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I’ve been reading personal finance blogs for at least a decade now. A lot of them have come and gone, but the concepts that I learned helped shape financially where I am today. Who knew there were backdoor Roth IRAs or hidden benefits with credit cards. These are all things that I learned over my years of PF reading.
I majored in Finance in college. You would think that I was ahead of the game because of my degree, but college only taught me corporate finance. Like most of you, I didn’t receive a formal personal finance education, and I give a lot of credit to the financial bloggers I follow for the PF knowledge that I have accumulated.
Crazy Debt-Free People
With that said, one thing that irritates me is when some financial writers are overly intense and portray getting out of debt as some sort of brutal feat that can only be accomplished by the most brave of heart. Have you ever seen the show Extreme Cheapskates on TLC? Some of these people take saving money to a ridiculous level. Teetering on the line of getting institutionalized.
After watching that video, don’t you feel like some people wear their self-deprivation in not spending any money as a badge of pride? Whenever I read these articles or watch these videos, I roll my eyes and think, great you got out of debt, but you had no life and probably little to no friends for ten years. Worse, in the video above, it cost him a marriage. What fun is it to go through life valuing money over relationships?
Of course I’m not saying that you should go out and buy everything that you want. That’s just plain stupid. What I am advocating though is value spending. This means that you should spend money on things that bring you joy and are meaningful to you. What good is it to live and die with a ton of money if you’re miserably penny-pinching all your life?
My Value Spending on Food
Right now, I am in a phase of life when I like spending money on two specific things. The first being spending money on food with friends and family. I am the first one to admit that I don’t like cooking. It’s not that I can’t cook at all. I definitely can cook meats and veggies on the grill. It’s more or less that I don’t derive a lot of joy from this activity.
On top of that, I hate eating lunch at my desk at work. I like to get up and stretch my legs and get off campus to eat. Usually, this allows me time to recharge when the introvert side of me is flaring up and grants me the opportunity to think through issues from the morning and potential solutions for the afternoon.
There is a group of us that get together at least once a week to grab lunch at a BBQ restaurant close by. I really look forward to this outing. It’s probably the best $10 that I spend all week.
With all that said, I probably eat out more now than I have in the last four years. Looking at our October spending, we spent $240 on restaurants versus spending $190 on groceries. Now I know some of you will look on with horror seeing those figures.
A Quacky Sunday Tradition
Our family has begun a weekly Sunday tradition of enjoying a peking duck from Whole Foods. They bring in a gourmet chef who prepares each for around $25. So that means we spend roughly $100 a month on duck. This meal however feeds three of us for two days. So at six meals total, it breaks down to about $4 per person per meal. Plus our dog gets to enjoy all the delicious bones involved. We figure it’s well worth the money at $4 a person.
My Value Spending on Traveling
Our other area of value spending is travel and experiences. I have always enjoyed “collecting” stuff. Maybe it is because I had hoarding tendencies. As a kid, my baseball card collection was my prized possession. In my adult years, I gravitated towards accumulating nice furniture and electronics for my house. Now, those baseball cards sit boxed up in my basement, the nice furniture sits untouched in the living room, and the electronics are outdated.
Something I still kick myself about is not traveling when I was in my 20’s. I was so focused on paying off my mortgage and filling up the house with nice things. I mean seriously, what 25-year-old bachelor needs an 8-person dining room table with hutch? While I’m glad that I have it now, I think it only got used a handful of times when we played poker.
If I had to do it all over again, I probably wouldn’t have bought all that nice furniture. That way, my wife could have chosen items that she really loved when we got married. While my wife and I have travelled a bit, there is so much that I still want to see. As you read in my cruising with a baby post, it wasn’t exactly easy for us to travel with our kiddo. So unfortunately our travel plans may be set back for a while.
Hopefully though, when he is older, we’ll be able to travel more easily with him. At the top of my bucket list is Iceland. At least once a week, I check out various Iceland blogs and just marvel at Iceland’s beauty. My favorite one right now is Bruised Passport, and probably 90% of their Iceland blogpost traffic comes from me.
I know that some would advise that I should reach FIRE first, and then I’d be able to travel to my heart’s content. I agree to an extent, but for me, I need a balance between living today and living for the future. Plus, tomorrow isn’t guaranteed. What happens if I get hit by a bus the day after I reach FIRE? Would I look back upon my life and regret not doing and seeing certain things? So for now, I’ll keep trying to pursue the right balance for me.
How does your spending reflect your values? How do you find balance between spending now versus spending later? Share your thoughts below.