I have noticed that people tend to hold me to a very high standard when it comes to spending. As a financial planner, I think most assume that I am super frugal and never spend money. I frequently hear statements like “As a financial planner, you should appreciate … ” followed by how they saved money on a purchase. I recently signed up at a new CrossFit Gym in the area, and am now paying just over $100 a month for a membership. The reaction was swift – “You’re paying how much for a GYM MEMBERSHIP? I thought you would be smarter about your spending!” I’m paraphrasing of course, but the overall reaction wasn’t positive.
Most of my readers know by now that I believe in setting spending goals and living frugally. While this is all true, I also believe in Conscious Spending.
Think back over the last 48 hours. How have you spent your money? Open your bank statement and see if you remember every expense. Many of us end up going about our normal routine and spend money without even realizing it. I like to call this Unconscious Spending. Unconscious Spending is when we spend money without stopping to ask ourselves if this expense will actually make us happier.
I have learned that I do much better in a group setting when it comes to working out. While some can go run by themselves every day, I prefer to have a group to hold me accountable and provide the extra bit of motivation I need at 6:30 in the morning. I also value my health, and believe that I need to be working out 3-4 times a week to stay healthy. Because of this, I choose to spend a little extra money on a gym membership.
This expense is offset by not spending money on things that don’t make me happy. I don’t buy expensive clothes, drive a new car, or go out to eat every weekend. This isn’t because they are “bad” things to do, they simply don’t add to my level of happiness and satisfaction in my life.
Do you really love football and want the NFL Sunday Ticket? If you have the money and believe it will make you happy, for goodness sakes buy it. Then try to avoid the Starbucks coffee in the morning and brew a cup at home or at the office.
Above all, be sure you spend money on things that make you happy and healthy. This can include family vacations, gym membership, healthy food, etc. Offset these expenses by saving on purchases that don’t make you happy, or only make you happy for a very short while.
You will be amazed by the positive changes practicing Conscious Spending will create for you.
So what do you think? Are there things you pay “extra” for each month because they really do increase your happiness? Have you ever bought something that you thought would make you happy, but ended up not? Share in the comments section below!
Alan Moore is a fee-only financial planner and founder of Serenity Financial Consulting in Shorewood WI. Follow him on Twitter @R_Alan_Moore. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org, 414-455-5313, or visit his website at www.SerenityFC.com. Want more education? Download your free guide to the “10 Easy Steps To Securing Your Financial Future Today.”