The saving dilemma

Commentator Felix Click on his new property.

Tess Vigeland: If you needed any further proof that the best watch phrase for your money is "Moderation in all things," here's commentator Felix Click with his story of frugality gone awry.

Felix Click: For most of my life, my financial competency was average. I didn't have a history of overspending or consumer debt. But I just wasn't that great about saving and planning for the future.

Six years ago, at 26, I decided to improve my financial literacy and focus on saving for my goals and planning for retirement. My first goal was to save up enough money to buy a house. Last October, I took the plunge.

The house was a responsible purchase -- it's well within my price range and is a good fit for my lifestyle and my job. Yet, I find I can't fully enjoy it because of the money mind set I've cultivated for the last six years. I've got this nagging sense that I should be saving as much as possible and never let my savings balance fall. I'm so focused on every expense that I'm missing out on the fun associated with this goal that I've worked so hard to achieve.

I find little consolation in knowing I planned responsibly for this home and am now obsessed with covering the costs of home ownership without being totally strapped. My girlfriend and I have owned the house for a couple of months now, but spending money on it hasn't grown any easier.

I'm working to transform an outbuilding into a home office with an affordable, talented contractor who has made every step of this project nearly seamless. And yet, every step is darkened by my reluctance to spend money, even when that spending is planned responsibly and doesn't result in negative financial consequences, beyond the negative entry in my bank book.

I struggle every day with actually enjoying what my planning and saving has made possible in my life, and that paradox is by far the biggest challenge associated with my increased financial literacy. It's also an indicator that it's time to rebalance my priorities and focus on my happiness literacy. So that next year when I'm preparing the land for the garden I've saved so long to have, my enjoyment won't be tarnished by account balances.

Vigeland: Felix Click lives, works, and worries about money in Black Mountain, N.C. Tell us your thoughts.

About the author

Felix Click lives, works, and worries about money in Black Mountain, N.C.
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Dear Mr. Click,

I enjoyed your commentary. It reminds me of my father. I had to voice my thoughts.

My father grew up during World War II. He lived in a country that was war stricken. There was wide spread famine and starvation. It taught him to live with little and save as much as possible. I hope he has passed that trait to me.

Since his immigration to the US, his habit continued. His frugality has gained him a stable life and secured retirement. Today, he frequently laments his inability to enjoy the fruit of his hard work. He is constantly reminded by his saving style that he cannot enjoy the items he has acquired. I often remind him: his saving ethic allowed him the current security. He is able to get a good night rest without interruptions. Imagine a life fearful of creditors and mounting debt.

I will offer you the same. Your savings allow you to purchase a home during the worse financial crisis since the great depression. You now owned your home and are improving your recent purchase. Don't lament about your accomplishments. If you deviate from your financial compass now and allow the pendulum swing the other way, all your hard work in the past 6 year maybe in jeopardy. Like freedom, financial security is not without cost. You have paid your dues, please take to heart that you will enjoy it soon.


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