So, as someone who is a “natural saver,” just seeing the money in my savings accounts grow is enough to give me a warm and fuzzy feeling of satisfaction. It’s because deep down, savings signal to me that I have options. Ultimately, acquiring savings provides me with feelings of freedom and security concerning any “unexpecteds” that may arise.
However, as a financial educator/coach, I fully realize that many people are not motivated by this type of thing when it comes to saving. Quite a few of us are more motivated by the promise of what our money can give us NOW, rather than later. So, stashing it away and doing with less money now feels like a huge drag with no apparent rewards. The truth is, some of us are more “today centered” and some of are more “tomorrow centered.” And there is NOTHING WRONG with either approach - when they’re not used in the extreme.
The goal is to achieve a balance. Admittedly, this can be very tricky. In fact, overall, this balance is not being achieved. This recent piece shows that 65% of Americans have ZERO to very little money saved at all: “65% of Americans save little or nothing—and half could end up struggling in retirement”
To me, this indicates that a big part of the problem is the perception of saving. Far too often, we focus on the “pain” of saving and “doing without” in the moment. The focus is on what we're NOT getting as opposed to what we ARE getting. In order to be motivated to CONSISTENTLY cut back in our everyday lives, we must have something to look forward to - both NOW and in the future - that makes it feel worthwhile. This is the only way we can tackle any goal that feels hard or unpleasant.
Even for me, the promise of saving for future reward alone is not enough. I too, want immediate pleasure out of my well saved money. For instance, after my trip last month to a business summit, I noticed that my luggage bag was fraying and some of the foam was coming out. My bag had accompanied me on many pleasant trips over the last few years. But it was time to go. So rather than trying to squeeze more trips out of it, I disposed of it when I got home.
Since I had another trip coming up, I needed to get a new one quickly. And let me tell you, when it comes to shopping, just call me the “Savings Queen.” Whenever I buy something, I always try to get the best deal (price-wise) possible. As a “frugal minded” spender, this is usually my top criteria (all my “frugal minded” people KNOW what I’m talkin’ bout).
But this time around, I decided that price would not be the top deciding factor. The longer I continue my life’s journey of living abundantly, the more I have come to focus on what makes me HAPPIEST as opposed to what costs me less.
Now I just want to make this totally clear: that DOES NOT mean I just throw price out the window. It simply means that figuring how much money I can keep in my wallet, when comparing buying one thing over another, is not my guiding principle anymore.
I finally settled on this beautiful purple (my favorite color) two-piece luggage set (above). I LOVE it and I cannot wait to use on my next trip. I was comparing this set to a three-piece Black luggage set that cost almost $20 less. My last luggage bag was also Black. But every time I looked at the purple set, I felt so ‘“up” just looking at it. So that’s what I bought. Economically the Black set was a “better” value and would have put some savings into my pocket. But I have come to appreciate more and more that sometimes buying what you LOVE and paying a bit more for it - rather than paying less for something that you only LIKE - is the way to go.
The invaluable discipline of saving money is about learning how to cut back on the things right now that really don't matter that much, so that we can invest instead in the things that REALLY DO.
So, for me, buying “no-name” paper towels, foregoing brand name clothing (most of the time), and learning how to get by with a little less income right now in order to make mandatory contributions to my retirement account, are some of the things I am willing to cut back on in the present. This then frees up the money for me to buy the slightly more expensive luggage that makes me feel energized and stylish and brightens up my day – in the here and now.
The TRUE purpose of saving money in the present is to invest that money in what really matters. It's NOT to deny our current selves happiness and pleasure. The true purpose of saving money now is to make possible the present AND future things that give us the MOST happiness. And isn’t that what saving money is REALLY all about?
What about you? Have you ever cut back on something that didn't mean very much to you so that you could save for/invest in something else that really did matter to you? I'd love to hear about it!
About Yolanda Ransom
Yolanda Ransom teaches professional Black women how to confidently master their money, so they can achieve all of their financial dreams. She is a financial educator, coach and CEO of Yolanda Ransom Consulting. She speaks and writes about personal finance and personal development. Find out more about Yolanda and her work at yolandaransom.com