I don’t think of myself as an extravagant or materialistic person. I couldn’t care less about the latest tech gadgets, I second-guess every item of clothing I buy, and meal plan meticulously to avoid wasting food. My only real vice is travel – I will happily splurge on flights for a destination I really want to visit or an experience I don’t want to miss out on – but even then I hunt for deals and stay in budget accommodation to cut down on unnecessary expenses. I suppose I ultimately believe that the best place for my money to be is in my bank account.
A few weeks ago I was talking to my grandma on the phone about the flat I’m currently renting, and a familiar topic came up. “Have you considered buying?” she asked (it sounds so simple when she says it). I replied that buying wasn’t a feasible option for me right now and that I wasn’t willing to put down roots just yet, to anchor myself in Leeds with a property. “You’ll have to settle down sooner or later” was her reply. She must think I’m older than I feel.
After I hung up, the conversation lingered in my mind. My persistent saving over the years combined with a small amount of money left to me by grandparents has put me in a situation where affording a deposit on a modest property isn’t outlandishly out of reach for me. And I almost feel guilty because I know a lot of people would kill to be in my position, but it’s just not something I’m interested in right now. So what exactly am I saving my money for?
I think when it comes down to it, we all want money for the same thing. The exact item may vary – a house, nice clothes, a holiday, or even something as basic as enough food to last the week – but in the end it all boils down to one thing. Choice. The option to buy the item if we wish, rather than being forced to forego it.
Paulette Perhach nailed this concept earlier this year in her article ‘A Story of a Fuck-Off Fund‘. Her angle is a little more extreme, urging women to save their own money so that they can afford to walk away from unpleasant or dangerous situations like a pervy boss or an abusive boyfriend. We all pray we’ll never need our fund for something as serious as this, but the underlying theory can be applied to anything; if you have a financial safety net, you have power.
Money may not buy happiness, but it does buy us the power to choose what we want to do, to say yes or no to things because we want to and not because we have to. And that’s pretty damn close.