When I was a kid, I thought my family was poor. So poor in fact that when we would eat out, I would get the cheapest item on the menu – chicken fried rice. I’ve always hated chicken fried rice. But I love shrimp fried rice. The difference in cost was probably 50 cents. 50 cents was a lot of money to me when I was a kid, so of course I thought it was a lot of money to my parents. I thought I was being quite a good selfless daughter.
Of course I didn’t realize that my family wasn’t actually poor and certainly not so poor to care about 50 cents. They also didn’t want me to eat something I hated.
I wasn’t necessarily the smartest kid.
Fast forward to today and I see that Uber charged me $7 more for my ride than I was expecting. Now $7 is a lot more than 50 cents, even with inflation. But I have a much better view of my finances and I know I’m not poor. And I know the $7 won’t make any difference in my budget, in my savings, in my retirement goals. And contesting the matter with Uber seems like a hassle. On the other hand, it’s not like I’m getting anything better by paying an extra $7 – the ride already happened. And while we’re at it, $7 is probably enough to buy some delicious shrimp fried rice!
Clearly something has changed in my valuation with money. I had discussed this issue with my ex a year ago. I had paid off my debt and had amassed quite a bit in savings and he was well on his way to paying off his debt. We both make six figure incomes at pretty stable jobs. We were at places in our financial lives where saving a dollar here or there didn’t seem quite worth it. It doesn’t mean that we would willingly pay more for no reason, but there were now limits to how much trouble we would go to in order to save a buck. We realized we don’t need the buck, the buck saved means nothing to us in terms of short or long term goals and our time and desire not to deal with hassle became more valuable. We could blow thousands of dollars and we’d still have enough. We can order anything off the menu and I like that.
I still clip coupons, because it’s a habit that I find calming, but even when I was watching every dollar, I still ignored the 5 cent or 25 cent coupons. I mean, that amount of money wasn’t worth cutting out, remembering the coupon and presenting the coupon. There’s still a part of me that loves the thrill of saving a few bucks on my ridiculously expensive contact lens solution. And I still remember when I thought these habits were so important, because these amounts of money were critical. It doesn’t mean, however, that we have to keep the same habits for all time or that we can’t adjust for inflation.
I did go through with pestering Uber and Uber readjusted my fare. Old habits die hard.
What about you – what amount of money is not worth saving?