When you see your friends buying nice things such as a new car or a second home, do you automatically think that they have gone deep into debt for the purchase or do you secretly envy them and think they must have come into some money? Do you think, some people have all the luck or some people have it so easy? Maybe rather than feeling sorry for yourself or resentful of others, you should take a hard look at your own spending habits.
Recently, I was watching a rerun of the King of Queens. In this episode, “Home Cheapo”, Carrie and Doug are envious of their friends, Deacon and Kelly, who have just bought a beautiful vacation home. Carrie and Doug run through all of the ways Deacon and Kelly must have been able to afford the home including that they suddenly came into money. Finally, they decide that Deacon and Kelly can afford the home because Carrie and Doug have been paying for Deacon and Kelly’s share whenever they go out together, which isn’t exactly true.
After much feuding between the couples, Deacon and Kelly finally share that they were able to buy the home because they cut their expenses, stopped going out to eat and saved their money for quite awhile. This leads Carrie and Doug to look at their own spending such as Carrie’s trips to get her nails done and Doug’s beer drinking and food eating habits. They suddenly begin to see that all of the money they have used to pamper and treat themselves could have been used in a better way, such as Deacon and Kelly have done by buying a vacation home.
In our society where many, many people overspend, it is easy to see someone buy something nice that we would like and just say that they must be deeply in debt. This might be true. But it also might be true that they are sacrificing and saving.
There is nothing wrong with buying little treats for yourself throughout the week such as coffee out, lunches out, trips to restaurants, and concert tickets, to name a few. But, keep in mind, when you make these choices, you may be unconsciously making another choice. These little treats that you don’t even remember spending the money on a week later may be why you can’t buy a second home (or even a first home) or why you can’t take that trip to Europe that you have always dreamed of or why you can’t reach whatever other big dream you have.
Saving for important, memorable things such as a house or a trip is hard. You have to constantly delay gratification, and let’s face it, humans aren’t good at that. It is much easier to treat yourself with little purchases throughout the day and week. Just know that you are then sacrificing bigger dreams. You are living like Carrie and Doug, who were jealous and bitter in this episode, rather than Deacon and Kelly who were willing to sacrifice short-term to get something they wanted long-term.