Have you ever looked at someone and thought “I can’t believe they spent their money on that.” Maybe that is an expensive car or a fancy vacation. Maybe you know someone who drives a junker of a car but has a very pricey bike (I can name a few friends like this).
Do you look at them like they’re crazy for spending their money this way? What is this kind of spending about, anyway?
It’s about personal value
We all have things that hold value to us. Some people love driving fancy cars. Some people couldn’t care less about what their car looks like, but they want to take extravagant vacations. Some ladies love high end purses, others happily buy cute bags at discount outlets.
What is important is that these things are important to them. What holds value to you? Where do you want to spend your money?
Of course, we all should be saving and making wise choices, but then there is fun spending, which I am definitely a fan of. Where do you want that fun money to go? Experiences? Items? There is no judgment here – it’s about what makes you happy. You’ve worked hard for the money you have, so where do you want to spend your money.
Don’t criticize others
It’s so easy to think “I can’t believe so-and-so spent all that money on a new car. Does she know what she could have bought for that money?” She probably knows exactly what she could have gotten for that money, but what she wanted was the car. It isn’t anyone’s place to judge what another person does with their money, especially their fun money. (Now if a friend or family member is spending themselves into debt, then it might be time to talk to them.)
What about time?
I think time is a huge thing here. What is your time worth and where do you want to spend it? I personally love having a nice lawn but hate the lawn maintenance. It is the chore I dread the most and avoid as much as possible. So instead, I spend money to pay someone else to do this service for me. Do I sometimes think “I could have spent all that money on X instead?” Absolutely – but then I realize that while I’d love to do X, I really don’t want to do the yard work, and that makes the decision pretty easy.
Some people love doing yard work and would never dream of hiring someone for this service. But it’s all about what is important to you. Some people hire people to clean their homes and cut back elsewhere. Some hire handymen to do projects around the house; others take great joy in pulling out a hammer and saw.
What holds personal value for you?
As you’re looking at your budget, think about where you want to spend your money. (No, I don’t mean the money that you have to put towards bills – you have to do that first.) But after that, what’s worth it to you? Trying great new restaurants? Saving for a vacation or a car? Going to concerts or sporting events? What makes you happiest when you spend your money. Now try to put your fun money towards those areas. I think you’ll find you’re much happier with your budget.
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.