Optimize Your Life: Best Money Spent

best-money-spent-optimizeLast month, I thought long and hard about my best money spent. Because what’s life without chocolate? And it turns out relationships matter, too. While much of the conversations in personal finance focus on not spending, I figured it was time to shake things up. Matt from Optimize Your Life is here to help. Curious what he considers to be his best money spent? Read on!

As Penny noted, “Personal finance is about spending.” In the personal finance community, we tend to spend a lot of time talking about different ways to cut costs and save money. This is all helpful to learn and is certainly an important part of making smart financial decisions, but it is only part of the story. And so, inspired by Penny’s post, I took a dive into my own spending to figure out which purchases have been the most worthwhile and bought me the most happiness.

$45 – Concert tickets

My wife and I went to see Watsky perform in Baltimore. For a while, I had cut out pretty much all discretionary spending so that I could increase my savings rate as much as possible. Any unnecessary spending felt like a waste.

This year, I’ve been trying to spend smarter. I don’t want to waste money, but I do want to spend on things that actually make me happier. And live music makes me happy. I went to a ton of concerts in high school and college and loved it.

I’ve made a concerted effort (pun intended) to get out and see live music more this year. This concert joins Ben Folds, Motion City Soundtrack, and Say Anything on the list of shows we’ve gone to this year.

$400 – Recreational hockey league fee

Playing ice hockey is another activity that I have resurrected from my youth. The $400 covers a six-month season, averaging a game per week. I get some forced exercise, a hobby to keep working to improve at, and time to hang out with a group of friends. It is also a ton of fun.

Too many people take the saying “money can’t buy happiness” too literally. Some well-spent money can certainly improve our lives and bring us joy. For me last month that was live music and athletics, which both got me out of the house and interacting with others in social settings. I got to do things that I really enjoy and got secondary happiness boosts from building relationships, getting exercise, and developing hobbies.

So Tell Us…How have you bought yourself a little extra happiness lately? Have you found secondary benefits from those purchases? Do you have any odd or unusual spending that you enjoy? What was your best money spent this month?

Note from Penny: If you’d like join this best money spent series whether you are a blogger or a reader (or both!), drop me a line at shepicksuppenies (at) gmail (dot) com.

Optimize Your Life: Best Money Spent

18 thoughts on “Optimize Your Life: Best Money Spent

  1. I bought concert ticket for a friend and myself this summer. I only attend a concert every few years, but it was SO much fun. Great music, great food (they had food trucks there), a lovely outdoor setting under the stars, and a really fun friend to spend the time with.

    1. I can’t remember the last concert I went to. Actually, that’s a lie! I dragged my husband to an Elton John show in Vegas two years ago. It was my husband’s first trip to Vegas, and it was the PERFECT way to show off all the gaudiness of the town. And he actually really loved it! We bought cheap seats (I had already been to two other Elton John shows), but we got upgraded that night. They were filming, so they wanted to the front rows to be packed!

  2. My husband and I have different tastes in music, but we love taking tours and classes together. REI has bike workshops and classes on compass navigation, and several local gardeners host tours and classes in the spring and fall.

    1. I love the idea of touring gardens. I should look into that! The neighborhood where I teach does a lot of house tours, but I’d be way more interested in what they’re growing 🙂

  3. Just found your blog today, Penny, and I’m really enjoying going through it. And Matt, enjoyed seeing your spending (which reminds me that next summer we really want to head to a music festival for a day). 🙂

    We went apple picking and on a hay ride with our young daughter earlier this month, which was a joy and a fun tradition to begin. I like to think about making intentional choices with money — that it’s important to spend money on the things we love, when and if we can.

    1. Wow! Thanks, Lisa! I’m so glad you stopped by and you commented. I hope to hear more from you. Apple picking is one of my favorite parts of fall. There’s something really special about knowing where your food comes from and choosing each apple so purposefully. (And if you’re like me, there’s usually donuts involved, too!)

  4. Couple of things which reflect “family first”:
    1. Bought a nearly new car for Mrs. PIE parents. With help from Mrs. PIE brother
    2. Pay for flights for grandparents in UK to visit us in the US and see the small PIE’s (and us) as often as possible.

    Saving is great but living for the now brings balance to it all. Too many PF bloggers lose sight of that and get caught up in living a life of missed opportunities. Maybe some of the readers will hate me for saying that…. oh well…..

    1. I don’t think anyone will hate you for that, Mr. PIE! It’s just one more reason why I think you’re great. Even before I found the PF world, I excelled at beating myself up. Some days, I second guess everything. Things I said a week ago still haunt me. So it’s really important for me to make an effort to celebrate the decisions I make. So glad you shared yours!

  5. I normally get all of my books at the library, but I went to a talk by a medical ethicist at my favourite bookstore, and I enjoyed the talk so much that I splurged and bought the book. It’s nice to make the occasional carefully selected addition to my book collection.

  6. Concerts are big for us too. We only go once or twice a year, but some of our best memories are from a couple of hundred dollars spent on tickets. We met a couple from Michigan at a concert this year and we’re hoping to see them at a concert when we travel next fall. We don’t get the same enjoyment from going out to dinner or buying fancy clothes. Nice post!

    1. I’m glad Matt posted! We definitely don’t do concerts as much as we used to. In fact, Mr. P and I were just talking about how we can’t even remember the last movie we watching — in theaters or from RedBox. I think it’s time for us to prioritize culture a bit more!

  7. Casey Ray says:

    This is definitely an under-discussed area of personal finance, so thank you for shining a light on it!

    The idea of any unnecessary spending feeling like waste reminds me of my first year teaching, where I believe that EVERY SINGLE SECOND COUNTED for my students (I taught in school where nearly 100% of students were on free and reduced lunch). Now, of course, this was true – but at the end of the each day my classroom looked like a tornado hit it because I didn’t spend any time organizing or filing things in real time. I was spending upwards of an hour every afternoon just cleaning, organizing, and setting up for the next day. In my second year I still taught with an extreme sense of urgency but made time – 2 minutes here, 2 minutes there – at the end of lessons to put things away (and gave students meaningful work within that time). And that made all the difference in the long run! I was spending significantly less time overall making sure things were ready for the next day and filing the current days things away. My overall happiness level was night and day and I was able to be a more present teacher for my students.

    I think its very similar with spending; trying to be too extreme can leave you feeling burnt out. I always liked the explanation within the teaching world that you need to prepare new teachers to run a marathon, not a sprint, otherwise they’ll burn out and leave the profession. Focus on sustainability. I think the same point is well made in this post regarding personal finance!

  8. Our best money spent this month was on tickets to see family! (even though we bought the cheapest, crappiest routed/timed flights we could find)

    We recently relocated to the midwest and are feeling family deprived and sad. Even though we have PILES of student loan debt that we are trying to dig ourselves out of, we figure that money was less important than spending time with the people we love– especially with grandparents getting older, etc! Loved this post, way to shake things up.

    1. Welcome to the Midwest! I’ll have to swing by your blog to see where you guys are 🙂 And I completely understand. I try to soak up all the time I can with my family. That’s something we’ll never get back!

  9. Mr. Groovy just spent $50 bucks for a walking tour with “Two Chicks” (the name of the company) around the Garden District in New Orleans. I don’t know if they’ll be dressed like flappers/ hookers in fishnet stockings, the way they are on their website, but it should be fun. We could tour the area on our own, as we will for the French Quarter, but would rather pay for someone to point out historic highlights.

    FYI, Matt – I tried talking Mr G into buying ice hockey gear again and joining a league but he’s not as enthusiastic as he was a few decades ago. He never had any friends to join with as a group, and some of the guys who played in NY were too psycho on the ice.

    1. OMG please let them be dressed like flappers and then post a photo with Mr. G. I will die! That sounds like $50 well spent. We’ve done the guidebook tours and the guided tours. It definitely depends on the area and what you want out of the trip. We drove much of Arizona ourselves, but we did a jeep tour of Sedona. Worth every cent!

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