I bought a road bicycle a few weeks ago. I have wanted to get a bike for about a year now to switch up my cardio. But when the time came to spend more on this hobby, my old frugal habits kicked in.
Every time I picked out a bike from the store, I copped out. Not because I didn’t want to ride. I live in The Netherlands and it’s the perfect place to go on long rides. There are bike lanes almost everywhere and car drivers leave you alone when you ride on the road. And biking is less taxing to the joints than running. So it’s a win-win!
Still, I couldn’t help but think it was too expensive. My thinking went something like this:
- I have enough money to invest in a decent bike and biking gear/accessories;
- But the overall costs are not low.
- But it’s not like I’m buying a house or a car!
- Would I really enjoy riding a bike as a hobby? Will it be worth it?
- And so forth.
It’s ingrained in my system to spend a million hours thinking about whether I should buy something or not. Growing up, my family always had money problems and we were forced to think thrice about every penny we spent.
Now that I’m financially independent and have enough money to live on without working, I still have those frugal habits.
One part of me is proud of that because I value money and never take it for granted. I know how hard it is to earn. But at the same time, I can be too frugal to the point of being stingy, which can take out enjoyment in life.
Why enjoying your money is so damned hard
I went to one of my friend’s houses last week to hang out. He’s also a cyclist and we were talking about how much money this hobby costs. He has two kids and is also a frugal person. He was talking about a friend who spent a lot on a bike:
“My other friend just dropped 8K on a bike! To me, that’s A LOT of money. But at the same time, I do get it. He doesn’t go to the gym or any doesn’t do any other sports. He loves cycling. And it’s a good hobby that keeps his body and mind healthy, so, why not?”
I agree. And still, I find it hard to spend on things that are good for me. I finally bought my bike a few weeks ago. But I had to force myself to do it. When I pulled out my credit card to spend my money on the bike, accessories, shoes, and clothes, I felt uncomfortable.
I just don’t like spending money. And that is exactly why I force myself to spend on things that are worth it.
There is a good bike I found for 3K and I initially wanted that. But I eventually settled for the 1K bike since I wasn’t sure if I would really be into biking.
Now that I’ve been on almost a dozen rides, I realized I love it.
I don’t want to turn into those stingy people who die with a fat bank account. But at the same time, I also don’t want to die with zero. I don’t think that’s honorable. I’d rather build wealth and give it away. But I don’t want to spend everything.
Balance. That’s what I’m always about.
Money is meant to be spent. But not all the way.
Sometimes, it’s hard for practical people to enjoy money. We’re too used to saving and avoiding spending that we sometimes forget ourselves. It’s all about being self-aware.
I think Alan Watts, author of The Wisdom of Insecurity, talks about this really well. Being influenced by Easter Philosophy, he talks about the balance between being frugal and spending. In his talk, Pursuit of Pleasure, he said:
“What is practical? Well, you made money. But that’s not practical until you spend it; until you enjoy it. It’s very difficult to enjoy money. Money is a great responsibility. Besides, if you get lots of it, you’re afraid something’s going to take it away.”
This is so profound I don’t want to add much. To me, it’s all about managing fear. If you’re scared to lose what you have, you will always be afraid.
Some people earn a high income but their lifestyle reaches a point where they can’t afford to live with less. So they overwork themselves to maintain this lifestyle. And lose their health in the process. Don’t be one of them.
Try not to forget that money is a means. It’s there to help us and our loved ones live better. When you find yourself being frugal for the sake of being cheap, be self-aware. Don’t forget to enjoy yourself!