Joy is an essential element in every life, and in our quest for financial freedom, we’re all striving for that balance between spending and saving that is highest on the joy scale.
In order to spend or save, most of us have to trade our time for money. Because our time is, in fact, our life, we’re trading the single most valuable resource we have for whatever we turn our money into. If we turn it into something that gives us joy in good measure, we’re living life well.
That’s true whether we spend our money now or save it to spend later. There are people who default to buying more stuff, or living a more luxurious lifestyle today; there are people whose primary pleasure comes from accumulating savings and investment.
For me, real freedom comes from reducing my need for money now and in the future. I love stuff, believe me — I love my iPod and nice clothes and (especially) eating great food. But I treasure my time, and as a result, I am very frugal. There are some things I don’t stint on: it gives me a lot of pleasure to support my favourite charities, and I try to buy organic food when I can. But I’ve learned to be a smart thrift store/Craigslist shopper, and I love being part of the Freecycle community.
For me, it’s not about money at all. It’s about having as much life in my life as possible.
How about you? What’s the perfect balance in your life?