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"Man, you sure saved a lot of money by not booking a yacht trip around the world this summer."
Paula Pant of the website Afford Anything points out that statements like this are ludicrous. That's because, she says, you were never even considering booking a month-long sail, and therefore, you aren't "saving" money — you just aren't spending it. And that isn't the same thing.
"You're only 'saving' money if you legitimately would have made a purchase, but refrained from doing so," she writes. "Savings, in other words, happens when we deviate from our habits."
She's happy to admit that everyone's habits are different, and that outlandish expenses you were never really considering aren't the only things that don't count as savings — neither does refraining from spending on things your friends, family, or coworkers might consider a standard part of their week. If you wouldn't normally spend on it, it isn't saving. She explains:
Don't listen to people who say you're saving money by NOT doing something that society considers “normal,” like driving an awesome car, sleeping in posh hotels, or dining at fancy restaurants. If that was true, people should also say, “Think of all the money you're saving by NOT skydiving twice a week!”
Now, no one's saying that not spending isn't an admirable feat in and of itself (in fact, you can consult our list of mental tricks to continue keeping your wallet closed). But real saving comes from changing your spending habits. So: Where will you save?
Hat tip to Rockstar Finance.
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