What I Will and Will Not Spend My Money On

This post is about what I personally spend money on and why.  I wrote this in order to take stock of my current spending patterns.

I resisted making a list like this, because everyone is different, and so I don’t want this list to be taken as a prescription for what anyone else should do with their own money.  What is important to me is not going to be what is important to you.  Make sure that you make your own list like this, and don’t feel confined, restricted, judged, or belittled by someone else’s ideas.  This serves only as a jumping off point to think about what you value, what you enjoy, and in what areas your spending and saving can help you to create the type of life you would most enjoy living.  

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What I will spend on:

  • Experiences
    • I will happily spend on things like camping and hiking, If I feel really excited about them, and I genuinely want to go.  I have turned down camping and hiking trips if they were not with people I felt super enthusiastic about spending the time with, or if they weren’t quite aligned with my idea of fun.
  • Professional development and education.
    • I recently spent a LOT of money (by my standards) to apply to be registered as a licensed Psychotherapist. This was a costly endeavor, but will have a lot of payoffs for me professionally, and will allow me to develop the type of career I am interested in.  Ultimately, it will help me to earn more money.  I am all for this kind of spending.
  • Fitness
    • I spend a lot here because my fitness activities (trail running, skiing, snowshoeing, yoga, etc.) are very important to me personally in building the type of life I want to live. My fitness activities are my social group, my mental health maintenance, my physical health maintenance, my goal setting, and my most enjoyed and meaningful time spent.  For me personally, getting outside into nature and away from my work, chores, electronics, etc., is the best way I know to de-stress and feel happy and fulfilled.
  • Produce (vegetables, fruit, cacao, etc.).
    • This is something that is very important to me because I love food, and because buying these foods help to keep me mentally and physically healthy.
  • Quality over quantity.
    • I will spend a bit more to get quality objects that I know will last for a long time, and will not create frustration in my daily life.  What this means is that I need to be okay with having less quantity.  I have 2 pairs of good quality running shorts, even though I run 3-5 times per week.  I am willing to make the extra effort of washing them more often in order to have a better quality item that won’t fall apart or cause chafing.  I apply this type of thinking to a lot of the items that I buy.

What I won’t spend on:

  • Cabs (most of the time), drinking, partying.
    • Every once in a great long while I will make an exception to this rule, because moderation is the key to success, but generally, I won’t spend money on going out for drinks, going to clubs, and taking cabs to and from downtown.
  • Restaurants too often.
    • I don’t allocate myself a whole lot of spending money, so I generally go to a restaurant about once every 2-4 weeks.  This might seem like a lot for most people, but for me, this is a large reduction from my previous high-spending lifestyle.
  • Gym memberships.
    • This has a lot to do with the fact that I hate working out inside / at the gym.  I have a hard time spending money on a gym membership when I know I can do things like run outside, go swimming, ski, and snowshoe, more or less for free.  Gyms are not for me, but they might be for you, and that is okay.
  • Things I don’t really want to do.
    • This happens a lot. Someone invites you to their birthday/anniversary/etc. at a location that would be expensive.  If I think “well, it might be fun”, I’m probably not going to spend the money on it.  In order for me to spend on a trip or event, it has to be something I feel really excited about.  If I don’t feel it, I’m not going to spend on it.
  • Rent / Real Estate
    • This is only possible because I have the luxury of living with my parents.  Not everyone has this option, but I do, and because I do, I can’t justify paying rent somewhere else when it’s not entirely necessary. I don’t have children or a significant other, so it doesn’t make sense for me financially to spend on having my own place until my consumer debt and student loans are eradicated.
  • Manicures / Pedicures
    • I flat out refuse to ever spend money on this anymore because the bottom line is that I can do it myself.  I own the professional equipment, and I always have a perfect or near-perfect mani and pedi because I do it myself.  Always (unless someone gifts me the service, but this hasn’t happened yet).
  • Waxing
    • This is the same as mani/pedis. I spent money on this for many years.  Before I moved away for graduate school, I bought the professional equipment for waxing, and I have now been doing it myself for about 4 years.  The drug store stuff just does not work, so you have to go professional if you want to save money and do it at home.  Track down anyone you know who is a hairstylist or aesthetician and ask if they can buy you the professional supplies at a discount (at the supply stores the salons buy from).  This is what I did; I explained to my aesthetician that I was moving away, and that I wasn’t going to another salon.  She was nice enough to buy me the professional supplies (with my money) and to teach my how to do it.  I got lucky because I had been seeing her for over 10 years, but maybe you have a friend or an acquaintance in the industry that you could ask.  If not, I imagine there are other ways to buy the equipment online, but make sure it’s the type aimed at professionals and not at individual consumers.  In my experience, the difference is night and day.
  • Anything priced at full-retail.
    • In the age of Amazon, eBay, Craigslist, Kijiji, and countless other offerings, there is just no reason to pay full retail on most things.  I don’t know if this is a millennial thing, but I basically only go to brick-and-mortar stores to try things on and figure out my size, before going home to find and order the same item online for less money.  I tend to buy the same brands of clothing over and over because I know how they wear over time, and I already know my size, which saves me having to enter an actual store.  I have also bought my last 3 iPhones from acquaintances, or second hand on Craigslist / Kijiji.  My favorite time to do this is when the new version of the iPhone comes out, and so I can get the older versions for much less money when people are upgrading.  Any time a new version comes out, the second-hand market is flooded with perfectly good older models.  I now swear by this practice and will never go back.  I also promised in a previous post that I would start trying out thrift stores for clothing, and I recently did.  I went to a nice consignment store near me and tried on a million things, and ended up with a very nice dress for work that I paid 18.99$ for.  I looked it up online and it sells full-retail for over 100$.  This first endeavor has worked out great, and I will definitely be trying it more in the future.
  • Anything I don’t really want.  
    • I recently had a conversation with the Luxe Strategist about this subject.  In my quest to save money, I have often tried to buy a cheaper version of a more expensive item I wanted, and in my experience, it almost never works out.  It’s not that all great things must be expensive, quite the contrary; I highly enjoy many things that I paid next to nothing for.  Rather, I am talking about when I have wanted a specific, higher-end item, and I have tried to buy the lower priced knockoff version.  I have done this with swimwear, workout wear, and yoga pants, and in my experience, I have not been happy with the cheaper product.  Personally, I have come to conclusion that it’s better to buy the higher end version if it is something (like a pair of yoga pants or running shorts) that I will wear hundreds of times and get a lot of use out of.  With these types of items, I generally only have one or two, and I wear them until they fall apart.  I have tried buying cheaper versions, and have found that they fit improperly, don’t function effectively, or just plain fall apart.  If you have never bought the higher-end version, I would suggest that you don’t even try it on, because once you go quality, it’s very difficult to go back.

Overall, this is a list that I’m sure will evolve and change with time, and so I think it is a valuable exercise for me to look at what I am spending on, and more importantly, why.

If you decide to try making a list for yourself, start by first writing a list of what you value, and what you would ideally like your life to look like. Then, when you look at your list of will/won’t spend items, you can see how they line up with your values and with the life you would like to work towards.  This can be a good way to see if you are on track toward achieving your goals.

As always, have a lovely day and thank you for reading.

Debt Dummy

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