If someone were to ask you the one thing you spend a lot of money on that you probably shouldn’t, you’d know the answer right? It would take you approximately 2.3 seconds to come up with?
Well, apparently for me it takes about 23 minutes. I was recently asked this question on an upcoming podcast* that’ll be dropping soon, and I literally had NO answer for it at first! I racked and racked and racked my brain literally for over 20 minutes – no joke – and finally I landed on a suitable answer that didn’t make me look like a complete ass hat. At least on that question ;)
At first I felt pretty lame not being able to answer one of the easiest questions IN THE WORLD, and consequently wondered if I was just leading a pretty boring life, haha., but the more I thought on it the more I realized it was probably a good problem to have. If I’m not pouring my money into something that I shouldn’t, it means it’s going to a more financially prudent cause, right? And I’m awesome for controlling my “wants?”
Well, the truth is yes and no in my case. Yes I’m not spending as freely as I used to, but no it’s not because I’m better at controlling my “wants” (at least initially). It’s because we have a lower income than usual and I’m watching all my little money soldiers better ;) I still very much believe in having padding in your budget for “blow money” not only to enjoy your life more, but to keep your sanity and away from burn out. I find it perfectly fine – and smart! – to let loose a little within reason! No shame in that at all.
The interesting thing I’m noticing, however, is that I’m slowly moving farther and farther away from these things I used to love splurging on. I still want the ability to buy them anytime I should choose, but amazingly enough I don’t really miss them much and life continues to go on. In fact, I haven’t been this free from want in a while! I believe people call this having enough ;)
Back to the original question though. Here it is again:
My biggest guilty pleasure that I spend a lot on is ____.
In the 20 minutes I scoured my brain, here were the usual culprits that have since been shut down:
1. Lottery tickets — For as long as I can remember I’ve been enamored by scratch off lottery tickets. I used to get them from my parents, and then from my grandparents, and even nowadays in my stockings from my not-so-secret Santas. I used to love them so much, in fact, someone once turned me into a comic book! Now I still have love for them even though they’re bad for you and for society, blah blah blah, but now I get free entertainment from my kids. They dream better than I do anyways.
2. Domain names — This is the bane of all online entrepreneurs, haha… We think we’re so clever with ideas and companies and all kinds of random names we just *know* will be a blockbuster so long as we build them out one day. With “one day” being the operative phrase there. As my man Derek Sivers once said, “Ideas are worth nothing unless executed.” And a good one at that is only worth $20, compared to $10,000,000 brilliantly executed. Gone are the days of snatching up 4-5 urls a month and dropping over $1,600 a year.
3. Clothes –– I used to go shopping every time I was bored. Then one day I tried a “no spending month” and realized I was spending over $200/mo by doing this (!!) and it really didn’t make me all that happy one way or the other. So I quit making the mall a destination, and decided to spend time blogging instead :) It’ll be 7 years come February since this challenge, and it was one of the best things I could have ever done for my money. My friend Cait’s doing it for a year right now btw.
4. Vending machine snacks — Similar to the mall situation above, it helps when you just DON’T GO NEAR THESE!!! ;)
5. Starbucks/fancy coffees — I’ll still pick these up when out and about or working from a cafe like I did over the Summer, but by and large I stick to my homemade coffee at home. Mainly out of convenience more than anything. I’ll be the last person to shun you for splurging on caffeinated gold! It’s on the top list of necessities right after a roof over your head ;)
6. Eating out — We’ll pick up take out every few weeks or go out to dinner/dessert on a date, but 99% of our meals are made or cooked at home. And 50% of those involve peanut butter & jelly sandwiches as my work lunch (hah).
7. Uni-Ball EYE Rollerball Pens — I used to be OBSESSED with these and refused to write with anything besides them. It was an expensive habit at $3/pop (and when you had a budget of -$5.00 in college, haha…) but thankfully I outgrew this. I still have a few that I use and love, but now I’ll take any decent ink pen as long as it’s not Bic :)
8. Yard sale splurges — You show me a good deal at a yard sale and I’ll show you someone who will bite – regardless of whether he needs it or not ;) Or, at least I used to be able to show you this person. This recent Craigslist Habit of mine has gotten me all kinds of conscious of what I’m bringing into our house! If there’s a slight chance I’ll just be turning around to sell it in a few weeks/months/years, then it ain’t coming in anymore. Unless I strategically pick something up to sell for a profit – the one main reason to continue hitting up these yard sales outside of looking for hidden coin treasures!
And that leads us to the one thing I’ll still splurge on, and the answer I gave on the podcast:
Old coins from the 1800’s :) I cannot, and shall not, deny adding to my collection regardless of financial revenues, haha… Now I won’t spend $100 like a dummy if I can only afford $10, but it’s the last remaining thing I enjoy that actually costs money. And in a funny way, I’m kinda just re-investing it into money anyways! Unlike with most hobbies that just suck it up… In fact, you could even make the argument it belongs in our net worth since it’s an asset that will most likely appreciate over time. A pretty nice side effect to the hobby! At least with the types of coins I happen to enjoy.
(Also important to note – I always try and trade away coins from my stash that I could care less about in order to score those I want to add to my collection. So 75% of the time I don’t actually ever drop any modern currency on them, and if I do, I tap my can of cash that came from selling some of those coins in my trading binder. It takes a while to tap that off so in reality my podcast answer is half-false ;))
Anyways, interesting how your lifestyle changes over the years, isn’t it? And fortunately for us money lovers, they change for the better :) Of which I attribute to the following:
- Taking on a “no spend” month
- Sticking with the Craigslist Habit
- Having kids (harder to spend money you don’t have! ;))
- Tracking my net worth (you questions your spending more when you know it’ll affect the numbers!)
- And most importantly, realizing what money truly gives you
Again, no shame in splurging on the things you love, but definitely something to consider if you happen to be a Spendy McSpenderton… The nice thing about saving your money is that you can always dream of the possibilities of what to do with it later! Which is often more gratifying than the actual items you want!
What are some of the guilty pleasures you have since crushed? Which do you still hold onto?
*That podcast I went on? Farnoosh Torabi’s new “So Money” podcast. Def. one to check out whether you listen to my show or not. In fact, tons of more awesomer, bigger, folks on there than me! I was honored to be asked. And glad I looked at some of the questions before the show which I typically don’t. Imagine listening to a podcast where the guest stammers on for 20 solid minutes like a donkey??
Photo by Sonny Abesamis
Killer resources and apps:
- Best Budget Templates & Spreadsheets (FREE)— The best free budget templates from around the community! Including the ones I use :)
- Personal Capital* (FREE) — A great app to track your investments and net worth. You can see an in-depth review we did here from a millionaire who checks it daily 😂
- You Need a Budget (YNAB)* (FREE TRIAL, then $14.99/mo or $98.99/year) — One of the BEST budgeting methods in the space, with new users saving $600 on avg their first two months, and more than $6,000 over their first year! Check out my friend Vic’s review of YNAB here that went on to completely change his finances 💪
- Digit (FREE 6 mo. Trial, then $5/mo) — This is one of my favorite apps for automatically saving money, and I even came on board as an advisor I believed in them so much! You can see my full review on Digit here.
- Acorns* ($3-$5/mo) – Similar to Digit, this app helps you automatically INVEST money by rounding up all your transactions to the nearest dollar and then investing it right away for you. My full review of Acorns can be found here.
- Honey (FREE) — By far my favorite coupon service out there! Click the Honey button any time you're about to buy something online, and BOOM - any discounts it finds will be automatically applied at checkout. You can see my write up on them here.
- Credit Karma* (FREE) — An easy way to check and monitor your credit score AND report! See my full review of these guys here.
- My Favorite Blogs + Books < -- Click here to see all my other recommendations!