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.

7 comments

  • Thank you. This is an excellent posting. I was just writing about a similar struggle that I have with time on my blog.

  • This is the exact conclusion I've reached over the last several years. I live modestly, with a 10 year old car (sorry, can't live without a car in the exurbs), no big screen HDTV or home theater . . . you get the idea. However, I splurge on vacations – suites on five star hotels in Hawaii or on cruise ships, private romantic dinner on the beach. I will come back having bought nothing, but I'll have photos galore and the experiences that they catalog. Stuff means nothing; experience everything you can.

  • I used to really hate spending money on vacation. My wife is the one who turned me on to going away. I can truly say that we haven't wasted a penny and it was always money well-spent. Heck, our last vacation was to Virginia Beach where we saw dolphins playing in the ocean we were swimming in! Retirement savings and such are important but can't be compared to that kind of experience.

  • I think in our family I am the one who is willing to spend money on vacations. Even though I would not call myself unsensible when it comes to money, I believe that there should be balance to earning and spending. People need to relax a litte and enjoy their lives along with other mundane resposibilities. And going on vacations and experiencing things is one of the enjoyments in my book.

  • I think in our family I am the one who is willing to spend money on vacations. Even though I would not call myself unsensible when it comes to money, I believe that there should be balance to earning and spending. People need to relax a litte and enjoy their lives along with other mundane resposibilities. And going on vacations and experiencing things is one of the enjoyments in my book.

  • I used to really hate spending money on vacation. My wife is the one who turned me on to going away. I can truly say that we haven't wasted a penny and it was always money well-spent. Heck, our last vacation was to Virginia Beach where we saw dolphins playing in the ocean we were swimming in! Retirement savings and such are important but can't be compared to that kind of experience.

  • I think in our family I am the one who is willing to spend money on vacations. Even though I would not call myself unsensible when it comes to money, I believe that there should be balance to earning and spending. People need to relax a litte and enjoy their lives along with other mundane resposibilities. And going on vacations and experiencing things is one of the enjoyments in my book.