I’d like to hear your comments on your balance between “You only live once” (so spend) and….needing to be responsible and save.
I’m naturally frugal (I love that you use frugal and not cheap, which has such a negative connotation to it) but sometimes I do have to think “Laura, you only live once — spend it”. Do you have these moments?
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.