learning to let go, part 2

I talked about learning to let go before, in the context of letting go of stuff. It’s easy to get attached to stuff.  People keep the tchotke from their wedding, that special mug from the first time they visited Cleveland and the wedding program of their 8th-best friend.  But the hardest thing to let go, at least for people with a frugal or wealth-building mindset, is money.

Life can be viewed as a deprivation, a drunken orgy or a celebration. Some people choose to view life as a grim struggle against impossible odds; the point of the game is to grab at a tiny handhold and survive against the storm.  Others view it as a party without end – credit cards a-flingin’, debt a-massin’ and a good time to be had by all until last call.  And finally, the best view:  a measured balance between saving, spending, thrift and indulgence.

Over light
photo credit: James Jordan

I struggle with spending money for vacations. We haven’t taken a non-family vacation in 3 years now.  We are planning on hitting the Poconos for a week in about a month, and it took me a few minutes to adjust to the idea that yes, we need to spend some money that’s not being spent on the holy grails:  retirement, savings, investments, da future.

Everybody has to strike a balance, of course. But there’s certainly a point at which all of us need to recognize that inflation, history, the weak market, the changing forces of history and pure chance can destroy savings.  Money spent on things that are useful and durable or experiences that are uplifting is not money wasted.  If you buy an asset you will use for years, or take a reasonable vacation you will love for years, it is worth it.  Value your span of days by the level of enjoyment, not by cost.