But what if you're naturally thrifty? What if you save throughout the year? What if you deny yourself life's luxuries because you're always afraid you won't have any money?
I see this happen a lot. Lately, I've been talking to friends, clients and prospects who are sacrificing living a great life because they are afraid of spending money. The result is that people deny themselves the things that would bring them great happiness and joy. I have two words for you: Stop it!
Who Am I Talking To?
I'm talking to the great savers of the world who get excited to see how much bank interest their savings account made last month, even if it was $8.72 I'm talking to the people who are giddy to max out their health savings account and those who love seeing how much money their company 401(k) match is on their paycheck stub. I'm talking to the people who always have tens of thousands of dollars in emergency savings but because of their modest lifestyle this money would last them at least a year.
Why Is This Happening?
I talk to people like this every week who have great incomes, love saving and want to know the next step that they can take with their finances. They've read books and personal finance blogs and listened to podcasts on improving their financial lives.
But everything they've read about improving their personal finances has to do with cutting back, slashing expenses, and trimming their budget. While this is great advice for the over-spenders of the world, you might not be one of them.
What Are You Saving Your Money For?
Besides having emergency savings and retirement accounts, what is all the money for? What makes you truly happy? What brings joy to your life? What do you do for fun that you'd like to do more of?
It's important that we stop and consider these things so that we can start spending our money in a way that matches our values.
How I Like to Spend My Money
My own personal example: I love to travel. I've been traveling since I was little, and now it's one of my favorite ways to spend money. I've been to Thailand, Mexico, Italy, Argentina and more.
You know what? I never regret money I spent traveling. I see it as an investment in memories. I will remember parts of those trips for the rest of my life, and I've met many amazing people on these adventures.
If travel is something that you value, plan a dream trip! What is that one place that you've always wanted to go, but you told yourself it was "too expensive"? Start a folder on your computer and start doing your research to make your dream trip a reality.
Write Down Your Ideal Day
One of my favorite exercises is to spend 30 minutes writing down your ideal day. What time do you wake up? Who are you with? What activities do you engage in throughout the day? What do you do for work? What do you eat? Where do you spend your time? What do you notice about your surroundings?
After this exercise, write down a few things that you could do to start incorporating these things into your life now. The results might surprise you and are often not as expensive as we think.
What Can You Do About It?
What are those things, big and small, that bring you joy? I think we need to find a balance between enjoying life today and setting ourselves up for financial independence. If you're saving for the future and on track with your other financial goals, I think you should start to incorporate life's little luxuries into your life now -- not 20 years from now.
Bringing Joy Into My Own Life
When I think about the things that bring me joy they are: candles, hot tea, great conversations, a new journal, travel and a great pair of yoga pants. Instead of seeing "going to the coffee shop" as a waste of money, I see it as a place to meet a friend for a cup of hot tea.
Almost every day, I take a yoga class, and I feel different when I wear my favorite yoga pants. Every night, I light a yummy-smelling candle and write in my journal before I go to bed. I get excited thinking about my next trip and finding the best restaurants on Trip Advisor.
These things make me happy and leave me with a feeling of calm, yet energized. Some cost a few dollars and some cost a few thousand and take more time to save.
Stop Being Afraid
It's time that we find balance in our lives. Balance between saving for the future and enjoying our lives today. Building financial security is important, but so is joy and happiness.
I'll leave you with these two questions: What small change can you make to spend money on the things that put a smile on your face? What big dream do you need to start saving for today?
Sophia Bera is a virtual financial planner for millennials and the founder of Gen Y Planning. She is location-independent but calls Minneapolis "home." She offers a free Gen Y Planning newsletter and is getting ready to publish her first ebook to provide a Gen Y guide to empowered personal finances.