Save every penny you can for the future or enjoy life now and worry about the future later? Which is correct? I know one young couple who are true penny-pinchers and save every possible dollar they can. They are doing a great job saving, but they really don’t allow themselves the opportunity to relax and take in God’s beauty that surrounds them. On the other hand, I also know another couple that takes unbelievable vacations, spends hard-earned dollars on some of the finer things in life, and truly just enjoy the here-and-now. So again, which approach is right?

In my opinion, neither of these approaches is entirely accurate. As is often the case, the answer lies somewhere in the middle. Yes, we must appreciate the gift of life every day, but we also need to prepare for things that lie ahead.

As we consider saving for the future, there are so many different reasons we need to save, and it can be overwhelming. We need to save for emergencies, vacations, renovations, purchases, and of course, retirement. The need to save is obvious, but execution is often the challenge. Therefore, when we do save, we should make the most of it.

Don’t just save – invest. Leaving savings in your checking account is not a wise decision for a couple of reasons. First, building up a checking account will only entice you to spend some, or even most of it. For example, I have seen many people use their emergency savings for unnecessary home projects – especially during the pandemic. They didn’t originally plan to do the project, but I think they needed a project to help keep themselves busy – and they had the money. The problem is they worked hard to save that money, but the ease of access made it easy to spend. People who leave money in their checking account also tend to eat out far more than they would have because it’s easier than cooking, and again, they have the money handy.  Secondly, most checking accounts pay little or nothing in interest, which means your money is not working for you.

If you are saving, then make the most of it. If you need the money more easily accessible for emergencies, then put it in a liquid savings account that allows you to gain easy access to it – but not too easy. There should be some form of inconvenience in order for it to cause you to pause and contemplate the decision. A second sober thought can go a long way. A separate money market account or a Foundation Certificate with Church Investors Fund are good examples. If you are saving for things a little further down the line, such as home purchases or large-scale renovations, consider investing in the stock market using an online brokerage account. This would allow you to hopefully gain from a higher return. It’s obviously a higher risk, but time is on your side, and it can allow you to wait for the right time to sell. And if you are saving for retirement, take advantage of the various tax-deferred options, such as a 401k or Traditional IRA. You can also consider investing in mutual funds or long-term bonds. If you don’t know where to start, reach out to a trusted and qualified source who can help get you on track.

The balance is to enjoy life today but also set yourself up to enjoy life later. It is not easy, but it will definitely be worth it.