Whether you’re intent on becoming a millionaire before age 30 or you want to have enough money tucked away in the bank to enjoy a simple and fulfilling retirement, saving money is as much a part of your overall plan as making it. While frugality is a skill and practice that is essential in reaching any number of financial goals, having the wisdom to spend money properly is just as important. Being frugal, after all, is not synonymous with being a miser, and the wiggle room in spending that comes with frugality can actually result in bigger savings for you than would a more miserly practice.
From investing in personal improvement to spending money on experiences instead of material goods, here are five ways the frugally minded person should spend his money in order to save it, both in the short-term and long-term.
1. Invest in Personal Improvement
Without a doubt, you are your own greatest resource and asset, and while many things about you cannot be changed — your past, your education up to now, the socio-economic class into which you were born, etc. — plenty of improvement can still be made, so long as you take the time and money to invest in yourself properly.
What currently holds you back from realizing your goals and dreams? Do you need a more thorough understanding of finance? Take some courses, or buy some books. Would learning a second language benefit you? Hire a tutor, and get to work. In whatever ways you desire to improve yourself, you’re going to need to spend time and money. So, do it now. That way, you’ll enjoy a much longer future with a more improved version of yourself.
2. Finish Your College Degree Online
Not everyone needs to finish their undergraduate degree, but unless you’re Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, you’ll probably benefit mightily by doing so. That being said, there are no rules that say you have to have a degree handed out through a brick and mortar university. Especially if you’re already hard at work on your own business or start-up, consider finishing your college degree online. Besides the obvious advantage of flexibility, an online degree is also usually cheaper than a traditional one, which makes spending money on it an easy way to keep more of your money in your savings account.
3. Buy a Practical Car—and Keep it Maintained
Unless you live in a city with excellent public transportation, you’re probably going to need a car in order to ensure your work and your life are able to function without mishap. To that end, buy a car that is practical and functional, and keep your concerns about the way it looks out of the equation. Also, you’ll need to keep it maintained throughout the time you own it. While it can feel like an unnecessary expenditure to get your oil changed regularly and replace your timing belt before if breaks, doing so will save you money in the long run by making sure your car never breaks down for a costly repair that could have been avoided by spending a smaller amount of money with routine maintenance.
4. Buy Experiences — not Material Goods
One of the advantages of being frugal instead of miserly is that spending money is something you can do without guilt — provided you do so within the confines of your value system and savings and investment plan. Life should be enjoyed, but the ways in which human beings construe enjoyment varies wildly from person to person.
If you want to use a bit of money to enjoy your life, do so by purchasing experiences, which create lasting memories, instead of material possessions, which tend to depreciate and take up unnecessary space. Take your kids to the Grand Canyon. Travel to Norway to see the Northern Lights. Experiences enhance our feeling of connection with each other and the world around us — something that material possessions aren’t quite able to do. And, when you spend money on specific and well-curated experiences, you also keep yourself from being deprived while you’re saving in order to meet your financial goals. That lack of a feeling of deprivation will help keep fuel in your tank to keep you on track.
5. Give to Non-Profits
There are numerous ways in which giving to non-profits can help you save money in both the short-term and long-term. The most obvious way is saving money on taxes by redirecting funds toward organizations that promote good in your community. If you give to local organizations, you’ll also find that giving makes your community safer, more vibrant, and more economically sound — advantages that will eventually benefit everything from your bottom line to your property values.
So, go ahead and spend a little money. As long as you do so with intention and wisdom, you’ll help yourself get further along down the path of making your savings and investments dreams become a reality.