Some people were just born frugal, like my father and my grandfather.
I am not one of those people.
I am convinced that out of some sort of random genetic mutation, I was cursed at birth with an insatiable desire to spend indiscriminately.
Along with this disease, I also inherited from some distant ancestor a deathly fear of checking my bank account.
I suppose the two simply go hand-in-hand, but when I was a young and foolish, I had a serious problem.
For those of us who are not naturally savers, or were not diligently trained by our parents in the art of living frugally, we’ve got it tougher than the rest. We are the victims of constant overdraft fees.
We are the types who always have our gas gauges hovering right about the “E”, and we tend to think payment due dates are more like suggestions and not deadlines.
At one point, my spendthrift lifestyle had become simply too difficult to juggle. There will come a point in every excessive spender’s life when you realize that what you’re doing has got to stop.
Some people actually do stop, but others will continue, headlong, into the abyss of lifelong debt and money management problems. Now for someone who doesn’t inherently like to save, I approach the frugal life from a different perspective than most.
The following are a couple reasons for why I started saving, and why you should, too. It is my hope that those who are struggling with their finances because of their lifestyle decisions will empathize with where I’m coming from, since I was once you, and probably much worse.
1. Saving is not inimical to freedom. In fact, saving promotes freedom.
Whenever my parents or others would criticize me about my poor spending and finance habits, I’d immediately dismiss them, thinking to myself that they were too “bourgeois”, that they had a trivial addiction to money for its own sake, and just didn’t know what it meant to be human.
I thought by not caring about money, I was “freeing myself.” Later, when I gave saving a shot (I started out with small amounts, but eventually made it into a habit) I found that by having a financial safety net, I was able to do more of what I wanted to do.
By saving, I had the personal freedom to travel a lot, to relocate and switch jobs whenever I felt the desire to be on the move. The reality of the situation is this—not saving actually hinders you from making decisions. It imprisons you.
2. When you aren’t consistently on top of your finances, you will live your life in fear, without even realizing it.
Once you do take charge of your money, at least of half of the anxiety in your life will disappear. Trust me. I wasn’t even aware of how much time I was spending subconsciously worrying about overdraft fees, unpaid bills, and exorbitant expenditures on unnecessary items.
Once I started building good finance habits, many of which I learned from online research, I noticed that almost every other aspect in my personal life was enhanced. I felt happier about significant other and our relationship, happier about my job, and closer to my family.
Although these are two very simple motivations for saving, they are really what inspired me to turn my life around. As much as we natural spendthrifts like to think that our habits are unproblematic, being frugal is the key to balancing your life in ways I had never dreamed of.
This guest post is contributed by Emily Thomas, who writes on the topics of online college degree. She welcomes your questions and comments.