We spend money in an attempt to gain happiness. Big vacations, dream homes, and happy kids make us happy. Then why do personal finance experts advise us to save money in order to feel happy? We can just spend money and buy happiness to remain happy always, can’t we?
I know you will start counting the benefits of investing and making money grow. You will tell me that the same money can bring more happiness tomorrow (compared to today) if I let it grow and earn interest.
Last evening my wife wanted to go watch a movie at the theater, and I, being frugal, tried convincing her how costly a theater ticket is as compared to overnight DVD rental. She asked me, “Why are you working so hard?”
I said, “To earn more, and to have more money so we can have a better life.”
Me: “A few years from now.”
Her: “Exactly how many?”
Me: “I don’t know, but pretty soon. Let me save enough to have a home and blah blah blah…” (my usual wish list)
Her: “Then, what exactly will we do with those things?”
Me: “We will have a happy life and lots of fun.”
Her: “What we will have now?”
Me: “Ummm…let’s watch a DVD.”
Well, eventually I lost the battle (I always do!) and ended up going to the theater. I spent $15 more than my planned $1 DVD rental from Redbox. But in the end I was happy – we had a very good time and laughed a lot. My wife happily agreed that next few movies should be through DVD rental only. In fact, we planned to watch one movie at the theater for every 10 movies we see through library rental or kiosk rental. We don’t use Netflix, so we are saving on that front anyway. Like we end up saving huge amounts using Finish Line Coupons, whenever we tend to buy some great Sports Merchandise
I love saving money! But I love having fun too.
As I stated before, turning hobbies into a job might take the charm out of the hobby activity. Likewise, saving money day in and day out without having some occasional fun can take the charm out of saving money as well. It is one thing to spend on impulse or spend out of negligence; it is another thing to indulge in occasional rewards at times, during your money-saving journey.
When you are not really broke and not in debt, it is really difficult to stay on a frugal course unless you reward yourself and your family members. Otherwise there might be disputes and unhappiness within the family.
Are you having enough fun saving money? You might want to check against the list I prepared.
Don’t count every cent Don’t always be after every penny. At times it becomes too much of a hassle. As a good manager of your household finances, you are taking on a lot of pressure. Don’t let that be your shackle! Believe me, you will feel like you have one at times. It’s ‘ok’ to let loose sometimes. Accept additional money spent on items every now and then; don’t blame others or yourself.
Budget for fun. As I did with the movie viewing pact, make a provision for spending on fun items. No matter how hard you convince your kids that the newest video game is just a waste of money, they will not understand. Make allowances for a few video games in your budget, to give another example.
Budget for your sin. I budget for my sunglasses every month (I have collection of sunglasses and watches) and a watch every quarter. I see this as a self reward for doing well at work and at home. My wife has a few unique pricey habits as well – hope she won’t ever read this article (she usually does read though). Without rewards there is not enough meaning to keep going.
Involve family members. Play games with your kids to show them how to use money wisely. Money Matters is a game by Larry Burkett that does just that. Another way is to help them earn money while saving you money at the same time by encouraging them to find coupons. To do this, give them a percentage of how much money you save when you use the coupons they cut at the grocery store. They organize your coupons (helping you save) and earn extra allowance too!
Reward the detective. Uncover the sleuth in your family. If you look at money saved as hidden treasure, you will find the process exciting! There’s always a new way to save money, you just need to encourage your family to find it. Give a percentage of the savings to the individual who finds it.
Take regular staycations. This was explained in a previous post. A staycation is enjoying vacation time in activities near your home. This is fun, frugal, and especially exciting for the kids. Frequent outings result in calmer homes with less demand for material things. (just my theory)
Are you saving with fun or with deprivation? What other fun activities are you and your family involved in, readers?