Saving For A Sunny Day

There comes a point in every person's life when he or she decides to look beyond the joys of immediate gratification and momentarily shelves their aspirations of "living in the moment" for something a little bit more adventurous. What's more adventurous than living in the moment, you ask?

The answer, my friends, is planning for the future.

I easily fit into the category of people living "paycheck to paycheck", but recently I decided that at 26-years-old, getting by isn't enough anymore. I deserve something that money can buy: peace of mind.

I'm not advocating for being a modern-day Scrooge, hoarding every penny until you've alienated yourself from everyone, and skimping on life's basic joys, but the new concepts here are: limits. boundaries. budgets.

A few days ago I opened up my first ever savings account. In the months leading up to this, I've cut back on a lot of expenses. Not eating out as much, not getting out as much, and not stressing out as much. The last one is the most important. When I'm stressed, I spend money to cheer myself up. I'll comfort myself with take-out dinner. I'll justify unwinding with rented DVDs on the weekends in order to "detox" from all the brainwork of the week. I blow off steam with a few (or several) cocktails with friends as though I have money like that to burn. Reality check: I don't.

But that was the old me. The new me is not going to reward herself for being stressed out. The new me is going to remember that every dollar I spend while stressed basically adds one minute of future stress (most likely over not having enough money to do something I'll really enjoy and appreciate instead of some stress/impulse purchase I could have done without).

I never liked the phrase "saving for a rainy day" because it sounds so bleak. You really can't do much on rainy days. I'd rather save it for a sunny day, when things are going well, and you want to celebrate the beauty and goodness in your life. It seems to me there are many more opportunities to spend your shiny nickels and dimes when everything else in your life is smiling down upon you, instead of pouring down on you and ruining your hair.

Do you feel saving money is necessary? What's your favorite thing to splurge on when you have extra cash? How do you exercise will power when it comes to finances?