6 Ways to Feel Better About Not Saving

Feeling a little blue?  Maybe you woke up this morning and finally realized you won’t be a Fortune 500 CEO, inherit a fortune, or win a multi-million dollar lottery jackpot.  

Face it — Finding a sudden large fortune just isn’t going to happen in this life.  Your dreams of private plane trips to sun-drenched caribbean islands have been crushed into oblivion by the harsh reality of life.

Are those tears?  Don’t cry!  There’s still some hope.  If you’ve been reading personal finance blogs (like mine) you’ll know that people can retire early and live a really damn good life.  Financial independence is a very real possibility!  It’s a way to amass a minor fortune and break off the chains of wage slavery — all before old-age hits.

One big problem with that plan…  While you were busy trying get that big promotion at work, you spent way too much money on your home, your car, your clothes, your entertainment, even the food you eat.  

Let’s face it — you suck at saving and you’ve got a long long way to go before financial independence.  Given the lifestyle you’re accustomed to, you can save maybe 10% of your income in a year…

Wait! Wait!  Stop crying!

Fret not my friends, I got a solution for you!  A collection of common strategies use to help soothe that bruised ego:


1. Have a Drink

Good old alcohol.  There’s nothing that soothes frayed nerves like a tasty adult beverage of your choice.  If you’re not going to be wealthy or financially independent you might as well be relaxed about it.  Take a drink and numb those nerves.  The rest of your years don’t have to be sober.

Practically since the invention of the wheel, man has been drowning his sorrows in drink. It certainly takes the edge off a hard day.


2.  Enjoy a Night Out.

Rather than sulking until retirement age, you might as well get out there and enjoy life.  Get a sitter, go out for dinner, and take the night off.

Enjoy a nice meal out at a really nice restaurant!  Drinking, dancing, the theater…whatever makes you feel happy.  You tried hard and did your best — give yourself this small reward.

So what if success eluded your life!  You can still enjoy the pleasures of life before old age or death takes you.

Don’t forget to take photos of the food, lest you forget this wonderful meal…

Former Fancy Meals


3. Go On Vacation

A vacation is the perfect way to take your mind off things!  Take a break from your normal life!  Instead of focusing on the disappointment your life turned out to be, fill it with interesting new sights and sounds in order to replace all those excessive hours you put in at the office.

Instead of living in your crummy small house, take a week off, head to some place tropical and stay at a 5-star hotel.  Really feel that luxury.  When you head home at the end of the trip you’ll have those memories to remind you of that week of “the good life”.

Hold-on to those memories.  Remember the good times for as long as you can.

Hawaii Beach 2
A nice tropical vacation…perfect for taking a break from reality.

4.  Get a Nice Haircut

Have you ever gotten one of those awesome haircuts from the salon, where you walked out and just went, “Bam!  Look at me!  I’m look like a million bucks!”  Yeah, get one of those haircuts!  It’s easier than actually making a million dollars, and far easier than saving a million dollars.

You’ll probably feel just as good as actually having a million dollars…at least until your hair grows out.


5. Find A New Hobby

OK, so you failed to get those big promotions in your career.  You didn’t make it to the C-level executive suite, but few people do.  That doesn’t mean you don’t have considerable talents to utilize.  Only now you can use them for your own benefit! 

Finding a new hobby is a great way to keep learning, creating and expanding your skills.

Hobbies that require significant time to master might be a great new place to direct your passions.  Photography, Mountain Climbing, Sailing, Skiing, and any other hobby that takes a significant amount of skill, study, and equipment might be a great fit.

Just what you need to feel better…a new hobby with all new skills and new equipment to master!

6.  Retail Therapy

While I’m not much of a shopper myself, Mrs. Tako tells me that that people feel a lot better after a good solid day of shopping.  Apparently, there’s just something about buying new stuff that makes people feel better.

Perhaps buying “new stuff” distracts us from remembering that everything gets old, wears out and dies…  Or maybe it’s the thrill of the hunt.  

Whatever the case, it works!  Shop till you drop!


Finances And Emotions

If you haven’t guessed by now, this list was a complete joke.  I’m being sarcastic.  

I don’t actually believe any of these strategies are going to help fix your financial problems or even make you feel better for more than a couple days.  

In fact, all of these strategies will have the exact opposite effect on your finances.  You’ll be spending money for quick temporary fixes that will actually hurt your finances.

Here’s the scary part — I didn’t make any of them up.  These ARE commonly used strategies to ease the fears and frustrations of life.  People do these things all the time, even though they’re not financially independent (or even on the road).

They distract us from the real problems at hand, and NONE of them help you financially.

In my own life, I try to avoid all of these activities.  They’re only temporary “fixes” to my emotional state.  The bigger and more permanent problem is my finances.

I’m not going to say that we never eat-out, or go on vacation.  We do, just rarely.  When we do, they’re done on terms that won’t affect our financial independence.  I definitely don’t drink, and Mrs. Tako cuts my hair with a Wahl clippers.  I’m also a big believer in hobbies that either cost very little, or pay for themselves.  Retail therapy just doesn’t qualify.

We organized our life so finances came before emotion.  I can now say that I feel like a million bucks….because I’m actually worth a million bucks.  A couple million actually.

Very few people are going to make it into the upper-executive levels at large corporations (and those guys want to hold onto their jobs as long as possible).  You probably won’t catch that high-income gravy-train.

Frankly, it doesn’t matter how much money you make either…the math holds true at all income levels.  The CEO that overspends his income is going to have the same problem as a minimum wage worker when his job finally ends — Expenses that are too large and income that’s too small.

If you want to have any real monetary success in life, you must separate your feelings from your finances.  Finances are about mathematics, not emotions.

You might not feel great skipping that vacation to Bora Bora this year.  You might get tired of cooking dinner every night after a long day.  You might feel sad skipping that shopping spree.  You might hate wearing your old worn out clothes.

Those are all just emotional responses to the loss of your pampered life.

Financial independence means creating the mathematical equation that leads to your eventual financial success, not pampering to your emotional whims.


Suck It Up

If you’re behind on your savings (like many American families), just face the cold hard reality — You’ve lived a life far more luxurious than you should have.  Instead of spacing out the “pain of saving” over decades, you’re going to have to feel it on a shorter time frame.

It’s going to hurt.  And that luxurious lifestyle you have?  It needs to come back down to earth.

The only *real* way out of an average income and 10 hour days at the office is financial independence.  You shouldn’t be doing ANY of those 6 things I listed above until your saving rate is at least 50% of your income.

Suck it up.  Make the big changes required.

Think that 50% is too hard?  Think life won’t be any fun?  Don’t want to downgrade your lifestyle?

Then you can just keep playing the “hope” game — Hoping for that big promotion at work.  Hoping you win the lottery.  Hoping you’ll have enough savings to lead a decent life when you retire at age 65.  Hoping you inherit some money.  Hoping you don’t die before retirement…  That’s a whole lot of hope.

It’s your choice.  Make it a good one.


[Image Credit:  Flickr1, Flickr2]

22 thoughts on “6 Ways to Feel Better About Not Saving

  • January 20, 2017 at 10:03 PM

    I called it! I was like “oh, he’s totally going to be like “Psych!” “Ha ha, you thought I was being serious. You suck.”

    You said it best with this “They distract us from the real problems at hand…”
    People love distractions and excuses. Because that’s WAY easier than solving problems. Why bother doing the work when you can do all those funs things for a quick rush dopamine instead. Or just make up excuses like “oh I don’t need to fix anything. I’m already happy.” And then turn around and complain nonstop.

    The human brain so super irritating that way. Wired for pleasure and laziness. That’s why FIRE is simple but not easy. Our brains are our biggest enemy.

    • January 21, 2017 at 8:02 AM

      Ditto to all of this!

      The thing is that doing one of those 6 tips will actually convince your brain that you DO feel better, for a while. It can be so hard to break out of that way of thinking!

  • January 20, 2017 at 11:15 PM

    I still fantasize about a long lost aunt twice removed suddenly dropping dead and leaving me an inheritance.

    While I enjoy that fantasy though, I’m busy saving up. Just in case, you know. You never know with fickle long lost relatives.
    Mrs. BITA recently posted…The BackStory of Mrs. BITA: Part 3

  • January 21, 2017 at 7:38 AM

    The great part is, saving for financial independence doesn’t have to be painful. We still drank lots of beer, went on plenty of vacations, ate out, and practiced tons of hobbies on our journey. With all this, we still had a savings rate over 70% and managed to reach financial independence. Our budget for 2016 was $38k – you just have to be smart about maximizing your dollar.

    Instead of going to bars, have a happy hour and invite friends. Don’t choose a set destination for a vacation, look for destinations with the cheapest airfare. There are plenty of restaurants that do not cost an arm and a leg and have exciting food you haven’t tried before. Keep the costs of hobbies down by limiting equipment and buying used on Craigslist. I’ve had kayaks that I bought and sold on Craigslist for the same price. We also go sailing all the time, and it doesn’t cost us a dime 🙂

    You have to be smart and make lifestyle changes, but you can also still have fun on the journey 🙂

    • January 21, 2017 at 11:33 AM

      Absolutely Mr. CK! Before the fun starts the math part of the situation needs to be under control. We had tons of fun while we were saving too, but we *always* saved at least 50%!

  • January 21, 2017 at 7:46 AM

    For a second I thought you’d gone off the deep end of the sea, Mr. Tako! But these are great points. At the end of the day you just have to suck it up and actually fix the situation–not apply Band-Aids to it.

    Some days I do feel like treating myself (I’m human) and when that happens, I find free ways to treat myself. I’ll read a book, take a nap, take a long bath, go for a walk, etc. There are free ways to feel better about life without getting yourself into a deeper money pit!

  • January 21, 2017 at 3:20 PM

    Maybe another way to say this is, if you can’t be rich, then do the next best thing and act like you are rich. I have had this talk with my sons on several occasions. Don’t judge a book by it’s cover. Just because Johnnie’s family drives a BMW, goes on fancy vacations, lives in a Mc. Mansion and wears the latest fads, doesn’t mean they are rich. In fact, they are more than likely just the opposite of rich.

    Why do people do this to themselves? Mrs. Zero and I were just discussing this topic. Why did we fall into this trap early in our financial journey. Her hypothesis is that looking rich and having stuff feeds a very basic human desire to feel important. She is writing a blog post on this topic now, so I will not steal her thunder, but suffice it to say that we agree with you. Recognizing how your emotions drive decision making is the most important factor in taking control of your finances and eventually achieving financial independence.

    Good stuff Mr. Tako!

    – Zero

  • January 22, 2017 at 4:04 AM

    I just booked a spring vacation! It’s to visit my mom so no hotel, & she’ll drive us places, no rental car. My aunt, uncle & cousin live in the same town, so I get bonus family time. I looked into different airports, different weeks to go & got a reasonable flight. I’m only taking 3 days off work, + a weekend.

    I’m not going because life is hard, rather because life can change in an instant. I still have earning to do before FI, but time spent with those you care about is worth it.

    • January 22, 2017 at 10:59 AM

      Absolutely! As long as you’re saving a significant portion of your income (which I classify as at least 50%) there’s little long term financial impact to you. Fantastic frugal trip!

  • January 22, 2017 at 9:39 AM

    In brief, many of the best things in life are free, or cost very little.

    We take road trips for our vacations. I hate flying. We find places to stay for a few days, then move on. We like B&Bs because of the low stress – no stress – of having a great breakfast. Sometimes they cost, sometimes they are amazingly affordable. We look for things of interest to both of us, and sometimes do what the other does, even if the opposite is true for the partner.

    We do drink – not a lot, though. The other half is a brewer by hobby and picks up spare change with a written article now and again. That makes the price of a beer relatively inexpensive, and gives a hobby with intellect and action, and produces something enjoyable.

    Entertainment out? Not often. We invite them in! For example, we just had a bread-baking party and enjoyed ourselves immensely with family. We had homemade cinnamon rolls for breakfast, thanks to the party, and now have 3 loaves of sourdough, one of challah, and one of whole-wheat in the freezer, already for when we need a loaf. Cost to us? About $10.00 for yeast and flour.

    Get a new hobby? Nah, we have plenty and have the equipment for them.

    Retail therapy? We go to the mall to look and touch, but seldom buy unless that is part of the agenda.

    Financially, we are getting things under control; neither of us have been great, but we are getting much, much better.

    • January 22, 2017 at 11:01 AM

      Sounds like you’ve got things headed in the right direction -N-! Congrats!

  • January 22, 2017 at 1:24 PM

    Couldn’t have said any of it better myself. I think the best line was basically put the finances before emotion. You can have all of those things you listed on here and be considerate of your finances at the same time. If you want to take a vacation, plan it out, shop for discounts, earn points, and make it as cheap as possible. If you want a drink, try to grab it during a really cheap happy hour or pick up a six pack and take it to a friends house. If you want to shop, find the best deals out there and exploit those all day and night!

    The savings rate point is also such another huge piece of the discussion. You could earn a $500k salary, but if you spend $475k recklessly on short term benefits are you better off than the people making $100k saving half their income for retirement and living within their means?

    Anyway, thanks for the great read today!


  • January 23, 2017 at 11:37 AM

    Haha thanks for a good laugh. Do you mean I should ditch my photography hobby because it costs too much money? Darn it! :p

  • January 23, 2017 at 11:39 AM

    I’d love that Sony mirrorless camera. I have the old DSLR and it’s so heavy. My pictures would be so much better with a new camera. I’m too cheap to shell out money to replace something that still works pretty well, though. Oh well. Someday…
    Good stuff.
    Oh yeah, we haven’t gone out to eat for 2 months. We ate out every day when we were in Thailand last November and we’re happy to eat at home now.

  • January 23, 2017 at 2:09 PM

    Oh the Irony, under your eat out flag I get coupon codes for KFC. In all seriousness these are typical strategies people use. If I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard a coworker say they are going to go shoe shopping or some other thing after a particular stressful day I could fund their retirement. The problem doesn’t go away and things don’t make you happy. That doesn’t mean things cant add to your enjoyment of existing happiness. But it does mean if your stressing about something they wont make it better. If its finance your stressing about it will make it worse.
    Full Time Finance recently posted…Adjusting to Major Income Changes

    • January 23, 2017 at 5:52 PM

      Exactly my point Full Time Finance! You nailed it!

  • January 23, 2017 at 3:00 PM

    Great post, Mr. Tako!

    I see you have the Sony A6300, how do you like it? I recently purchased the Sony A6000 and have been playing around with it. It’s pretty cool messing around with the features and such. I’m still learning about post-processing, but I’ve been pretty busy for it.

    P.S. Vacations are great to splurge on. Lots of history and culture around the world to check out!

    • January 23, 2017 at 5:51 PM

      I agree, vacations are great, but not until you’ve got the finances under control!

      I don’t have a Sony DSLR yet…only looking.

  • January 23, 2017 at 3:23 PM

    Well done squid-master!

    Slow and steady wins this race. If a guy like me can do it (5OCT2012 – 40 yr old), anyone can.

    Also, I am human or cephalopod.

  • January 26, 2017 at 9:02 AM

    Love this list. These are great things to do, but not at the expense of saving. Except for the retail therapy. Retail therapy is never good for your (financial) health.


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