Spendthrift or Scrooge?
I still remember the thrill of buying my first pair of high-street brand sneakers in my first year of uni.
Flush with student loan money I made a joke to the sales assistant that I was on a mission to spend it all before the year ended. Oh, the spending power I had in my hot little hands!
His horrified reaction to my little quip was probably my first inkling that I had a rather careless attitude towards money.
Spendthrift is such a lovely word, isn’t it? I never really saw it as an insult. But a spendthrift is someone who spends lavishly, is careless with money and has no regard for the future. But still – so much better sounding than being a miser, penny-pincher or Scrooge!
I know I’ll never be a miser or a penny-pincher. But I also need to curtail my spendthrift ways. There must be a middle ground between the two that I can comfortably sit in. If so, what does that look like?
Small changes for bigger rewards
Shoe shops are my downfall. I’ll happily admit that. But I also know that drifting into a store on a Saturday afternoon for a ‘little look’ will generally result with me walking out with one (ok, two) pairs of shoes. Of course, these impulse purchases are not planned for, and I then have to juggle other costs to cover the impulse purchase.
Adding a realistic ‘shoe’ allowance into my budget would give me the ability to indulge my shoe shopping, without putting myself under pressure to make up any budget shortfall. Being disciplined about how often I go shoe shopping, and restricting myself to just one pair, would allow me the freedom to enjoy my purchases without worrying about the impact on my other costs.
Start a ‘Life happens’ fund
There’s a general wisdom that you should have an emergency fund of up to 3 months of your salary saved up for times of emergency. That seems like such a boring thing to do.
But when I think about the stress caused by an emergency dentist appointment or unexpected car repairs, I now understand why this idea is important. By starting a ‘Life happens’ fund, you can smooth out any bumps in the road, and those things that might have caused you stress in the past become easier to manage.
Saving doesn’t have to equal sacrifice
My biggest fear about being more Scrooge than spendthrift is that I will have to give up the things I enjoy and life will become boring and dull. Not so. It just means being sensible and thinking ahead.
It’s not just ‘saving’ versus ‘spending’ – no-one wants to live on baked beans on toast for ever – but it’s about deciding what’s important to you now, and in the future. You’re simply earmarking that money to spend it later.
On shoes. Naturally.