Thursday, December 8, 2011

Why save? 'cause I'm stubborn.

Over at Squirrelers, the main reason for saving is so you don't end up "old and broke". Reasonable! Not knowing where your next mortgage or rent payment is coming from, worrying that an illness or injury will overwhelm your savings, becoming the stereotypical fixed-income senior facing a meal of cat food -- these things are scary! Fear is a big motivator for lots of things, like making healthier lifestyle choices after a medical scare, or over-preparing for a presentation so you don't embarrass yourself in front of your boss. Fear is what keeps many of us heading to the office each morning for many years.

Fear, though, is the mind-killer. (Thank you, Frank Herbert, and many who have repeated his words.) Having fear as a primary motivator causes you to think small, to avoid risks in order to be safe. Some fear is healthy, but fear alone is not enough.

Why ELSE should you save? Or do anything, for that matter? You should have a goal. You need something positive to reach for, as well as something negative to run from. Many comments on the Squirrelers post mentioned a desire for freedom at the top of their list. Freedom to travel, freedom to not work for others, freedom to buy what they want and not just what they need -- all of these are motivators as well.

Personally, I save for a number of reasons:

-It's next on the list.
I've got my basic needs taken care of. (It took a couple of years after college to sort that all out... I don't recommend doing it that way.) I don't have any debt. What's next? Emergency and retirement savings! This hierarchy of personal finance needs says it should be a priority. My expenses are small right now, and I'm still pretty young, so I know I'd better start saving ASAP before life circumstances cost more.

-I hate owing anyone money.
Being beholden is an icky feeling. Even when it's to a company and not an individual, debt is something I don't want held over my head. If I have money saved up, I am my own person.

-I don't want to pay any more than I have to.
This is why I buy stuff on sale -- and also why I save up first. Paying cash for things -- or paying off my card in full at the end of the month -- is my rude gesture to banks and other big-business types. They're not getting more money out of me!

-Freedom to stay home.
I don't want to travel. I'm a homebody. I'm kinda boring, actually. My idea of an excellent vacation is sleeping in, getting laundry done, maybe finishing up a storage project. Getting a little sunshine on my face, walking around the park to the farmers' market, stopping by the library on the way home and picking up a DVD to watch with my sweetie while we cuddle up with the cats. (With mugs of herbal tea. So there.) But I want to be able to do that when I feel like it! I want to be able to take some time off work without worrying about the bills. I don't want to have to rush off to a second job instead of having dinner with a friend or taking a Saturday afternoon nap. (I do that now, what with combining work, school, and choir practice. I know I can manage it for a few more years. I don't want to HAVE to do it in order to live.)

-Options for the future.
I'm saving for a nice wedding and a career that I enjoy. I'm saving for vet bills and legal fees and medical bills. I'm saving for FLEXIBILITY, for choice, for power over my life. If we raise kids, I want to spend time with them. Maybe work a four-day week while they're little. Make sure they have everything they need and a few things they want. I want to be able to retire from the full-time workforce at some point and spend daytime hours volunteering at things I love that don't pay -- snuggling babies, petting cats, reading to kids, feeding people, encouraging young readers and writers, and supporting libraries. I want to do that before I'm old.

Savings enable me to dream about not being shackled to a 40-hour-a-week job and still being able to afford a quality life. So I'm starting now. What about you? Why do you save?


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