In Discussions, Money, Wealth

I used to think money was the end goal, but now?

When I first started off in personal finance a good 10+ years ago… I used to be so obsessed.

I see it now, in other newer personal finance bloggers. They have the same zealous fervour in their eyes to eliminate that huge mountain of debt, mortgage, whatever, and to climb out of the financial hole they are in.

I used to do everything they did – count my pennies obsessively (and although we no longer have pennies in Canada, but I will say that I still like keeping detailed notes on what I spend mostly for statistical reasons and out of curiousity how my lifestyle has been inflated), look for ways to sell things (still sort of do it now, but not as crazily), and how best to be as cheap as possible.

I chose options just solely based on price.

I didn’t consider that cotton swabs with paper batons would be more eco-friendly than plastic ones that could end up in the ocean, choking baby animals. I just saw that they were $1 cheaper, so I bought them.

I didn’t see that buying food that was fresh and healthy, looking at the quality of the food, rather than canned goods or things that were as cheap as possible, was a better option in the long-run for my body, than to try and keep my hunger at bay by stuffing cheap junk into it.

I was truly focused on eliminating every penny of that $60,000 debt and I did not really care to see how it would affect me, those around me, and the world as a whole.

I kept that “focus” on hoarding my money all the way even past being debt-free.

I loosened up on the reins on the money and allowed myself to buy new pants rather than stapling in the waists.

I started to spend more money, and I traveled for a year, taking time off to just see the world and enjoy different countries and cultures.

…and somewhere along the way, I started to change even more.

I stopped looking at the price tag of a cute skirt, and wondering if $30 was too much for it, and looking at the skirt itself, the fabric (not polyester), the fit, and whether or not I’d wear it more than a few times.

I started shopping more secondhand, buying much higher quality garments than I could have imagined I could have afforded, and being able to spend money on luxury goods because they looked better, fit better and felt better on my body.

I was willing to increase my spending on USED CLOTHING (not new), buying less than if I shopped mainstream fast fashion at retail prices, because I looked past what it represented and saw it for what it was – a quality garment that would always look impeccable (this is especially true for coats; a cheap Zara coat no matter how cute it looks the first few times will not hold up over time especially at the shoulders), but a Dolce & Gabbana jacket for that same $100 but used, would last as a classic piece for decades, specifically this one, which is still retailing!

The biggest change of all, has to have been a couple of years ago, when I finally asked myself what all the money was for, if I was going to basically feel like I was punishing myself for wanting a nice, luxury car, and to be moderately unhappy with yet another crappy, used minivan.

What was all of my money for?

I was stumped. I couldn’t figure out what, if any goals I had, for all of this money beyond saving it for in case I would need it, and when I planned on stopping work (if I wanted to stop, in the first place!).

I didn’t really want to live a life where I drove a secondhand car that could inevitably conk out in the middle of a sub-zero winter with my child in the back, just because it was $10,000 and the cheapest I could drive.

I have a neighbour (yeah the same one here) who before knowing what car I got, waxed on and on about how it was SOOOOOO wasteful to buy a new car, and how her husband would NEVER waste money like that even though he has SOOOO much money saved in the bank.

I park my new, massive car, don’t say anything and then watch as her 6’4″ husband tries to squeeze himself into the tiny little secondhand car they bought and use constantly because it is cheaper than their SUV, and wonder what the point of it all was.

What’s the point of all this money if you are going to sit as a super tall guy in a tiny car, feeling cramped, when you have SOOOOO much money in the bank? Buy something you’re comfortable in — you’re driving it every day, for heaven’s sake, and you’re always stuck in traffic and roadworks!!!

So what if it is more expensive to buy a bigger car? You have the money – USE IT and ENJOY IT, or your children will.

I didn’t really want to live a life where I was so frugal, that I was saving all this money only to use it to live, in my old age, finding it difficult to get up out of bed and to walk, wishing I had taken more time in my younger years to relax and not be so driven towards money.

Aside from buying the house in cash, and then my new car, I did not have any other major goals to save for, except for Little Bun (but let’s face it, he is saving his own money given to us by the government for having him), and my retirement so I will not be a burden.

My change in attitude was because of these 3 main things:

  1. I became a parent. You start to realize that life isn’t just you any more, and money can be used to “buy back” some of that time.
  2. I was turned off by the extremists in the FIRE movement. What’s the point of having millions stashed away when you’re eating dented canned food on sale in a store? What’s the point? Are you living a quality life with all of this money? People with less money, live better.
  3. I stopped money shaming myself. It is hard to let go of that mentality that luxury is an non-essential, and any money I spend on something just because it is nicer, is a shameful, terrible waste of money when something basic could substitute for it just fine.

All of that personal finance community, FIRE (RAH RAH) guilt and shame in wanting to have nice things, drive a nice car, and do special things, even if it means spending a “ridiculous” amount of money ($800) on this hair styling tool, just because I want it so I’ll never have a bad hair day again.

I don’t need to make their priorities my priorities.

If they want to do all of those things, and save up millions to start an educational foundation in their name so that they can “live on for all eternity”, all the more power to them. It is their lives and families. (I do wish that they would consider the eco-friendly option in purchases though, that really does affect us all)..

And with my money, and my life, I can do exactly what I want and not feel bad about it because I am not being the BESTEST MONEY SAVER out there.

I no longer care to guilt or shame myself into driving crappy cars I hated to sit in and drive, because I allowed myself to mentally afford that nice car, which I now very much enjoy driving (something I never thought I’d ever say).

Life is not just an end goal of lots of money.

Sure, lots of money would be great, I wouldn’t say no to a $2 million dollar cheque, but living for the sole purpose of saving money to lord your net worth over someone else, is not living.

What say you?

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Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

Am my own Sugar Daddy. Am a millionaire at 36 after getting out of $60K of student debt in 18 months, a little over a decade earlier, using TheBudgetingTool.com. I have worked 50% of my career (taking 1-2 year breaks), and quadrupled my income within 2 years of graduating, going from $65K to $260K with an average lifetime savings rate of 50%. I have 11 side incomes that are on track in 2020 to make me $50K - $75K. I could retire today if I wanted, but love my work-life balance as a freelancing consultant in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math). I am all about balance - between time and money, and also enjoying my money. I also post daily on Instagram @saverspender.

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8 Comments

  1. livingalmostlarge

    What’s the point of living if it’s only deprivation and saying no? I used to not get haircuts to save money and time. Now I have time and now I want to keep my hair short and cute instead of a ponytail. Does it cost more? Heck of a lot more. But I deserve it. I do not need one $40 hair cut a year. I refuse to feel guilty for every month or 6 weeks or whatever. I want to have short hair and I want it to look good. It’s not even clothes. But it’s seriously cheaper to have mid back hair you cut once a year and grow out and ponytail it for women than say a cute short haircut that needs constant upkeep. And women’s haircut cost more than mens.

    And what’s the point of saving money if you can’t travel? I mean the amount I spend on travel and have for the past 5 years has been what many FIRE bloggers live on for the entire year. So that amount would be like 5 years of living expenses. But traveling for a family of 4 is not cheap. And I don’t count like only hotels and airfare, I mean everything like experiences, eating out, souvenoirs. I mean when you go to a musuem and it’s $100 or 150 to go to the zoo? Or you go do an activity like a kayak trip for $200 for a couple of hours? Or ATV for $500? Or hot air balloon ride? Or snowmobiling. Am I going to do it again? Probably but what am I saving my money for? Or a cirque du soleil show is $400 for 4 tickets. My kids have seen 3 and love them. Or a play? I mean I want to do harry potter when we can. So that will be a $2k weekend if not more.

    So what is the point? Literally I can spend $25 – 30k/year traveling but in the grand scheme of things is it the end of the world? I mean I used to feel guilty but then I was like I don’t want to live on $25k/year. My DH loves skiing. Lift tickets or season passes for 4 people? Not to mention rentals and lessons for the kids? That burned us about $10k/year all in with trips. So how the hell am I supposed to live a FIRE budget in the US when healthcare would cost us $25k/year for a family of 4?

    I mean Mr Money Mustache self insures and doesn’t buy insurance. But that’s not me. So my base FIRE living is going to start at $25k. Then property taxes $12k. And we’re almost at $40k right there. Sorry but maybe i’m spoiled or maybe I’m being real that there are a lot of places it’s impossible to live on $25k.

    Reply
    1. Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

      I will say the general consensus is “why are you wasting your money on X”…? I get a lot of judgement via messages, emails, comments that seems “harmless” as they’re expressing so-called curiousity, but really, it’s a veiled judgement of why I would ever spend that kind of money on something THEY consider wasteful.

      The U.S. in particular is a tricky country due to the lack of healthcare, which in turn, makes it so much easier for us in Canada and in other countries to achieve FIRE. It’s such a huge relief to worry about going into crippling debt for your health.

      Reply
  2. C

    I do still try to think if the item is worth it *for me* but don’t sweat the cost too much as long as I meet my saving goals. I am trying to be a bit more conscious of my spending though and pay for what I think I will like and use. The “use” part can be hard though because I really like fine jewelry. I mean, how many dangly pearl earrings can I have before they start to be repeats? (At least six pairs, it turns out, but the only ones I don’t wear at least occasionally any more are the white gold ones since white gold doesn’t suit me as well any more.)

    Reply
    1. Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

      Every pair is different, I say. In all seriousnesses, I have a similar penchant for sweaters and dresses in that regard but as long as I can afford it, I don’t sweat it. To me, they are different fabrics, styles.. ergo, different pieces.

      Reply
  3. Anne

    Now that I can’t do the things I really enjoy in life (dance lessons, travelling, restaurants), I save A LOT of money. Had I saved as much before the pandemic, I could retire early. But I still don’t regret my spending. If I die tomorrow, at least I have had a fun life. Before March 2020, that is.

    Reply
    1. Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

      HAHAHAHAHAHAH

      Same here. Honestly, I don’t regret any spending. If anything, I wish I traveled more…….

      Reply
  4. Tim

    You nailed this one! Yep, I also remember those early days where I would squeeze saving every last penny I could. Now, not so much. I have kept a lot of my habits (like mainly cooking at home) but I also agree I really don’t look at some costs all that much anymore. For example, I rarely eat out (even before Covid) so now when I feel like dessert when I’m out for my birthday supper I just order it. I don’t even look at the cost for the most part.

    I think the issue is you realize that having money is nice, but if you aren’t happy saving more money really isn’t worth the effort. You have to roll back the hyper saving at some point and realize where your own comfort level is and find that balance point between now and the future.

    And you start to realize that investing in some things now pay off big later on. For example, when I got into all grain beer brewing I could have gone way cheaper to start but I saved up and got an all in one electric brewing system and I damn well love that machine today. It’s just SO much less work to brew a beer with it so I find myself more willing to put in the time to brew a new beer about once a month. If I had gone cheaper the process would be more work and I could see myself enjoying it less and doing it less often. I suppose the real problem is finding out where YOU WANT to spend the extra money. It’s different for each of us but that is part of the fun of finding out what makes you happy.

    Enjoy your car, house and outfits (they are really nice by the way…I only glance at those posts). I’ll love my brewing equipment and 3D printers…neither is right or wrong but what works best for each of us. I suppose when you stop judging others you can start to accept we all need our own paths to being happy.

    Reply
    1. Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

      That’s exactly it – once you start realizing what you care about and don’t, you start spending money on what does matter.

      For instance, I just got into upcycling jewellery… and honestly, it’s a money suck unless I sell some pieces to recoup the cost!! HAHA.. I am into the couple of thousands of materials now (secondhand jewellery, stones, clay)… but it’s just such a fun activity for myself and my son, that I don’t bother with a couple thousand here and there any more.

      Reply

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