We’re all pretty familiar with buyer’s remorse. In fact, most of us learn the concept the hard way. Maybe the truth didn’t even sink in until after the return period ended. The horror. But what about saver’s remorse?
Is it even a thing?
Not only would I contend that saver’s remorse is absolutely real, it can be just as problematic as buyer’s remorse.
How can I be so sure?
Well, it’s one lesson that I keep learning the hard way.
What is Saver’s Remorse?
In so many ways, saver’s remorse is the opposite side of the same coin as buyer’s remorse. Rather that being consumed with regret over what you did buy–you regret what you didn’t buy.
And I’m not necessarily talking about missing out on sales or promotions.
It’s very common (and very smart!) financial advice to not let marketing dictate your wants and needs. Sales cycles are deliberate. Prices are often marked up to be marked down. So if you wait 24 or 72 hours to buy, the sale might have ended.
That’s not what saver’s remorse is. Not really.
I’m not talking about having to buy toilet paper or bed linens at a higher price. I’m talking about missed opportunities in the name of savings.
Not only does this involve your finances, it also involves time. Money? That comes and goes. Time? It only marches on.
When Your What Overtakes Your Why
Think about the most popular money articles and social media posts that get passed around online. What generates the most traffic? Numbers!
X net worth, Y savings rate, Z salary.
Whether you’re following someone else’s financial journey or reflecting on your own, it’s easy to focus on The What. Numbers are concrete. They’re measurable. And they fit beautifully into every money nerd’s favorite tool: the spreadsheet.
Because you can’t quantify The Why, it makes sense that we spend so much time tracking The What. But it’s so easy to lose sight of The Why as a result.
My Experience with Saver’s Remorse
Sadly, I am no stranger to saver’s remorse. Years ago, I wrote a post in an airport on a layover lamenting the part of our vacation we did not take. Sure, there were valid reasons why we didn’t bother to cross the border from Costa Rica to Nicaragua. But mostly, I was just being cheap.
So there I sat, seeping in saver’s remorse and typing away.
You’d think I would have learned my lesson. But you’d be wrong.
Last summer, when we really started to get serious about Baby #2, we knew that it would mean tightening our budget and adjusting our expenses. After all, I will earn $0.00 on my leave (kids are expensive!). And my salary will be prorated for not just that calendar year, but the full school year upon my return (kids are really expensive!).
So we set out on a mission to save more to make having this baby as stress free as possible. At least in terms of finances.
Why, then, was I refusing to buy a pillow to try to get some relief for my back when I slept? Why was I so determined to stuff myself into my skinny jeans when I could very easily make the 10 minute drive to Target to buy a maternity pair? And why was I freezing my bump off in an unzipped coat in subzero weather?
In the name of saving, I was making myself absolutely miserable. Not just temporarily either. Weeks turned into months before it dawned on me that this is just like our Costa Rican vacation.
Well, it’s similar to the air sickness I get when flying.
I got so focused on trying to hit a particular savings number that I forgot the purpose of my savings: I want to lessen my stress, not compound it.
The What caused me to lose sight of The Why.
Fighting Saver’s Remorse
Do I know the secret to fighting saver’s remorse? Not really.
At least, I don’t have a single serving antidote for it.
But I am pretty convinced that training ourselves to talk more about The Why will help. After all, money is a tool. And we don’t talk about other tools obsessively. Do people talk about construction tools or the DIY project itself? Are cooking shows focused on the brand of mixer or the end result of the recipe?
If anything, focusing on our journey and the inspiration behind it is a much more effective way to keep your finances in line with your purpose.
At least that’s what I’m banking on. Because this Mama-to-be just got a new maternity coat.
So Tell Me…Have you ever experienced saver’s remorse? How do you balance your What and your Why?