I’m experiencing a really nasty bout of frugal fatigue at the moment. The only way to describe how I’m feeling right now is that I just don’t feel like caring about money. At all.
Weirdly, I think that losing weight has something to do with it. I didn’t realize how much my weight was impacting my quality of life, but twelve pounds lighter, I can honestly say that I haven’t felt this good in a really long time. And feeling good is causing me to want to do stuff. Like traveling, getting dressed up to go out to a nice meal, buying new clothes, redecorating my apartment. You know, spend-y stuff. So, for the first time in a long time, I don’t feel like focusing my attention on saving money and agonizing over my budget. I don’t feel like saying no to shopping trips to Georgetown or happy hour or a trip out of town. I feel like focusing my attention on having fun. I feel like making plans to visit friends and family. I feel like buying a pretty new skirt and sandals to wear out to dinner with T. Sue me.
Realistically, I do think that I need to ease up on the constant worrying about my budget. I’ve been getting really worried recently that I’m becoming boring. Not just because I’ve basically ceased to have a social life because I’ve become a tightwad, but I’m finding myself constantly talking and thinking about money, too. Obsessing about my savings goals, debating whether or not I should be making extra payments on my debt, constantly reading personal finance articles on the web to gauge my progress against what “experts” recommend. It needs to stop, or I’m going to wake up one day and realize that while I’ve been keeping a very precise budget, my life has passed me by.
So I’ve decided to make a change to my savings plan. I’ve rolled all of my ING accounts into my Freedom Fund, and I will no longer be making regular deposits into it. In fact, I’m only planning on making two more deposits into it in 2010: my AP reading money (about $1200) and my next “extra” paycheck (about $1400). I think this will be a better plan for me, psychologically speaking. I thought that creating the separate accounts would keep me from being discouraged about having to tap into savings to cover an unexpected expense, but as it turns out, having so many accounts with so many different goals to meet was a source of financial anxiety. And if I want or need to pull money out, then so be it. It is a Freedom Fund, after all, and I’m free to do what I want with the money that’s there.
However, I will be making larger monthly contributions ($200 per month) to my Roth IRA. Based on the interest rates on my current debts (all 7% or under), the interest rate on my savings account (1.3%) and the anticipated rate of return on a Roth (about 8%), putting more money into my Roth is my best financial bet right now. I have a lot of conflicting feelings about saving aggressively for retirement, but since the Roth is so flexible – in terms of my ability to access the money if I want or need to – I really think I’m making a smart move.
I also think I want the focus of this blog to shift a little bit. I want to focus more on writing about ways to enjoy living a financially responsible life, versus writing just about crunching numbers and venting about financial frustrations. I really do think that it’s possible to have a fun and frugal life. I just need to discover how, and the journey to that discovery is the direction I see this blog going in.
So changes are underway. I can’t wait to see where I end up.