While I’m gathering the energy to finish my last round of packing, I’m watching a repeat of Suze Orman on Oprah (I know, I know). I just heard her say until you have your savings, which she now has at 8 months worth, “all your wants go out the window.” Are you kidding me?

Do people really think complete deprivation is the way to financial solvency? Spending disorders are more and more prevalent. I know all too well the endorphin rush that comes from an impulse purchase. Out and out deprivation sets the consumer up for a bulimic-style spending binge, complete with grief, sickness, and regret.

My solution: Learn to live a balanced and creative life as quickly as possible (unless you are in dire circumstances where you must cut out everything except food and shelter).

How long would it take to save 8 months of living expenses? For us, 8 months is approximately $16,000. Since our savings transfer is approximately $50 a month, it would take 320 months to save up the 8! So according to Suze Orman, for 20 years, I shouldn’t go to a concert, have a nice dinner with my husband, or anything else.

All I hear from the TV entertainers these days (and that’s what these people are; they need ratings too) is to cut, stop spending, yada-yada-yada, but they don’t offer other lifestyle options. Personal finance really needs to include finding creative solutions to make sure you’re not living a deprived life, ending with a several hundred dollar credit card binge.

What can a person do that costs little or no money?

  1. Go to a local art walk.
  2. Listen to music in the park.
  3. Take advantage of student/senior discounts and passes.
  4. Save up mypoints for a gift card to a dinner out.
  5. Set aside a small amount of money for entertainment. You’re more likely to stay within a small budget than you are no budget.
  6. Barter your skills for amenities. You can trade your bookkeeping skills for a couple’s massage, or something similar.

I am always surprised how when individuals discover they can arrange to get some of their favorite entertainment for free, they would rather not spend money on frivolity.

So should we preach deprivation? Only if we want to create more shame, more debt, and less financial savvy. Creativity and hard work are always better options. We should be saying, “No one says you can’t attempt to fulfill that wish list; you just can’t use money to do so.” That is allocated to savings, to debt repayment, to your future. We just have to be more ingenuitive with our now.