The following is a guest post by Raine Parker.
Most personal finance websites will help you navigate the treacherous field of budgeting, advising you on all the myriad ways you can save on this or that. While saving is a noble endeavor, it isn’t something that should be done for its own sake. After all, when we participate in the act of saving money, the implicit reasoning behind the act is that we are saving because we wish to reap rewards later or because we want to spend our money on more valuable items and experiences. These are a few items, in my personal opinion, that are worth shelling out for.
A quality mattress. Nothing, aside from maybe our diets, impacts our overall health more than the quality of our sleep. While the world over seems to obsess about nutrition and exercise, so few pay close attention to the amount and quality of sleep they’re getting. There are several things you can do to make sure you sleep well, as noted in a recent Guardian article. But investing in a quality mattress, one that suits you (and your partner’s) comfort level is an absolutely essential first step.
The occasional vacation. Vacations shouldn’t just be the vanguard of the privileged few. Everyone needs to get away every once in awhile. For me personally, a trip any trip has had the power of completely changing my outlook on life, allowing me to be more focused and effective at work and more pleasant when I’m around my friends and family during stressful times. Vacations to remote places in which I’ve substantively interacted with nature are especially effective, and even science is beginning to back up that statement. That being said, vacations don’t have to be extremely expensive affairs if you budget correctly.
Education. The Greek philosopher Epictetus once remarked that “only the educated are free.” I whole-heartedly agree with this statement. Advancing your education is always a good idea if you’ve done your research and are ready and willing to be a receptive student. The benefits of an education can be as practical as picking up skills to land you a higher-paying job to less tangible advantages, like becoming a more knowledgeable parent or more informed voter. As long as you choose a degree program and school that’s right for you, while taking out as few loans as possible, more education is almost always worth it.
Helping other people. This is a pretty a vague category, but it’s a no less important one than any of the items mentioned above. It’s pretty amazing how money can have the power to change people’s lives. Many times, my motivation for saving is to help others, whether it’s my closest family members, friends who are in a bind, or by contributing to non-profit organizations in whose work I believe. The fulfillment gained from using your money for a higher purpose is really quite remarkable.
Of course, deciding what’s worth it and what’s not will be different for different people, but it’s important to take a step back every once in a while to determine why you’re working so hard to save money in the first place. It often gives you renewed motivation to keep saving. So what are you saving your money for? What, in your estimation, is worth spending money on and justifies your current frugality?
Raine Parker, regularly writes on the topics of accounting degrees. She welcomes your comments at her email: firstname.lastname@example.org.