We’ve had some real talk about money here before. Most of it centered around the fact that I don’t have much, but that when I do have it, I tend to spend it. I’ve always preferred having things or experiences to having money, but I do realize that this comes with a risk: what if something happened to me — what if I got injured and suddenly had medical bills to pay, or if something happened to my car and I had to pay for the damages or, God forbid, an entirely new car?
Honestly, at the moment, that type of thing would almost bankrupt me.
But the other type of lifestyle comes with risks, too — what if you save up all of your money and never dole out for expenses: you rarely go out with friends, don’t take a weekend trip away ever, always buy the least expensive things at the grocery store — not because you have to (and I understand that some people do have to), but because you just want to save up.
But what if you save up and then you still have a medical emergency or need a new car or new place to live, and you have to spend all that money you saved anyway, and you never got to do anything in the mean time? It seems a little strange to me to save up money for your future self while completely ignoring your present self. Where do you draw the line?
One of the things I am trying to do in my twenties is find the balance between investing in things or experiences that I want to have, and saving money for future experiences or things (or, God forbid, for emergencies). Maybe it’s overly optimistic of me, but I do believe that there has to be a happy balance somewhere.
I believe there are purchases that are worth the investment as long as they genuinely improve your present quality of life, even if these things may not last too far into your future, or if they seem like a risk. I firmly believe that — to an extent — it is possible to buy some happiness.
Right now, there are three forms of happiness I’m spending my money on: my apartment, my website, and (SPOILER) traveling. Rent in Los Angeles is twice what I was paying in Chicago, and it’s been a bit of a shock. However, having my own little studio apartment is something that makes me exceptionally happy. I crave my alone-time, and I’m apparently really obsessed with decorating, because I spend most of my free time drooling over every single post on Apartment Therapy and updating my “To Buy” board on Pinterest.
I’ve also just spent some money to have my website professionally designed because, I mean, it’s time. Get with the program, jackie travels.
And traveling. The past few years have all involved travel in one way or another, but no year has looked the same. My idea of travel — the places I want to visit, the experiences I want to have, and the things I want to take away from these new places — has gradually evolved each year. The only thing that doesn’t really change is that travel costs money, even when you’re on a budget.
Investing money in these three things really freaks me out, because these are three expensive things. I have to keep reminding myself that, thanks to an otherwise frugal lifestyle, I can afford it, although just barely. More importantly, these three things greatly improve my life. They make me extremely happy, and they are a means to a very rewarding end: my own apartment gives me enough independence and alone-time to work on my writing (and make it through all 3 seasons of Walking Dead in a week), my website is a productive outlet for the thing I love to do most, and traveling is my sanity.
There are plenty of other things I’d love to add to this list but don’t have the money for right now — eating at new restaurants, buying new furniture for my apartment, adding to my book collection, owning every pair of shoes on the Seychelles website, traveling through Australia for six months, upgrading my camera, upgrading my laptop, and so on.
You can’t have it all, but you should at least allow yourself to have one or two or three things if you have the financial means to do so.
I’m becoming more comfortable with this idea of investing, although it’s a slow process. I’m not sure the creators of Apartment Therapy ever meant for the Therapy part to be taken literally, but if you need me in the next few days, I’ll be calming myself down by adding every page of that website to my Pinterest boards.
(PS: If you want to invest in your business/personal life too, I have discounts for us! “Us” meaning that if you click here and order business cards from this specific link, you get a discount and I also get a discount. We’ll be like drinking buddies, only with cute business cards and zero alcohol, so fewer bad choices will be made. Same amount of networking will result though, probably.
If business cards aren’t your thing, you can also click here to sign up for a class on Skillshare, a website that offers classes on everything from Photoshop to cool typography to building your own website or running a business. It sort of rules.)