Being Frugal and saving money is generally always the preferred choice. Week after week, I write articles to help you figure out how to make every dollar travel a bit further so you can retire just that much earlier.
And it’s not just me either. If you keep up with all the articles circulating the web, you will definitely get the impression that saving money makes sense at all times, every time.
Yet, there were moments in my life when saving money wasn’t the right choice. I remember years ago when I was flying back to attend my grandfather’s funeral. Airline tickets were very expensive, as the event was so sudden and I had to leave on short notice.
That funeral fell on a Saturday too. I could’ve saved money if I left the night before but the chances of flight delays was just not worth the extra savings. Making the event was priceless, so unless the difference in airplane fares were so much that I couldn’t afford the cost, there was no way I would try to save money and risk missing the chance to see my grandfather one last time.
What About Spending More to Live Larger?
Okay, I know deciding to spend extra to attend a funeral of a loved one is a fairly easy choice to make, but what if it’s to improve our standard of living?
When is it appropriate to spend more money to live in a nicer place? I recently moved to a new home, and the decision was straightforward because my finances are on a very solid footing.
But I remember being much more unsure of a similar decision when Emma and I were about to get married. I remember how I’ve asked myself that question countless times after living on my own a few years prior to that.
Here’s what I wrote back then.
After much discussion with my soon-to-be wife, we finally decided to move out of our current one-bedroom apartment once Emma and I get married. In reality, we would like to move before our big day but we felt that it would be easier for our mental health to space out the stress.
Currently, I live in a one-bedroom apartment with a monthly rent of $1045 USD. Although the landlord increased our rent significantly from $920 less than one year ago, it is still much lower than similarly sized units in the area. Everything would be great if only I actually liked living in this place.
Unfortunately, much of the reason why I picked the city and apartment complex I live in is because of the cost. For months now, I keep trying to convince myself that living in a place I’m not totally comfortable in is worth it because I’m able to save more money.
As a result, my mood and also health has suffered. From trying to stay away from the apartment as much as possible to splurging to make myself happier, I have managed to save much less than expected by living in my current place.
After looking at just one other apartment, I was convinced I needed to move. Although this represents a huge increase in monthly expenses, I believe that Emma and I will come out ahead in the long run because I will be much happier living in a nicer place and it will free my mind to earn more money than the amount that we can save.
It doesn’t come cheap though, as we need to spend $813 a month more to move. We fully understand the weight of spending that much more money each month. However, I feel that there are times in life when money should be spent and this is one of them.
Think about this for a second. Everybody makes money decisions all the time, but do you let cost alone drive your decision? $813 was close to an 80% increase in what I paid for a place to stay, so moving wasn’t an easy decision to make.
Luckily, I was indeed happier being at the new apartment, and that indirectly contributed to MoneyNing.com ultimately being able to provide us with a comfortable life all these years.
If I chose not to move, MoneyNing.com may not have become a business because my mental energy was focused on how miserable my living situation was. If you take money too seriously, you might sometimes make some awful choices.
Step back and decide for yourself whether money is always the number one priority. If the answer is yes, then examine if you’ve given up too much for those extra dollars in your bank account.
You might find that saving money is worth the trade-off, but you might also find that there are many other wonderful reasons to spend money. Hopefully, you will find the right answer for yourself.
And Sometimes, The Savings Aren’t Worth the Effort
I was in the shower the other day thinking about simple water conservation methods and whether they save us money or not. More specifically, I was thinking about those low flow shower head that many people talk about.
The benefit seemed obvious – less water equals less money spent. The problem though is that a quick search on the web revealed the savings to be about $1 a month. This isn’t going to change anybody’s financial life around, so we didn’t change them out because buying a bunch of new showerheads cost money too.
Then I started thinking some more. Are there other places where Emma and I spend more because we think the savings there aren’t worth it? I list a few below:
- Groceries – We tend to buy higher quality products. Organic milk, omega-3 eggs are now common in my house. They definitely cost more, but we are willing to pay more for them if it helps us stay healthier. We always clip coupons and wait for sales but if we really needed to, we rather eat less of it to keep the grocery bills the same.
- Vitamins and supplements – Actually, it’s everything that’s health-related. We generally don’t worry too much about the fact that these (water filters, prescriptions, eye-care) can become quite expensive because without health, money is without meaning.
- Safety – While we don’t own expensive and exotic cars, we definitely do whatever we can to keep up with the maintenance of our vehicles. We don’t skip maintenance because the peace of mind is worth it for us.
- Monitor – I have a higher-end 24″ monitor that helps reduce eye strain and while part of the reason why I own one was because of my love for expensive gadgets, I also wanted to save myself from going blind.I look at the monitor for more than 10 hours a day and my eyes used to be so tired every evening. Since my purchase, my eyes feel more rested.
- Mattress – I’ve been thinking about getting those Tempurpedic memory foam mattress forever now. They are expensive (actually, ultra-expensive), but I have a pillow made from that company and it improved the quality of my sleep ten-fold. If it can further improve our ability to rest and recoup our energy, then sleeping on a really cheap mattress doesn’t make sense even if it was free.
The list goes on, but here are some of the immediate ones that popped into my mind.
Ironically, I was thinking about possibly switching out my shower head to a high pressured one a few weeks ago. It all started when I tried one the other day at my friend’s house after a round of golf. For whatever reason, the high water pressure felt good. Instantly, I wanted it, but that’s a topic for another day.
Making More Isn’t Always the Right Choice Either
No matter how wealthy we are, it means nothing if we aren’t healthy. Many people, including myself, work so hard at our jobs. We miss lunches and sometimes sleep just to advance our careers a little more. We work late on weekdays and on weekends because we think we can make more money that way. Although I can tell you first hand that the financial reward is there, our health definitely suffers.
Whether it’s the extra stress we put on our bodies or the lack of healthy food we consume, it takes a toll on our bodies over time. When we are young, we don’t feel it but we are slowly and surely paying for it with our body. We might end up being rich, but we are more likely to end up being sick.
By overworking, we are also likely neglecting our family and friends. Unfortunately, there are only 24 hours in a day. Knowingly or not, we are constantly deciding how best to use our time every minute of the day. When we are working, we won’t have time for anything or anyone else.
My family, for instance, decided when I was growing up that my dad should work in Hong Kong while the rest of us immigrated to Canada. Consequently, I spent most of my teenage years away from my dad. The separation was hard for me, but I bet it was much harder for my father since he was the one making the most sacrifice by living alone in Hong Kong.
I’m sure our family’s financial situation improved because of the decision made years ago, but we no doubt traded many potential family memories for the extra dollar signs in the family piggy bank.
On this blog, we discuss ways to achieve financial freedom. But if we are sick, our finances are one of the last things we think about. When my grandfather was sick, I was lucky enough to go see him before he passed away.
I only got to visit him for a few days while he was in the hospital though because I was already working in the US while he was being treated in Canada. No gold would’ve made him happy then. It was our love that he longed for, and to this day I wished I was there to be with him more on his last journey.
The economy could be collapsing before our eyes, and making ends meet is probably at the top of your mind right now. But I want you to think about your actions next time you get to work a little more.
Is making money worth getting yourself, or your family sick?
What is truly important to you? Money is a lot of things, but money isn’t everything.
This article originally appeared on MoneyNing.com. Let us know what you think (or read what others thought) here.