In a blog post I wrote earlier this week entitled ‘How I saved £3000 in 3 months‘ I called myself boring because I’ve not being going out as much as I used to. Since then, I’ve decided that I’d like to retract this statement. We don’t need to spend money to have a good time or feel satisfied with our lives, and even though some of us money-savers may not be living life in the fast lane, it’s perfectly possible to be happy and content with how things are.
We’re so often told to live in the present and enjoy life now, but at the same time, once we’ve finished education we’re also expected to start saving for the future. Whether we’re saving for a mortgage deposit, a wedding or a pension, the costs soon mount up, and if you were to save for all those ‘important’ life goals at once on a twenty-something’s salary, then you’d have little left over for now.
So what’s the secret to saving for the future while living life now? How do we do it?
It’s all about priorities
If you want to save up for the big things in life while living and enjoying yourself today you’re probably going to start prioritising.
Write a detailed list of your monthly expenditure and assess which outgoings are essential and which aren’t. If you enjoy a Starbucks and lunchtime meal deal each day at work, they may suddenly seem less appealing when you realise that over the course of a year you could have a couple of holidays with that money. You may regret not travelling the world when you’re old, but you won’t regret ditching a coffee and a sandwich each day.
If you’re not convinced yet that you need to start saving money as soon as possible, read this.
Finding the balance between saving money and enjoying yourself can be tricky, and it’s not uncommon to feel guilty one way or another. It’s important to do what makes you happy, while also thinking about preparing for a happy future. If you want to save up, without missing out on making memories, perhaps you could squirrel away as much as you can each month while finding thrifty ways to enjoy yourself day to day. Break up your saving stints with the occasional reward such as a day at a theme park, a train trip to a city you’ve never been to, or a discounted mini break abroad.
Having fun is free
We don’t need to spend money to be happy. Having fun is free. Here are a few ideas for things to do that don’t come at a cost:
- Have a wander round some local art galleries or museums
- Go for a bike ride in the woods – if it’s rainy, wear your scruffiest clothes and see who can get the muddiest
- Have a picnic in the park. If it’s winter, wrap up warm and take a flask with you
- Invite all your friends round for an old school sleepover. Ask everyone to bring a duvet and pillow each and camp out on the floor in one giant heap with multipack chocolates and snacks
- Find your nearest animal shelter or dogs’ home and see if you can take one or two for a walk
- Visit your local library and get lost in some books
- If you or one of your friends owns a games console, spend a day playing various games from your childhood. I’m mostly talking about Crash Bandicoot and The Sims. If you don’t own your childhood favourites any more, you may be able to track one or two down in your local library
Like many people, I have a fear of getting old. I don’t want to lie in my bed at night at the age of 70 wishing I’d done more with my life. But I also don’t want to be shivering in bed at the age of 70, in a tiny rented flat, with a leaky ceiling the landlord won’t fix, and nothing but a few cans of baked beans and vegetable soup from the food bank. I don’t want to wish I’d spent more of my twenties putting a little bit of money away each month rather than getting pissed every week.
A few weeks ago, on one of my many free days out, I went for a wander through Southern Cemetary in Manchester. It wasn’t the most cheerful of adventures, but I’ve always felt that graveyards are peaceful places to be. And as I read a few of the headstones, imagining the various things these people probably achieved during their time on earth, I was reminded that while I might not be spending money, I am living, and that’s what matters.
“Every single thing you do today is preparing you for the life you live tomorrow“ Jay Bazzinotti, some bloke on Quora.