We need money to do the things we want. We also need money to pay for things we don’t want to spend money on (renter's insurance, anyone?).
As much as I’m a Frugal Fannie — grocery shopping at ALDI, packing my lunches and sharing a Netflix log-in with my sister — I still like to spend money.
Sure, I don’t want to be rich, but I don’t hate money either.
I actually care about money. (If you’re new here, you’re actually on a money blog. Hi!)
The Emergency Fund
Things will go wrong. It will cost money.
I’m storing up funds in a savings account — what's called an Emergency Fund — for when the inevitable happens. This is money I don't touch unless something major goes wrong.
Regular expenses like oil changes, registration and insurance for my car all come out of my monthly budget — so my Emergency Fund would be dipped into for things like my car's insurance deductible.
The day I saw that FIVE of my budget items were a form of “insurance,” I almost cried. Because apparently that makes me an adult now. (Can I be 12 again, please?)
But insurance is there to protect us.
I’m only in the beginning stages of understanding insurance: medical coverage, health savings accounts, car insurance, umbrella liability, renter’s, disability...the list, man. And that’s not all of them.
Having funds to protect yourself in case of an accident, that’s a huge security. Not just for now — because, no, right now it doesn’t feel great putting money toward insurance when you don’t see a “need” for — but because it’s in case you’ll need it. It’s not fun being a worst-case-scenario kind of person, but worst-case-scenarios could actually happen. That’s why we have insurance.
The long-view on retirement is a foggy one, right? Most of us don’t plan to retire for another 30-40 years, so it’s hard to see how putting $100 into a Roth IRA could be helpful some day. But it will be. You’ll be glad you have it.
It's no coincidence that Retirement is at the bottom of the list of "securities." It's more important to have an Emergency Fund and insurance in place before you worry about saving up for retirement. If you can do all three at the same time, even better!
An Emergency Fund and sufficient insurance coverage will give you the most freedom to live your life and cover your assets in case of a worst-case scenario.
You may not be a religious person — and you're in good company, because I don't consider myself a "religious" person either. My faith is more than following a rule book.
Just like everyone else, I'm able to spend my money however I want. But as a Christian, I have the opportunity for my money to be a reflection of God's grace and generosity toward me. Through his sovereign grace, I've been given money, a place to live, a car to drive and many other things that I'm responsible for. I don't take this lightly — with my money and my belongings, I can choose to be gracious and generous with what I have!
Generosity and Hospitality
Along those same lines, I get to give away lots of what I earn.
I get to give to mission trips, support friends who work in ministry both here in the US and overseas, as well as help pay toward the operation of my local church. I get to open up my home to wanderers and visitors, neighbors and new friends. I get to joyfully give out of the good things I've been given.
Taking Care of My Things
My car is a gift to be taken care of, and though I can't do more to than check my oil and refill my windshield wiper fluid, I want to be a good steward of this property I own. I take it to a mechanic, I save up for expenses and I pay to wash it a few times a year. It's not pristine, but it's under my care.
As a principle, I want to take care of things so they don't break or go to ruin before they have to. I repair a hole in my leggings with a needle & thread. I buy cleaning supplies so my apartment isn't super gross.
It costs money to keep things moving smoothly (something we often overlook), but I consider it worth it.
I don't sing the "Debt is the worst thing ever in the world" chant like many others, but I do think we need to get our debt under control. High-interest debt, like credit cards or private loans, are something to be taken seriously, so they don't take over our lives.
Even with student loans, we can make slight adjustments to pay less interest, become debt-free a little bit sooner and have the freedom to spend our money in other ways (I mean, unless you looove paying other people each month? haha).
Freedom in the Now
I want to live my best life now.
As YOLO as that sounds, it's pretty counter-money-culture when we focus too much on debt repayment. I'm not sorry for saying it: I'm in my twenties, and I want to enjoy being in my twenties. Yes, I also want to pay my bills and save up for emergencies, but I also want to spend my money on fun stuff.
Part of living in the freedom of having money is knowing that you've taken care of (or are taking care of) the big things. And hopefully you've also made room to enjoy the fruit of your labors.
So why do I care about money? Because money allows me...
- To pursue hobbies: guitar lessons, playing in a softball league, starting a blog
- To take care of my health: eating good food, going to the gym and taking care of my body, buying (and enjoying!) fun snacks from Trader Joe’s
- To buy things that make me happy: clothes (i.e. dresses with pockets), ankle boots, local artwork for decorating my apartment
- To enjoy new experiences: traveling, concerts, meals with friends
These are such good things. Money allows me to do these things.
By managing my money well, I can sleep at night and know that I can pay my bills. Sure, it's not the end-all of financial security, but the cushion that an Emergency Fund provides certainly provides emotional and mental margin.
Knowing I have a plan to tackle my debt also gives me margin too, right? By having a plan in place, I can stick to that while also enjoying the freedom of living my life in the here-and-now (see previous point).
And my allowing myself the margin to save up for future expenses and experiences, I have things I can look forward to, like a trip or a different car in a few years.
Margin may not be quantifiable, but it's certainly beneficial.
Having an Emergency Fund allows me to take risks. At the beginning of 2018, I became self-employed. That's a pretty big risk! And if I'm totally honest, I probably should have saved up more before leaving my full-time position (but some of that falls under this category).
If not for having some money in savings, I may have likely stayed where I was and let the opportunity for a new adventure pass me by.
Validation of Good Work
I'm from small-town Nebraska, and hard work is in our blood. It's something we see our parents and grandparents do — we work hard and, in some cases, we actually see fruit come from our efforts.
For me, earning money is an indicator of a job well done. Earning money isn't something to be ashamed of! In fact, I think there's something validating about earning money from using our talents and skills well.
As a freelancer (mostly here), I'm able to use what I know about marketing to help others — it's fun to get paid for doing what you love!
I’m not opposed to making money. If anything, getting paid for my work further boosts my confidence and validates the skills I’ve worked so hard to earn!
In short, I care about money because:
- It provides a financial cushion for when things hit the fan.
- I’ve been generously given money and good things, and I have the opportunity to steward them well.
- It allows me to live my best life now.
- It can be an indicator of a job well done.
Why do you care about money? (aka, Why are you hanging out on a money blog?)
Want to keep reading? Check out some related goodies
- Get the Real Life Money Guide (a cheat sheet to understanding 50+ common money terms)
- Why I Don’t Want to Be Rich
- Understanding Me + Money: Getting Clarity and Direction to Move Forward