Ever since I paid off my personal loan, I have been feeling financially lost. I was (and am) really, really happy to have that monkey off my back, but I no longer have the financial tunnel vision that served me so well in achieving that financial goal. How much should I save? Should I focus on paying off my other debts? Should I start saving for a house? A wedding? A trip? Retirement? It has been sort of exhausting, because I’ve been beating myself up about not making big progress financially. My savings level is still low, I still have student loans and a car loan, and I just feel….undirected.
Recently, I decided to lay off. On myself. Just back off, let up on the pressure. My future is very wide open – I could go back to school, get engaged, move to Paris….anything is possible. I like that feeling, and while saving and planning is important, I also want to enjoy this very unbridled time and I want to enjoy my money a little more. I want to feel good about buying an extravagant piece of jewelry, a trip to visit my sister, or pair of shoes that I don’t need but want. I can’t remember the last time I bought something I wanted.
So my new financial philosophy is this: plan and enjoy. Plan for the future, put money away so that opportunities can be taken (hence the label ‘Freedom Fund’) but once money has been saved and invested, just enjoy. Go to the theatre. Go out for drinks to reconnect with friends. Update the wardrobe. I don’t mean that I plan to become reckless or embrace consumerism or worse, go back into consumer debt. I just mean that I have been putting so much pressure on myself to be financially perfect, that I think I’ve been missing out on enjoying the fruits of my labor. Money, and thoughts/guilt about money, have begun to control me. And I need to lighten the heck up.
So this is my financial plan for the near future: I’m getting a third check this month, and I’m going to pay off some Christmas expenses and then max out my Car Repair Fund. Then, beginning in January, I’m going to be throwing $150 into my Freedom Fund and $150 into my Roth IRA every month. I’m also going to keep adding $25 into my Car Repair Fund (just in case…). And then I’m going to call it a day. $325 per month is a very respectable amount to save every month on my salary, and the extra income I earn from tutoring will go into either my Freedom Fund, my Travel Fund, or my Treat Fund, so over the course of the year I should actually be averaging more than $325 per month in savings. But I will no longer permit myself to feel guilty for not saving more. Frankly, I can’t take the pressure.
I will still be PF blogging, setting goals, and working towards being in a good financial place. But I want dealing with my money to be an empowering, rather than belittling, experience. Because isn’t that what being financially savvy is all about, in the end? Being powerful and in control?
Let me know what you think – am I being too frivolous? Irresponsible? Or is this enlightened? Feedback, please!
BTW – Have a great weekend!