My lovely friend Tanya is celebrating a birthday this week and had a post about reflections on life and what she has learned now that she is a year older. One of the reflections she noted, I absolutely loved and want to talk about in more detail.
This is what she said:
“I like shoes. I like purses. I like clothes. I like spas. This does not make me a bad person or a frivolous spender. It means I know where I like to spend my discretionary money, which does not need your approval”.
This particular reflection of Tanya’s really stood out to me because I feel as women, we constantly feel the need to justify our lives and what we do with them. We are constantly having to defend our decisions and why we made them.
For example, decisions that always need explanations even though they are nobody’s business:
- Having children. “Why don’t you have kids? Don’t you want them?”
- Marriage. “Why aren’t you married? Don’t you want to settle down with someone?”
- Childrearing: “If I were you, I would stay home with my children. I wouldn’t be working”.
- Money: “Why do you spend your money on things like that?”
Women get asked these questions and so much more and we end up on the defensive, trying to articulate why we made our particular decision.
The money angle though, is what I want to focus on because I feel like in the blogosphere, this is a hot topic.
Personal finance blogs talk constantly about saving your money, being frugal, and don’t frivolously spend. “Stay home and cook dinner! Don’t eat out…ever!” “Don’t turn on the heater in the winter! Wear four sweaters at a time and cuddle under a blanket! If your fingers go numb, just sit on them! They’ll warm up in a minute!”
I jest, but you get the picture. Finances are important. Paying down debt is important. Having a savings account is important.
But so is having a life.
We are actually meant to live our lives and not sacrifice small moments of happiness in the name of frugality. I don’t mean go and spend all the money, but if fresh flowers on your kitchen table make you happy, that is OKAY. You don’t need to justify that $3.99 bouquet of flowers you picked up at Trader Joe’s.
When it comes to the topic of Minimalism, people operate under the assumption that stark white walls are the way to go. No couch, just a cushion to sit on. No art on the walls. No pets, because that is not very minimalist of you!
That is all nonsense.
You can call yourself a minimalist and still enjoy paintings by local artists on your walls. It is okay that you own a pet and gasp! they require dishes and food and other accoutrements. It is okay if you like colors and your wardrobe isn’t all monochrome.
My point is, we are wired as human beings to enjoy life and you don’t have to justify how you spend your money. You like shoes, fine. You like taking a ballroom dance class twice a week, fine. You like channeling your inner Julia Child and like to bake up tasty treats on the weekend, fine.
It is all okay.
Don’t let anyone ever make you feel guilty for the choices you make in life. No more justifying.
No more defending.