It’s Ok to Spend Money, But Know Your Priorities

airplaneThe other day, I opened up an email from a friend who knows about and reads my blog. He lives in the Chicago area and wanted to discuss meeting up by taking a vacation together somewhere with both of our significant others. Halfway through the email, he commented, “I realize that this does not exactly mesh well with your frugal movement”. I got the impression that he was worried that I wouldn’t be able to see him because doing so would be too expensive.

This comment honestly made me a little sad. One of my goals for this site is to show people how to live richly while saving money in New York. I want to show people that it is possible to have a great life and foster great relationships without spending all of your life’s savings.

So I wrote back and told him that we would definitely make a trip happen. Sure, I will probably take a look at exactly how I finance this vacation. I will likely use frequent flyer miles. I will scour AirBnB for a nice house or apartment that we can all chip in for. I will definitely offer to cook some meals so we aren’t eating out three times a day (another perk of AirBnB – most places come with a kitchen!). And I will definitely research inexpensive entertainment options in whatever location we choose.

It’s important to spend money on the things in life that are important to you. Friendships and travel to new places are definitely a priority for me. When you take a moment to think about what is important to you, “sacrificing” the things that aren’t doesn’t really feel like a big sacrifice anymore. If you realize that you don’t care about owning 61″ HD TV, not purchasing it doesn’t even register on your “sacrifice radar”. And when you cut out the expenses that aren’t a priority, you feel better about spending on the things that do matter.

Additional Note: I view the act of saving and investing a large portion of my income differently than most. I actually see it as “spending” on my financial independence. I am buying freedom to work less in the future, travel more, spend time with family and friends, and focus on my own projects. My money habits reflect that priority through my savings rate.

What are your priorities and what do you feel good about spending your money on?

P.S. Thanks so much to the Carnival of Personal Finance for including me in this week’s edition.

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18 thoughts on “It’s Ok to Spend Money, But Know Your Priorities

  1. Mark Ross January 31, 2014 at 7:48 am

    It really is okay to spend if you know your priorities. Mine is to spend less, save more and invest more. 🙂
    Mark Ross recently posted: 7 Characteristics That Successful Business Owners Have In CommonMy Profile

  2. Stefanie @ The Broke and Beautiful Life January 31, 2014 at 8:41 am

    It’s funny, but even though I’m the “cheap one”, I think I travel more than most people I know. Being able to travel is one of the reasons I’m frugal in the day to day. That’s what I’m saving for.
    Stefanie @ The Broke and Beautiful Life recently posted: I Went to the Gym… And It Was AwfulMy Profile

    • Mr NYBudget January 31, 2014 at 10:17 am

      Absolutely! I have been listening to the Extra Pack of Peanuts travel podcast recently and it has made me want to travel even more!

  3. Kristin Wong January 31, 2014 at 10:10 am

    Aw, man. It’s easy to misunderstand frugality. I think more than saving money, it’s about finding value. And taking a trip with good friends has a lot of value.
    I love going out to eat, and while I don’t want to spend THAT much money on restaurants, when I do spend the money, it’s totally worth it. I know the food is marked up and I might be able to make some of it at home. I don’t care. I love the experience, and I feel good about spending my money on it.

    • Mr NYBudget January 31, 2014 at 10:19 am

      Yup! I would also say that there is an important difference between every-day life and special occasions. The more you can save on every-day life, the more you can spend on special occasions such as travel, restaurants, etc that are valuable to you.

  4. Leslie Beslie January 31, 2014 at 12:56 pm

    I’ll just copy/paste the same comment I’ve made on pf blogs with this same exact article over and over…. Mindless spending is far different from conscious spending.
    Leslie Beslie recently posted: Tips for Hosting A Successful PartyMy Profile

    • Mr NYBudget January 31, 2014 at 3:26 pm

      Very true – thanks Leslie. Also, while this topic does come up a lot, I feel like it is a good one to keep in mind. That is especially true in NYC where it is so easy to get caught up in what I call “New York Normal”, which is lavish to people in other places across the country.

  5. Andrew@LivingRichCheaply January 31, 2014 at 2:30 pm

    Definitely agree with your post. Many people misunderstand frugality and it gets a bad rap. But being frugal doesn’t mean sacrificing everything, it just means, as you said, having priorities. Spending time with friends and taking a break is worthwhile. Experiences and memories last a life time. You want to live rich cheaply =) You don’t want to live cheap cheaply! Plus, if you get into travel hacking, you might even be able to have a great trip that doesn’t cost that much.
    Andrew@LivingRichCheaply recently posted: Friday RoundupMy Profile

    • Mr NYBudget January 31, 2014 at 3:27 pm

      I am definitely working on getting into travel hacking! I have a long way to go before I can consider myself proficient at it, but I am excited to learn!

  6. Refinerr February 4, 2014 at 4:15 pm

    Great post MNYB! Your line about spending on financial independence reminded me of a couple of my favorite posts. One at MadFientist:

    Since I’m not surrounded by people with similar mentalities I always seem to have conversations where people don’t understand why I’m so “cheap”. I try to explain it as buying options for my future self because I believe options are more valuable money. Or the most fun way to describe it – f* you money:
    Refinerr recently posted: You Need A Password ManagerMy Profile

    • Mr NYBudget February 4, 2014 at 5:29 pm

      Thanks Refinerr! The Mad Fientist and JL Collins are two of my favorites as well! And noticing your post, only in the last couple of months have I started using LastPass, and you couldn’t be more right. It makes everything so much better AND more secure.

  7. Tahnya Kristina February 22, 2014 at 10:23 am

    Love this post because it’s true. I am a true believer in enjoying our money as long as the cost is worth the benefit and as long as we still have money in our accounts when it’s over. Great post.

    • Mr NYBudget February 23, 2014 at 8:15 pm

      Thanks Tahnya – right, even just being conscious of your spending choices goes so much further than most people expect!

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