It's funny. As much as I talk about saving money, sometimes I have a hard time putting into words why I want to do so.
I'm finally going to attempt to formulate my thoughts into a coherent structure and see if I can explain myself here...
Our typical American work-as-much-as-humanly-possible-until-65 lifestyle does not excite me in the least. Perhaps it's because I haven't found a job that I'm in love with yet? Or perhaps it's because I've heard way too many stories of people who get "stuck" in a job they hate because they don't have enough money to quit.
That second situation [not being able to quit a job you hate] scares the crap out of me! The one thing in life that you can't get back is time. Why waste your precious time working 40+ hours a week (plus commuting, getting dressed up, decompressing after a stressful day, etc) at a job that you don't enjoy?
I want freedom!
One of the big phrases in the personal finance blogging world is financial freedom.
There are a lot of definitions of this phrase. Personally, I think financial freedom means being able to make decisions without taking money into account. Example? Being able to quit a terrible job without worrying about the financial implications, since you have enough money to cover you until you figure out your next steps.
My Next Steps
I'm not sure what I'll want to do in a month, or a year, or 5 years. I might find a job that I absolutely love and won't mind working 40 hours a week. Or I might decide that I want to work part time. Or I might want to start my own business. I don't know yet! All I know is that I don't want to suddenly be in my 50's and still be stuck in a desk job that I hate, still reporting to my boss when I'm sick.
Or maybe I'll just want to become a couch potato watching re-runs of The Hills 24/7. The options are endless!
I ever want to change my employment situation, I know I'll need some cold hard ca$h money to do so. So until I figure my plans out, I'm going to keep working and saving up as much as I can, so that I can be financially free one day.
What are your financial priorities?
I would suggest that everyone think about their financial priorities. You might want to buy a house, buy a car, pay off your student loans, have a baby, buy a boat, or invest $50k in the stock market. Whatever your priorities are, it makes it so much easier to save money when you have that goal in mind.
Every time you contemplate making a potentially unnecessary purchase, you can stop and think, "Do I really want this fancy new TV? Or do I want to put that money towards my buying-a-house savings account?" Chances are, when you think in those terms, you won't end up purchasing the unnecessary item(s).
I have started doing this, and it really, seriously helps. The other day, I was standing in the checkout line at Target (dangerous place to be!) and saw a fancy looking lip gloss. And I wanted it. Real bad. But I held out! That $5 purchase wouldn't have broken the bank, but I reminded myself that I'd rather put that $5 towards my Financial Freedom Fund. (let's make that term catch on! #financialfreedomfund) Surprisingly, that's all it took. Just putting the item in context with my overall financial goals was enough to make me realize that it was a silly and unnecessary purchase. (also, I have ~10 perfectly good chapstick/lip glosses at home soooo it was completely unnecessary)
If you haven't done this already, take a few minutes today to come up with your financial priorities. Keep them in the back of your mind and see what a difference having a goal makes.