Montana Money Advenures: Best Money Spent

montanaMs. Montana from Montana Money Adventures is on the blog today sharing her take on the best money spent series. Last week, a good money test was spending in ways that gets you more bang for your buck. This week, Ms. Montana has a new way to determine your best money spent: the 2x test.

Two months ago, we spent $1200 on groceries vs our normal $600. I almost had a panic attack, which I am embarrassed to admit. But this is why we track our spending. Not to induce panic attacks, but so I know if the money spend was 1. A good value and 2. If we could somehow get the same value but spend less cash. September’s food was NOT $600 better.

Best Money Spent – 2x Test

As I look back over the years, there are some things I would happily buy again. Shoot, I would spend 2x a much on them if offered another chance. That is the true test of an amazing value; would you buy it again, or even spend more for the item 5 years later.

Coast-to-Coast Roadtripping

10 years ago, my best friend and I took a month long road trip coast to coast together. The total coast for both of us was $1456. It was an incredible trip! I’m so glad we took it while we had the chance. She runs a non-profit now and I have 5 little kids, so the season of life where we can road trip for a month has passed us by. Actually, on that trip, we mostly ate instant oatmeal, microwave popcorn and slept on the frozen ground. I’m too old for that now. I’m more like Danny Glover in the classic Lethal Weapon movies. I enjoy a bit of mattress under me, and eating vegetables. I would have gladly paid 2x that much to have those memories.

Rolling out from Devils Tower National Park in Wyoming.

A Time For Kindness

While we lived in Europe, we had the chance to bring Christmas gifts to children in an orphanage in Hungary. A group I was part of (Moms of Preschoolers) put together a gift for every child, and my family drove them from Germany, where we were living. We would spend a full week at the orphanage organizing festivities. It probably was $500 out of pocket for us. I would pay 2x that amount for that experience. During the 2 years we, I became friends with some of the kids there. There were two teenage girls that became good friends of mine. 6 years later, and we still keep in touch. They are adults now, married and finding their way in the world. I am so happy to be a small part of their journey.

Priceless Cheesy Photos

I once spent $180 on subpar Walmart portraits. And I would do it again in a heartbeat. Both sets of our parents, our niece, our nephew, and our 2 boys were finally in the same place. So we went crazy with pictures. I think I ordered 10 different poses. I had no idea it would be the last time we were all together. My oldest son passed away 2 years later without any warning. And those crappy Walmart pictures became precious to us.

No Money Regrets, No Memory Regrets

Finding value isn’t the same as getting a great deal on something. If I look back 5 years after buying something and wish I could have my money back, even if it was on sale, it wasn’t a good value. So sometimes we spend a fair amount of cash. We take trips with friends. We travel to visit family. We took our 5 little kids on a 6-week road trip this summer ($2989 total cost.) We are taking a year off of work.

And we spend a lot of family photos. It’s kind of pricey. And a total hassle to get everyone dressed, hair combed and smiling. No matter what the future holds, they will only be this age once.

And I want to embrace this season in our life before it rolls into the next season. The money spent seeing my 3-year-old’s pure, unbridled joy about the geysers in Yellowstone is a purchase I will never regret. Not in 5 years, and absolutely not in 25 years.

Mr. Mt. with all five kids admiring an active geyser at Yellowstone National Park.

So Tell Us…What do you think of the 2x test? What have you purchased that you would buy again?

Note: If you’d like to join in this series whether you are a blogger or a reader, drop me a note in the comments or connect with me at shepicksuppennies (at) gmail (dot) com.

Check out the rest of the Best Money Spent series here.

Montana Money Advenures: Best Money Spent

21 thoughts on “Montana Money Advenures: Best Money Spent

  1. Awww / love that pic at the end!!

    I just came back from Thailand a few weeks ago. At the time I thought the cost was too much for a 2 week trip (and even then it was well under 2k) but having been back a few weeks I would pay double for the experience I had volunteering with elephants.

    So happy you have those Walmart photos!! Priceless.

    1. I’m glad you had a great time in Thailand! In 10 years, you might even put a higher price on that trip. =) And our Walmart photos are so cheesy looking. Almost embarrassing really. But I have one on my fridge and it makes me happy every time I look at it. I actually wish I would have spend $500 and hired a real photographer. So that it what we do now. Live and learn. =)

  2. We take a 2-3 week National Park road trip annually, and it’s always the highlight of our year. We’ve chosen Utah, New Mexico, Southern California, the Pacific Northwest, and Colorado for our adventures, and are considering Florida for next year.
    Isn’t it lovely that all of your favorite $$ spent was on people and experiences rather than things. The fancy cars and designer clothes are long forgotten, but photos and memories of friends and family live forever.

    1. National Parks are just amazing value! We live right outside Glacier National Park, and I sometimes just pinch myself. It’s wild, rugged, and just breathtaking. That fact that we get to hang out there on any given Saturday is just a treat. There are a a few items that make the list for sure. My go to tea cup. My favorite kitchen knife. The pair of boots I bought 6 years ago and still wear all the time. I’ve gotten more choosy over time, and so I buy less crap. =)

  3. Wow, this is really beautiful. 🙂 I’m so sorry to hear about your son; I’m sure there’s some small comfort in having those wonderful photos of him.

    I completely agree with you. There are some things I limit my money on (material goods; cheap trinkets) and there are some things I prefer to spend my money on (trips, memories, excellent meals, etc.).

    Part of being Picky is spending your money in ways that improve your life quality. I’ve never looked back on a trip and regretted going, because I’ve always made amazing memories. That also goes for photo shoots–I can’t get enough of ’em!

    As far as my own 2X test, I would purchase a mixer again in a heartbeat. I love to cook and bake, and many of my fond childhood memories were baking with my mom and grandma. I want to be able to share those memories with my own kids one day; but right now I need to actually become good at baking. 😉

    1. I have a few things that were pricey upfront but easily earned their keep. I bought a Vitamix 7 years ago for $350. I just called warranty services because it’s been acting weird, and they mailed me a new pitcher. (7 year warranty, hello!) But boy the 2 weeks it was out of service made me realize how much we use and love that blender! I’m actually on my second ice cream maker because I burned out the motor in the first one. Easily worth 2x the $50 I spent.

      1. Yes with the pricer kitchen items. I know wedding shower registries take a lot of heat sometimes, but we tried to be really selective with what we requested and went with recommendations. There were cheaper versions available, but I feel like I will have these items for life!

  4. TJ says:

    The 2X test is brilliant. It’s a bit sad to admit that there are some vacations that I wouldn’t have paid 2x for, I specifically did them BECAUSE of the deal, and they were good fun, but I’m not sure if I otherwise would have done them. There were some kick ass meals that I would have easily paid 2x for. Time with family. Time with friends. I might have a few minutes of bitter thoughts over the cost of socializing, but I get over it pretty quickly.

    1. I use to have about 20 shirts from Kohls that fit that category. How can I go wrong with a $6 shirt? Only to find myself getting rid of it 2 years later because I hardly wore it. =)

      1. That’s really interesting, TJ. I might throw my Vegas trips in that category. I don’t know that I’d pay 2x for them. Part of what makes them so fun is scoring them for dirt cheap. And I so hear you on the shirts, Ms. Montana. Preach.

  5. One thing I’m getting out of this is that sometimes you don’t know the value of your experiences for a bit…We just got back from Orlando and what I think of the value of the trip today (worth the price but maybe not 2X) may not be what I think of it a month or a year from now.

    1. I think somethings do grow or wane in value over time! I like to think I have gotten a bit better at knowing how I will feel about a purchase a few years down the road. I know in the last 5 years I have bought a lot few things, and as a result, there are fewer things that I have regret about spending money on.

      1. I am trying to get better at seeing the return and/or the long-term value on my spending. I think that’s partly why I’m getting more comfortable with spending again.

  6. Lizzy says:

    I took my children to Sweden, where my extended family is located, seven times when they were children and teens. Yes, it was expensive, but it was so worth it to give them strong family ties that I hope will last forever. We also had the experience of knowing where our roots lay which gives a strong foundation in life.

    1. That’s remarkable, Lizzy. I don’t think anyone could put a price on a trip like that. How fantastic to be able to re-connect with extended family. Definitely memories of a lifetime!

  7. I think the 2x test is brilliant- both prior to a purchase and after the fact! Will definitely have to remember to use that more.

    Also, your road-tripping is clearly getting infinite bang for its buck- you just can’t put a price on family memories!

  8. Britt says:

    This is so wise, Ms M! I love how it can be applied to all things – more frivolous things like food and vacations and clothes, but more serious stuff like the family photos and memories. I’ve really tried to shift in the last couple years to buying a couple items of clothes/shoes that I LOVE but are more expensive, from my $7 Old Navy stuff that fills the closet but never fits right and falls apart.

    I bought a pair of Frye boots a couple of years ago (on sale, with gift card granny and ebates!) and I might consider it my best $220 spent to date. I wear them allllll the time, they make me so happy every morning to put on, etc. Seeing how well they hold up compared to cheap boots and how much I love them definitely means they pass my 2x test 🙂

  9. I’ve never heard of that rule, I don’t think! It definitely applies to the 2 biggest things I’ve ever dropped money on – my house (nigh on $600k) and RTW trip ($30k for 2 people).

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