A renter’s guide to making sure building your nest egg doesn’t leave you bored.

You’re living on your own. Renting your first apartment. You’ve got big plans. Big dreams. It’s time to take things to the next level. So you start saving. Saving for a wedding, a house, a big trip…and next thing you know you’re BORED.

Many people fall into the trap of all or nothing thinking. Either choosing to live in the moment (in an expensive apartment with designer furniture) and spend every cent they make as fast as they can make it (sometimes even faster – hello credit cards!!) or they choose to deny themselves absolutely everything (renting a hovel with a million roommates) as they funnel all their money and energy into some far off dream.

Saving money while renting shouldn’t mean losing your sanity.

Like most things in life, it’s all about balance. Setting balanced goals. Creating balanced plans to achieve them. And recognizing what is truly important to you, your partner and your relationship.

You can save without feeling like you’re penny-pinching. The secret is perspective. If your goal is shared and reasonable, both of you will be able to make saving for it a priority without feeling like you’re constantly living a life where you’re denying yourself. It’s really about being on the same page more than anything else. When one or the other of you doesn’t value the end goal for saving, it can quickly lead to an imbalance of commitment to the task and an erosion of focus.

So how to you have it all? In the moment fun and longer-term savings?

I love the show where they make different jars and make you live out of jars. But there’s no way I would ever do it in reality. Taking money out of a jar would make me feel foolish and angry and next thing I know, I’d be smashing the jars and running as fast as I could to somewhere…anywhere…I could spend all that glorious money.

So jars are out for me. Maybe they’d work for you. But if you’re like me, here’s something to try.

Make a list! Lists are soooo good for soooo many things. This list is a list of fun things you like to do – both together and alone. Things that make you feel happy, relaxed, fulfilled. Include people you’d like to spend more time with. Local places you’ve always wanted to explore.

Chances are not everything on that list is going to be big or expensive. Once you see that not everything that brings you joy costs money, you can be more conscious of the feeling you’re trying to create in your life. Any time you’re feeling like saving is denying you (a night out, a new outfit, a weekend away)…you can look back on your list to figure out something else you can do to raise your spirits without sacrificing your bigger goal.

There is joy in living in the moment. But there is also profound satisfaction knowing you’re working towards a larger, important (shared) goal. And really, it’s the balance of both that will ultimately create a sustainable lifestyle.

If you’re feeling stuck living in an apartment that doesn’t fit your lifestyle or values but works for your budget, you might have another option. Right now, Calgary vacancy rates are high and you can probably get a much better apartment without paying much more money. Take a look at The Arch, it might just be the balance of living in the moment and still having room to save for the future you’re looking for.

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