I’ve been writing about personal finance for the past seven years and in that time I have blogged a lot about saving money. In fact the topic has popped up so often on this blog that I created a separate category for it. While I certainly encourage others to save money I do not think that saving is the ultimate goal in life. Like everything else the desire to set aside money must be balanced with happiness, enjoyment and simple living. I know people who max out ten credit cards without batting an eyelash and others who almost never spend money to make their lives better. The trouble for most people appears to be finding that middle ground.
I don’t intend to hoard all of my money in a bank account and never let it see the light of day. When I see fit I spend money in a way that makes my day to day tasks easier or faster to complete.
The readers of this blog don’t always see eye to eye with me. I believe part of the problem lies in the name of this blog and I have considered renaming it on more occasions than I can count. I think the world “Frugal” has a negative, miserly connotation. That someone who claims to be One Frugal Girl, should not spend money on anything in life but the bare neccessities. A lot of people read my posts and comment on my lack of frugality. You bought new hangers, bowls and storage containers? How dare you?!! What a waste of money! I myself struggled with the decision to buy these items, so I’m not surprised by the reaction.
Would it have been financially wiser to keep the money in the bank instead of replacing old products that were still functioning properly? At first glance most definitely, but after further thought you may find that creating a more organized home actually saves you more money.
If I can see everything in my closet I won’t accidentally purchase something similar to what I already own. If my kitchen is neat and orderly I will enjoy spending time in there and will be more likely to cook at home. When I replaced my old pans and kitchen knives I began to enjoy preparing meals at home, because both preparation and cleanup times improved immensely.
Similarly if I accept bags of hand-me-down clothes but fail to organize them in a way that makes them easy to find then I might not ever use them. I can spend a little money buying containers and set aside everything in a neat and orderly fashion over the course of two hours or I can find myself digging through the same pile of clothes every time my son grows into the next size. Frustration might give me a reason to ignore the hand-me-downs in favor of a trip to the store where everything is neatly displayed.
I spend a lot of time at home. I don’t want to be frustrated by the need to move half of the items in my closet to see the other side. (A poorly designed 1950s storage area leads to this problem, not an overabundance of clothes.) Nor do I want to move things around in the cupboards just to reach the glass bowl I need to store leftovers.
The goal is not to hoard money away and live in misery. If I am frustrated by my surroundings I want to take small steps to make them better. And yes, that means spending money when and if necessary.
Unfortunately we don’t get the opportunity to live forever. We all have to learn to balance happiness, saving and spending. An organized life and home help me feel peaceful and grounded. I argue that in the end that saves me money, but whether it makes sense financially or not, sometimes decisions are about more than just the money. Also, isn’t peace of mind sometimes worth the money?
Photo Credit: jenni waterloo