When you’re in hardcore saving mode, your whole life begins to revolve around how little money you can spend. I was in that phase myself not so long ago.
I was all about paying off my debt constantly, and I didn’t allow myself to be distracted in any way. I slashed my budget categories until they were at the bare minimum, and then I slashed them some more.
I was so focused on not spending any money, I barely focused on anything else in my life. It was extreme.
Saying “No” Constantly Isn’t Sustainable
While it got the job done, and I paid off all my student loans, it also made me realize there are times when saying “no” to spending money is just dumb.
Trying to pinch every single penny can hurt you more than it can help you in some cases. I had to learn to know when to say “yes” to spending.
Spending for some people is easy as pie. They get money, they spend money. I’m not like that at all. I literally need to give myself permission to spend money sometimes.
It’s partly because I don’t have a ton of extra cash floating around, and partly because I lived so long without any discretionary spending. I know I can survive on the barest of budgets, and all I need to do is survive, right?
Saying “No” Can Lead to Unhappiness
Well, not so much. The thing is, when I was in my debt payoff mode and throwing every extra penny I could find at it, I gave up a lot of things that made my life better. Things that added richness and happiness to my life.
I don’t mean cocktails or meals out – those are two things I gave up and didn’t miss. I mean things like travel and spending time with people I care about.
I was so concerned with saving every last cent, I stopped doing certain things. Some of them, like going out to dinner with friends, I was able to replace with frugal options, like making dinner at home with friends. I still got my socialization on and I saved money.
Some of them weren’t so easily replaceable, though. In my family, everyone over the age of 21 participates in a Secret Santa gift exchange for Christmas. We pull names out of a hat and you must spend at least $75 on your pulled person.
Last year, I skipped out on that tradition because of my loans. $75 was (and is!) a lot of money to me, and I wanted to put that towards my debt. It was a sound financial decision, but it really sucked to sit there at Christmas and not have a gift to give or get when everyone else did.
I felt excluded, and not simply because I didn’t get a gift. I experienced a family tradition from the outside and it didn’t feel great. I hadn’t spent any time planning the perfect gift for an uncle or a cousin of mine. I hadn’t gotten anyone a gag gift, something my family is very into. The holiday was nice, but it was lackluster for me.
Learning How to Say “Yes” to Spending
So over the past few months I’ve been learning to say “yes” to things that add meaning to my life. While I still maintain the majority of my frugal habits from my days of paying off debt, there are other things I’ve added into my life.
I was lucky enough to come into ownership of an electric guitar and amp totally by accident and totally for free. A major score! I’ve been wanting to learn guitar for years, and now I have the equipment to do so. I bought myself a capo and a beginners book (used of course!), and have set about trying to learn guitar.
These are small purchases that are totally wants and not needs. I would never have allowed myself to do this when I was in debt. Now I’m saying yes.
These purchases are in pursuit of a desire I’ve had for a long time, and I’m also gaining a new skill. I like music and I want to be able to make my own. Saying yes to spending here has added to my life.
Similarly, I’ve begun to plan and save for an extended overseas trip next year. I want to spend several months out of the country. Travel is a passion of mine and another thing I gave up when I was in debt.
While travel can be expensive (though it doesn’t have to break the bank), it’s another area where saying yes to spending money is going to make my life better.
I’ve done some international and national traveling before and I loved it all. It’s something I enjoy deeply and want to make a part of my life.
Saying “Yes” is Worth it
I could continue to say no to everything that comes my way, be it travel, music, people, or family. Or I can say yes to certain expenses and let them enrich my life.
I’m happy continuing to say no to expensive meals out in exchange for a ticket to Portugal. I’ll trade new clothes for a ticket to a concert any day.
Find the things that make your life better and say yes to spending on them. For some people, good food in heralded restaurants may be more of a priority than going to a concert. It doesn’t matter what it is as long as you love it.
Say yes to spending on what you love.
Do you have a hard time saying “yes” to spending? Why or why not? Does saying “yes” come more naturally to you?