There’s nothing that I love more than sitting down at the beginning of a new year with a warm cup of tea, a new notebook, and last year’s planner to reflect on what went well and what I want to improve going forward. It’s the foundation for the new goals I set each year, which always include a variety of things, from wanting to incorporate more leafy greens into my diet to finally finishing my TBR pile (one day!) to getting that big promotion at work. Since I’m a personal finance writer, there are always a few money-related goals that make my New Year’s resolution list each year.
Last year, my money goals included saving a certain amount toward buying a home. It was the goal I focused on the most and was successful in achieving! This year, however, when I reflected on my goal of saving more money in 2023, I realized that I wanted to take a bit of a different approach in 2024. In fact, I decided that I wanted to spend more money this year. Nope, that wasn’t a typo! My biggest financial goal for 2024 is actually to spend more money than I did last year. Sounds like a crazy New Year’s resolution, I know—so let’s talk about it.
Why I plan on spending more money
While it might seem unconventional to want to spend more money, it’s my direction for the year and a New Year’s resolution that I stand by! In the personal finance world, the message is often “save, save, save.” Save for a house, save for an emergency fund, save for the next trip you want to take. As a personal finance geek, I’ll be the first to admit that I love saving and what it can do for me. I think it’s important to regularly think about how you’re saving! However, if you’re saving it usually means you’re cutting something else out, whether it be day trips with friends, new clothes, or the oft-condemned daily latte (gasp!). For me, I realized that in my attempt to achieve my goal of saving more, I had cut out a lot of things that brought me joy, perhaps unnecessarily.
In taking the time to do a deep dive of 2023 as a whole and analyzing both the wins and the losses (which I highly recommend everyone doing!), I noticed that I didn’t do a ton besides save, which really isn’t healthy. I cut out my daily treats on the days when I went into the office, which doubled as socialization time with my work friends, my husband and I opted for at-home date nights but passed on a lot of cool limited-time events in our city, and I said no to a girls’ trip that I probably could have made work if I tried a little harder with my budget. All that to say, I was a bit too ruthless in my quest to save. In 2024, my New Year’s resolution is to change that.
How I plan on being more mindful with my spending
Now, I’ll be the first to admit that I still have ambitious savings goals this year that I plan on hitting. However, I’m no longer willing to do it at the expense of every fun, frivolous thing I enjoy spending money on. Life isn’t just about saving for the future, it’s about learning how to save while still enjoying the present. Deprivation just for the sake of it isn’t the vibe. But increasing spending across the board definitely won’t allow me to hit my other goals this year either. That’s exactly where spending mindfully comes in.
Life isn’t just about saving for the future, it’s about learning how to save while still enjoying the present.
Mindful spending is exactly what it sounds like: spending thoughtfully on things that bring you joy and choosing to save money on things that don’t bring you joy. The beauty of this thinking is that it’s entirely individual and varies from person to person. It’s easy to figure out what was a good use of money by reviewing your bank statements and deciding what you’d buy again. For me, if it’s not a necessity (like my daily transit fee or pet food subscription), but I can’t remember what I bought, it likely wasn’t worth it. If I can clearly identify what the thing was and remember that I enjoyed it, no matter how frivolous it might seem to others, then it was worth it.
When I looked back over my spending in 2023, I realized that I was happy I cut out the daily office treats and coffee, regular takeout because I was too lazy to cook, and random impulse purchases from social media, but I was ultimately sad about missing the girls’ trip and other experiences. While opting out of these things did get me a little bit closer to my end goal, I would have rather spent the money and walked away with the memories. With these reflections under my belt, I’ve identified categories that I plan to spend more on in 2024, which are exciting me for the year ahead.
What I’m spending more money on this year
Experiences with friends
As my friend group approaches 30, it’s harder and harder for us all to get together with our busy schedules. This year, I’m no longer going to let opportunities to connect pass me by. I will be taking part in both budget-friendly at-home girls’ nights and weekends away. I will be calling my girlfriends to go to dinner more often. And I will not be worried about the cost associated with those memories and connections.
Another surprising area that jumped out from my spending review was that I didn’t buy many clothes last year. While that seems like a win at first glance, there were definitely clothes that I should have replaced. (Style is important to me, and having clothes I love to wear is a goal of mine, too!) This year, I plan to allocate a chunk of my budget to slowly building my dream capsule wardrobe. I don’t plan to spend a ton of money on this (I love to thrift), but I’ll allow myself to buy the right items as they come along.
I haven’t always been a big traveler, but it’s become more important to me since the pandemic. Something I’ll prioritize as a part of this New Year’s resolution is taking trips to step back from my day-to-day. We only traveled once last year to a fairly local spot, and I really enjoyed the chance to get away. This one trip helped me realize that it was something I valued spending money on. While I don’t foresee any first-class flights in my future, I’ll be scouring deals to book travel experiences in 2024.
When you’re trying to save money, it can be hard to justify any expenses that don’t seem to get you closer to your goal. With that in mind, I essentially didn’t pursue any hobbies last year that cost money even though I was interested in them, like taking a pottery class or signing up to learn golf. There are certainly plenty of free and at-home hobbies that I do, but I see my ideal self as being able to play golf and make cute pottery dishes for my home, and those things take at least a small upfront cost. Upon reflecting on my overall goals for this new year, finding some cost-effective classes to sign up for is something I’m happy to spend money on, so I’ll definitely be finding room for a few hobbies in my budget going forward.
Source: Cosmo Politian