Ever since I’ve started this blog, I’ve focused on saving money, paying off debt, loyalty points, and travel. What’s interesting is that as I’ve become more comfortable with my money, I find that I spend more now. Part of that is because I now own a home and have a daughter, but I also believe that’s it’s not necessary to save every dollar I earn.
On the flip side of things, some of my readers and people I’ve met find it painful to spend any money at all. For some of them, they grew up in debt so now they’re trying to save everything (even though they’re already financially secure) while others just get a sinking feeling in their stomachs whenever they make a big purchase. I get why some people prefer to save, but at the same time, it’s time to get over your fear of spending.
Don’t compare yourself to others
When it comes to FOMO, most people spend more, but FOMO can also result in spending less depending on what you’re comparing to. Many personal finance blogs will track their spending and share their net worth every month. That’s great if they’re doing it for themselves, but some of their readers may end up comparing themselves which I don’t think is a good idea. Everyone has a different situation, so it makes absolutely no sense to compare yourself with others.
Yes, your favourite blogger may have a 50% savings rate, but it may not be possible for you to do the same. It also doesn’t help that it seems like every personal finance blogger feels the need to share how they’re saving on social media. They say it’s a way to educate people but at the same time, it can make many of their followers feel like they’re not doing enough to save. I personally will never share my net worth and the only time I tend to brag about saving money is when it relates to pizza deals such as when Domino’s has 50% off!
Budget for your discretionary spending
The recurring theme for people I come across that don’t like to spend is that they get stressed out when they drop $5-8K on a family vacation or say a new phone which is around $1.3K these days. After being diligent with their spending, those major purchases are pretty significant to their savings. I totally understand that feeling because I don’t like spending more than I have to, but you really need to budget for your discretionary spending otherwise you’ll go crazy otherwise.
My wife and I love to travel so we budgeted about $7,800 per year ($650 per month) for it. When my daughter was born, people assumed we’d travel less and have more expenses, but we actually increased our travel budget (we do have a third person to pay for now). When you budget separately for your passions, there should be no guilt when you spend that money. I know that I have a family vacation budget of about $10,000 every year now, as long as I don’t go over that amount, I don’t care.
What really helped me get over this fear of spending was separating my spending accounts from my savings. I have different accounts set up for travel, car maintenance, presents, etc. All of this money is parked in various high interest savings accounts since it allows me to earn some interest. I also have automatic savings set up for my RRSP and other long term savings so I never feel guilty when I spend.
You don’t need to follow every rule of personal finance
If you read personal finance blogs and books on a regular basis, the odds are that you’re already doing better than 90% of Canadians (I totally made up that stat.). Some of the typical advice include stop buying coffee every day or to only buy cars used since they depreciate as soon as you drive them off the lot. Here’s the thing, who cares? If you like coffee, buy as much as you want. If you’ve always wanted a new car, get one.
Yes, coffee adds up over time, but if you already have a high savings rate, isn’t it okay to treat yourself? Or what difference does it make if you’re buying a new car when your plan is to pay it off in 3 years (or you have the cash to pay it outright)? If you were charging everything to your credit cards or line of credit with no idea how to pay it down, then I’d be concerned.
Some experts also suggest a cash only budget to manage your money, but I strongly believe in credit cards. If you always pay your bills on time and in full, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be earning points in the process. Some of the best travel credit cards in Canada come with signup bonus worth $250+ and have incredible travel benefits such as airport lounge access and travel insurance.
Honestly, if you’ve been good with your money, there’s a good chance you’ll eventually get to a point where spending money won’t affect any of your long term plans. Sure, you can be a money hoarder but as everyone says, you can’t take that money to your grave so you might as well spend some of it.