You Can’t Take The Money With You


Who knew moving was so expensive.

I recently moved with my boyfriend out of Southern California and into Silicon Valley. For the past few weeks I’ve been slowly getting unpacked here in San Jose and not so slowly ordering all the things on Amazon. All the things.

We actually stepped into one furniture store and realized we hate stores, especially buying furniture from them. So now every few days a large item arrives in the mail. It really is the future.

Aside from all the expenses that come with moving, spending money out the ass has really been in the forefront of my mind. What’s helped me/bothered me through this whole moving process is this idea that I’ve long struggled with: you can’t take the money with you.

Each time my frugal brain twinges at the next expense, a little voice whispers you can’t take the money with you…

$50 Couch or Happy Spouse

This month I’ve truly had to surrender. My normal way of being is to be very tight fisted about spending money. If I had my way we’d have boxes for furniture until we could locate a nice $50 couch on Craigslist.

Unfortunately or fortunately, I picked a man who possesses a different level of frugality than me. His frugality is ok with new furniture but not ok with a $30/month gym membership. So we go to the $10 gym in town and I love him for it.

Sometimes life is about compromise. I know I’d hear about that couch every day if we got it used on Craigslist. I often have to reconcile my frugality with the wishes of others I love.

Why does you can’t take the money with you bother me?  I feel like I hear that line from people in a bunch of credit card debt who own a new car and have no retirement savings. If YOLO is your reasoning for action you can pretty much follow it all the way down the rabbit hole.

YOLO needs limits.


My frugality life up to now has not been so much about knowing how to save money or invest. It’s been more about searching out that all important balance between cardboard box furniture and YOLO. There are months where I eat out three times a week and don’t have extra money to put in savings and I think “Oh no, what have I become?!”

Then there are other times where I have every spare dollar budgeted, allocated, and automated and I feel like the master of my fate.

I have written before about the savings I amassed, only to realize it didn’t mean anything to me. In fact, I actually felt bound and weighed down by it. I felt I had to protect it at all costs and that was a very heavy feeling.

I didn’t want to be like Matt’s grandparents who spent their whole life saving, then wouldn’t travel because it was too expensive. I don’t want to die feeling like I could’ve enjoyed my money more.

The thing is, frugality isn’t all about suffering for the budget. It isn’t about not spending money and making your life about that. For me, It’s actually about engineering a life that is indifferent to money.

I’m going to draw a parallel to another issue I have in my life: food.

About 5 years ago I began to have spontaneous inflammation in my knees whenever I would eat certain foods. The foods were random; some blackberries, a piece of white bread, that creamy orange dynamite sauce on the sushi.

Over time I stopped eating those foods because they didn’t make me feel good. These days I eat mostly vegetables and non-processed meats. I don’t follow any specific diet, I just don’t eat the things that hurt my joints. People could look at my diet and say I’m deprived and that what I eat is no fun. But the truth is, I don’t miss eating those foods because I associate them with pain.

I could go the same way with money. One could say that there are many luxuries I lack because I won’t spend the money on them. But for the most part I don’t miss car payments. I don’t miss my student loans or my credit card debt. I know that my frugal lifestyle has afforded me the ultimate freedom of deciding when I want to spend money on something. I’m now the master of how money makes me feel. I think money is all about feelings when you boil it down.


Our mustachian friend writes a lot about how he’s engineered a life of fulfillment through bike riding and building things; getting his hands dirty and digging into life whenever possible. I try to engage in my life in a way that’s meaningful and indeed, if you’re willing to give up conveniences you’ll safe a ton on money.

But there still is the YOLO. I struggled a lot this month with a surrender to new furniture but I realized I’ll probably never do that again in my life. So I endeavored to enjoy it. I also enjoyed not being the one to put all those pieces together!


I’m still finding balance with spending all the monies and not spending any of the monies. For now, I’m enjoying my new couch and coffee table in a modest one bedroom apartment.


I’d love to hear your stories about finding balance with YOLO.



  1. ZJ Thorne says:

    Finding that balance is ever-shifting. My girlfriend likes fancier restaurants that I prefer. When we are together, we are going to the nicer places because her joy brings me joy and the money is worth it. On my own, I’m far less likely to splurge there. But I spend more on e-books. Adjusting yourself to what your love values is an important part of happiness.
    ZJ Thorne recently posted…Net Worth Week 93My Profile

    • Elsie says:

      I really like that statement– her joy brings me joy. I feel that way. I get happiness out of just knowing others are happy sometimes, and it turns out when I get what I want all the time I’m still not completely happy so what’s the point of fighting.

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