My father always says that money doesn’t buy happiness, but it can take away sadness by alleviating the things that can cause us hardships. Never has that rung more true for me than this summer. A string of unforeseeable (and one planned) events left me ever so grateful for the financial lessons I learned in young adulthood. Not the least among those was the importance of being frugal.
A little background info:
Like most college kids, I racked up a number of unnecessary credit cards – you know the kind, the high interest ones they push in the Student Center on unsuspecting, financially uneducated freshmen. By the time senior year rolled around, I had properly destroyed my credit, had no real job prospects in place and was looking at more student loans to finance graduate school. I made it out of grad school with minimal loans thanks to a graduate assistantship that unfortunately provided me with virtually no cash to pay down old debt. While I wasn’t really amassing any money, thankfully I was becoming more financially literate.
Financial lessons learned.
When I was done with that second degree, I was well aware that I needed to put into practice all the things I now knew about being financially responsible – particularly when it came to my spending habits. There would be no more buying what I wanted simply because I wanted it. I would follow a strict budget and spend money only where necessary, and with prudence, forethought and research into the most economical options. I was being frugal – others called me cheap, which was a misnomer in my opinion. I was never into “cheap” in the way that you define something that is subpar or of poor quality. I was careful with my money. I shopped around for things; I bought on sale or off season; I wasn’t wasteful. But most importantly, I was using the money that I was saving by being frugal to pay off debt and build a liquid savings account for myself. I was getting my frugal financial house in order.
Money doesn’t buy happiness, but….
College was some time ago, and now, as a grown woman, I can tell you my father was right (parents are sneaky like that, ain’t they?). Available credit and savings have been good to me in the times I needed it most. For example, my husband and I were able to enjoy a beautiful wedding ceremony in Hawaii and a reception that I still regard as one of the best nights of my life without incurring any debt. But like Daddy said, it was the hard times that were made less of a burden by not having the worry of how to take care of things monetarily. A few months ago, we decided to have some work done on our home. We decided the smart thing to do was to pay for the entire job out of pocket without credit cards are payment plans. The day after the work officially began, a close family member died unexpectedly and, any and every cost that could possibly be affiliated with the death of a loved one fell to my husband and myself. A couple of weeks after that, our contractor – as contractors always do – found some serious structural damage to our home that needed to be addressed immediately. Because we have a well established habit of being financially prudent and spending money wisely and with frugality, we were able to meet these challenges head-on without having increased worries about money.
Spending money wisely is a key element of being financially responsible and being frugal allows you to take care of the bigger things with some ease when they arise unexpectedly. And it may sound counterintuitive, but a frugal lifestyle can also actually afford you a more comfortable lifestyle – with some peace of mind.
If you need deeper work around healing your relationship with money or overcoming your blocks and fears, maybe it’s time for some money therapy.