Stop Saving for a Rainy Day

by Shana Montesol Johnson

I admit I derive a great amount of comfort from having savings set aside for a rainy day.  And not just financial savings, like money in the bank or my retirement account, but also things like: a fully stocked pantry, a couple of blog posts pre-written and ready to go, clothes or shoes in the next size up waiting for my daughter to grow into them.

I am a saver. If you give me a tin of lovely scented candles or fancy soaps, say, for my birthday, my first impulse is not to open and use them.  Rather, into the closet they will go — they’re much too nice for a regular day.  I’ll keep them for a special occasion — which may or may not come.

Living in a foreign country has only magnified my propensity to stockpile. When I return to the US on vacation, I stock up on all sorts of things that I can’t obtain or afford in Manila.  My annual trips to Target, Costco, and Trader Joe’s have become something of a pilgrimage, after which my pantry is full.  Of course, the same pattern remains: bounty in the cupboard but hesitancy to use, consume or enjoy it.

Sometimes, my propensity to save backfires. While I’m waiting for that rainy day, my stockpiled goodies turn stale, go out of style, or are simply no longer needed — and I end up throwing them away.

So when I heard the following story about saving for a special day, it hit home. (I first heard it in church as part of a sermon, and when I Googled it to find its origin, was dismayed to find it listed on urban legend websites.  However, a bit more digging yielded verification from the Los Angeles Times that it’s a true story, dating back to 1985.)  It’s fairly brief and worth sharing, so I’ve included it here in its entirety (the bold is mine):

What Special Someday Are We Saving For?


My brother-in-law opened the bottom drawer of my sister’s bureau and lifted out a tissue-wrapped package.

“This,” he said, “is not a slip. This is lingerie.”

He discarded the tissue and handed me the slip. It was exquisite: silk, handmade and trimmed with a cobweb of lace. The price tag with an astronomical figure on it was still attached.

“Jan bought this the first time we went to New York, at least eight or nine years ago. She never wore it. She was saving it for a special occasion. Well, I guess this is the occasion.”

He took the slip from me and put it on the bed with the other clothes we were taking to the mortician. His hands lingered on the soft material for a moment. Then he slammed the drawer shut and turned to me.

“Don’t ever save anything for a special occasion. Every day you’re alive is a special occasion.”

I remembered those words through the funeral and the days that followed when I helped him and my niece attend to all the sad chores that follow an unexpected death. I thought about them on the plane returning to California from the Midwestern town where my sister’s family lives. I thought about all the things that she hadn’t seen or heard or done. I thought about the things that she had done without realizing that they were special.

I’m still thinking about his words, and they’ve changed my life. I’m reading more and dusting less. I’m sitting on the deck and admiring the view without fussing about the weeds in the garden. I’m spending more time with my family and friends and less time in committee meetings.

Whenever possible, life should be a pattern of experiences to savor, not endure. I’m trying to recognize these moments now and cherish them.

I’m not “saving” anything; we use our good china and crystal for every special event–such as losing a pound, getting the sink unstopped, the first camellia blossom.

I wear my good blazer to the market if I feel like it. My theory is if I look prosperous, I can shell out $28.49 for a small bag of groceries without wincing.

I’m not saving my good perfume for special parties; clerks in hardware stores and tellers in banks have noses that function as well as my party-going friends.

“Someday” and “one of these days” are fighting a losing battle to stay in my vocabulary. If it’s worth seeing or hearing or doing, I want to see and hear and do it now.

I’m not sure what my sister would have done had she known that she wouldn’t be here for the tomorrow we all take for granted. I think she would have called family members and a few close friends. She might have called a few former friends to apologize and mend fences for past squabbles. I like to think she would have gone out for a Chinese dinner, her favorite food. I’m guessing–I’ll never know.

It’s those little things left undone that would make me angry if I knew that my hours were limited. Angry because I put off seeing good friends whom I was going to get in touch with–someday. Angry because I hadn’t written certain letters that I intended to write–one of these days. Angry and sorry that I didn’t tell my husband and daughter often enough how much I truly love them.

I’m trying very hard not to put off, hold back or save anything that would add laughter and luster to our lives.

And every morning when I open my eyes I tell myself that this is a special occasion.


How about you? Is there something that you’ve been saving for a rainy day or a special occasion?  May I invite you to stop waiting?  Bring it out of the cupboard.  Stop saving.  Use it to enhance your life and that of those you care about — today.

Photo by familymwr

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }


Wonderful post, Shana! I totally agree with this. The other day I gave Maia a box of my stickers and stationery that I’d been saving since -college-! Figured it’s been this long since I hadn’t used the stuff, might as well give it to someone who will use it without judgement and totally randomly! Agree we should have more “special occasions” and use up all those wonderful things in our closets! Big hugs!


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