Reader Question – Do You Ever Spend Money On Anything?


The other day I got this question from Fiona, a reader of My Two Dollars:

“You always talk about saving money and making sacrifices, don’t you ever spend any money? Don’t you have stuff you want or things you want to do? What good is money if you don’t spend it?”

OK, so it’s more than one single question, but they all ask the same thing…”Are you a cheap bastard?” And the answer is no…we just control our spending, save for what we want, and buy quality over quantity when we do spend it. I spend too much time working for my money to just toss it out the window on a whim, and I like to take the best advantage I can of the money that comes in the door. For us, some things are worth spending money on and most others are not. For example:

Vacations are one thing that I feel are A. important to take and B. worth the money spent. In the past year, we have gone to Palm Springs for a weekend, a week long drive through the California, Arizona and New Mexico, went to Boston and Chicago to visit family, spent a weekend up near Sacramento, and we are headed to Mexico in November for 6 days. Every one of these vacations is (or will be) money well-spent because it gives us a break from our regular lives, gives us a chance to explore new places, and provides memories and experiences we wouldn’t otherwise have. We have a savings account that is set up for only vacation money, and I usually put $50-$75 per month into this account. Over time, this adds up and allows to take these trips with a minimal impact on our finances.

Another thing I feel is worthy spending money on is a nice dinner out once a month or so. There really is nothing like going to a nice restaurant and having someone get everything for you and clean up afterwards too! However, eating out too often every month would drain my bank account, so we limit it and thus can go to nicer places.

When it comes to spending money on work related products, I am a firm believer that sometimes it costs money up front in order to increase your income later. For example, I work from home doing various freelance work…video editing, web stuff, writing, etc etc. Because of that, no one other than myself is going to buy me the equipment I need to be more productive at my job, so it is up to me to decide where my money should be spent to make that happen. So buying the equipment you need, although it can get expensive, is worth it in my book.

One last thing I feel is OK to spend our income on is food. Not the restaurant variety, I already covered that. I am talking about the food we eat and make at home. We buy as much organic and natural food as we can because, well, it is going into our bodies! I would rather give up any and all of my gadgets than eat crappy, genetically modified and man-altered food. Food is what keeps us alive, and my health is worth far more than the latest iPhone, HDTV or whatever. If you can afford both, that’s fantastic…there is nothing wrong with having your cake and eating it too. But food is one thing I will not scrimp on.

That all being said, I think you need to find a healthy balance between hording your money and blowing it all on crap. Fiona is right…what is the use of money if you never spend any of it? The problem people have is that they think they “need” a new TV, a new car, new clothes, etc. when they really only “want” them. Buying stuff you want when you can easily afford it is fine…but buying when you can’t doesn’t make any sense to me. And the opposite is true as well, because if you only save and never spend anything, you might be missing out on some of life’s greatest pleasures such as vacations, good food, and new experiences. So Fiona, there you go and I hope that helps answer your question. I would never advocate wasting your money on stuff you don’t need, but I do think it is important to spend some money on things that make your life better, whether that be your personal or work life. I am not a cheap bastard, I am just careful about where my money goes!

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Comments (25)

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  1. chitowngirl says:

    It seems like you have a very well balanced approach. Kudos to you!

  2. Rudiger Stevens says:

    I always found that garage sales are the worst places to find yourself spending cash on random trinkets that you don’t really need.

  3. Joseph Sangl says:

    I love the balancing act between being too tight and too free with my money!!!

    It sounds like you are doing a great job keeping the balance!!!

    At the end of the day, if we all keep managing our money well we can all go hit the ski slopes several times per year – without even thinking about it – because of the sacrifices being made now!

    Great post (and great question, Fiona!).

  4. […] A great personal finance blogger at MyTwoDollars has written a great response to the question: "Do You Spend Money On Anything?" HERE. […]

  5. david says:

    That’s exactly my point Joseph…manage it wisely and we can still do the things we love that cost money!

  6. Fraktfritt says:

    I believe its all about opportunity cost – what do you have to forgoe to justify a purchase. If you can put a personal value on what you want – purchases justify themselves! Like holidays the true value of a oliday for me is being re-energise yourself

  7. […] Two Dollars asks an interesting question on whether we spend money on anything at all.  I guess I sort of answered it with my celebration article up […]

  8. […] Two Dollars asks an interesting question on whether we spend money on anything at all.  I guess I sort of answered it with my celebration article up […]

  9. […] Two Dollars presents Do You Ever Spend Money On Anything? (Hint: he’s not […]

  10. […] Reader Question: Do You Ever Spend Money on Anything? […]

  11. m says:

    Sounds so much like what my husband and I do. We don’t take as many vacations as you do, nor as long, but other than that, we use money for similar things: quality purchases over quantity, experiences more so than things, nicer dinner outs but less often, organic, healthy groceries. We also do some freelance work and also put some money toward our hobbies and side interestes, such as art and other things. There’s more of course, but your post sounded almost exactly like one I could have written myself.

  12. the baglady says:

    I agree with you. Moderation is key and that’s why I set aside about 2 percent for entertainment every month. My hubby and I never seem to use it up completely so it rolls over to the next month. I do know at least one person who doesn’t spend money on anything, though. That’s my super cheap ex-boyfriend, and I wrote a whole blog post about him.

  13. X-boyfriend says:

    I still love you baglady, but you were way too high maintenance.

  14. […] at My Two Dollars answers a readers question “Do you ever spend money on anything?” No, just because we all talk about saving money and cutting spending, it doesn’t mean […]

  15. […] closing, I will point out the host’s choices for best in show: My Two Dollars presents Do You Ever Spend Money On Anything? (Hint: he’s not […]

  16. […] start off with those who think there are some who save too much. Take this comment received by MyTwoDollars: You always talk about saving money and making sacrifices, don’t you ever spend any money? […]

  17. Pinyo says:

    Nice philosophy 🙂 The organic milk for my pregnant wife is killing me though…$4.50 for half a gallon.

    How does this compute…
    – renewable resource (milk) = $9 per gallon
    – non-renewable (gasoline) = $2.89 per gallon

  18. david says:

    It doesn’t Pinyo, that’s the problem. Everyone wants cheap fuel, but eventually we will truly pay for it.

    As for the milk…I don’t know where you live but $9.00 per gallon for organic milk seems outrageous. I pay $7 or so. But for a pregnant wife and your child, wouldn’t you pay $20?

  19. Kristofer says:

    I completely agree with you, I think what the main problem for people to understand is that most of us can’t afford the TV, the car, or the Iphone. The reason people think they can is because of a brilliant thing called financing. A car I can understand financing, but make a sensible choice, a TV?

    To me, if you can’t afford the TV outright, you don’t need to buy it. Save the money over time, make due without it, then buy it outright. You’ll have saved money, earned interest on it, not paid for financing and received a more cutting edge product due to the wait, or a better price on the same thing because it’s been out a while.

  20. david says:

    Great comment Kristofer, so true. I think everyone thinks they are entitled to these things, which is so not the case. Thanks for the comment!

  21. MossySF says:

    “Balance” sounds just like the fake college entrance BS. Join all sorts of school and community activities you have no interest in to prove to college admission boards you are a balanced student! Except for adults, it’s make sure you have balance in your life by doing a little of everything. If you’re happy, what’s the big about an out-of-balanced life? The age of the renaissance man ended with the industrial revolution — specialists make the world go around. I would not give up ability and focus in exchange for outside approval on how I’ve allocated my life.

  22. […] thing as taking budgeting so far that you stop enjoying life altogether. I have written before that I am not a miser in the sense that I do spend money, even though sometimes it may not seem like it. And even though […]