Everyone is asking us if we’re excited that the Savings Challenge is almost over. With less than one month to go, the Connex Credit Union Savings Challenge will end and a winner will be announced and rewarded with $10,000.00. Yes, it excites us they we may win. I would be lying if I said winning hasn’t crossed our minds a couple of hundred times. However, the way we see it, the “Savings Challenge” is never really over.
It’s always a challenge to save money, whether it’s for monthly bills or a vacation or for trying to keep a safety net for that unexpected repair bill that always happens at the worst time. I haven’t even mentioned keeping up with a savings or retirement fund.
Everyone’s income and spending is different. It would be easier to save money if we had more! What we have learned is that the challenge isn’t about the amount of money we have to work with. It’s the way we approach saving and spending money. It’s the tools we use to achieve financial comfort and success. Looking back on this year, I sometimes regret that we couldn’t have saved more money to better our chance to win the challenge. But sometimes, going to the movies for “date night” as a couple is more valuable to our family than putting $25 in the vacation fund. The $50 we spent to go out to dinner as a family was well worth the smiles and laughter. Not to mention, the conversation we shared about how much more we appreciate dinner out since it happens much less often now.
We will continue to follow our budget and use the strategies that we have learned and applied during the Savings Challenge. But, we will also continue to live our lives. We were able to go to Texas to be with our son when he graduated from Basic Training in the Air Force. We were able to go on day trips to an amusement park, car racing, hiking, biking and beaches to go boogie boarding…all without using our credit card. We could have saved much more money by not doing these things with our family, but at what cost?
Trust me. I’m not saying winning $10,000 is not important to us. We want to win. What I am saying is that it is necessary to live within your means and to save money, but don’t forget to enjoy life. Don’t let money take over your life, whether cutting your spending or increasing your savings. Make changes that will last a lifetime, not just for the short term. Find a balance that works for you. It will be difficult at the beginning, but in the long run it will be well worth the effort.
Do you think there are reasonable ways to “enjoy life” when you’re on a budget or are saving strictly for a specific goal? If so, what are they and do you them?
This is an entry from the 2009 Connex Savings Challenge Blog, a place where you can keep up with the Savings Challenge families and they can share great financial tips, ways they are saving and budgeting and much more! For more blog entries and information on the Connex Savings Challenge, visit http://www.connexcu.org.