Capital Gazette wins special Pulitzer Prize citation for coverage of newsroom shooting that killed five

Putting some money aside doesn't have to 'crimp' your life


Q. I read your article about how savings need not put a crimp in your lifestyle.

As a retired teacher whose career was spent using various persuasive methods to induce learning, I have noted with alarm the somewhat annoying, "nagging" tone of many of your articles, apparently motivated by a sincere desire to convince the American public that their savings habits are woefully deficient.

But take it from a professional: It doesn't work. You have noted this yourself by publishing some of the numerous irritated reactions to your constant exhortations to put money aside for the future. Unfortunately, reality clearly shows the majority of people prefer to live in the present and enjoy such innocent pleasures as a cup of coffee and a comfortably air-conditioned home. (There is such a thing as inexpensive but good coffee.)

I can only conclude that the best explanation of why saving doesn't "put a crimp" in your lifestyle is that your everyday life, apparently devoted entirely to worrying about the financial future, is boring.

A. While my columns bug some readers, my mail runs at least 10-1 in favor of the savings habits I advocate. That's not surprising: Since my writings are meant to be about savings, I would expect them to attract readers who want to save.

Still, I also get letters from readers ticked off at my frequent admonitions to save. I like to publish their comments to let them sound off and because it gives me the opportunity to expand on some topics and try to dispel a few myths.

I agree most people prefer to live in the present - I do, too. But you can enjoy the present while also taking sensible steps to prepare for the future.

I also believe - this may surprise you - that people have the right to spend whatever they want. But then they need to live with the consequences. The column on savings tips you mentioned was prompted by a survey showing 71 percent of American women worry about their financial situation - some losing sleep and getting physically sick over it - mostly because of lack of savings to meet unexpected expenses.

Given those numbers, some savings tips - from giving up daily lattes to lowering the electric bill - seemed in order.

I realize, however, that a few savings tips won't necessarily translate into savings. Accepting that "nagging" doesn't work, allow me to assure you that life can be good when you save.

To put it simply, I am having a ball. My wife, Georgina, and I just returned from a trip to Italy with the children and grandchildren, and are planning one to Disney World in December. I get daily breaks from my writing by taking walks by the ocean a couple of blocks from our home. I am active in chess and computer clubs and this fall will start music lessons. (Last year, I composed my first tune.) And I don't worry about our finances; we have enough savings to last us all our lives.

The main reason we do is that we've saved diligently (and mostly painlessly) throughout our lives. Not liking coffee, for instance, I give up nothing by not drinking it. And with the ocean a couple of blocks from our home, the delicious ocean breezes we get mean we don't need (or want) air conditioning other than in the summer.

Now let's avoid another misconception. Money alone is not the answer. A survey this year by PNC Advisors found that 33 percent of wealthy Americans worry constantly about money, including an astounding 19 percent of those with $10 million or more. Regardless of how much money the people surveyed had, they consistently said they needed double that amount to feel secure.

Happiness comes from enjoying the things you do, many of them quite simple, and not from how much money you have. At some point in life, there is enough.

Humberto Cruz is a columnist for Tribune Media Services. E-mail him at

Copyright © 2019, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad