One of the things I’m currently trying to do is cut back on the amount of stuff that I have. I’m not trying to live some beautiful simple life, and I’m certainly never going to buy into the Tiny House Movement (though those houses are incredibly adorable), but I do feel like I own too many things, and I’m doing my best to go through them and get rid of the things that I don’t need. This also means not buying things just because I want them and can afford them. It’s really been a big help to my budget.
But something that I have started doing is spending money on experiences, particularly those that may not exactly be “once in a lifetime,” but those that qualify as “I don’t know when I will get another opportunity like this.”
What sort of experiences? Well, last summer, a group of friends and I went to Las Vegas, but instead of doing the typical Vegas things (well, we did collectively gamble one dollar in a slot machine and eat at a fabulous buffet), we ran a midnight half marathon down the Extraterrestrial Highway during a meteor shower and kayaked the Colorado River. It was amazing and something that I’m still talking about months later. Was it expensive? Well, it certainly wasn’t cheap. But it was worth every penny. It was an amazing time and something that I may never get to do again.
This summer looks to be less fabulous in terms of events, but in the past few weeks, I have dropped a chunk of change on three separate tickets for events. I’m hitting up two concerts and going to see a musical with some friends. Now, for all three events, I will be fairly far back, because I don’t need to be spending $800 on tickets to anything, but they should all be awesome experiences. Was it a lot of money to be dropping all at once? Absolutely. But with some adjusting of my budget, I can make it work. Yes, it means I spent more this month than I should have, but that just means less spending over the next few months. Not a big deal, as long as I stick to the plan.
I’ve discovered that for me, spending money on experiences and events is really rewarding. So what if I don’t come out of it with something to show off? I come out with pictures, I suppose, but more importantly, I come out with memories. So instead of filling my home with stuff, I’m going to fill my life with experiences.
Plus it’s just fun to get all dressed up and go to the theater and feel fancy for one night.
Megan is a 40-something government employee in the Washington, DC area. She got interested in Personal Finance when she got out of college and realized that her paycheck wasn’t going to go as far as she had hoped. Since starting this blog, she has managed to buy a house and make a solid start on her retirement goals, and hopes to help others do the same. Here is her story:
In 2007, I was a gainfully employed 20-something with no debt but not a lot of knowledge about personal finance. It was a co-worker’s comment about Roth IRAs that sent me to the internet, searching for information. It was then that I realized that I really didn’t know a whole lot about personal finance and that my current financial situation was due a lot to inherent frugal tendencies, generous family members, a fear of debt, and good luck. While that was working for me, clearly I needed a better plan.
While I had no debt, I was also pretty much living paycheck to paycheck and not worrying about going over budget (I say this as if I had a real budget) because I had an emergency fund set aside to cover any overages.
Except that’s not what an emergency fund is for.
So I did a lot of research, read a lot of blogs, and decided that I needed a plan. I needed to budget. I needed to know what I was spending my money on. I needed to prepare for the future.
I decided to create a blog not only to make myself accountable to others but also to share the knowledge that I gained along the way. I’ve learned so much from my fellow bloggers, and I hope that my readers can find something useful in what I have to share as well.