While there is a lot of talk around the PF water cooler about being frugal & saving your money, there are certain things that I feel it is OK to spend money on. Too often, people buy crappy goods or have terrible experiences because they are too busy being penny-pinchers, or they buy food that is terrible for them because it saves a few bucks in the short term. But at what expense in the future are you saving money today? Let’s take a look at a few things that I think it is OK to spend your hard-earned money on.
1. Food – The number one thing on my list is food because, well, without it you would not last that long. My wife and I spend about $400 a month on food to feed just the two of us; I cannot imagine what it will be when we have other mouths to feed! But food is what keeps us healthy, feeds our brains, gives us energy, and could possibly enable us to live longer, healthier lives. So we do not scrimp and buy the cheaper “fast-food” type of products, but rather we buy organic fruits, veggies, meat, milk, and juice along with healthy cereals and breads. I don’t see food as an expense, but rather an investment, and there is nothing I would rather spend money on than an investment in myself and my health. If I had to choose between having a bigger TV or a nicer car or buying healthier foods, I would choose the healthier foods every time. Without food, the other stuff would not be necessary!
2. Vacation – People in the United States do not take enough vacations. I believe we are given the least amount of days off by our employers and we take even less than we are given. Most of us continue to work through our “vacation”, turning what could be some great family and relaxation time into yet more time hunched over in front of a computer or a blackberry. We try to take at least one bigger vacation every year, with smaller ones thrown in occasionally on other long weekends. There truly is nothing better than getting out of your regular environment, even for a day or two, and taking in a different view, going for a swim, ordering room service, or just sitting in the sun ordering a drink. I believe vacations make us healthier, invigorate us to work harder at our job, and make us think outside of ourselves for other ideas that might be hiding – like your true dreams, business ideas, etc.
3. Experiences – Although I am not a fan of it and would probably never do it, friends of mine (and my own brother) have paid hundreds of dollars to jump out of airplanes. To me, it seems insane, but to them it was a life-altering decision that they still look back on with no regrets. I am a firm believer in spending money for experiences, and if someone offered me the chance to drive a race car down a drag strip or take a ride in a military jet, I don’t really care how much it would cost – it’s a once in a lifetime experience that I would never forget. Money is easy to make compared to making a memory of something you always wanted to do.
4. Automobiles – I am not talking about spending a fortune on Bentleys or Mercedes’ or even BMW’s here, but rather a on a solid car that will last long enough for you to get your money’s worth. After dropping $10,000 on a new Kia you might find yourself without a reliable car in a few years, where if you buy a $15,000 Honda you get a car that would last at least 10+ years and provide you with safe and reliable transportation. (See, told you I was not talking about Mercedes’ here). The best thing to do in my book is to probably buy a used late model Honda or Toyota for much less than sticker, and then keep it until it no longer moves and/or costs more per month to repair than a car payment would. But some of the cheaper cars entice you with the lower upfront NEW cost only to cost you way more down the line.
5. Your Children – And no, I don’t mean by just spending loads of cash on clothes, jewelry, cars, birthday parties, etc.. But rather, I am talking about helping them get ready to face the challenges that they might face in life. Most parents are OK by the time they have kids, as in they have a good job, they might own a house, they have a few hobbies – so their place in the world is already known. It’s not that they cannot change it, but rather they are presented with a young child that they can help tremendously by spending quality time (and money, if necessary) with them. Whether it be piano lessons that seem to expensive, a sport that requires too much equipment, or some other thing they are interested in getting involved in…I hear so many stories about how this or that is “so expensive, I just don’t have the money to pay for it”…while the parents are driving Escalades with 3 DVD players in them along with buying all their own clothes at designer stores. Priorities, please. I am not saying to waste money on kids or to give them anything they want, but rather not to complain when something they want to do costs money when you are dropping way more than that on luxury items. They are kids!
I am a firm believer in saving your money and making it work for you, finding alternative sources of income, finding your true purpose in life, etc – but I am not a firm believer in making money just to spend it on a McMansion with 12 plasma TV’s and 6 bathrooms, 2 pools on either side of the house, 3 different houses around the world, and a new $50,000 car every year. Even if I had it, I still would not spend it like that. So what about you? What are some things you think it is OK to spend money on and NOT OK?