Fact: A good splurge every now and again is one of life’s greatest pleasures. Whether it’s a shiny new pair of shoes, your artisanal coffee beverage of choice, or the must-have tech gadget of the moment, we all deserve to treat ourselves every now and then.
The occasional splurge probably won’t hurt your long-term savings goals, but if you catch yourself overspending regularly, it can cut into what you’re able to put away for the future. It’s worthwhile to give your finances a checkup every now and then to see if it makes sense for you to trim down your spending in certain areas. This doesn’t mean giving up your avocado toast (or whatever your avocado toast equivalent is). It just means fitting these things into your budget thoughtfully, with an eye on your long-term goals. These questions can help you identify and celebrate your saving strengths—and narrow down the areas where there might be room for improvement.
Am I able to comfortably afford regular expenses like rent or mortgage, bills, and food? If you find yourself stretching each paycheck to the limit to cover regular expenses, it’s worth a deeper dive to find ways to reduce your spending in other areas.
Am I saving the maximum amount through my company’s 401(k) matching benefit? Getting the most out of your company’s 401(k) matching is a great way to boost what you’re putting away for retirement with minimal effort. Make sure you’re contributing enough to your 401(k) to benefit from your company’s full match.
Am I setting money aside to put toward my larger goals (like houses, cars, college)? It’s hard to think about saving more when you have other financial priorities competing for your attention. But remember that every bit of money you add to an investing account can go further than you think—your invested assets can benefit from compounding over time.
Do I have an emergency fund that can cover at least 3 months of living expenses? An emergency fund is a safety net that can give you confidence and peace of mind, no matter what’s going on in the world. If you don’t already have one, Vanguard can help you get one started—it’s easier than you think!
Am I auto-paying for subscriptions that I don’t use? You might have money disappearing out of your accounts every month for an online game you never play, a magazine you don’t read, or a box-of-the-month club whose boxes are sitting untouched somewhere in your house. Doing some subscription housekeeping can free up more of your money to put toward other goals.
Do I give enough thought to purchases before I make them? Some items seem like a great idea when you order them, but by the time they make it to your doorstep, you’re already over them. One of our favorite tips: Keep purchases in an online cart for a few days to see if you really want what you’re buying.
Do I spend money out of FOMO—fear of missing out on the newest trend or gadget everyone is talking about? Sometimes when we read about people camping out for days to get the newest phone or smart watch, it can create the illusion that we need to have it in our lives because it’s that cool and exclusive. Take the time to make sure you’re making big purchases for the right reasons, and not just to keep up with the Joneses.
Do my unplanned purchases fit into my budget? It’s always a good idea to build room into your budget for some spontaneous spending every month. Life just wouldn’t be much fun if you had to say no to the double-mocha extra-whip iced coffee every time. As long as you’re taking the time to thoughtfully weigh your recreational spending against your long-term goals, you’re looking out for your financial wellness—and that can make a world of difference!
Getting a handle on your spending and saving can help set you up for long-term success. No matter what your savings goals are, Vanguard can help you plan for them.
For more information about Vanguard funds, visit vanguard.com to obtain a prospectus or, if available, a summary prospectus. Investment objectives, risks, charges, expenses, and other important information about a fund are contained in the prospectus; read and consider it carefully before investing.
Vanguard Marketing Corporation, Distributor of the Vanguard Funds.