Thursday, May 31, 2018

Hard Sides of Saving Money and Building Assets

This post is not about corruption, theft, and swindling. Those are all of course the horrible side of taking an obsession with money and using it as a weapon or as a drug to try and solve a problem. This post is more a reflection on my own thoughts and action related to saving money and trying to build assets. I've written about thrifty compared to cheap before so don't want to rehash only to say my definition for being thrifty is getting the most value for the dollar spent compared to cheap being saving money at the expense of either someone else or a negative impact on the  quality of my life. I've categorized these hard things into buckets. As a reminder, this is strictly my humble opinion and  your perception may be 180 degrees from mine. 

Saying No
In my perfect world, I would only be asked to participate in things I want to do anyway. I would only be asked to give money to causes or events that are of my own priority. I would be asked to go in together financially only on things I see are of value. That is not the case and I often feel the pressure to join in with others on an expensive outing, say a concert or the theater when it isn't something I personally feel I would enjoy, or would enjoy enough to warrant the funds. My sister is a huge Jimmy Buffet fan. She, and most of my family are huge Eagles fans as well, and both acts are touring together. She desperately wanted all of us to go this summer, but tickets were astronomical, plus, for me, even if reasonable, I am not a big Jimmy Buffet fan, nor after the passing of Glen Frye, is seeing the Eagles live in my top activities. It was hard to say no because I love my sister and no doubt would have had fun, but we equally would have fun playing girls poker with music tracks in the background. Likewise, it is hard to not participate in fund raisers, but buying more senseless crap runs against my grain. 

Saying Yes 
When I'm trying to save for something, like say a really expensive trip of a lifetime, my first inclination is to say "No" to anything but required life expenses. Yet, if I would do so, too many experiences would be lost. We still went to the out of state show choir competitions, we still looked at long distance colleges, we still buy meaningful gifts for people in our lives. It will be a long three month if we never get together with friends over a couple beers or waste the entire summer and not go to a Twins game. Of course we can find lot's of low 
cost activities, but sometimes saying yes is the right action, never mind the savings goal. 



Patience
Still though, when trying to save money for really big goals and purposes, it is hard, but important to exercise patience. Remember my definition of thrift is to get the best value for my money. We need/want new seating for our front porch area. A combination of not finding what I really like and the price of things I marginally like being more than I want to spend has kept us from buying anything. I know though, I will find what I'm looking for eventually, which keeps me from spending money on something immediately. I don't think our quality of life is diminished because we are using two chairs from the back deck on the porch for now. 

Deficit Mindset
This leads me to another challenge I sometimes have when trying to save money is keeping myself from living with a deficit mindset. Of course a dollar or groups of dollars only go so far. Thinking about all the things I can't afford is a path to feeling bad about money. It's not always easy, and especially with a family, to change the frame from the things I can't afford to an intentional "this is how I'm choosing to spend my money." It's not "I can't afford to stop for a morning lattee" but rather "I'm choosing to have coffee at home." Of course to the bucket of Saying Yes, an occasional coffee out with a friend is cheaper than therapy. I know I can buy a whole lot of lattes for my $60 co-pay. I still have humor.

Undue Stress
I see the VISA bill total and I swallow hard. Yikes! $5,700 needs to be paid by June 4th. Even if May had been a three paycheck month, my take home would barely cover it. While I know that VISA includes all planned expenses that are part of our budget, it's stressful to see large chunks of money be paid out at one time. I see all the effort to put that money aside and swoop, gone in one single transaction. Granted, it would be more than just undue stress if we had this bill com in without the money to pay for it. Take our trip out of the picture and insert someone with a major car repair or a large medical co-pay and instantly know why that emergency fund is so important. Large bills, expected or not, are a shock to see, but having the money set aside to cope, even if it has to be refilled, should dilute the undue stress. 

Remembering Time has Value
My last bucket of difficulty while trying to save money and build assets is to remember that there is a cost in terms of time. I wish I was more of a DIY'er as I know I could save money in many areas over the course of my lifetime. But, while some of  my lack of doing things for my self is skill, often it is just pure economics. DH is fairly mechanical with cars, but he isn't going to change the oil himself when the time to do so is better spent having it done while he is at work, earning money. I'm not going to make dinner rolls or hamburger buns from scratch, though in theory I could whenever we are grilling

These are my buckets of challenges. Some are mirrors of another. Part of the battle to save is knowing where your own personal challenges come in, and deciding what method to saving is the right way for you. Do you recognize any of these in your life?
















12 comments:

  1. Very timely post. I find that saving for a huge fun goal like travel makes it easier for me to turn down other things like meals out. Probably right now your summer trip with your family is the priority. You would hate to spend money going to a concert you didn't really want to go to to find that you didn't really have a good time there. For us, we came back from vacation realizing that we don't want to work as hard as we do right now, the extra money isn't worth it. We are raising our prices effective immediately - we might have less work but at least we will be paid for it. Although, we raised our prices on a short contract to something crazy and a client signed for it lol. The most we've ever charged for 4 days worth of training but it will be hard and stressful for us to pull it off. Perhaps we have to start saying no instead :)

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    1. It sounds like you have figured out the time is money part-and your time was under valued. What's the saying, we get what we are willing to accept-something like that.

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  2. A friend of mine always told her kids, Nope, sorry. We don't have a coupon for that. So to this day, if they don't have a coupon...

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    1. I was much better saying no to my kids when there were three at home. I indulge the youngest a bit more and often on unnecessary things. As she is getting lcoser to college, she has gotten the picture and so have I-again.

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  3. Another interesting post SAM.
    I've done a lot of saying no over the years; my children were used to it, but we made the best of things.
    Now I say yes to more things as I'm very aware of my mortality, and my health and well-being, but they have to be things I want to do, and within budget. Our recent holiday was a need and something I organised; I booked it on Friday afternoon, and arrived Saturday lunchtime. Some people will think I am being ridiculous by saying that a holiday was a need, but they haven't lived our life over the last 12 months and know nothing of what we have dealt with.The need to get away somewhere and relax as much as possible was necessary for our physical and mental health. That doesn't mean we didn't get a good deal. We went somewhere that we have been numerous times before, and were given a very generous discount by the owners.
    I've had to be patient for many years, to find the right thing at the right price, to be able to have the money to pay for things being done in the house that we can't do ( as you know we DIY most things but electrics and gas are a no-go for legislative/ safety reasons), or for something on ' the list' to come along. I waited several years to find a vintage light fitting for the kitchen that was in my price bracket.
    It's all about choices,something that some people don't seem to understand at all ( as a family we know people like this). They say they can't afford to put the heating on, whilst at the same time overpay their mortgage by vast sums each month. To me, that's not lack of affordability, it's a choice.
    My undue stress usually comes from outside sources, and is caused by things that I have little to no control over.
    I'm time rich, cash poor. I wouldn't change a thing about that!

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    1. Having read your blog for some years, if anyone could call a holiday a need, it's you. I am so pleased for you. I admire those that have the fortitude to build beautiful lives, not saying easy lives, through grit and perserverance. Lately my stress is too much trying to aquiese and fall under the pressure of not living up to to other peoples priorites-and not even my own families or my job. I own it, but have hoepfully already taken a step to getting me back. Money is not everything-andas I look at my extended family, I wonder how much money is enough for them? How big a house is too big? And if the answer to either is never enough, but then spend weekends self medicating so hard with alcohol, what's the point?

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  4. I think the mind set of saving for a luxury item or trip is different then say saving for retirement or a future time. I think there is a little anxiety that goes with it because you actually see the money go out, where future savings just stay savings. I also know that even if you have the skill to do something doesn't mean you need to take the time to save .99 on burger buns. You and I are too much alike my friend.

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    1. Well then we are in good company with each other. You work too hard-I think too hard! I love the blogging community-we keep each other gorunded and get what I mean. Yep, putting $15,000 away in a retirment account andnot having access to it is nothing, but transferring $15,000 to pay for the trip, even though it is being planned for and will be paid for, is a big gulp. Still, I am blessed beyond realty to have the opportunity.

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  5. I am struggling with the deficit mindset--not in me, but in my kids. The younger ones see what they don't have in comparison with their friends, and feel deprived, because the concept of not worrying about things like college expenses is still so nebulous to them. With the older ones, I constantly say things like "College or an I-phone, I choose college."
    My other challenge is realizing the devaluation of my position as homemaker by my contemporaries. That I am college educated, but a SAHM really seems to annoy a lot of people. I remember my mother telling somebody who asked why she thought a college education was so important for her daughters if she hoped her daughters would choose to stay home with their kids if they chose to have kids, my mother said (after a loooong puff on a cigarette) "My Dear, if you have to ask the question, you'll never understand the answer." (And for the record, my mother, who herself held two Master's degrees, didn't care if it was father or mother, as long as you didn't sub out such an important job as childrearing.)
    We all have our demons to slay, don't we? And, hey, it's Friday eve!!!! Best wishes for a restful weekend!

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    1. Becasue I value you jumping in and giving another perspective, I'll crusie on by the sub out parenting, bit. However, I understand your challenge, and think people who comment are most likely not deep thinkers, or can't look at a whole person-they are quick to label and compartamentalize. The concpet of knowledge for knowledge sake, expanding horizons is far reaching. I also might place a bet those same folks equally chastise a working outside the home mom (I make a distinction becasue I know SAHM and SAHD's work their tail's off) with comments such as, "well if they intended to stay working, why did they have kids." I think your kids will do just fine and will see the light and change their deficit mindset, just as mine were not woefully dammaged for going to child care and preschool part of the week.

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  6. I enjoy your reflections and share a lot of your thoughts. Especially the value of time. You can create more income but you cannot create more time. I am careful where to spend my time, more so then where I spend an extra dollar or two. (Like the hamburger bun thing)

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    1. Time has alwasy been my struggle. I spend too much doing unfufilling things and with unfufilling people. This is an issue that ebbs and flows.

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