When reading a lot of personal finance blogs, one of the pieces of advice you often receive is “cut out unnecessary expenses.” And of course, that’s obvious. We all have unnecessary expenses in our budgets. But depending on your financial situation, you may be able to keep some of those unnecessary but enjoyable expenses. So the big question you have to ask yourself is “is it worth it?”
In a group I’m in, someone recently asked “What expensive purchase have you made that has been absolutely worth it to you,” and a number of people responded that their household cleaning service has been the most worthwhile expense. I have to admit that for years, I wanted to hire someone to clean my house, but I felt like I couldn’t justify the service. After my son was born and my husband and I were working full time and trying to raise our child, we decided to give it a shot for a while. And it has been worth every penny.
Some people enjoy cleaning and find it soothing. I do not. It was just another thing that added stress to my life. Could we use that money for something else? Absolutely. But to me, the answer to “Is it worth it?” is a resounding “Yes.” I like having the time back, and I’ve actually found it helps us keep a less cluttered house because we don’t want to deal with clearing the clutter right before the cleaning team arrives.
For me, this is one of those expenses that might be too much for some people but is absolutely worth it to others.
On the other hand, today is tax day – I weirdly enjoy doing my taxes, so paying someone to do it isn’t an expense that isn’t worth it to me. But I certainly don’t judge people who do make that choice.
Travel can really be a budget breaker. There are so many options and so many different ways to travel, so this one is very personal. For me, one of the things that I will often splurge for is a direct flight. If I have the option between a direct flight and a connecting flight, I will take the direct flight anytime unless it is too expensive. I don’t know where my dividing line is between “worth it” and “too expensive,” but it’s one of those things that I just know. I just appreciate not having to deal with the stress of a connecting flight, even though it may very well be cheaper. Of course, I am lucky to live near multiple major airports, so getting a direct flight is a lot easier than it is for many people. Depending where you live, a direct flight may be a rarity.
I also am willing to pay more for a higher quality hotel. That may mean a cute local boutique hotel or a chain that I’m familiar with. Again, maybe not for everyone, but worth it to me.
I’m not a big fashion person. It’s just not me. That said, I will pay a higher price for a few high quality pieces for my wardrobe. Classics, like a nice black dress, a blazer, dress pants, things like that. But for me, buying a lot of clothing just isn’t worth it to me. I prefer to keep a much smaller wardrobe. I am trying to reduce my use of “fast fashion,” and since I don’t want to spend a lot, it has simply meant buying much less clothing. But I certainly don’t judge people who find these expenses worth it.
I used to be a big shoe person and had a great collection of different shoes. My lifestyle has changed such that I really only wear a few pairs of shoes regularly, and while I make sure those are good, comfortable shoes, I no longer buy the fashionable shoes that I used to.
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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.
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