People get into the saving, squirrely spirit because they don’t have a lot of money. At least that’s usually the case. They know what it’s like to live from hand to mouth, and they want to see that change some day. But at some point, the challenges of poverty give way to the comfort of living well beneath your means. As savings grow, so does a feeling of security and independence. It is here that many people start to see a plateau in their savings and investment plans. They start to get lax, as they aren’t scraping the bottom of the financial barrel at the end of each month. This is just human nature, but that doesn’t mean this isn’t avoidable. If you want to do more than be not-poor, you’ve got to get in the habit of living frugally, and keep it up for the rest of your life, no matter what happens.
This is especially difficult if you get money suddenly. This is typically called a windfall, and it can come in many forms. Maybe you called one of the places to sell annuity payments. Maybe you got a big inheritance from a relative. In times like these, your emotions are stirred. You feel great! All of a sudden you have this big, cushy financial buffer between you and the big bad world. But it’s here that people get themselves in trouble, living like they’re high-rollers when in fact they just had one big payday. It’s easy to blow a windfall quickly, and you’ve got to make sure you don’t do that. The best way is to plan ahead for unexpected earnings. You also want to keep the money saved and secret for awhile, so you can make sure you’ve got a good plan to put it to use, and so nosy neighbors don’t start fishing around for a handout.
Most of us will earn our money more gradually. This is a blessing in one way, because it lets you instill good financial habits within yourself. During the time that you are being frugal, squirreling away every spare dollar you can come across, it’s good to remember that this is the way that you want to live even when you’ve saved enough to retire on. There are plenty of ways to make the frugal life the most enjoyable life of all. It’s a great opportunity to acquire important skills, to be self-reliant if not totally financially independent. Spend this time learning to cook with simple ingredients. Learn to fix and alter your own clothes. Find times to work with your hands and pursue hobbies that challenge your skills and maybe make you a little extra money.
Saving money is hard, but it’s just as hard to make it last once you have it. Whether you gain your money all-at-once or a little at a time, you’ve got to make sure that you derive benefit from it for many years to come. So squirrel away, and make it a habit you keep for the rest of your life!