A lot of us miss the point with money. Sometimes we fall on the extreme of, “You Only Live Once” #YOLO and go crazy spending every penny we have (and often more). Sometimes we fall on the extreme of, “You Can’t Get Blood From a Turnip” #cheapskate and go crazy pinching every penny so tightly Abe Lincoln wants to file assault charges. Neither of these approaches is healthy or fruitful to your success with money.
If you never have any fun with your money, even when you’re working to get out of debt and “behave,” you’ve missed the point. You aren’t supposed to go to work each day just so you can be a responsible adult who pays all his/her bills, saves every penny possible for emergencies and retirement and refuses to participate in any leisure activity that costs money because that money could be used elsewhere. Do this for too long and you will start to hate your job, become bitter and alienate everyone around you.
At the same time, if you never save for emergencies and retirement and spend every penny you earn, you’ll always be broke. The math backs me up on this one – sorry. There is a certain level of fiscal responsibility we all need in our lives (if you don’t believe me, just look at Congress…and do the opposite).
Similarly, if you are so hung up on your own needs, wants and wishes that you never look outside yourself to realize others need you to invest in them, you’re holding on too tightly. Unless you want to play the part of Ebenezer Scrooge in the Christmas pageant every year, you need to cultivate some generosity.
So how can you keep all of these things in balance? First, recognize money is only good for three things: spending, saving and/or giving. Money is not the key to happiness. Money is not a god to be worshiped. Money is a tool for you to manage. Take an honest assessment and ask yourself where you are right now. Are you having fun with your money? Are you being responsible? Are you being generous? If you didn’t answer ‘yes’ to all three, it is time to re-evaluate your budget and your time priorities.