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Saving vs. Living

January 27, 2014

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I’m currently living in a conundrum that I think many of us in our late 20s can relate to: Save vs. Spend. There is a balancing act and we all have to live somewhere between the two but I’m constantly trying to figure out where to land on that scale. Here are my arguments for leaning one way or another and some tricks I’ve learned along the way.

Save:My husband and I really really REALLY want to buy a house outside of the city in the next 2-3 years and start thinking about starting a family. That being said, we both like nice things and beautiful surroundings so I can assure you, we won’t want to settle for anything less than perfect. It seems like that might be easy enough but when you add up down payments, closing fees, moving costs, and interior updates, it comes out to an astronomical amount of money that we can’t just pull out of a hat.

We’ve figured out how much we need to save each month in order to make this dream a reality. Seems simple enough right?

Spend:On the other hand, we’re living in Manhattan, the most exciting city on earth and we want to take advantage of and enjoy it. For our sanity and furthering our relationship we love to eat out and take trips together to keep us from burning out (we both work way too hard!).

Health and wellness is a huge part of our life so spending extra money on organic produce and truly nourishing and whole foods isn’t cheap.

We live in a small apartment so keeping it clean, warm and welcoming makes us feel more comfortable and at home. Something that is very important to both of us. That upkeep costs a lot as well.

My Tips:What I’ve learned so far in this process is that you can get excited about saving all you want, but it’s really hard when push comes to shove in making those day to day decisions. I continue to come back to these 4 tips to stay on track. I hope that they help you as well!

1. Automatically Save. Have a set amount that you put away each month, no matter what. You can have your employer directly deposit a specific amount or percentage from each paycheck into a separate savings account or, like us, you can transfer a certain amount each month, as soon as you get paid. Now I don’t even think of that money as a part of our income because I don’t see it in my checking account for more than a day. It doesn’t matter what we have going on, we always save this.

2. Set a budget. Ugh budgets are the worst, right? But they’re necessary if you’re trying to do any life planning! We keep ours super loose so that we don’t feel stressed and constrained, but we stay on track because it’s always in our minds. Mint.com has been an awesome and helpful tool for doing this. It automatically links to all of your accounts and credit cards so you have to do minimal work.

3. No impulse purchases! I was forced into learning this one last year when I wasn’t working because we simply couldn’t afford to make impulse purchases. Now, for each big purchase that I want to make (new rug, booking a vacation, fancy dinner out), I try to think, “Do I want this as much as I want to be living in a nice comfy house in the near future?” I also let myself think about it for a day to make sure that it’s something that I really want. I apply this to all purchases over $100.

4. Live your life. Money is something that almost everyone stresses about, regardless of how much of it we have. At a certain point you just have to live and not worry all the time. If I want a manicure, you better believe I’m going to buy myself a manicure. Maybe I won’t add on an extra 10 minute massage but treating yourself and living a happy life RIGHT NOW is just as important as planning for your future. 

Julia Dzafic is the founder of Lemon Stripes, a fashion blog and online boutique where she writes about her adventures in style, healthy cooking, and life as a married young woman in New York City. You can connect with Julia on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.