My husband and I had a frank discussion about finances over dinner tonight. The question at hand: Why are we able to save a large portion of our income each month? His answer: Our lifestyle. At first, I didn’t agree with this assessment, but after further contemplation I find I can’t argue.
Compared to many of our friends my husband and I are already a very stable, married couple. We don’t go out to bars, clubs, or even fancy dinners. We don’t travel to extravagant destinations or drive expensive cars. As my husband said, “We wake up. Go to work. Come home. Spend time with one another. Go to bed and wake up again tomorrow to do it all over again.”
At the micro level our favorite activities simply don’t cost much money. We’d much rather cook at home than go out to dinner. We are huge sports fans but prefer the collegiate level to those of the pros and we’d rather vacation in North Carolina than fly to an exotic location half-way around the globe.
But it’s easy to see how small changes in your lifestyle can affect your savings. For example, my husband and I used to be season ticket holders for the Washington Capitals. Season tickets cost $1700 per ticket. Games were usually held after work and my husband and I easily spent $40 – $50 on beer and food at the games. The hockey season is a long one, and between the tickets, food, and metro rides to and from the games we quickly found ourselves spending thousands of dollars. Sadly, Ted Leonsis sold all of the best hockey players a few years back. When we no longer recognized the names of the players we gave up on the Capitals and stopped purchasing tickets. We began purchasing University of Maryland football and basketball tickets instead. The combined cost of two seats to both sports is less than one hockey ticket.
Small changes in your hobbies and passions can also drastically affect your finances. A co-worker of mine spends hundreds of dollars each month creating custom jewelry. Another spends hundreds on scrapbooking materials. They both admit that they started by purchasing only $50 worth of materials, but as their hobbies have grown so have their appetites for better materials.
My husband recently experienced this phenomenon as he began pursuing photography as a second career. His initial camera cost only $500. His latest equipment a camera and two lenses cost thousands of dollars. But life is meant to be enjoyed and life would be rather dull if we didn’t pursue our passions. So I encourage my husband to pursue photography, but, of course, I remind him that he cannot purchase new equipment until we have saved enough money.