Twice a week, I step up on my virtual soap box here at The New York Budget and talk about money, life, and NYC. Often times, I will talk about frugality and dole out instructions for a happier life here in the city. But of course, I am not the perfect example of frugality myself. I make mistakes and choose the less-frugal path. Sometimes, I choose the less-frugal path and I don’t even regret it! If I were graduating from college and just moving to NYC all over again, I would still make some of the non-frugal choices that I made.
This is definitely not a complete list – just a taste of the slip-ups I have made!
- Not immediately investing in my 401(k) at my first job
- Not increasing my percentage saving when my salary increased (an easy way to succumb to lifestyle inflation)
- Taking way too many cabs years ago
- Not finding the best deal and travel hacking my trip to Peru last year
- Eating at restaurants – fancy restaurants – FAR too often
- Buying the latest and greatest Apple technology constantly (up until only a couple of years ago)
- Signing a lease on an apartment that was out of my price range 4 years ago
- Buying too many clothes because I didn’t have a wardrobe plan
- Subscribing to cable TV for FAR too long
Don’t let these slip-ups derail your whole plan. Steve from NerdFitness.com says “When you skip one workout, the next workout quickly becomes the most important workout of your life”. The same holds true with your financial mistakes. If you screw up, don’t give up. Don’t think to yourself, “well, maybe I’m just not the frugal type”. Instead, try to have the next week be a super frugal week, in order to get back on track.
Non-Frugal Choices (That I Don’t Regret)
Sure, I didn’t optimize my savings rate with these, but I weighed the options and made a conscious decision to spend my money.
- Living in NYC! I love this city and even though there are a million ways to save money, it is more expensive than other cities. But my quality of life is so high here!
- Not living at home right after college. I made a promise to myself to be independent in this regard. Living with parents is the right choice for some people, but I was much too bullheaded for that approach.
- Not living in an outer borough. I could save money by going WAY out in Brooklyn, but I am making the probably dumb, conscious choice to live in Manhattan!
- Eating at restaurants and drinking at bars… ever! Sure, I’ve cut down, but I COULD cut this out of my spending and save a ton more money. I stand by my choice to socialize in this way, though.
- Traveling. I should have spent time travel hacking my trip to Peru, but I definitely do not regret going. It was an amazing experience and I plan to continue to spend on travel. I also plan on continuing to purchase bus tickets, plane tickets, and train tickets (depending on which is most cost-effective of course) to visit friends and family.
- Enjoying a delicious variety of craft beers!!!
In the end, the goal is to lead an happy and fulfilling life. If you are honest with yourself in terms of what your goals are (if you think that shopping at Gucci makes you truly happy, you’re probably lying to yourself), and you work to achieve those goals, you don’t have to be monastic or perfect in your frugality. Forgive the financial mistakes that you have made and celebrate the non-frugal choices that you would do again. Just be aware of what you are giving up in terms of your goals and lifestyle in order to make those choices and how it affects your life. If you are ok with that trade, then that decision was right for you. As for the mistakes, the cliché, “you can’t change the past” is in heavy circulation in our society for a reason. There is truth in it! Realize that you WILL make more financial mistakes in the future, but if you can work to minimize them and minimize their impact, you will reach your goals faster than you can say “Mr. New York Budget likes IPAs and sour beers!”
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