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Young & Prudent: The Big Spend

I am proud to say that I’ve been able to use my unique living situation to my advantage.

I don’t get paid much working at a meditation retreat center in northern Vermont. But, I do get room and board, which means my monthly living expenses are minimal. With a little bit of freelance work, I’ve been able to put $500 aside each month, and I’ve built up several thousand in savings in the time I’ve been here.

My finances are in good shape.

And, now that I am feeling more secure with my savings, I have the opportunity to make a substantial purchase – attend a young meditator’s retreat in Berlin later this year.

With all the restraint and extra work, I assumed that when the time came to finally spend some of that money it would feel good – as if all the effort has paid off. But I’ve found that, for me, making that big purchase is just as hard as saving the money in the first place.

As it stands, I haven’t pulled the trigger and bought my plane tickets yet, despite the fact that the prices are only going to rise as September approaches.

I’m eager to examine my hesitance. Why is it that I am afraid to spend the money I have worked so hard to amass? And how can I best determine if the large purchase is even worth it?

Space to Evaluate

Of course, I turned to the internet for some guidance.

In reading online advice, I was encourage to, first and foremost, decide whether the purchase is a necessity or a desire. Meaning, do you need it to function in your day-to-day life, like a car, or is it something that you want to enhance your life.

My trip to Berlin is definitely not a necessity. But, I don’t want to write it off as just a splurge, either.

Going to the conference would add value to my life. I’d get to meet other people that are passionate about the same things that I am, hear new perspectives, and learn about applying mediation to better the world. Plus, I will travel by myself (something I haven’t had the chance to do as much as I’d have liked) and see a new city and a new country. Plus, it’s likely I will use the fruits of these experiences throughout the rest of my life.

Another common criterion for deciding whether to make a large purchase, is whether or not it can be paid for it in cash, or whether it would require payment over time or even a loan.

Personally, because of how much I’ve set aside during my time in Vermont, the short answer is: Yes, I could pay the cost upfront.

Yet, I still hesitate.

You see, I might not have a new job lined up when I eventually decide to leave the retreat center. With the savings I have now though, potentially being unemployed for six months wouldn’t put me in debt at least. That kind of security is extremely important to me.

If I took this trip on the other hand, my savings cushion would be a little less plush. Now that I have this level of security, in the form of a savings account, I don’t know if I can stomach the risk of losing it.

Suffering From a Tight Wad

Of course, just as you can be too loose and undisciplined when it comes to spending, it’s just as plausible to be too tight and rigid when it comes to saving.

It is important to ask: Why am I holding on to all this money? Is it just to have and look at in my bank account? Or am I actually going to use its value to cultivate further value in my life?

If I opt not to make the splurge, I probably won’t be lying on my deathbed fervently wishing I had taken a weeklong trip to Berlin. But, I do believe that travel and experiencing the wider world are important in living a fulfilling life. Travel gives me a wider view of the world and allows me to meet with people who live a completely different lifestyle in a completely different place. I place a high value on being able to interact and relate to these new experiences.

On the other hand, maybe this opportunity hasn’t arisen at the right time in my life for me to spend a large part of my savings on a trip across the world. I’ve been excited to spend money on travel in the past, so it might not be the fear of spending my hard-earned cash. It could simply be that this trip is just not important enough to warrant the cost.

Currently, I’m still undecided. Maybe I’ll meditate on it – as it is, sooner or later, I will have to come to a conclusion that is best for me and my bank account alike.

Mindfully Planning,

Samantha Solomon

Samantha Solomon

, Special Correspondent

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