Thursday, September 11, 2008
Spend It While You're Young?
Over the past year my husband and I have been working to get our finances more coordinated. We had an initial free consultation with a financial planner, which gave us confidence that we're doing a pretty good job living within our means. And the other night, with our big vacation over and summer ending, we sat down together to take a fine-toothed comb to our everyday expenses, using Mint.com (which I joined over a year ago) and Citibank's online statements.
It was a surprise! I'm a pretty good saver, both for retirement and rainy-day savings, but I actually spend a lot more than I realized. Specifically, since I started my first regular job in January, I've increased my spending quite a bit on health and personal care--things like yoga classes to deal with stress. I also spend a bundle on groceries--far more than on restaurants. (Hello, Whole Paycheck). Adam's biggest item after rent was travel.
We're going to keep checking in over the next few months so we can develop a really good budget, and in the meantime, I'll be keeping an eye on expenses. (For example, I'll be making more trips to the municipal gym, which costs just $37.50 for six months unlimited, and fewer yoga classes at $14-18 a pop). But the best news we both got from doing this exercise was that our spending is pretty much in line with our stated values. We value experiences (a pedicure with Mom, a ski trip with friends) over stuff.
According to Slate, research shows that spending money on the good things in life when you're young and healthy makes you happier than when you're old and/or sick. I believe in living within my means, but I don't want to feel deprived.
" If money isn't going to bring you as much happiness in your old age, that's further reason not to oversave. If you've always wanted to samba till dawn in Rio or see Angkor Wat at sunrise, do it now, when you're healthy and you know you'll still enjoy it."