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Monday, February 24, 2014

It's OK to Reward Your Hard Work

Back in the fall, Dani and I decided to axe our restaurant budget. We enjoy the pleasure of eating out just as much as the next person, but in our effort to pay down our debt we decided that we could live without going to restaurants for a little while. In doing so, we've saved about $60 a month, or more. That's about $720 a year, which is about one whole mortgage payment for us.

We did our taxes this month—a task I gladly let my more math efficient wife handle—and, though most of our return is going toward the mortgage, we decided to take some of it and treat ourselves to a new restaurant in town. When we got the bill we remembered why we don't go out to restaurants very often, but the momentary splurge was worth it. The restaurant was great. The food was delicious. And we had a good time.

It was a good reminder to us both not to be too stringent when it comes to this whole penny pinching lifestyle. There are times when you've got to open the wallet and just enjoy yourself. There's nothing undisciplined about that. In fact, it's good practice.

In week two of Financial Peace University, Dave Ramsey's daughter, Rachel Cruze, gives a great example of how NOT to be too strict when it comes to your financial rules. Rachel describes a woman who came up to her after a seminar and told her how well her son had been doing saving money. Apparently this 10-year-old boy had saved up $300 of his own money to buy a game system. Unfortunately when they went to the store to purchase the game system, the boy had forgotten about tax. The total came to more than he could afford. So what did the parents do? They walked out of the store.

Rachel says the parents took some of what they had learned in Financial Peace University far too literally.

"I thought, 'Your 10 year old saved up $300?! You pay the tax!'" Rachel says on the week two DVD. "So, remember parents, your little kids don't have to be soldiers marching around. ... Too many rules is just legalistic, but too much grace is enabling."

Just like there's no excuse to go overboard with your spending, there's no reason to go overboard when it comes to saving. Don't get me wrong, if you're neck-deep in debt you've got to fight for your life to get out of it, but do take time to smell the roses... or try out a good restaurant.

Keep pinchin' :-)

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