even buying second hand clothes cause seldom a 'need' more an 'opportunity' to refresh wardrobe at lower cost, gifts (agh! esp for friends - family & partner I have no budget and happy to splurge to get it right), new shoes (why can't I have some minute quantity and find it sufficient?), any snacks purchased as they usually deviate from my eating plan/challenge, hair cut/colour (why am I so vain, when should I go grey naturally?)

Things I'm weird about: I dislike over-catering, including when I'm asked to take a dish to something (it's waste as much as money), cleaning chemicals (why can't the cleaner use vinegar? Cleaner is a legacy I'm familially obligated too, that cost I'm ok with), entertainment (2017 I set a goal to do something cultural each month and didn't worry about the cost/budget), parking (I HATE parking fees, and also get parking fines occassionally), manicures/pedicures (again, so vain)

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