One Cool Unintended Side Effect of Saving More
Last week I had written an article about how I was going to try to save my savings rate from the dumpster of sub-50% garbage that it was. I literally run a finance site and one month last year my rate was 22%. My excuse was that this was December and I bought an inordinate amount of junk for everybody that I knew which I usually don't do. But excuses don't make the man, and a failure to plan is a plan for failure so I kicked it up a notch.
I decided to take a month to improve my savings rate. This should be relatively easy since I feel I have laid out some good groundwork for not buying junk and I think I can adhere to it for 30 days. I also have the gumption to INCREASE the effort even further if this attempt doesn't yield the results I am looking for. It should be noted that I have no target really, I just want to see what a comfortable level of frugality will yield. If it doesn't feel good enough then maybe I will kick it up a notch, who knows, but I definitely don't feel like committing to anything solid.
So here I am 12 days into the month, which incidentally is only 6 days after I wrote the article. Yes that is correct, I do everything late. I have noticed that my brain is slowing down and appreciating things more. I have been playing more guitar in lieu of fixing broken guitar amps (which I still did a bit of last week.) I have been doing more dance practice instead of video games. I have been eating in every night on weeknights, and I am not planning on doing lunch prep for this cycle of frugality because that would feel too much like a punishment. I have been drinking more tea and less caffeine in general, going from a solid 3 cups of coffee a day on weekdays to only having one in the morning. So in lieu of caffeine I have been drinking water and decaf tea which is highly enjoyable to me and apparently my body because I feel pretty damn relaxed lately.
Here is why I think frugality is working so well for me:
I usually have a ton of goals. Improve in Dance, write killer songs for my band, get bigger arms while keeping my 6 pack, build cars, etc...
But what happens when those goals become routine? We all know that humans thrive on striving to reach goals and struggling a bit. But what if a certain level of struggle just becomes the norm? Then your gains stagnate and you plateau mentally, even though you may be improving across the board. This might be because the effort level is constant and not changing enough. It could also be because it just becomes a routine to do everything that you do and whatever. So I have been adding more effort in a certain area which actually slows down the demand on my brain in multiple areas.
I have not bought a bunch of car parts for my hot rod, because it can wait this month and I would rather finish it in the summer. Also, I am trying to save money now. This has a nice calming effect in that I know that the work can wait and there is no harm in waiting. The car will be there in a few months exactly the same and it will be sunny and there will be more joy in the labor of working on it. I have not been buying guitar parts or amps or speakers, because even though I make money on them, I don't make a hell of a lot, and it is quite the mental overhead to worry about these electronic projects during the workweek. I have also had time to list several amps that I do not need on Reverb for a flipping article, because I am currently not fixing any of them.
So I think frugality is feeling good because I am exerting more mental effort, but the unintended side effect is that the effort seems to be lowering my mental overhead and getting my life in order. So it feels like I am more relaxed already! weird right!
Look, all I'm trying to do here is tell a story about how not spending money will make you feel more calm. Things stress people out, and a "less things mentality" inherently has the opposite effect. Even if the things are things you enjoy- cut them out sometimes and alleviate yourself some pressure. Doing things you enjoy shouldn't be a chore, but sometimes you make them that way by never letting up and grinding super hard, which is what we usually advocate to stay productive. If you feel like trying either thing - I won't stop you!