Perhaps the most common question I get about our financial situation is something along the lines of: how do you save so much?
Well to be honest saving 65% of your income gets easy after a while, so perhaps the easier way to answer the question is simply: I value what I’m saving for.
People often have good intentions with savings so about once a year around RRSP time they think a bit more about it and consider if they are saving enough. Yet they fail to realize something critical….if you aren’t saving now that shows me you can have good intentions until the end of time and won’t save you a dime.
Look where you are spending your money now and they shows me what you value. Do you value comfort over convenience? So you might end up buying more comfortable furniture rather than meals out. Or the other way? Perhaps you value your appearance over your substance? Then maybe you buy a knock off designer purse rather than saving for a real one. Either way isn’t right or wrong, but merely shows you what you value in life.
Me? I value freedom over comfort, honesty over appearance and love over convenience. Yes it sounds a little bohemian, but it is true. These values drive my habits and thoughts more than a spreadsheet to live the life that I do.
Which is perhaps why I drive people I little nuts when they try to understand my success. They get confused by my willingness to spend over $300 on some higher quality wine kits, but I will rarely buy a book even when I love them. Or the fact we only have one car when it fact it is a bit of an inconvenience once in a while. On the surface the issues can look odd, but mainly because the values the under pin them are likely different then your own.
For example, I dress moderately nice at work, but I refuse to wear a suit. I hate wearing suits so even when I present the highest people in the company I still wear a only a tie, not a suit jacket. I don’t care about appearance to others that much. Or the fact I love good food, but rarely eat out…I like to cook instead. I value quality over convenience.
This of course leads a person to consider who exactly they are. What are you values? Then after that painful process of self discovery you can then push yourself to align your spending with your values. At this point something utter fantastic happens: life gets easy.
Yes, when you are spending with your values (rather than the values of others) the decisions you make become obvious. You know what you value so the choice to save now or spend later is obvious to you. You spend enough to be happy in life, but know that you wants will exceed your income on a permanent basis. So once you have arranged your spending to align to your values, saving the remainder isn’t a chore or even an effort….it merely makes good sense.
The real difficulty I’ve found is combining your family values into something that everyone can life with. So you learn the art of compromising….a LOT. In my case, it means we spend much more on hot water than I would ever like to, but my wife gets to enjoy her luxury of very long hot showers. Rather than debate it every day, I got her to agree to a lower flow shower head and now shut up about the water bill.
On the flip side she has put up with my odd little projects like collecting raspberries from the backyard all summer long into a bag in the freezer so I can make a little five bottle batch of raspberry wine from scratch. It would have been much easier to just buy the bloody berries in the first place, but I wanted to make my wine from local ones. So we agreed, we would save half the berries. She rolled her eyes and did it anyway…then proceeded to roll her eyes again when she tasted the first bit of the wine. It was one of my best yet and now I’m saving berries all over again this summer.
The real trick to combining values is to know the core ones are in agreement. They don’t have to be the same, but enough alike for you to both be happy with the spending that you do. After nearly 15 years of marriage my wife and I have that down to an art form, which is reason we stay married.
So what do you value? Does your spending align with it?