The Trouble with Saving Too Much

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Money means different things to different people. However, one thing is clear – money is not an end in itself, but something that enables us to enjoy life. This is where the differences arise, because everybody has a different view on the way in which money brings about enjoyment. For some people, money brings instant gratification in the form of the latest fashion or the latest technological gadgets. For others, money brings a comfortable home to live in, education, interesting experiences through travel, or the ability to reduce working hours to spend time with family, to help the community, or to undertake creative pursuits such as writing or art. For one group of people, the most important aspect of money is that it offers security. These people are usually known for their frugality and their aversion to taking risks with money. While it may appear that such people see money as an end in itself, it is simply that the feeling of security ensuing from having money allows them to enjoy life more, despite the fact that they spend less than others.

Frugality can, however, be taken to the extreme. The trouble with saving too much is that it can destroy relationships with family members and friends for whom money represents more than just security. There is a point too, at which security is achieved and saving beyond that point is simply obsessive. The challenge for a security-conscious saver with deeply engrained attitudes towards saving is to know when and how to stop saving and start spending. Otherwise, opportunities for enjoyment may be lost or left too late in life when old age and poor health preclude an active lifestyle. The right balance between spending and saving is different for everybody but neither should be taken to the extreme.

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