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Spend on what matters, save the rest

They say money doesn’t buy happiness, but we don’t buy that… at least not 100%. Mostly because an economist back in the 1970s (the first to ever study happiness data, by the way) discovered that that money does...

Overhead shot of Piggy Bank

They say money doesn’t buy happiness, but we don’t buy that… at least not 100%. Mostly because an economist back in the 1970s (the first to ever study happiness data, by the way) discovered that that money does make us happier, but only to a point.

It’s true that we couldn’t splurge on dinner at our favorite restaurant without paying for the meal. We couldn’t take that yearly trip to paradise without the funds to buy the airplane ticket. We couldn’t cross items off of our bucket list without, well, money.
Do you see where we’re going with this?

Money does have the potential to make us happy.

But it’s the stuff that makes life enjoyable that we need to be spending our hard-earned dollars on.

So if your daily latte only fills you with guilt (when you think about how much it adds up to over a month that is), forego it. But if sipping on that steamy, frothy goodness is the one part of your long, hard work day you look forward to, then go ahead and buy that latte!

To use the words of minimalist Marie Kondo, which of your spending habits spark joy? We know that basic necessities, like the clothes on our backs and the roof over our heads, make us comfortable, content even… but not necessarily happy.

It’s the little luxuries that spark joy.

Anything else should be kicked to the curb like a bad habit. If you aren’t sure which of your spending habits make you feel the opposite of joy, consider the following scenarios:

  • After you’ve gone on a shopping spree, do you hate the way the momentarily thrill turns into lasting buyer’s remorse?
  • Don’t like the way you feel heavy around the waist and light around the wallet after a night out with friends?
  • Wish you got enough use out of your gym membership to warrant the monthly expense?

While these scenarios may not apply to your life specifically, they are good examples of spending habits that are a waste your money. Because if it doesn’t feel good, you’re essentially throwing away your savings.


Drum roll please…

Any purchase that inevitably makes you feel bad is spending you can turn into savings.
And you know what? It’s easier to save money than you might think. You just need to do a bit of konmari-ing… to your spending, that is.

So no, we’re not here to tell you to save for an elusive future that finds you happily frolicking where the grass is greener. Quite the contrary, in fact.
Yes, it’s important to save SOME of your earnings. But stick to the 50/30/20 rule* and you should be able to pay off debts, save for the future AND enjoy your life in the present.

*The 50/30/20 rule is how much of your salary you should be spending on these three key spending categories.

50% or less Necessities
30% or less Spending that sparks joy
20% Savings and/or debt

Far too often, we waste our now saving for the then. We’re here to tell you that you can spend AND save if you create a budget keeping your past, present and future in mind. Here’s how to do it:


Do look at how you’ve budgeted in the past, and consider what worked and what didn’t.

Don’t get discouraged if you didn’t reach your financial goals from 5 years ago. Take this as an opportunity to learn from the past. What small changes to your budget might help you achieve your next financial goal?

Do look at your spending history to decide which purchases are unnecessary and which you couldn’t live without (a.k.a., spark joy).


Do find ways to enjoy life that don’t cost you an arm and a leg… or your future savings.

Don’t make spontaneous purchases, or buy the latest gadget to keep up with the Joneses. (Because, guess what, the Joneses are very likely in debt!)

Do find ways to save that works for your lifestyle. Not sure where to start? Read through this list of 101 ideas and pick the ones that make sense for you.


Do budget for insurance (auto, home, life, health, travel), or have an emergency buffer fund stored away in the event something unfortunate happens, like job loss, long-term injury or something else you couldn’t predict.

Don’t spend so much time saving that you forget to live. (We all know what happened to Scrooge! Read this for a possibly life-changing spin on how you look at your finances.)

Do think about what retirement means for you, including what age you plan to retire and how much money is “enough” to live comfortably during your golden years. (Spoiler alert: It’s 10-20 times your current salary.)

Don’t value stocks over stories. Not to get morbid, but when you’re lying on your deathbed, you’re going to be thinking about how well you lived your life, not how much cash you saved.

So there you have it. We aren’t anti-spending, and nor should you be. Start viewing your spending as the gateway to a life well lived. And as long as you’re putting away 20% of your earnings towards your past and future, you should be just fine.


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