Saving for the future while living for today isn’t an easy task to balance. One of the most common excuses for not having money in savings is that living for today is more important. Life is short, you could die tomorrow with a ton of money in the bank. Conversely, you could spend too much money enjoying the present and then live for another 60 years trying to make ends meet. No one knows what the future holds. In todays YOLO and FOMO culture, it can be difficult to figure out how to enjoy the present while saving for the future.
How a New Year’s resolution taught me to live for today while saving for the future
Every year I set loftly New Year’s Resolutions. For 2018, I decided to give up dining out and take out coffee in order to save $10,000 for a new business venture. The resolution had several elements to it. I wanted to reduce my carbon footprint and waste less by cutting out takeout. I also wanted to loose weight by cutting out fast food and Starbucks. Even though I love to save money, the $10,000 goal was actually an afterthought. I figured if I cut out dining out, takeout, and Starbucks, I’d probably save a pretty penny.
I lasted 4 months.
For 4 months I was uncompromising with my resolution. I couldn’t be tempted. There were several times that my family went out to eat without me, but I stuck to my resolution because I wanted to prove something to myself. What I wanted to prove, I’m still not quite sure.
I’m a stubborn person. Once I set me mind to doing something, I have to do it, even if it doesn’t make sense.
Here’s the thing- I’ve been doing well with losing weight, I’m more eco-friendly than ever, and that $10,000 that we wanted for a business venture isn’t as necessary anymore.
I broke my resolution at the beginning of May when my oldest and I had some time alone. We hadn’t been out of the house, just the two of us, since my youngest was born 8 months prior. He asked for a “mommy/ Robert date” at Chick fil A. I hemmed and hawed and tried to convince him to go home for free ice cream, when it hit me- why was I obsessing so much about saving for the future instead of enjoying the moment?
How to save for the future while living for today
Since the Chick fil A moment, I’ve had Starbucks and I’ve dined out with my family. I’ve also continued to save money. Breaking my resolution hasn’t meant a free for all. In fact, the resolution experience actually taught me a lot about myself and how I don’t actually enjoy dining out or drinking takeout coffee as much as I used to. I also really don’t enjoy fast food at all.
The experience solidified a fact that I’ve always known: experiences you truly enjoy will always be worth the money.
Do you agree with these tips to save money while living in the present?
There are a few tips that can help all of us, myself included, balance saving money while enjoying the present. These are my favorite tips:
- Pay yourself first. Set up a savings and retirement account and make sure to put money directly into those accounts as soon as you get paid. If you never see the money, you won’t miss it. Then you can have more fun with the money that is leftover. This will also bring you peace of mind because you can use your savings for emergencies instead of stressing out when something unexpected happens.
- Understand your budget. First you have to make a budget. Once it’s made, make sure you understand where your money goes each month. Then set aside some of your money for the things you really want to do in life.
- Figure out what purchases really make you happy. Even if all purchases make you happy, surely there are some that make you happier than others. Save your money for the things that truly bring joy to your life.
- Be present. Life is all about balance. As important as it is to make sound financial decisions, it’s also important to be present. Being present is a wonderful stress reducer. Follow the first three tips and then rest assured that you’ve done what you can to save for the future, so start enjoying today!
Uncommon advice: work less in order to live in the moment
This is definitely not the best advice to save money, however it’s great advice for living in the moment. And if you hear me out, you can find some ways to save money while working less.
For many people, working more means spending more money on childcare and convenience food items. At the end of the day there are only 24 hours. You can’t do everything.
I recently had this chat with a friend of mine who also works from home. Working more may mean that you can afford better quality items and do more fun stuff, but sometimes the best things in life are free. It’s oftentimes just as much fun to enjoy the free moments in life instead of working so hard that you can’t even enjoy the money you are making.
Living for today and saving for the future is a total balancing act. Of course, not being financially stable can cause a lot of anxiety. It’s not a bad idea to figure out how much money you need to survive + put into savings, and then try to find happiness within your means.
Let me take a quick moment to say that living like that is a privilege that I recognize. There are many people in the world who live in poverty and don’t have the opportunity to choose when and how they would like to work. I feel so grateful that we had the opportunity to go to school, take out loans, and get jobs that allowed us to pay off debt. Taking on $150,000 worth of educational debt wasn’t fun, but it’s been worth it.
I’m also grateful for the opportunity to work from home and make money as a digital influencer. However, I’m currently in a situation where I make more when I work more. At this point in my life, I’d rather make less money and live frugally than work full time. It’s the decision I’ve made and I’m 100% happy about it!
Where I currently stand with saving for the future while living for today
This picture pretty much sums up my life right now.
With three kids ages 5 and under, I’m just trying to stay sane each day. If I have the “fun money” around, I’m going to use it for things that make us happy. It’s the reason I work hard to monetize my blog and social media accounts. But, I’m also still my same frugal self who would rather do something free or cheap than spend money! At the same time, if I feel like a Starbucks drink will help me manage the constant chaos in my house, I’m not going to feel guilty about it.
As for my resolution, I’m still feeling pretty good about breaking it. I’m going to stick to my guns about reducing my carbon footprint. I’ve been bringing my own mug to Starbucks, and I’m even considering bringing my own Tupperware when we dine out.
Related Post: Zero Waste Products That Will Save You Money
While we haven’t save $10,000 yet this year, we are still saving a good amount of money each month. We have savings, retirement, and college funds. I think I can give myself a break and enjoy the moment a little more, even if it means spending some money.
I must admit that it’s hard to relax about money when you’ve been so vigilant about it. If you liked this post, you’ll also love my post on Life After Debt.