Striking a balance: Saving for future wants while maintaining current wants

There is no clear cut solution to this problem. Being highly frugal and watching every dollar I spend sometimes creates an imbalance for me. I catch myself penny pinching a little too much every now and then and later realize that my happiness is declining as a result. I am still trying to figure out the "magic formula" where I can be happy now and later.

My main solution is to be sure I travel overseas at least once per year and also do a long weekend on a fun domestic trip. Last year was Cambodia for a month and Myrtle Beach, SC for a long weekend. This year I have the 2 day Bahamas cruise at the end of this month and a month in Thailand with a few days in Malaysia and Singapore thrownin.

That is great but what about the day-to-day stuff? Being an ethnic food buff is a really fun hobby but restaurants get expensive. I limit myself to 1 nice dinner out a week and try to have dinner at home the rest of the time, if possible.  I also do my homework to find the best restaurant for a particular type of food and it usually is very reasonable. I tend to stay away from $30+ (per person) meals as it is simply not worth it to me no matter how good it is.

I thought I had a pretty good balance but I do seem to go back and forth a bit. Sometimes I will eat out more than my budget allows. I will see the busted budget the next month and pull back and "suffer" a little as a result. Part of it comes down to willpower and also comes down to if I have achieved the right balance or not. It's an ongoing process but I have noticed that it does seem to even out some over the long haul. I must say that my budget has come a long way since I started it and I will just have to keep tweaking until I get it right.