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Which do you enjoy more: SAVING or SPENDING?

by J. Money on Friday, July 16, 2010

saving vs spendingI saw this posted somewhere the other day (Money Mag?) and at first I was like Pshhhh! That’s easy – Saving! But after a few seconds I started questioning myself.

Yes, I enjoy saving money, but I also love spending it the few times I do!  Like, overall I save wayyyyy more than I spend so the time of possession is more aligned with saving.  But the times I spend it I get an instant spike of pleasure!  (bills not included) So in that very instance Spending wins out.

An interesting thing about saving, though, is that it’s not nearly as fun without a GOAL in mind. I’ve been hoarding my extra cash for months now with just a glimmer of something it’s to be used for – blogging full-time.  I don’t have a solid number to shoot for, and I certainly don’t have a date to reach it by.  Basically, I’m just saving like a mad man until the day I realize it’s time to go solo (which can literally be any day if my 9-5 doesn’t correct itself). It’s a good thing I’m stubborn or else I’d have given up from boredom months ago!

So saving w/out a plan = boring. Smart, but not very exciting. Spending, on the other hand, fills you with plenty of endorphins!  You get instant gratification and usually something tangible right there in front of your face. How awesome is that? Extremely! So much so that people keep doing it and doing it until they crash and burn and buyer’s remorse sets in.  And it affects rich people too, which is why some people say never to go shopping just for fun!  Something I used to do at least three times a week to keep entertained (see my “ode to shopping” for recovery details).

When it comes to enjoyment, Saving vs. Spending is tough. They both have crazy upsides. But all factors considered, it’s no shock I’m sticking with my trusty savings ;) I may not have all the fancy artifacts of today, but dreaming of a free’er future gives me more than enough joy to keep pushing forward.  Saving gives you options, spending doesn’t. Which do you enjoy more?


{ 30 comments… read them below or add one }

1 kt- lifedividend July 16, 2010 at 10:54 am

i enjoy the thrill of spending cash like a maniac but do not like suffering the consequences of it namely empty pockets till the next check. This is why saving cash is something that i have come to like because the results are always pleasant; but If i had a billion, i think i would never save anything because i would be addicted to the high of spending on everything i see

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2 tom July 16, 2010 at 11:41 am

That’s a tough one. I do enjoy new stuff and vacations and such, but watching savings grow is pretty freakin awesome itself.

I’m going to end up choosing spending, but that assumes I saved for whatever I am buying, so I get the best of both worlds!

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3 Andrea July 16, 2010 at 11:42 am

Spending! Just like you said, the instant gratification and having something tangible makes spending more exciting than saving. I love spending even more when I get a good deal.

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4 Emily July 16, 2010 at 12:10 pm

My first thought was saving! But then after thinking a bit more I LOVE spending! I’m not a natural saver so it’s a bit of work and has taken a lot of patience and practice. I’m learning though that saving is more more satisfying than spending.

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5 ctreit July 16, 2010 at 1:31 pm

I enjoy saving more than spending, even if I am saving without a particular goal in mind. Somehow I think that my savings will be used at some point. – I wonder if we should call it “delayed spending” rather than saving if, for example, you save for a few years to buy this Mercedes you want eventually. Well, in a sense all savings is delayed spending then unless you die with a huge savings account, certainly not one my goals in life.

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6 Tiffany July 16, 2010 at 1:49 pm

I love SPENDING money but, with the economy being so crappy, it’s been comforting having a huge emergency fund in the bank.

Anything else going on with your 9-5 besides the 10% pay cut?

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7 Greg McFarlane July 16, 2010 at 2:08 pm

Isn’t this like asking “What do you like better, sleeping or being awake?”

You have to do both – in fact, you have no choice. Just as every minute you’re either awake or asleep, every dollar you come into you’ll either spend or save. The trick is to get the proportions right.
Nobody really “enjoys” saving, in the sense that no one enjoys going to the gym and exerting her muscles to the point of exhaustion: instead, you’re hoping for a deferred benefit.

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8 Evan July 16, 2010 at 2:46 pm

I actually like saving much more, with or without a purpose. But I find that the rush I get from dropping in a ridiculous amount into my ING account doesn’t last at all! lol

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9 Donna July 16, 2010 at 2:58 pm

Saving definitely. Especially given I have had to spend over 1,000 dollars on car repairs in two weeks. Thank God I had the money saved. I love seeing the balance grow but I also love it when I can pay cash for life’s uncertainties. Great post.

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10 Jerret July 16, 2010 at 9:42 pm

I know what I SHOULD say but it would be a lie. First thought that came up? “Well, duh, spending.” So, spending it is.

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11 Michael Manfredi July 16, 2010 at 10:18 pm

It would help to know how old you are. It seems that the older we get the less we earn so the less we spend. We may just be afraid to part with the money but it doesn’t make great sense because we have less time left to enjoy spending it. I used to be in the financial advise business and there was a school of thought that you should save enough to live on when you are retired or not able to earn as much in the future and that amount should be inflation adjusted and equal to a particular lifestyle of spending that lasts exactly as long as you live. So if you spend your last dollar on the day you die, you win!

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12 One Frugal Girl July 16, 2010 at 11:02 pm

Tricky question. I’d say saving, but of course I’m saving so I can ultimately spend. I might not spend the money for a very long time, (especially if I want to aim for an early retirement), but eventually I’ll spend it. Once the major bills are all paid, the house is no longer mortgaged and I no longer need to work for the man, I’m sure I’ll find a way to spend at least some of those dollars. I won’t live an extravagant life, but I would like to spend that money sharing great experiences with the people I love.

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13 Moneyedup July 16, 2010 at 11:23 pm

I enjoy saving much more than spending. It is a tricky question though because especially if there is a goal in mind, I am saving my money with the intent of spending it in the future – it just means that what I will be purchasing will be of better quality and will please me more since I saved up enough money. I’ve felt the pain of buyer’s remorse before and often wish that in the past (especially when I was in school) that I had saved more of my money. When I save my money I feel content and safe, but when I go on a spending spree (which is not often) I might get a rush for the short while I’m out shopping but it quickly fades.

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14 Jenn July 17, 2010 at 8:46 am

Spending I suppose, only because of the immediate nature of the enjoyment you receive in return. Of course it’s never done spontaneously (not really a word in my vocabulary), and it’s always done with money we actually have. In the old days when we had credit card debt and no clear plan for our finances, I think the rush of spending really came from feeling like I was being just a little naughty – spending money on something I knew was completely frivoulous, when of course there was somewhere more logical that money should be going. Really, should anyone with consumer debt or insufficient savings really be buying anything that isn’t a basic necessity? It may be a little harsh but it’s the thinking that finally got our finances completely turned around.

In order to retire I need the mortgage paid off, and know the date that will happen if I only pay the required amounts. I pay extra at least once a month in order to move up that date. My retirement accounts now have enough to fund my retirement from 65 onward. Trouble is I’m 47. Now I’m saving like mad to make up the extra to fund X years before that. The faster I save, the sooner I get to chuck the 9-5. Having a clear understanding of exactly how much you need to save for every month earlier you want to retire is very motivating. It puts every non-essential purchase under a glaring light. Is having that ___ really worth delaying my retirement by a month? A week? A day? Very few purchases stand up under that sort of scrutiny.

In spite of the above I’m a travelaholic – yes that’s a word in my world. So here’s where the spend vs save really hits the road. We want to travel with our kids now while they’re still at home. We save in advance of every trip, but even when spending on those trips there’s a little voice in the back of my head reminding me that the trip is costing me X months of early retiremement. We’ve consciously chosen to travel now knowing it has a corresponding impact on how far ahead of 65 we retire. Managing the spreadsheets so closely has all kinds of benefits to running a tight ship, but it also means I know the precise “cost” of every nonessential purchase in terms of delaying our retirement.

I always take a deep breath and pause when commiting to tickets, tour packages etc. I know we have the money. Yes we’ve all agreed we want to do this trip and it will be fabulous. If only I could silence the little voice in the back of my head saying “you do realize that money would cover 4.5 months of retirement living…” In the old days I would have been positively giddy as I signed up for a holiday, only thinking of great things we’ll see and do. Now that we have a very clear picture of our financial goals it does take some of the rush out of spending money now even on things I’ve planned for and agreed to. Once the trip is booked and I’ve moved past my last minute hesitation, then I slowly start to enjoy looking forward to it. I suppose I enjoy spending more because I am getting something immediate and enjoyable in exchange. There’s nothing intrisically “fun” about saving but on a normal day when no trip is being organized. Transfering cash from the main account to the retirement account or making an extra mortgage payment isn’t fun in the normal sense. But watching savings growing weekly with my eyes clearly on the early retirement prize is definitely more “fun” than acquiring some silly thing I don’t need. Perhaps spending is fun, but saving is more rewarding.

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15 Molly On Money July 17, 2010 at 10:04 am

Both- or, at least I’m getting there. It was spending then swung over to savings. It got so bad with the savings that even purchasing toilet paper made me feel queesy. I would start thinking of all the thrifty options to toilet paper and find myself in a sweat in the paper products aisle of the grocery store debating the value of toilet paper.

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16 Favor July 17, 2010 at 12:42 pm

Interesting question. I’m more prone to do both. I automatically save a certain percentage of our family money and once that is done, I have no problem spending money. Spending money does’t equal happiness to me, so I guess thats why I say both.

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17 tj July 17, 2010 at 2:53 pm

saving for sure. it depresses me to see how much i spend on stuff – but it doesn’t stop me from doing so. So far I’ve saved 47% this year which is much higher than most 25 y/o’s!

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18 Financial Samurai July 17, 2010 at 4:22 pm

Saving 70%, spending 30%.. just not in California with the 9.5% sales tax!

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19 Micki July 17, 2010 at 6:22 pm

I enjoy epending than spending! Its easier to spend than to save. With saving there is a goal which requires waiting : (. But for spending, there is no goal. You survive off of impulse which is quick.

In reality, I still save for my goals but if saving is more of long term and spending is short term.

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20 TODHD July 17, 2010 at 10:30 pm

I definitely enjoy spending money more than saving because it is very hard to save money

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21 Sam July 18, 2010 at 6:14 am

I definitely enjoy spending, but I love to see my savings account grow. Spending gives me that certain level of euphoria when I see what I just bought, but seeing the amount in my account gives me a sense of security (somehow). I am far from my goals, but I am excited each time I make that trip to the bank and see that I am a step closer to my goals.

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22 Broke by Choice July 18, 2010 at 3:25 pm

Over time I have learned to be a “purposeful” spender and saver. Regardless of what I am doing I feel equally as satisfied, because the action is moving me in the direction of my goals for my life.

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23 finallygettingtoeven.com July 18, 2010 at 8:34 pm

I used to enjoy spending tremendously in my younger years. I looked at it as a challenge to find great deals. Now that I am getting ‘old’ I don’t even care about the challenges. I actually hate to spend anymore, except for travel. I love travel.

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24 Jenna July 19, 2010 at 1:18 pm

I only enjoy spending if I can afford it…which means that I had to SAVE for it first! Spending outside my means = credit card debt or having to take money away from other things I’m saving for (like retirement or a vacation). So, I get more gratification from saving than spending. I love seeing that savings account balance go up knowing that I’m one step closer to that awesome vacation!!

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25 J. Money July 19, 2010 at 2:31 pm

This was fun to read :) A few responses –

@ctreit – “I wonder if we should call it “delayed spending” rather than saving” That’s a very good way to look at it, sir. It’s true, we will usually spend it at some point! :) But saving for 40 years is still being filed under “saving” in my books.
@Tiffany – Nothing new in my 9-5 stuff…still waiting for everything to be finalized so we can move on. This limbo time blows.
@Greg McFarlane – hmm….I guess I’ll agree with you for a majority of that. I know plenty of people who go to the gym to listen to music on hit on girls, so they def. enjoy that ;) But I see your point. All about proportions.
@Michael Manfredi – Just turned 30 my man. Not sure what you’re counting as “older” but it seems to me that you earn MORE and spend LESS as time goes on, once you’ve figured out how to work it. If you’re talking about retirement ages though, then yeah – def. bringing home less at that point.
@One Frugal Girl – I like the way you think :)

@Jenn – I TOTALLY hear you on that “if I spend X now, that means losing X later” type mentality – doesn’t that suck? I wouldn’t have it any other way cuz *knowing* and reflecting on this information is very very good, but I do miss the days of willy nilly spending and being naive about the whole thing ;) I’m impressed you guys track this so much though! Not many people can pull that off.

@Molly On Money – “purchasing toilet paper made me feel queesy” – hahahaaha….wow, ya just never know what you’re gonna find in these comments are ya ;)
@tj – 47%?! Damn, that is great! Mad impressive.
@Broke by Choice – “purposeful” spender and saver, I like that. Being conscious of your decisions is always good :)
@finallygettingtoeven.com – Haha, I hear that. If I stopped traveling I’d be a lot more wealthier too. But then all I’d want to do is go spend it on traveling! haha…

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26 tj July 19, 2010 at 10:46 pm

Re: the 47%, to be fair, I did receive a hefty tax refund this year due to the 1st time homebuyer credit…. but my monthly bills for the so-called ‘necessities’ (mortgage, hoa, gas/water, tv/internet) is still probably under 30% of my gross, so its easy to save.

Plus, I just started socking 15% away into 401k when I became eligible, which I don’t keep track of in my budget)

life’s cheap when your single (even on the west coast!), but I do get bored a lot..need some new (free!) hobbies!

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27 Early Retirement Extreme July 20, 2010 at 2:37 am

Oh, that’s very easy to answer; SAVING!

Saving correlates well with one of my primary values.

Conversely, spending is completely anticorrelated with several of my values: independence, self-sufficiency, competence. Spending means I lack the competence to construct my own solution and it means I need to depend on others.

I guess it’s a blessing that the money stuff I earned while I was earning could be invested. Otherwise, I frankly wouldn’t really have known what to do with it. Granted, there are a few things I still haven’t figured out how to avoid spending money on. I’m working on that though.

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28 J. Money July 20, 2010 at 4:23 pm

@tj – Hey, savings is savings! And I hear ya on the getting bored part, I tend to go down that route too at times ;)
@Early Retirement Extreme – Yeah, that is awesome. I really need to start researching more investing stuff down the road. I’m GREAT at maxing out 401k and Roth, but I’m sure I’m not invested 100% smartly. Although I’m cool w/ being 80% good too ;)

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29 Ely July 21, 2010 at 5:38 pm

I definitely prefer saving. I love watching my balances grow! Spending is more of a “have to” kind of thing; if I could get what I needed and do what I wanted without spending, that would be awesome. Kind of like not having to sleep. :D

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30 J. Money July 21, 2010 at 5:41 pm

What a beautiful world it would be not to have to sleep!

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