Stuck between saving your money for the future and spending it on something life-changing? Well then keep those stresses for something else and read on. Andrea takes us through the benefits of saving and spending money, as well as the beautiful balance found in the middle: experience.
With the new year approaching, now is a good time to weigh up your options and prepare yourself for the year ahead. I’ll never forget something my aunt told me, with regard to a gap year. It was so simple but gave me great perspective. These were her words:
“Let’s say you live to the age of 80 years old and you take one gap year. That’s one out of eighty. That’s a sliver, a sliver that could teach you so much about life and about yourself.”
After you stop worrying about this problem, the next concern is usually: ‘how am I going to afford this and is it worth spending the money on?’.
At this point, in my life, my way of thinking is this: I’d rather spend all my money on travelling than sit on a heap of cash.
Let me give you some context. For the past six months, I’ve been living in Europe. I started my travels by doing an artistic residency in Berlin (found on the Resartis website) and then moved on to live in Amsterdam. This experience is and has been one of the most enriching things I’ve done in my life. I’m so grateful and happy that I get to do it. Not only have I learnt how to find a job, a place to live and a community from scratch, but I have also learnt so much about myself.
When you’re put in a position where every decision is your own, you realise how strong you actually are and how significant your decisions and choices are.
I grew up a shy, scared and timid girl – I never took charge and got my kicks from what I could dream up inside my head instead of actually living in reality. I can positively say that because of travel, I have transformed and developed into someone quite different. That is why the topic of saving money vs. experiencing life is such an important one to me. I don’t believe that you can choose just one or the other. It is a balancing act.
Personally, I believe that there is nothing you can gain more from, in life, than travelling the world, meeting new people and experiencing new cultures. Whether you travel the whole of Africa, the whole world or just get to know your city like the back of your hand, I truly believe that travelling makes for a more tolerant, independent and wise person. It teaches you to decide how YOU want to live YOUR life.
But also; just save…
All of that being said, my dad has never let me forget how important saving is. Ugh, ‘saving.’ A word that has never been my favourite word in the world, but is something I have a newfound respect for. Saving is SO important. If you haven’t heard this before then please let me know where you’ve been hiding, because past-me might like to join you.
Why is it important? Here are a number of reasons:
- Nice things cost money. The nicer the thing, the more money it’s going to cost. Sad but true. If you’d ever like to own anything of quality, you need to save up money to get it.
- Neverland isn’t real and you will age. One day your body will say; ‘Hey, I’m tired and achy and don’t feel like working anymore’ and then you’ll need to have saved up so that you have a reserve. The more you’ve saved – through a pension or otherwise – the better life will be when you give in to your achy body.
- Everybody has a rainy day. Remember that time you spent all of your money on clothes and then you had no more money to go out and party? Well, that could happen again, except ten times worse. For example: maybe you decide to spend all of your money on a new car one week because you know you’ve still got a paying job. Two weeks later you get retrenched from that same paying job. No matter who you are and how much money you have, a safety net is always wise.
Basically, it’s about Balance
Again, there needs to be a balance. Save your money, but don’t be afraid to spend it either. If you want to encounter new experiences then you need to save money to be able to do them. I know a couple of people who are slightly too hung up on saving. They save and save and then they save some more. I don’t think there is anything wrong with it because if that’s what makes you happy then that’s great.
However, I just think that you can waste money by spending it on the wrong things (do you really need a third white pair of sneakers?), but you can also waste it by not doing anything with it.
I guess my question to everyone regarding saving is:
What is your reason for saving? Why do you save?
For some people, it’s about being able to see a number on the receipt that is their bank statement. For me, right now, it’s about putting the money I save to expanding my mind and experiences. Instead of living your life to make money, make money to live your life. Sometimes the money you save will just fall in line with general saving, and other times you might have a goal in mind. Just give yourself a moment to think about why you’re saving.
Also, remember that different ‘degrees of saving’ come at different stages of one’s life. There are no set rules, so let me give you my way of thinking about it:
- Right now I have no ties to a job or the like, so right now some of my savings will go to travels and experiences.
- In a few years, I might start saving for things like renting a long-term apartment.
- At a much later stage, I imagine that I will start doing some more ‘serious’ saving towards things like buying a house and supporting a family.
I haven’t worked out these details yet because that’s still a while away, but it’s good to think about these things. The wonderful thing to realise is that your plan may be completely different to my plan. Just because you’re 20 years old, it doesn’t mean you have to travel, and just because you’re 40 years old, it doesn’t mean you have to buy a house.
Yes, there are conventions and opinions on how to live life, but there are definitely no rules. I think that more people in the world would be happier if they followed what they actually wanted rather than following what is expected of them.
You do you, boo. Forget about convention and the construct society has created for ‘how to live life’. Do what makes you happy and do it wisely. While I’m currently spending money on travels, I do have another savings account for my future. A little bit of this, a little bit of that, and a whole lot of balance.