Ryan from Planting Dollars asked a great question a few weeks ago: How Long Do I Have to Act Poor Until I‘m Rich? Then, last week, Free Money Finance wrote about balancing enjoying your money now versus later.
I think I can answer this question well because after living like a college student for four years in college, I decided I enjoyed it so much that I wanted to continue that type of lifestyle for another year (read: I wanted to save money).
I got a cheap apartment with 3 roommates, a room without a window, and ridiculous furnishings from the owner, including a 50lb deer from Indonesia (don’t ask me why he has it to begin with).
Not exactly the stylish working-man lifestyle I envisioned. But saving money is great.
So at what point does that stop? Is there a number I reach at which point I say, “Now I’m rich, time to start spending significantly more. I want nice things, always and I refuse to settle.”
It’s definitely a gradual process. In college, I barely spent a thing. I ate pasta 5 times a week and I was very conscious of spending too much on going out. Then, I started to make money and I eased up a bit.
Pasta 4 times a week and I had a weekly happy hour.
As my bank account started to grow, I started to ease up even more.
Now, I’ve decided to move out of my room and into a new apartment, one with air conditioning, natural light, and a closet. Pretty sweet, right?
It’s costing me an additional $225, but I think it’s definitely worth it.
Do I consider myself rich? Hell no, I still have $20,000 in student loans to pay off. Just because I have a positive net worth doesn’t mean I’m in a position to start throwing around big bills.
But I deserve a certain level of comfort and as I save up a larger emergency fund and as I pay off more of my debt, I will gradually be willing to spend a litle bit more.
To answer Ryan’s question, I’ll give you the million dollar answer: It depends.
For some people, they prefer to live like a pauper for many years. Then, when they have enough money, it’s become a way of life.
For others, they get tired of modest living and rack up debt, spending years to get back to where they once were.
For the smart few, they build wealth while they increase they quality of life.
There is no switch to hit. There is no magic number. But careful planning and cutting back on the things that aren’t important to you and focusing on the ones that are will make you feel rich. My window makes me feel like a million bucks.