Finding the Balance Between Life and Money

How do you find the balance between living life and saving money? With this blog about saving money and increasing my net worth, it’s easy for me to get carried away and stop spending money on things that are enjoyable in life. For example, when my wife mentioned that she wanted to go on a nice (aka expensive) vacation this year, all I could think about was how much this vacation was going to cost and that vacations are a money pit! Isn’t money the means to buy the things that you enjoy? Perhaps financial freedom is more important to me than the material things that it can buy. But when is saving and financial planning considered excessive?

On the other end of the spectrum, I have so many friends who are around my age (27), and so deeply in consumer/student debt that it will take them at least 10 years to pay off at their current salaries, good salaries at that. Yet these same people still go out for lunch every day, party every weekend, and lease brand new cars every 2-3 years. To each their own, but in my opinion, this is the extreme in the opposite direction.

What is the solution? Where is the balance? Perhaps setting a savings goal for the year, setting up automatic withdrawals, and spending any excess money above savings on the things that make life enjoyable to the individual.

Enough with this philosophical rambling, time to get back to financial optimization. :) Until tomorrow…

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FT is the founder and editor of Million Dollar Journey (est. 2006). Through various financial strategies outlined on this site, he grew his net worth from $200,000 in 2006 to $1,000,000 by 2014. You can read more about him here.
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13 years ago

FT, your idea of spending excess money above savings and bills is exactly how I plan to go about things once I start work. What I have left over monthly will either be spent immediately or saved for larger purchases.

My reasoning is that I’ve spent so many years working hard in school to put myself in position so that I could afford to save for my future while still getting to enjoy the hobbies I want.

That being said, I also think there are some ways to minimize the cost of your hobbies without sacrificing enjoyment.

1. Consider a hobby’s cost cost to enjoyment ratio

Every hobby has a certain cost associated with it and a certain amount of enjoyment for a particular individual. When thinking about a new hobby, why not consider this? If Hobby A is a costs far less and is almost as enjoyable as Hobby B, why not choose Hobby A! But on the flip side, if Hobby B is more expensive than Hobby A but far more enjoyable, don’t deprive yourself! Choose Hobby B.

2. Upgrade yourself before you upgrade your equipment

A trap that many people fall into with their hobbies is buying bigger and better gear (upgrade-itis) in order to make them better at their hobby. While it’s true that better gear often means better performance, more often than not, improving on fundamentals will make more of a difference while costing much much less. Learn your hobby!

Canadian Money
14 years ago

There is no perfect way or right answer…there is only my/your preferred way.

If were lucky we find a good balance between spending and saving. The energy of youth disappears over time. We can only do some things when were still young enough. When I was young I borrowed money for my first few cars.

I will always remember driving that 1968 Firebird on the beach at Long Beach with two wheels in the water. Can’t do that anymore.

I borrowed money to take flying lessons. My first date with my wife was an evening flying a rented two seater plane. I now have bragging rights!

I think we should all aim for a “good balance” however each of us define that.

Investoid » Blog Archive » No Posts for a Week
14 years ago

[…] I’ve been fortunate to travel a lot in the past 12 months, and my wife and I are already looking forward to whereever we decide to go next. There’s a good discussion that’s been going on at Million Dollar Journey on living life now versus later, which I encourage you to read. Enjoy and see you in a week. […]

Links - 27/03/06 « Krugergold Finance
14 years ago

[…] Finding Balance(Million Dollar Journey) How do you find the balance between living life and saving money? With this blog about saving money and increasing my net worth, it’s easy for me to get carried away and stop spending money on things that are enjoyable in life. […]

Q Cash
14 years ago

One of my wife’s requirements early on (in the pre-marital discussions) was that she wanted to have at least one nice (Read all inclusive) vacation a year. She made the comment when we were looking at houses because, being the wise and frugal one, she did not want to buy a monster house with a huge mortgage so we couldn’t afford to travel.

Both she and I enjoyed travel as part of our single days and wanted to continue.

As I contemplated “early retirement”, my wife again reminded me of her requirement for one nice vacation a year and that we would have to allow for those costs. With two kids, the destinations may have changed, but the goal remains the same.

My goal is to have two nice vacations a year. One to a sunny destination in the winter (just about the time seasonal affected disorder kicks in) and one in the fall (albeit a driving vacation to somewhere we haven’t been before).

So far, we have managed the first one this year, and have plans for another in October.

I agree with the comment above about remembering the holidays, not remembering the purchased lunches.

We are frugal with our everyday spending so we don’t sweat the big purchases for the quality of life stuff.


Jon Lee
14 years ago

@Clayton You and your wife are a great role model that a lot of people can learn from!

14 years ago


Don’t forget that life can toss all sorts of impediments in your path. Carpe Diem — a term as old as history itself, should not be forgotton. Don’t spend so much time worrying about the future, as it may never come, take time to enjoy youth while you still can. Enjoy the unspoilt before some one spoils it. Ski while your knees are still solid, see the ends of the earth before your kids fill your lives with new joys. Put a little aside for a rainy day, (or for retirement :-) ).


14 years ago

My wife and I have had that conversation countless times. Starting out with nothing, we are on track to be financially free at a very young age but sometimes we struggle to maintain focus. Usually only one of us struggles at a time so the other one is around to help refocus. When we’re struggling we talk about our current quality of life compared to even 2-3 years ago and realize that we are still living a quality of life much higher than we thought we would at our age (28) and we do so with no debt, 2 older cars paid off, some solid investments, etc. We make it a point to take a nice vacation every year and that big vacation memory keeps us going…you dont remember the 3-4 lunches per week you buy so we skip those and pack our own, but the trips to mexico, or kayaking off of Vancouver Island…those we talk about and are worth every cent. It’s about priorities…live life but skip the inconsequential filler.

Canadian Dream
14 years ago


Good topic. I think you hit the balance point when you realize you have “enough” of anything. Enough to be happy yet not too much to be a problem.

Then something will happen and you will find yourself off that balance point again. For example, my wife is starting to understand that I’m serious that I want to stop working at 45. So she mentioned that she wants to travel more in retirement. I estimated that little remark added $60,000 to the savings target.

O well back to numbers again.