One thing that is always on my mind:
Being an adult means thinking about money. Making money. Saving money. And of course, spending money. I’m naturally a frugal person, always looking for the best deal, not buying things (for the most part) unless they’re on sale, and not really taking any time out to spoil myself. This is especially true after I became a mother, as basically all that the hubs and I make goes towards food, clothes, other necessities, and even luxuries for the kids. I’m so consciously aware of money, I can’t spend any without thinking it through and wondering, “Do I really need this?”. What makes it worse is that I haven’t been too good at making the money over the years because I’ve been in school, but at least managing the money is kind of my thing and one of the ways I contribute the family.
I grew up in a household where the men in the family aren’t exactly the pick of the litter. My mother was basically a single mom who immigrated here when she was 16, got pregnant when she was 19 and has since had 4 kids. She was, and still is, the head of the household. My definitive role model in all aspects of life. While we might not agree on everything, she is definitely someone I look towards or think about whenever I make any tough life decisions. She is such a strong, independent, and motivated person; it’s hard not to admire someone like her.
She did the best she could working various jobs throughout her life to provide for her family. We didn’t always have the best that life could offer, but I’d say we managed to stay in the “middle to upper middle class” when it came to finances. We certainly never wanted for anything that mattered. I have to think that’s largely to the fact that my mom not only knows how to work for the money, but also because she knows how to spend the money.
As I was growing up and especially now that I’m an adult, she constantly reminds me that it’s not just about making the money and saving it, locking it away in some safe for a rainy day, but it’s about being proud of what you’re working so hard for and learning how to spend wisely. In her mind, it’s okay to spoil yourself or a loved one every now and then. If you see a luxury item that makes your heart sing, why not loosen the purse strings? As long as it’s not an everyday occurrence and you’re on top of your priorities, then there’s nothing wrong with living a little.
This mindset of my mom’s is basically how she’s been living. Like I said, she’s worked various jobs over the years, eventually settling on being a cosmetologist (and a successful one at that). Yet, through it all, she knew that even though the main reason she was working was so she could provide for her family, she also needed to live for herself. That’s why she’s never too far from a Louis Vuitton or Chanel store and she doesn’t bat an eyelash when she has a hankering for a trendy restaurant. It’s because she’s living her life. When she sees something she wants, she goes for it. If her child wants something, within reason, she makes sure they get it.
So yeah, saving and budgeting and smart spending are all practices that people need to keep in mind, but we also have to remember to live a little every now and then and appreciate what we work so hard for every day of our adult lives.
Don’t just save. Live!