Tip #230 - Spend Money On Things You Care About. And go cheap on things you don’t care about. On any given day there are plenty of non-necessities we can easily spend money on – convenience food, restaurants, movies, classes, manicures, purses, coffee, books, etc. The list goes on. It is very easy to just spend money for something to do, something to eat, or something to entertain ourselves. But if you are trying to save money, you should be especially careful about wasting money on things you don’t care much about.
If you are a mom with a small child, it is easy to get sucked into paying money for shows, classes, and entertainment just because you think your child would be bored otherwise. A Sesame Street Live show can be over $100 for a small family. A gym class at Gymboree is hundreds of dollars. A visit to a local restaurant can run $25 for mom and two children. Are these things you really want to be spending your money on? Or are there more important things to save your money for? Why not skip on some of these things if they really aren’t that important to you or find cheaper options? A class at the local rec. center is cheaper than Gymboree. A high school theatre production can be just as enjoyable as a professional show. A meal you cook yourself or local take-out place might be a cheaper (and better!) choice than a sit-down restaurant. Then you can save your money for the things you and your children really care about – perhaps a big day at your child’s favorite amusement park or a weekendwater park.
What if you are a working person who goes to the office each day? It’s easy to go to the local restaurant and drop $10 to $15 dollars for lunch or spend $5 each day in the company cafeteria. How about hanging out with the gang at Happy Hour and dropping $20 just because it’s something to do. Is this really what you want to spend your money on? Or would you rather save money on frivolous meals and bring lunch from home so you can save money for something you really want. Perhaps you really appreciate a fine, fancy restaurant, and there’s one in town that you’ve been wanting to try for a date night with your husband? Or perhaps there’s someone you would love to see in concert? Why not spend your money on those things that you really enjoy instead and not waste it on activities that don’t mean that much to you?
When saving money, there is no reason you need to deprive yourself or your family of things that you really love. But you should save your money and put it toward those things and not waste your hard-earned dollars on things you don’t care that much about.
In Real Life (IRL) – In our budget, we have a certain amount of discretionary income in our budget to spend on anything we want to do. I hate wasting my money on things that I don’t really care about. That’s why when my friends do a Mom’s Night Out, I often don’t go. I don’t enjoy spending $25 on a meal that I don’t really care for, even if I enjoy the company. And while I think my four-year old would enjoy gymnastics at a “real gymnastics place, I think she has just as much fun at gymnastics at our local community center for one-quarter of the price. When activities come up like seeing Nick Junior on stage, I think it would be nice to take my toddler there. But, for $35 to $50 per ticket, I’m not sure he’d really get that much out of it.
My oldest daughter, on the other hand, LOVES American Girl dolls. We have ready many of the stories together and discussed the time period when many of these stories are set. She enjoys playing with the dolls, making food for them out of clay, and dressing and creating stories for them. I enjoy the dolls and stories as much as she does. So recently when an opportunity came up to meet one of the American Girl authors and have a tea with her, we jumped at the chance. Even though tickets were $25 each, which is more than I usually like to spend for a two-hour activity, I was happy to hand over the money for an event that I know both of us will appreciate. And the best part was I had the money available because I didn’t waste it on things I don’t care much about.