The More You Save, the Less You Want

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Do you remember when you were a kid and your grandma slipped you a $5 bill without your parents noticing? This was always incredibly exciting and I just couldn’t wait to go to the store to see what I could buy with the money! Did this ever happen to you? What did you do with your $5? For me, before the day was even over, I either bought myself loads of candy or a few packs of baseball cards (or POGS – remember POGS?!) and was only left with a few pennies in my pocket.

Since I didn’t earn that five dollars (my grandma just gave it to me because I was cute I guess), it really didn’t matter to me what I spent it on. It was free money and I couldn’t wait to see what it would buy me!

This is often the case with adults as well. While we don’t necessarily buy baseball cards or candy, our mouths salivate at items that are typically more pricey… things like new cars, lawn mowers, and boats. If someone were to give us $30,000 today (no strings attached), we would probably have the money completely spent before the week was over and absolutely none of it will have gone toward our savings or investment account.

You might be asking yourself, “When is someone ever going to give me $30,000? It’s never going to happen.” But, it actually already has – to all of us. Think about it. When we apply for a credit card and get approved, VISA or Mastercard is telling us, “Here is $10,000 for doing absolutely nothing. Spend it on whatever you want and just pay us back later.” With this arrangement, how many of us are actually making wise purchases with our credit cards? Probably less than 5% of us. FYI, if you currently have a balance on your credit card, then you are NOT using it wisely.

My Early Twenties

When I was 20 years old, I bought my way into a network marketing business. Do you know what my first goal was? I was going to sign up a few people, start earning $500 a month, and buy a brand new Mercedes on credit. Does that sound very wise to you? Ha, not at all! But, since I did absolutely zero work when I made the goal, it sounded perfectly reasonable.

Now Approaching Thirty

Well, the network marketing gig never did pan out. I didn’t earn that $500 a month and never purchased that Mercedes. When I turned 24, I had approximately $25,000 in student loan debt and didn’t have much of a plan to pay it off. It was at that time that I was handed Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace series. Over the course of the last 5 years, I have paid off $45,000 of debts (half of that was due to my wife leaving me…), have saved up $15,000 in the bank, am putting away 15% of my income toward my retirement, and have only $54,000 left to pay on my home mortgage (which I plan to eliminate by the end of this year). I have worked hard to get to where I am financially, and suddenly new cars and boats no longer intrigue me.

Watching the Net Worth

I realize now that the most important financial figure in my life is not the worth of my car or house, but is the overall worth of my equity. Since I have been studying my net worth (my assets minus my liabilities) for a few years now, I realize that buying a brand new car can completely destroy it. Think about it. If you go to the car lot and pay cash for a $25,000 vehicle (that’s cash, so we’re not even talking about losing money through debt interest payments), after 4 years that car is no longer worth $25k is it? Nope, it’s worth about $10k. By purchasing that brand new car, you have effectively reduced your overall net worth by $15,000. That sucks! I want to increase my net worth, not reduce it! For that reason, I am not focusing on fancy cars or mammoth yachts. Instead, I think more about building up cash for future investment opportunities. If you truly start earning your money before you spend it, you will begin to want fewer and fewer things, which, oddly enough, makes you more and more satisfied with life! 🙂

Have you noticed yourself wanting less as you begin to increase your net worth?

 

Weekly Round-Up

Either Zillow is Broken or We’re in a Massive Housing Bubble – by Financial Samurai

Why I’m Cancelling My iPhone – by Monica on Money

What is Your Next Career Move? – by Savvy Financial Latina

I Wasted $11 By Not Following a Simple Rule – by Money Beagle

How to Reduce Your Food Costs – by The Wallet Doctor

7 Things You Can Afford Once You’re Debt Free – by Save on Almost Everything

High Yield Savings Doesn’t Exist…Think Again – by Rich in the Heart

Should You Save or Should You Earn More Money? – by Grand Per Month

How Debt Hurts You – by 20’s Finances

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10 comments to The More You Save, the Less You Want

  • As you approach 30, you now start to balance the amount of work/effort vs the money gained. You want less because you know getting that money takes a lot of work. This is good because you will then consider your retirement options. My grandparents and aunties gave us money during the holidays and i did not spend it until i graduated college then bought myself an Xbox 360 from the accumulated cash all those years. Also, if someone were to give me $30,000. Most part of it is gonna go to stocks for me to play with. Some for charity and some for party celebration.
    Jeff @Project Ikonz recently posted..I just saved $60 on technology – Online savings

    • Hi Jeff. Thanks for the comment! Yes, it’s true that I am getting wiser with age, but I see things much more clearly now that I have almost paid off all my debts (including my house!). Once I become debt free and start investing, it is likely that my wants will decrease even more.

  • jim

    Ok Derek, you just HAD to slip that comment in that your mortgage is going to be paid off very, very soon – ha! I’m still so jealous of that. Good for you. Again, I want to hear the very nano-second it’s paid off (and we’ll be dancing in the streets for you over here in Colorado)!

    I couldn’t agree with you more – once you’re debt-free your wants will drop off the charts. We’re not debt-free yet (still have our mortgage) but we’ve been investing for years and you are absolutely right, there is just something about not having debt that really makes you not “want” much anymore. Best of luck!

    • Haha, sorry for slipping in that comment. Apparently I’m pretty excited about it! 😉

      I assume that once I am completely debt free, I will be thinking more of investments instead of what stuff I can buy. There’s just something about being financially responsible for many years that makes me realize how blessed I really am with the income I see each month.

  • We’re experiencing a similar phenomenon now that we’re done with our Debt Management program. We have a significant amount of extra money now available, and while we’ve increased our weekly budget some, parting with the extra funds is very difficult – we’d rather apply it to something productive!
    Travis @debtchronicles recently posted..Build Your Budget Foundation

    • Yup! I don’t want to turn into the person that builds up a bunch of cash and spends it on nothing, but when I don’t really want anything, what am I supposed to do? Ramping up the charitable donations would be a good idea I suppose. 🙂

  • We’re going through this phase right now. We bought a house, so we are spending more money, but I also want to make sure we start saving for the FU fund. So now I am starting to judge purchases on should I buy that, or should I buy a stock that will appreciate and pay dividends? Thanks for the link love!
    SavvyFinancialLatina recently posted..What is Your Next Career Move?

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