A couple of weeks ago I received a comment on this blog after I wrote about a really bad day I was having. The comment had to do with the struggle we all feel between spending our money, and saving it. The comment made me ask myself, “How do you know when it’s right to spend your money, and when you should save your money?”
The comment read:
“I can so relate with u (on your bad day). I’m real down and out too. And ready to give up. I also have the most money I have ever had saved up too. I can’t, don’t, enjoy my life because I’m so consumed on saving it. Im completely O.C. D about not spending a penny. Its crippling.”
This comment made me realize that knowing when to spend, and save money, is more of an art-form than a science.
As I thought deeper, I realized, that there really is no right or wrong answer I can give someone who asks me, “When should I save money, and when should I spend money?” I can only share what brings me the most peace, happiness, and sense of purpose. Here is how I responded to that comment, and the answer I gave on how to make the right decision between saving and spending my money. I call it:
“MY REGRET TEST”
Your thoughts and feelings are valuable as I am sure many people feel the same way you do. You’re not alone! In fact, I have been thinking about writing an article, called, “How you know when you should spend your money.” Your comment inspired me to write this sooner, rather than later, so thanks for the inspiration and here I go.
I have adapted a perspective that really helps me know if I should spend, or save, my money. I call it my, “Regret Test.” Or my: “If I died tomorrow, would I regret not spending it, test.”
Here’s what I mean:
Before I let my OCD take control of my mind when I see something I want to spend my money on, I ask myself this question: “If I died tomorrow, would I regret not spending money on that experience or thing?”
If my answer is, “Yes, I’d regret not buying it if I died tomorrow.” Then I spend money on that thing and I don’t look back. However, if I know I really wouldn’t care about that thing or event if I died tomorrow, then I pass on buying it and save my money instead.
Here is an example of me putting this perspective into practice during a recent financial decision I made: (Now be patient with me as I talk a little NFL football. This story is more about my decision to spend money than football)
I am a huge Minnesota Vikings Football fan. One of my favorite things to do is go to the games in the fall. One of my favorite players for the last ten years has been the running back, Adrian Peterson. But he was recently traded to the New Orleans Saints, and it just so happens that the Vikings play the New Orleans Saints on Monday Night Football next week in Minnesota.
I realize since Adrian Peterson now plays for another team, this will probably be my last time to see him play live in person.
The problem is that tickets for this game are in high demand, like $100+. I usually wouldn’t pay $100 for a 3 hour sporting-event. But you know what? I can easily afford it, and I know I’d have a great time cheering on my favorite athlete one last time in person as a thank you for all the years of entertainment he gave me.
Don’t get me wrong. $100 for a ticket is a lot of money when you’re trying to save money and build wealth. But when I put it through my, “Regret Test Perspective,” then I know I’d regret not going to the game, and saving the $100 instead, if I died tomorrow.
So I’ve just decided to go to the game, and have fun, and not worry about the $100 I’ll spend.
This is my message to anyone who wants to create true wealth:
To be truly wealthy, it’s more important to live your life without regrets, than it is to live your life in fear of making the wrong decision, and spending your money on the wrong things.
Remember what you’re ultimately living for:
Don’t live your life with the goal of possessing a ton of money you’ll never use. Live your life with the goal of one day not having any regrets you made in your life. I believe that a life without regrets is one of the greatest, most wealthy lives you can live.
If you’d regret a purchase if you died tomorrow, I totally encourage you to spend a little and live your life without regrets!!!!!
That’s what I try to do, and my Monday Night Vikings Tickets just came in the mail last night. No regrets here!!!!!
Here’s another real-life example:
My wife is currently traveling across Europe with 3 friends. She had an opportunity to go horseback riding across lava fields in Iceland. Being a frugal woman herself, she called me and was nervous about spending $100 to go horseback riding over volcanoes in Iceland.
I reminded her that we could totally afford it. We have saved for these moments. I then asked her one simple question, “If you died tomorrow, would you regret not spending that $100 to go on a once-in-a-lifetime adventure on horse-back in Iceland?”
She replied, “Heck yes I would.”
I said, “Then go do it. This is why we save our money, so we can take adventures like this and not think twice about them.”
So this is her last weekend, with her horse, in Iceland:
Never be so frugal that you miss moments that you’d regret if you died tomorrow. So what you do think about this perspective?