Five Things I Think It Is OK To Spend Money On.

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?

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Comments (22)

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  1. Alex Knapp says:

    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.

    Umm, come again? I’ve owned two Kias and driven them a lot, and I’ve never had any problems with them whatsoever. The most I’ve ever had to drop in maintenance costs was a couple hundred on a tune up. That’s it. Kia makes some great, reliable cars.

  2. LJ says:

    I agree with what you have said.
    I try to scrimp and save on the things that are not important or less important than others so we can buy or have the things we find important.
    Everyone has their own priorities and I think everyone should spend where they think it is most beneficial(education, home, food, whatever) and scrimp where it is not(plasma tvs, cadillacs, etc.)
    We do without the fancy extras so our family can have the more important things, like vacations and participate in things like boy scouts or music lessons.

    You have made some great points here, as far as autos go, I am not sure about kias or hondas, but I know that my chevys have all run for years and years and cost little to maintain.

  3. Mrs. Micah says:

    Even though we eat frugally, I know we spend more on food than we absolutely need to. But like you, I value it a lot. Eating good food is one of the basic pleasures in life. And cooking it myself then enjoying it every day is much cheaper even than cooking minimally and eating out a couple times a week.

  4. I agree with what you are saying but to an extent. Food is important and it’s well worth the cost to buy better food, like organic, but you can still be frugal about it. Whole Foods is WAY more expensive than Trader Joe’s for instance.

    Vacations – I used to complain that it costs so much to go on vacation. Then I started going away with my girlfriend (now wife) and realized how important they are. That said, you can still save hundreds, if not thousands, by doing your research and shopping around before you commit to a trip.

    That leads to experiences, children. I guess it’s all relative. You have to understand what your values are and why you are spending your money. Memories are priceless.

  5. The best way to spend money is to donate .

  6. david says:

    Alex, while I am glad you have had good experiences with Kia, they have only gotten better in the last 2 years or so. Prior to that, they had terrible ratings. But good thing you had a good experience, it saves you cash!

    And LJ- glad your Chevy’s run well, but I am an import man and I don’t really track the domestics. They are probably better today than they used to be when my parents had them when I was kid – they were bad then…but I would buy an American truck over an import for sure.

  7. This is going to sound boring. But I think it is OK to spend money on furniture. By spending more and getting furniture of quality you will have something that will last. We even did this for the furniture in our kids room and they will be taking it with them to college. The cheap stuff would probably have broken down by now.

  8. David says:

    I agree Kyle – when you buy something that should be expensive, it is better to spend the money than buy the cheap version several times over. Thanks for your thoughts!

  9. I think it’s important to make the distinction between being frugal and sacrificing quality to life. Well put David.

    And I’m like you, I’m not jumping out of an airplane either. Conquering your fears is sometimes overrated:)

  10. DebtKid says:

    This is a good list. For a while I was having trouble spending ANY money at all, and felt guilty each time I used my debit card. Then I got hungry and realized a man has to eat!

  11. david says:

    Oh it most certainly is Ciaran – there are some things we humans were just not meant to do. Thanks for the comment!

  12. speedy says:

    I agree with spending money on good food. Diet has a profound effect on health, and eating healthy foods will save you thousands of dollars on medical bills and may well extend your life. That is one of the reasons I am now eating a vegan diet, and also a reason why my grocery budget is a bit larger than average (no worries – it will go down when I have a place where I can have my own garden). Never underestimate the damage that consuming animal proteins will do to a human body.

    One category where I do not spend as much money is entertainment. I know people who are dining out and who go to movies often, and the amount they spend is incredible! Most of the things I do for fun are inexpensive or free.

    And of course I think addictions are bad: not just to illegal drugs and alcohol and tobacco, but other things that people use to hide from their lives: overeating, “recreational shopping,” burying yourself in your work, etc.

    As for cars, I agree wholeheartedly about Hondas (I still miss my Civic, which finally gave out a few years ago), but I have also heard that Kias are improving (have never driven one, so I cannot offer a first-hand opinion). If you are looking for a truck, look at the Toyota Tundra, especially if you plan to do any hauling. It is very highly rated (check Consumer Reports) and most domestic trucks do not have great towing capacity.

  13. fathersez says:

    You have a very reasonable list.

    You may want to consider adding education to your list.

  14. David says:

    Good one, thanks!

  15. […] at My Two Dollars likes to be frugal, but he came up with five things he thinks it is ok to spend money on. How do you practice your frugality? Are you frugal about everything or are there some things you […]

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  17. Jinger says:

    I am in debt because I took out a huge educational loan a few years ago in order to send my teenage granddaughter to a specialized school. I am on a fixed income and will be paying on that loan for many, many years….but I considered it an investment in the life of a child. I figured some people “invest” $50,000 in a luxury vehicle and I chose to invest in my child. My investment paid off too….her schooling prepared her for for adulthood and she is a wonderfully repsonsible young adult now.

    You are right…some priorities are worth spending money on.

  18. david says:

    Education is definitely one of them Jinger…a lot of people don’t understand that, but school does way more for people than a $50,000 car! Thanks for sharing!

  19. […] Five Things I Think It Is OK To Spend Money On @ My Two Dollars […]

  20. Blue says:

    @Kyle – spending good money on furniture for kids sounds like a bad idea to me. Simply put, I’m closer to that age (I’m 18), and I remember between the ages of, say, 4 and 7, carving into a desk that served as a nightstand between my brother – and the two of us put every sticker we got at the doctor’s office on that desk, too. Kids are tough on stuff, and telling them (us, really), “We spent good money on that and you’re going to have it one day” doesn’t really ring a bell til they’re old enough to value the furniture.

    Other things I’ve ruined: an antique dining room table – spilled a bottle of nail polish remover and let it sit while I finished taking the polish off my nails; my childhood desk – markers. Lots of markers; my current desk ($400+, not exactly cheap but I LOVE IT), also with nail polish remover, combined with some papers that got soaked into it… and the list goes on.

    I definitely agree with most of this list – maybe not so much food, since I’m in college on a limited budget, and that’s the best place to trim down, but I still eat pretty decently.

  21. […] Overall, between dinner and the show, I think we spent about $250, but it was worth every penny. Experiences are worth a lot, as I have written about before. […]