But are you having any fun?

14 Dec

Anyone who knows me knows I’ve always been a bit of a miser. Even as a kid, any money I got as a gift always went straight into savings. I remember how thrilled I was when my lifetime savings crossed the four-digit mark – it took five years or so to get there.

And now that I’m earning grown-up money, it’s no surprise that feeling has stuck.

I also really dislike braggy people. I’ve tried to never be one of those people who always finds a way to work their GPA/SAT score/how busy they are into a conversation, because those people are obnoxious. But when I run into someone like that, I really enjoy any opportunity to be superior to them.

You know, because I’m a really good person.

So when, at that networking event last week, someone decided it would be an appropriate time to talk about how much they had in their 401k and how they’re such a winner for saving 20% of their income, I obviously felt the need to throw out that I save around 50%.

I realize that this need to “win” makes me no better than the average bragger. My only excuse is that I only blabber about how darn wonderful I am when someone else does it first.

So anyways, this person sputtered a bit and then said, “well, that’s good and bad. Are you having any fun?”

??????

A word about how percentages work: they only tell you anything in relation to an actual integer. All I had told this person is that I live off half my income. That number is going to be very different for a person making minimum wage than someone making a million dollars a year (I’m much, much closer to the low end of that range).

The question “do you have any fun?” ties fun to money in a way that really bothers me.

It implies that someone whose net income is the same as mine after saving can’t possibly be having any fun, because what a loser poor person.

It implies that the purpose of earning more money is to buy more junk.

It’s a very classist statement that ties in to our whole consumerist culture, how we believe that our purpose is to work hard and earn more money so that we can spend it on boats and clothes and fancy vacations, so that we can in turn make everyone jealous of our fancy-pants life.

I’m lucky enough to be earning a reasonable salary, living somewhere with a low cost-of-living, and not have children that I need to support. So why wouldn’t I stash a good portion of that away?

So yes, I have fun. I buy a $4 bottle of wine and have a great night in with my friends. I stay with people I know when I travel. I only treat shopping as entertainment once or twice a year. I read books. I go for walks and listen to podcasts. I watch a lot of Netflix. And yes, I go out sometimes and have fun then too.

I’m very aware that not everyone is lucky enough to be in my situation. I’m not working minimum wage, and I’m not buried under student loan debt, and I’m not paying $1000 in rent. But I think that’s exactly why that statement bothered me. If I was earning exactly what I am now, but living in Manhattan and paying off $60k in loans, I wouldn’t be saving like I am. But that certainly doesn’t mean I wouldn’t be having any fun!

Tl;dr: Money impacts happiness. It does not create it.

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2 Responses to “But are you having any fun?”

  1. Anonymous December 14, 2014 at 5:47 pm #

    The most valuable thing I have now is TIME. Time is my currency because it’s so precious. You’re awesome for saving money; it takes a certain obsessive strength. I like that in a person.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Being Frugal Isn’t Being Deprived | Stacking Twenties - January 6, 2016

    […] The thing is, there’s this oddly ingrained cultural sentiment that if you’re saving more than about 20% you must be depriving yourself. (See a post I wrote before I started this blog: But Are You Having Any Fun?) […]

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