Saving and Spending in Different Seasons of Life

posted by Andrea | 07/12/2012

photo source

Two weeks ago, I wrote a blog post about saving and spending. My point was that we all have different priorities and therefore, we all save and spend our money in different ways.

Apparently my words resonated with many of you, and I’m thrilled with all the positive feedback I received in the comments. If you haven’t read that post yet, you might want to pop over and do so before reading the rest of this post.

However, ever since that post went live, I’ve been getting emails from disheartened readers explaining that they wish they could save more of their money for ____________ (home renovations, vacations, new car, new furniture, retirement account, etc) but at this point in their lives, they NEED to spend their money on ______________ instead (education for their children, medical bills, student loans, getting out of debt, etc).

Many of the emails asked if I had tips to help them… but since I’m not a financial advisor, I can’t really offer any professional advice.

However, as someone who has always paid close attention to our finances, I will say that saving and spending SHOULD look different for everyone because we all have different priorities. I also think that our saving and spending choices will look quite different depending on what season of life we’re in.

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For example, when Dave and I were first married {6 years ago} we hardly spent any money on our house. We got most of our furniture from garage sales or from family and friends. We didn’t spend any money on our yard, and we really didn’t need to buy anything because of all the wedding gifts we received.

We didn’t have cable, Internet, or home phone; we only had one very old computer and we used freebie cell phones.

However, we did spend more money going on dates, doing fun things with friends, visiting his family who lived across the country, and paying off our student loans as quickly as possible.

Now that we have a baby and almost all our family has moved within 20 minutes of us, we find that we don’t travel or go out as much… but instead, we spend more money on Internet, nicer computers, lots of home renovations, and our fancy-pants iPhones :)

In 6 more years, I’m positive our saving and spending will look different again. Hopefully we’ll be finished with our major house projects and we can put that money towards Christian school tuition! We’ll also probably have a couple more kids by then, so I’m sure we’ll be spending more on groceries, clothing, and maybe even a few family vacations.

And just think, in 26 years, all our kids will be grown up and our saving and spending will look different again. Who knows, we might even have a grandchild to spoil by then.

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Of course, none of us know exactly what the future will bring – especially when it comes to our finances. We could receive a higher-paying job or get laid off. We could receive an inheritance, incur unexpected medical bills, have a “surprise” child, be called into the mission field, go back to school, pick up a new hobby, or simply change our saving and spending priorities.

No matter what season of financial life you are in, focusing on your priorities will help you save and spend appropriately.

Are you committed to getting out of debt, paying off your mortgage, your car, or your student loans? If so, then you might want to eliminate (or at least scale back) your entertainment and travel budget.

Are you renovating a house or starting a new business? If so, consider skipping your family vacation this year or reducing your clothing budget.

Are you a world traveler wanna-be? If so, start looking for great travel deals and pick another area of your budget to spend less on.

Like I mentioned in my post the other day, there really is no “right” or “wrong” way for YOU to spend YOUR money — it just depends on your priorities — which will most likely keep changing depending on your season of life!

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7 comments

  1. Laurie

    07/12/2012

    I know this a touchy subject for a lot of people even myself. It’s harder today to do what’s right. We live in a world of bad financial practices. Unfortunately people look at what we have and make a judgement how well we are doing in life. There are many people that want to do the right thing when it comes to finances, but don’t know what to do. I would suggest to them Dave Ramsey. It’s a great way to start to change your life and understand good financial practices.

    I’m a tax accountant and we have in the past offered Ramsey classes. We don’t have any schedules right now. But in the fall you will classes popping up around town. I’m not trying to soliciting any one but I would be happy to sit down for an hour for free with anyone who would like to talk about a good financial foundation. I love helping people get out of there financial stress along with making the world a little less driven by stuff.

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    Amy Reply:

    Love Dave Ramsey! We follow his teachings closely and it has done amazing things for our family. Good suggestion!! :-)

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  2. JD

    07/12/2012

    You certainly make valid points and ones that we have experienced during the seasons of our marriage and life. When we look back now and how much we ate out during the first five years of our marriage we are astounded. Exactly what were we thinking? Obviously we were not.

    Now at retirement we seldom eat out, we are striving to pay off our home in less than 10 years if our plans hold together. As you pointed out, things and circumstances change. We moved last year 2,000 miles away and purchased a home while losing money on our past home. Sigh. Painful but true. We are determined not to make past mistakes but time will tell if our current plan works out as grand as we hope.

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  3. Deb

    07/12/2012

    It is amazing how life changes and finances change and God always provides. The first years of marriage, dh was in school, working on his undergrad and then graduate degrees and we had THREE kids during that time, things were tight but we always had everything we needed and that day to day trust, “Give us THIS day our daily bread” just really set the groundwork for the future. Now, we have a beautiful home, three teenagers, a dog, etc. but we always have those years to reflect on and know that God is faithful and our sole provider. Everyone has different things that are ‘worth the money’ to them that others might think are frivolous but the good news is that God uses our financial mistakes to teach us lessons and even through our lack of good stewardship, He is faithful. I try to never think, let alone say, “I deserve this” because as a Believer, we deserve nothing, it is all God’s grace, not that you cannot have nice things or drink a Starbuck’s but just being thankful instead of thinking that somehow you deserve the item really keeps it in perspective. If we got what we deserved or derived all the consequences of our foolish financial decisions, where would we be? Thankful for God’s mercy in every area!

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    Kris Reply:

    Deb, I LOVE your comment about not “deserving” things! This is something I’ve recently had discussions with others about and it’s so true! Thank you for bringing that particular point up and I agree with everything else you said!

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  4. L.L

    07/13/2012

    how do u get freebie cell phones?

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  5. Deb

    07/13/2012

    We are with Verizon and they always free phones when you renew. When you do your search, just narrow the field to free. We always get the BEST one that is free. You have to do it online, they charge you in the store, sometimes they rebate, but the best deals are online with free shipping and free activation. We have never paid for a phone or activation and we have 5 lines.

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