Everywhere you look, the message is to spend spend spend. Advertisements, Instagram Influencers, even your own friends when they ask you out to that concert are encouraging you to spend money. But you have goals- financial goals. Goals that require saying no to that ever-present message and deciding to save instead of spend. At the time, this might not be the most pleasant choice. But trust me, it will pay off in the end and you will be glad you stuck to your guns in an effort to reach your financial goals. Never feel sorry for saving.
The Push from Social Media
There is so much encouragement to spend money. Scrolling through social media, we are presented with ads, suggestions of products and services from those we follow, and images of a life filled with stuff that would make our lives perfect if only we bought them now. The fancy house, the perfect wardrobe, the luxurious vacations, the spa treatments, the entertainment, the food. We know what we see online isn’t all as it seems, and we should know that happiness doesn’t come through possessions or money. But don’t they look so happy with their stuff? A trip to Bora Bora might not solve all my problems, but it certainly couldn’t hurt, right?
But sometimes we forget that by trying to emulate that, we are sacrificing something in doing so. By making choices that aim for instant gratification, we might sacrifice something in the long-term. That purchase you make today might add a little joy to your day, but you trade that for something you could have in the future. In an effort to keep up with the Joneses or the latest trendsetter or influencer, you end up spending your money on fleeting things instead of saving or paying off debt. That means you will have to put off your financial goals or forgo them altogether. If you are accumulating credit card debt, then you’re pushing it off even further because you’re adding the cost of interest to the mix. Buy now, pay later may sound good, but it really is too good to be true. Instead, think- save now, buy later.
The Push from Our Friends
To be social is to spend money. At least it feels that way sometimes. To spend time with friends, it often means sharing a meal at a restaurant, attending an event, shopping, doing something that costs money. Sometimes it probably feels like the only way to save money is to turn down every invitation and to just stay home. But that doesn’t lead to a very fulfilling life. So how should you respond to this conundrum?
Instead of just turning people down on their invitations to go out, offer alternative suggestions that don’t cost as much. Host a potluck instead of meeting at a restaurant. Get a bottle of two-buck-chuck from Trader Joe’s and watch a movie with friends instead of going to theaters. Take a walk, have a picnic, go to the free day at an art gallery or museum. Of course, you can occasionally go out with friends and spend money, it’s unrealistic to avoid it altogether. Just make it a habit to consider alternative ways to be social while saving money.
Worth the Money
There are things that are absolutely worth spending money on. There are the basic expenses that we must endure, the necessities including housing, healthcare, food, and transportation. Then there are those special occasions when it is generally expected to give a gift or spend money (weddings, birthdays, etc.). Propriety and Emily Post dictate that we shell out some cash now and again for those family members and friends of ours. Levity aside, it is worth the cost to show people you care. It doesn’t have to be extravagant, but there is joy in sharing with those around you. Finally, there are the extra expenses that aren’t necessities, but that you’ll get a lot of use/joy out of. Putting your money into something of quality can save you money in the long run if you get a lot of use out of it. If you practice restraint and moderation, treating yourself to something only occasionally, it won’t harm your budget in large measures.
Wait It Out
I love baking and always had my eye on a real Kitchenaid mixer to add to my baking supplies. But they’re not exactly cheap and I couldn’t justify the cost when there were plenty of other, cheaper, mixers. One day I stumbled upon one at a garage sale. Only $15 dollars. I had to replace the beaters for $25, more than the cost of the machine, but in the end, I saved a lot of money. That was an unexpected blessing. Sometimes you have to go without. Sometimes waiting pays off.
Budget and Save
Every dollar you have should have a purpose. It can go toward necessities or other worthwhile expenses, savings, paying off debt, or nonessential expenses. When you budget, you can more easily see how much money you can put toward each of those categories. When you spend, you decide what is worth more to you.
Saving money by not spending it on nonessentials frees up funds to pay off debt. The longer you hold on to debt and don’t pay it off, the more you owe as interest accumulates. Accumulating savings, on the other hand, earns interest, grows, and can go towards something like retirement, a car, or vacation. When you realize the consequences of how you decide to use your money, you’ll want to make smarter, more informed, forward-thinking decisions.
When you budget your money, you give each dollar a job. You track your spending, learn from your spending history, and make informed spending decisions going forward. If saving isn’t a part of your budget or your financial habits, it should be. Encouragement to do that might not be easy to find as the message to spend is much more prevalent, so here is some right now. Good for you for choosing to save money, make smart decisions, practice self-control and brandish your will-power and forward-thinking! You can do it! It’s worth it!
Sorry, Not Sorry
Managing your finances requires patience to wait for your goals and contentment with what you have now. It doesn’t require you to feel bad about the things you don’t have or the choices you make to be financially responsible. Don’t feel sorry for saying no to superfluous spending, for living more modestly, or for saving. Budget, save, and reach your financial goals.