Like all good silver linings, saving often comes with a storm cloud. Too often, people fall into the trap of forgetting to live while they are digging out of debt. Once you get into the habit of spending every spare cent to pay down debt, retirement, or a college fund, it gets easy to ignore the present in favor of the future. The downside–or potential downside–to saving, debt repayment, and frugality is a deferred life. Whether it’s deferred fun, deferred education, or deferred personal development, it can be detrimental to you and your relationships.
My wife and I have had this conversation. We’re in the groove on our debt repayment. We are making excellent progress right now. Since we’ve got it all automated, it leaves us time to plan, dream and consider our options. We’ve been looking at converting a hobby into a business venture. Doing so will involve a $1-2000 investment. If we can make it work, my wife will be able to quit her tolerable, comfortable, soul-sucking job within a couple of years. If we can’t, she will still have moved her hobby into an advanced–and more fun–level. That’s a win either way, but our initial reaction is to postpone. We already know we’ll have to postpone the purchases until we’ve saved for it, because we refuse debt in all forms. Our initial reaction has been to postpone saving, effectively deferring development with long-term potential to improve our lives until our debt is completely gone.
We’ve been discussing this, off and on, for months. We have finally decided to start saving, but only when we have money that is purely extra and we’ve tucked money into all of our other savings goals. It’s not a perfect solution, but it seems to be an acceptable compromise given our situation and values.
Regardless of your situation, it is important to remember not to defer your life while you tackle your debt or savings goals.
Update: This post has been included in the Carnival of Personal Finance.