Oftentimes, when we talk about short-term savings, we tend think about saving for long-term financial goals like buying a home, starting a business, or saving for retirement. Saving can also appear to cramp our lifestyle choices–wait, remind me why doesn’t it make sense to pay $15/oz for this beautiful French cheese?
Equally, it’s hard to see the immediate impact that $100/month in your savings account can make towards your retirement account or down payment on a home– especially when you probably won’t retire until you are 66 and the average down-payment in the U.S. is around $30,000 (let’s not even talk about certain urban real estate markets).
As I’m sure you have learned from other Nav.it blogs and resources, saving early and consistently for these big costs is key to growing your personal wealth. However, building your short-term savings isn’t just about these long-term goals. Saving for short-term purchases and life decisions is equally as powerful—and can be exceptionally rewarding.
Make Yourself Happy
It’s important for my mental health to balance my long-term financial goals, like owning a home and starting my own business, with saving up for experiences like travel and live music. Aside from saving for retirement, I work to maintain a savings of $5,000-$20,000 so that I can choose what extra luxuries and experiences I want in the short-term. This is above and beyond my emergency fund that covers my basic living expenses for 3-6 months and could keep me afloat in case of an unexpected emergency/bill or for some reason I lose my job (see this blog for details).
So, here are a couple of ways that I’ve made the most of my extra fun savings:
One of my best friends lives in New York City. Since moving to Seattle we don’t get to see one another as often as we’d like to, so we planned a trip to Paris last fall. I had just started a new job, but because of my savings, I was able to afford a vacation. I was able to spend quality time with one of my favorite people, enjoy a beautiful city, and not worry about how much money I spent on wine or cheese (within reason!) while enjoying Paris!
When I was planning to move to Seattle, I knew that I would need to buy a car. Because I had saved money, I was not only able to pay for my car in full without taking out a loan, but I was also able to buy the exact car that I wanted (of course, I wasn’t going for a Ferrari :). I bought a black Volkswagen Golf with a manual transmission and I love driving my car every time I get in it! Driving it off the dealership lot for the first time, knowing that it was mine and debt-free, was one of the coolest saving/spending experiences I’ve had.
I have written about how I nav.ed quitting my first job and the ways I saved money through the process. Having a savings account allowed me to be selective and unafraid to walk away from job offers that either didn’t pay me my market value, or had an organizational culture that didn’t seem like a good fit. The safety of my savings allowed me to find the right job and people I want to work with–which is unbelievably amazing!
This is my style. Different financial experts have opinions about owning your own car, or saving too much and not investing it. Investing is a subject that I have had to work myself into slowly and we write more about here. But at the end of the day, you have your own personal values and goals and saving some extra cash can be a powerful tool that allows you to make your desired lifestyle and dreams a reality.