The Only New Year’s Resolution You Really NeedSubmitted by Dorval & Chorne on December 30th, 2017
By Keagan Kinsella | Monday, January 1, 2018
Over one-third of Americans made a money-related resolution in 2017 (according to study done by Fidelity). Most people said they were resolving to save more, spend less, pay down debt, create a budget…the list goes on. These things are all great, and in an ideal world they would be easy! But have you ever tried cutting out chocolate cold-turkey? How long did that last you? If you have been Hershey-sober since the day you quit—props to you! If you do not have superhuman willpower, then you know how the story ends.
See, it’s the same for finances. We see this all the time, someone will bring in their budget and be ashamed of the line item that reads something along the lines of, “eating out”, which many times could be re-titled “Starbucks fund.” If you were to Google “how to save money”, it is likely you will see dozens of articles suggesting, “Skip the morning coffee, and make your own.” Then it will proceed to tell you how many thousands of dollars you can save by investing the difference. There are a few things wrong with this societal idea that we need to cut out treats to be “healthy”, financially or physically.
Let’s continue the coffee example. My dad goes to Caribou a few times a week and spends $4 on a cup of fancy coffee. He says nothing in the world makes him happier (sounds like an exaggeration… maybe it’s the caffeine!). People tell him all the time he can make it at home for much less than what he is spending, but he has tried, and nothing is quite the same.
Whether it be coffee or something else, we all have our “thing.” Maybe it’s getting your nails done, buying collectible coins, or hiring a lawn mowing service. People love to tell you that you are spending too much! But you know what? It doesn’t matter what “they” say…they aren’t you!
Even as financial planners, we don’t believe it is our job to impose our values on you. Instead, we like to focus on quality of life. If something brings you happiness, we believe this shouldn’t be the first thing you cut out of your budget. What if hiring a lawn mower allows you more time to play with your kids? What if the nail salon is your only time to relax and feel pampered? These are good things. Even if it is an added expense, these provide value!
However, there are things that we buy or habits we form that do not enhance our quality of life. For example, do you subscribe to a magazine that you never read? Do you have unnecessary life insurance policies, or a gym membership that you never use? These are common examples of things people spend lots of money on each year, but never enjoy! Now these are the kind of things you could easily “go cold turkey” on, and the positive impact on your budget may be substantial.
So in 2018, we challenge you to share our “quality of life” mindset. Make it your resolution to reexamine things you spend your hard-earned money on and determine if it truly enhances your lifestyle. We encourage you to not get caught up in how “they” tell you to spend your money. Budgeting is great, and saving money is fantastic, but, before you let someone tell you to cancel Netflix and dig out your DVD collection instead, think about the value you place on that item or service. If it brings genuine joy, we believe it’s worth keeping in your New Year budget.