Thoughts on money and spending: I consider myself a relatively
stingy frugal person. The process of budgeting and planning for the financial future is moderately enjoyable for me, and I carry some pride in the fact that I typically do not spend as much money as I think others do. A lot of this is probably in my own head. After all, I once bought a Metrodome Chair from a silent auction for $150, only to find out later that I could have purchased it for a third of that price had I done a little research. So while I realize that being a “disciplined” spender is mostly relative, I like to think that, most of the time, I do make smart purchases, not dumb ones. Below I’ll talk about a few of my claimed “smart purchases,” or at the least, the ones I don’t regret anyway.
#1 Traveler Jeans
The name says it all. These jeans are a slim fitting fashionable pair of pants with elastic woven into the denim – making them incredibly comfort (and stylish) for travel. People laugh when they first hear me say that I have jeans with elastic in them. This is no laughing matter. These jeans are the closest I can get to “full-comfort” in public without wearing a Snuggie.
The Banana Republic Traveler Jeans are the most expensive jeans I have bought in years, but the money is worth it. If you are in the market for new denim, or you travel a lot, these are for you. Your lower limbs will thank you.
Cost: $70 (originally $118, but I used 40% coupon)
#2 Bulletproof Coffee
The low-carb / high-fat diet fad is in full swing and I have definitely bought into the hype. In short, low carb intake keeps your body from storing fat, and high fat consumption gives natural energy that can be used as fuel. Bulletproof coffee is a low-carb, high-fat caffeine concoction that makes me happy and energized. Not to mention, it’s delicious. I have posted before about making bulletproof coffee at home, but if you live in the Twin Cities, you can also visit Agra Culture in Edina for a cup. It’s an expensive cup, but so is Starbucks, and that hasn’t stopped you.
Cost: $4 at Agra Culture, or less if you make it at home
Side note, Agra Culture does not make Bulletproof coffee the same way as the home-brew I recommend.
Also, you can read more on how I have been eating for the last few months… following The Ketogenic Diet:
#2 Plane Tickets to San Francisco
I purchased these on a whim to celebrate my anniversary with my wife. Neither of us have ever been to San Francisco and we have heard great things. While traveling can be expensive, I have discovered that spending money on experiences always leaves me much happier than when I purchase material items. I’ve experienced a lot of buyer’s remorse from buying electronics or clothes, but I’ve never had buyer’s remorse from spending on a vacation, concert, museum, event, etc.
There is a lot of research happening on this topic. One of my favorite articles I have found, on The Atlantic, states:
“…happiness is in the content of moment-to-moment experiences. Nothing material is intrinsically valuable, except in whatever promise of happiness it carries.”
When you spend on experiences, you end up happier than when you spend on material items.
Cost: Two tickets to San Francisco = $552+tax
#4 Extra Debt Payment
I know, I know – this is boring, but anyone who has even a few dollars of extra money in their bank account should pay attention.
I keep hearing this argument: “why would you pay more on your mortgage when you can make more in the market?” Well, as much as that concept is mathematically true, I don’t think all of personal finance is about math. I have found that plugging my money into the volatile stock market brings me less peace; whereas, paying more money on my student loans or my mortgage makes me sleep better. Sometimes spending money is less about “what is best” and more about “what is best for you.” For me, if spending my extra cash this way brings me less anxiety and more peace, then that makes me feel rich.
Sure, I still believe in math, and in investing in assets that can earn 10-15% interest. And I still save and invest in the market, but there is no better feeling than spending on “guaranteed interest” such as debt repayment. What I mean is, by putting extra payments on my mortgage, I automatically make 3.7% on my money. And, by paying off one student loan last year, I automatically made 9% on my money. While I can put my extra pennies in mutual funds or ETFs, I don’t have any absolutes for growth, even if, as they say, ‘the market has performed well for 100 years running.’
Lifehacker agrees with me:
‘Paying off your debt is a lot less sexy of an investment than buying property, or building a stock portfolio, but it’s really simple, is hugely beneficial, and (in case I haven’t made it 1000% clear) it’s totally guaranteed.’
When you break it down, investing is all about making your money worth more over the long-term. Your hope is that putting $1,000 into an investment now will make it worth more than $1,000 in a couple years. If you put that $1,000 towards your credit card debt, though, it will be: the faster you pay down your principal, the less you pay in interest.
Paying off debt and making more than the minimum payment isn’t fun or sexy, but it is smart.
Cost: Whatever you can afford – even an extra $100 on the principal will make a difference
I do not receive any compensation for any of the links in this post. I merely find this topic interesting and thought you might too.
What are some of the purchases you have made that you don’t regret?
Please share in the comments.