What are you saving money for?

What are you saving money for?

Saving The Behavior GapImage courtesy of Behavior Gap

Easy question to ask.

Tough one to answer I think.

Carl Richards, of Behavior Gap fame and more, reflects on this question often in this book, other books, and with the clients he works with.

I’ve started to reflect on this question more frequently myself, this year than any other years in the past.

That’s probably because I’m getting older (now 45) and it’s natural to question the status quo more.  It could be because my wife and I are getting closer (every month) to realizing a couple of our major financial goals.  It’s just as likely because I’m maturing as a person.  I’m sure other reasons abound…

The beauty of discovery

The first step in any goal setting process is to understand where you want to be.  Part of that discovery process is learning who you are.

I recently revisited this discovery process through an emotional intelligence (EI) and leadership workshop that management in my division at work completed.  This workshop challenged us to reflect upon the following components of EI:

  • Our self-perception
  • Our self-expression
  • Our interpersonal skills
  • Our decision-making skills
  • Our stress management capabilities.

As part of the workshop I was provided a report about my own EI ratings on these subject areas.  Much like any investment plan (that should be uniquely tailored to you), it was great to understand where I am in order to strategize where I want to be.

I won’t go into details about what this particular report said, but I did find it revealing and refreshing that my areas for self-improvement (should I wish to take those on…) reside in the same areas that I assessed myself on to improve upon.

Why money might be important

I suspect we don’t like to ask ourselves why questions very often, including those about money, because it often forces us to reflect on how we feel.  Feeling is all EI folks.  It’s much easier to talk about numbers than to challenge our fragile emotions.

I’m going to open up a bit and tell you why money might be important to me – at least some money anyhow:

I’d like to work on my own terms – sooner than later.

I’ve never really bought into this entire FIRE movement but I do admit some of the principles behind it are very important to me.  Meaning, I’ll never stop working for income, at least as long as I’m physically or mentally able to.  Rather, I’m more FIWOOT (Financial Independence, Work On Own Terms).

*FIWOOT is a pending My Own Advisor trademark 🙂

Since entering my 40s a few years ago, I’ve had no interest in “moving up” any workplace ladder.  That’s not to express there haven’t been opportunities nor potential for it – but I simply don’t want it – it’s not something that defines me.  

I’d like to seize more opportunities (and time) for experiences.

Some money goals are easy to define – establish an emergency fund comes to mind.  But I have much broader life goals than money sitting in the bank.  Travel experiences are important to me – and those desires for experiences grow as I get older.  Money is important to me, to some degree, to be able to fund those experiences locally or aboard.  Experiences could be (and have been) a local craft beer festival.  It could be a desire to visit Chile or another international country in another year.  It could be anywhere and everywhere in between.

I feel money can offer some of that financial flexibility. Enjoy experiences in closer to the present day.  You only go around this life once.

I’d like to reduce my stress and improve my well-being.

Back to my recent EI report, I’ve been reminded that my financial goals are aligned with my values.  And…aligning my values to how I work and play reduces my stress significantly.  I don’t want to feel I need a certain job to maintain a certain income.  I want to let go of expectations about the future.  I want to let go of outcomes I think I have control over. I want to let go of any financial worry.


My emotional balance sheet if you will, has improved significantly since starting this blog.  I anticipate that trajectory will continue as I share my thoughts, plans and ups and downs about our financial journey here.

What is certainly interesting is whatever becomes of this blog or my financial future, one thing I know for sure is:  there is huge power that comes from asking why in life and more specifically for today’s post what I’m saving money for.

What are you saving money for?

My name is Mark Seed - the founder, editor and owner of My Own Advisor. As my own DIY financial advisor, I'm looking to start semi-retirement soon, sooner than most. Find out how, what I did, and what you can learn to tailor your own financial independence path. Join the newsletter read by thousands each day, always FREE.

12 Responses to "What are you saving money for?"

  1. Hi Mark ,
    I’m Saving for a decent retirement , still dreaming about the house in mexico on the beach 🙂
    Saving so i can help my kids to achieve the highest education level they want to because that’s their best investment in order for them to have a good life.
    Saving so i can at one point help people and charities way more then what i do now ( I call this investment for the eternal life ) .

  2. We’re no longer intentionally saving. We’ve got enough to get us through the rest of out lives. As to the philosophical aspects, you guys are heads and shoulders above my level. I’m getting to the point where a good book, a nice cup of coffee and the hammock in the sunshine is my idea of personal development. Pretty well a low achiever now.

    1. Lloyd, a good way to be! I have a beautiful Mexican hammock and didn’t even put it up last summer–I have the hooks on the trees. Gotta change that this year.
      And try to spend more money myself, it is hard to change from saving mode to being not quite so frugal. Ten years ago I was so panicked about retirement, Mark’s blog has helped dissipate that worry.

      1. Barbara – I suspect you know more than you thought you did! Thanks for the kind words about the site and following along. Certainly far from perfect here and I’ve made many, many investment mistakes!

    2. Lloyd…I can’t wait to stop working full-time and go part-time and enjoy some cold beers on the condo terrace, a nice walk in the park during the day; a cup of coffee listening to the news and falling asleep in a hammock on vacation or at home….working on it! 🙂

    3. Ditto here on saving (stopped in 2004) and have enough.

      Doubt it on the heads and shoulders- speaking for me.

      Guess I shouldn’t talk about my running!

  3. I like it.

    Asking this question forces us to re-examine our motivations and true priorities behind financial goals and plans. It may unlock something new or not but should help provide direction, validation and motivation, and help to stay inspired towards what you truly want.

    Mark, you’ve done a good job recognizing your priorities, your values and building a plan that’s putting it together and getting you there. Very good.

    I had many years of employment for 4 public corporations (amongst other employment/entrepreneurship) that all invested heavily in a wide range of professsional development, particularly in my field. It meant countless seminars, training courses, corporate retreats etc. That also meant a wide range of experiences from highly beneficial to no so much. IIRC in every case I went in to these learning situations with an open mind and came out with something of use. I did one (twice actually) over a weekend at a resort that might have been very slightly related to yours Mark- the Herrmann Brain model for personal and organizational thinking preferences, including an individual assessment to determine my own thinking position/dominance in the brain 4 quandrants. Was interesting and helped understand different personalities.

    I’m also somewhat curious and have tried to dedicate a good amount of time to personal development, goals, priorities etc. Some of this stuff actually sticks!

    1. I don’t mind asking “why” or “what the heck I am…” questions once in a while. Keeps me honest and I feel it allows me to grow. I know others don’t feel the same because I have these talks with a few folks all the time at work and they cannot understand where I am coming from…to each their own 🙂

      Yes, I’ve heard of that model although I haven’t reviewed it or studied it extensively.

      I think it’s smart, biased, to spend a good amount of time for self-reflection. I was given a brain – might as well use it where I can!

  4. Looking back I recall attending several conferences, not on the specific topics mentioned, and always found the information interesting, well meaning and much of it insightful But too often not practical.
    I find that with most advice, yes it makes sense, is good advice, something too keep in mind but most either does not help you in particular or it doesn’t quite apply to your situation.
    I found that one should be open to new ideas, always look to improve, try too see the other side of things but just try the best one can,
    Mark at 45 and done what you have to achieving your goal is much more than I ever did at that age.. Good work.

    1. Very fair assessment…good advice, while good, may not be applicable. In this case, in terms of improving my EI, it was a good set of reminders that I’m trying to practice in the workplace. A big one: I’m not going to rescue people. It’s a tough line but the reality is, I can only do my job well and nothing more 🙂

      I’m very open to new ideas and I’m rather curious by nature. I certainly don’t know what I don’t know.

      Meant to add….thanks for the kind words. Very nice of you to say that for some motivation! Will email again soon. Onwards and upwards…


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