Saving vs. Hoarding vs. Spending

September 19th, 2011

Japanese Garden in California

I’m a big believer in saving money. Amy Dacyczyn’sThe Complete Tightwad Gazette is one of my all time favorite books because she made me look at saving money as an art form and a game and not a deprivation practice.  Ever since I read her book I often find myself asking “What would Amy do?” Would Amy go out to dinner or would she whip up a scrumptious feast from the leftovers in her fridge? Would Amy buy the knit black top on sale for $20 at Ann Taylor or would she scout the thrift stores for one that cost a dollar?

If you spoke to my husband he would probably say I’m a bit too cautious when it comes to spending money so he loves it when I do because he thinks I should treat myself from time to time. I always joke with him that he hit the jackpot in finding a life partner because I have cost him very little money. He recently wanted to buy me something as a treat and all I could think of (other than a trip to a foreign country) was a pedicure. I do a lot of yoga and I stare at my feet quite a bit. I like having a fun color painted on my toenails but I usually do it myself which is a real pain in the ass. What a treat to have a professional paint my tired little toes and massage my feet. It was worth every bit of the $28 he spent which included the tip.

Having been in major debt when I was younger, I have no desire to sing that sad song again so yes I have a tendency to live in the fear mode sometimes and to not want to spend money on anything but the bare necessities. However, I’m noticing that I’m beginning to loosen up a bit when it comes to spending money. What’s the purpose of hoarding money if you never do anything with it to enhance your life or those of others?

I’m not advocating living beyond one’s means or buying cars or houses that cost and arm and a leg to impress your friends and family. No, I’m talking about spending money on things or experiences that are an investment in your happiness and quality of life. After one has an emergency fund,  the bills have been paid, and you’re not in debt why not loosen up and open up your wallet?

I read a lot in the financial news about how corporations are hoarding their money because they are unsure of what the future will bring. My reaction to this is usually one of judgment. I think about how greedy they are and how they need to loosen up some and spread the wealth a little. Then it dawned on me I’ve been a bit of a money hoarder as well. Being careful is great but you have to strike a balance.

My household doesn’t have tons of money but we aren’t in debt and our rainy day fund is there for unexpected vet bills, car repairs, and any other emergencies that come up. At some point I think you just have to say I’ve got some back-up money now and I need to quit living in fear of going broke. How much would it take to feel totally secure? Interesting question because there’s probably not a monetary amount that would make me feel secure. True abundance comes from within not from the balance in your checking account.

Spending money a little more freely is part of my journey to lighten up, live life more in the moment, and trust that I can spend money without some horrible consequence. Below are ten things I think are worthy of spending my money on. I still look for good deals but I’m trying not to obsess over a few dollars if I have to spend a little more. Your list may differ because we all have different priorities and circumstances.


  • Charitable contributions are always worth it.  Knowing that I’m helping a cause I believe in empowers me to take physical action as well.
  • Travel is important to me because the experiences you have are not only are fun but your mind is opened up to new ways of thinking and living. It’s a great form of education and the memories are something you will always revisit.
  • Furthering your education is always a good investment. Whether you take a foreign language class or a course in needlepoint, education always enhances your wealth.
  • Anything related to your health is also money worth doling out. Yoga classes, vitamins, acupuncture, the list is endless…. Investing in your health is always wise and the return is usually very rewarding.
  • Good quality food is very important to me. With food prices going through the roof my first reaction is to seek out the cheapest deals possible but buying food that I know is good and I have an appetite for is a much better use of my money. It’s the same model I use with clothes or any other material item. I would rather have less of something that is quality than a bunch of food in my pantry that I don’t like or want.
  • Miscellaneous experiences such as dining out with loved ones or horseback riding because you love horses. While in AL visiting family recently my brother and I went out to dinner and I insisted on footing the tab. It wasn’t real pricey but not cheap either. What was invaluable was the great time we had together. It was worth every penny.
  • Spending money on my pets for quality food and vet care is a priority for me. My little companions give me more joy than I could ever put a price tag on so I will always spend money on my pets.
  •  Good wine. I used to buy the cheapest bottle I could find that was not akin to Boone’s Farm.  I now spend a little more on a quality bottle and it actually lasts much longer. The wine is so good that often one glass at dinner is enough for me because I don’t want to ruin a good thing by having too much and not remembering how exquisite it tasted.
  • My hair. I have always spent money on a good haircut and highlights and will continue to do so. I only go 3-4 times a year but it’s one of my major beauty splurges because it makes me feel good. I’m not into massages, beauty supplies, facials, etc.. but I do like to have nice hair.
  • Air conditioning and heat. I used to always monitor the thermostat like a hawk. Now I’m tired of that game.  If it’s too hot or cold why put myself through the torture of being grossly uncomfortable.

(If you’d like to read more about living simply and changing the way you think about wealth please consider reading my book which is available in paperback or Kindle: REDEFINING THE MEANING OF WEALTH: DISCOVERING PROSPERITY AND FORTUNE IN THE UNEMPLOYMENT LINE.

7 Responses to “Saving vs. Hoarding vs. Spending”

  1. Jason says:

    I think you mention good things here Paige. Like you, I am quite the budget-minded individual (I’m an accountant for goodness sake!) and I don’t like to waste money frivolously. I was raised by very cost-conscious parents and I used to make fun of them for it; now, I think they are pretty smart. 🙂 Food, health, travel, air/heat, charity, & wine. Those are always worth it!

  2. Paige says:

    It’s amazing how much smarter our parents seem to get the older we get, huh? 🙂

  3. Jenny in NC says:

    I got a letter from the power company saying that I could save $10 a month on my gas bill if I set the thermostat at 78 degrees. What in the heck? I would PAY an extra $50 a month to keep the temperature at a nice chilly 73 degrees, thank you very much. That’s not an area where I’m willing to skimp. I’d go to the madhouse if it were 78 in my house.

  4. Paige says:

    I hear ya! $10 a month is money well spent to stay comfortable. Are you in North Carolina? I grew up in AL and my husband in Louisiana so we know all about those humid southern summers and I would spend my last penny to stay cool!

  5. Megan says:

    Your ten things are exactly what I would choose! Have only found your site recently but love and agree with the philosophy behind your posts. Looking forward to reading more words of wisdom!

  6. Paige says:

    Hi Megan, thanks for stopping by and for your kind words!

  7. linda tyler says:

    love your ideas

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