Saving Money, Finding Yourself

Everyone’s worried about the economy these days, and with good reason. Middle-class people are shopping less, saving money by cutting out small luxuries, and delaying larger purchases. If you’ve always been comfortably middle-class, or if you’ve had to struggle in the past, putting yourself on a tight budget may seem depressing. But there are benefits to saving money that go beyond your bank account.

Your possessions don’t have to define you:

Are you bummed out because you can’t afford that super-light laptop or designer handbag? Saving money means putting off these types of purchases for the foreseeable future. But did it ever occur to you that this may be a good thing?

While you’re saving money by not shopping, you’ll have plenty of time to ponder what role possessions play in your sense of self. Shiny new objects make us feel good in the short term. When that feeling wears off, it’s time to go shopping again — or it’s an opportunity to look at our real selves, at who we are without the labels and logos.

You can find other ways to reward yourself:

You’ve had a long week, you’ve worked hard, and now you’d really like to reward yourself with a trip to the mall. But you can’t — you’re saving money. What to do instead?

We’re all familiar with the saying, “Time is money”. We’re so focused on churning out the dollars every waking moment that we rarely consider time as a gift. While we’re saving money, we can give the gift of time to ourselves. What if you gave yourself a whole Saturday afternoon to relax, read, walk, write in your journal? This is a reward that costs nothing, and it’ll do more to shore up your sense of self-worth than anything you could buy.

You can be a better friend, partner, and parent:

What would you and your family do without a hundred cable channels, the latest video games, an endless stream of DVDs, cell phones with a zillion gadgets? Once the complaints about saving money die down, you just might learn to enjoy each other’s company. Young children could be convinced that Monopoly is a really cool new game. Your teenagers might even join in. Think of a quieter, simpler household: fewer distractions, more talk and laughter.

If saving money means fewer distractions, your relationships with your partner, your friends, your parents, and your siblings could benefit. With less money to spend on lavish get-togethers, expensive restaurants, and the gift-giving frenzy of Christmas and birthdays, you’ll have more opportunities to talk, and to listen.

There’s no denying that an economic downturn brings justifiable worry about everything from mortgages to college and retirement funds. But when it comes to cutting down on discretionary spending, saving money may be the best thing that ever happened to you.

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