When I started my first real job at 14, I didn’t have many expenses. I lived at home with my parents, I wasn’t old enough to drive, I didn’t have a significant other (yet) to spend money on. So I saved the vast majority of my earnings. Although I instinctively enjoyed the idea of saving my money (my brothers, on the other hand, called it hoarding), I thought I needed a purpose for saving. So I gave the money a specific purpose, and saved my money to buy a car when I was old enough to drive. And that is exactly what I did with it.
Now I am not trying to claim that money shouldn’t be saved for specific purposes. But the idea that was missing from my financial vocabulary was the idea of saving money “just because”. I now have an emergency fund, and although there are a lot of things it could potentially be used for, it doesn’t have a specific purpose preassigned to it. I save it just because. Just in case I need it. Just because some money should be saved. And hopefully, at some point in the future, I will save a very large amount (to me) of money, between $15,000 and $20,000, just because.
This is a very new concept for me to embrace. It was a hard thing for me to wrap my head around, this idea of saving money with no specific preassigned purpose for it other than to be there in case it is needed. And certainly, the idea of saving a large amount of money with no absolute and certain predetermined assignment is still a hard one for me to completely embrace. I’ve never had a significantly large amount of money saved for anything, especially not one that was five figures. I don’t think I have ever had a bank balance with five figures before, and our retirement savings is currently barely into five figure land. The idea of saving that much money without knowing exactly what it will be used for is a very strange concept to me indeed.
But if I have learned nothing else over the past year of blogging about my finances, I have learned to expect the unexpected, and that being prepared is a much better alternative to being unprepared for what life may bring. We’ve weathered a few financial challenges, and the one where we were prepared to handle the difficulty without turning to debt was a much smoother and less traumatic ordeal than when we had no idea how we would get through the difficulty.
I’m an emergency fund believer, a convert, and an embracer of the just because mantra. And we will continue to save money, slowly but surely, just because.