I’ll try and hit on many different topics that have worked for me and my family and hopefully it may spark some ideas of ways that you can also save for you and your family. Then the beauty of it is that if you are able to take regular savings, then you can save that money instead and earn some more of that great compound interest that I love to talk about.
Please don’t think I’m some über saver that doesn’t ever purchase anything or indulge on some nice things in life. One great example for our family is travel. My family and I love to explore this country and also outside the US, The bummer is that we just don’t seem to have enough time to go and see the places we want to due to various company vacation polices. (That’s a soap box I dare not climb on for now, but I have very strong opinions as you might imagine on amount of vacation time we have in the US). Even though we may only have a few weeks a year to get away, we always try and make the best of it. Now we don’t fly in first class but we have seen and traveled to some very nice locations and those are experiences that have shaped and changed our world view and memories I hope I never forget. For us, travel is always in the budget and not something we cut. We are happy to reduce other spending categories in order to still travel each year. For others it may not be a priority. Not a problem, that’s why everyone’s budget is unique to them.
Then there is my bicycling addiction, uh, I mean habit. That’s also an expense category that I am not willing to cut right now. It is great exercise of course and I don’t buy the most expensive bicycle, but I certainly don’t buy the cheapest one either. I’ve started small and worked up and bought (and sold) bicycles as I kept riding more and more. My struggle right now is resisting the urge to buy another bicycle. My crazy high mileage (10,000+ miles per year) could likely justify the second bike, but it’s a tough nut to swallow, even if it would be within our budget, while still saving plenty for retirement, college, etc. Decisions, decisions.
I tell on myself to hopefully illustrate that if all you do is save, save, save, save with your money, I believe you run the risk of burning out and developing some very unhealthy habits and attitudes. This is a similar philosophy I’ve employed when losing weight. If I didn’t allow myself some small indulgences along the way, it was too easy to lose hope, get discouraged and then just fall totally off the wagon and binge on all kinds of things that would set me back from my goal.
There are no wrong answers here, except if you say, “I have nothing in my budget that I can reduce”. Each of us I believe can and should make some choices to determine which parts of our expenses can be reduced and which ones are important to them. But do keep in mind that this is about balance. I’m all about saving and investing, but if I don’t spend some of my money now, I’ll be a bitter, single-minded individual that no one wants to be around.