So I’ve been receiving a lot of feedback on my posts on saving, which is awesome because this shows that people are actually reading what I have to say. (When I started this blog, I had this fear that the only person who was going to read it was some drunk dude trying to google how to fry an egg)
However, I noticed a recurring theme in what many people told me – that reading about saving actually made them feel guilty about themselves. Now that is definitely not my aim in writing this blog. Most personal finance books will start off by trying to guilt-trip the hell out of you into spending less. “No, you shouldn’t be taking vacations.” “No, why spend money on beer when water’s so much healthier?”, “No, you should never eat out”. No, no, no, no, no. It’s a TERRIBLE way to live. Sure, you may save a few dollars here and there. But if you’re reading my blog to learn how you can save 10 cents by optimizing your bus/MRT route home, you’re in the wrong place. You’re better off going for a program like this:
(in case you didn’t get that – that was a joke. I freakin’ love Ramit’s stuff – he’s a big inspiration for what I blog about here)
I don’t want to make you feel guilty – that’s why I’m a huge advocate of automating your savings: Decide how much you want to save/invest per month, set up a system to automatically take that money where you can’t touch it, and you’re free to spend the rest. Guilt-free.
Ramit Sethi from Iwillteachyoutoberich.com (yeah I know, scammy name but he’s one of the few bloggers out there offering high quality, no-bullshit material) has this one piece of advice that I totally agree with: spend extravagantly on the things you love, as long as you cut costs mercilessly on the things you don’t. Being rich isn’t just about saving – Saving is just one side of the coin (pun totally intended). Being rich also means that if it matters to you, you should be able to enjoy the hell out of the things you love.
For example – I love dance. It’s fun, it makes me feel bad-ass (because I suck at being gangsta in real life), I get a good workout, and I get to meet some amazing people with crazyass talent. Each class sets me back about $15 – $20 bucks, and I have no qualms about dropping a couple of hundred dollars on classes. I take part in dance shows and spend like over a hundred dollars for a costume that I will probably never wear again. Last year, I spent nearly a thousand dollars (excluding plane ticket) on a trip to Germany for Urban Dance Camp – where I spent 4 glorious days learning from the best choreographers in the world: Kyle Hanagami, Philip Chbeeb, Jun Quemado, Lando Wilkins.. – literally legends I’d been following on YouTube all my life. Oh, and I had breakfast with Jun Quemado. How dope is that?
I didn’t feel an ounce of guilt spending on that because I love it. To me, it’s totally worth it. For you, maybe that thing that you absolutely love could be traveling, or food, or beer, or 19th-century Chinese coins. It doesn’t matter. The point is, you should have no hesitations on spending on the things you love. However, you should be mercilessly cutting your costs on the things that you don’t. For example, I don’t need a car – I’m perfectly fine traveling on the subway and unlike most people, I think a car’s role as a status symbol is stupid. Not having a car alone is enough to cover my dance expenses for years. Also, I don’t go shopping very often – I’m perfectly fine with like the 2 shirts I wear all the time (okay maybe that’s a little bit of an exaggeration – but just a little). I don’t see the need to eat at restaurants, so I have dinner at the staff canteen where I work – at ridiculously cheap prices.
The point I’m trying to make is this – Life is awesome. First, automate your savings. Next, take 10 minutes to decide what really, truly makes life awesome for you. Then spend like crazy on it. Honestly, don’t bother whether you paid a couple of dollars more than your friends when you’re splitting the bill. Spend consciously – think about the stuff in your life that DON’T love, but are needlessly spending extra money on. Then cut the excess crap from your life, and spend it all on the things that you DO love. Guilt-free.