Sometimes It’s OK to Spend

SpendI left the house. I ran errands and dropped off a month’s worth of donations for the food pantry. I hiked the trails around the lake. I walked my neighborhood and nearby neighborhoods. During the string of three sunny, non-snowy days, I logged almost twenty miles. I spent a lovely Easter catching up with both sides of my family. I took care of a lot of items on my to-do and want-to-do lists. On the surface, it looked like this spring break was a success.

But maybe it wasn’t. Towards the tail end, I hadn’t been able to shake this general malaise. Vacationing wasn’t an option this year due to scheduling conflicts, but I felt like I had truly made the best of this homebound break. In fact, aside from some planned grocery shopping and home repair items that were already line items in our budget, I didn’t spend a dime. And therein lies the problem, at least sort of.

The problem isn’t actually with spending or saving. It’s the way I approach them both. When I save, I can stay camped out in workout clothes. They’re comfortable, they’re clean, and they’re even surprisingly color-coordinated. I didn’t put on any makeup or take any time to do anything special with my hair. No, this was my get-shit-done look. And it worked. And then it didn’t.

Towards the end of break, I called my mom to whine to her about the wintery weather and comment on the lack of sunshine. Basically, I had the blahs and needed someone to listen to me for a minute. Her almost immediate response was to joke that I go tanning and then to offer that we come over and watch Star Wars with her and my dad. Before I could even finish explaining that Mr. P was in the garage working on a project and I was cleaning up around said project, she cut me off:“Just stop. Put on some nice clothes and go out for an appetizer* and a drink.” I hemmed, I hawed. She continued on: “You’re not an old person. You’re not your father. Go. Date your husband. Call me tomorrow.” And then she hung up.

A clever one, that mom of mine is. You see, by abruptly ending our conversation I was forced to operate under a different code. This is not the save-money, live-purposefully code. This is the do-what-I-said-lest-you-be-subject-to-a-lifetime-of-Italian-guilt code. So I did what any guilt-averse daughter would do. I got off the couch, I got dressed, and I left the house. Could I have saved $30 by staying in? Absolutely. But it turns out, this low-key night out was one of the highlights of my break.

Now I understand that the average person can probably strike a healthy balance between saving and spending. The way in which I managed to not just correct, but overcorrect, my excessive consumerism and mindless spending is not the stuff of which great personal finance strategies are made. I get that. I also know that there are plenty of ways to get out and enjoy life without spending a cent. But sometimes it’s good to indulge a little. Sometimes it’s OK to spend.

*Even when she’s encouraging me to spend money, she’s reminding me to not spend that much money.

Note: Thanks to a really fun rebate on the Ibotta app that works at any restaurant or bar, our bill came to $27 with tip and we scored a $4 cash-back rebate that will go straight to our Paypal account. It’s pretty nifty. If you want to join my team, click here for the link. You get $10, I get $5.

So Tell Me…Have you ever fought the urge to spend to a fault? What is the best money that you’ve spent lately?

Sometimes It’s OK to Spend

18 thoughts on “Sometimes It’s OK to Spend

  1. Bahahaha this sounds like the kind of advice I need to remind myself of more often!

    I had a similar experience this weekend where I had the option to stay home or take a good friend out for a few drinks for his birthday with my boyfriend, and *luckily* I chose to go out. It was really great, our friend had a blast and I didn’t sit at home like a potato with only the dog to talk to, haha. Money well spent!

    1. “Like a potato” made me smile when I read this yesterday and I’m hardcore smiling right now, too. The Dog is quite adorable, but I’m glad you ventured out!

  2. Yes–I have struggled with over-fighting the urge to spend. I think it’s part of my personality, not over-correcting for past mistakes in my case, though I can see how both could put us in the same place.

    The best money I’ve spent lately was going on a date with my husband last week. It wasn’t fancy but it was well worth the price of dinner out, to have a conversation without kids interrupting!

  3. We’ve been cutting back a lot, and now we’re getting to where we might need to spend a little on the grownups in the house. (Little Bit got all of the discretionary spending last month). I thought I’d done okay at arranging a date night for this coming Saturday by signing Bit up for a Parent’s Night Out at church, but I get to work that night instead.

  4. Yep, indulgences are good for the soul, so long as they’re not too frequent. Besides, then they feel more like indulgences.

    I’m glad you took a bit of a rest to actually enjoy yourself and not just run errands.

    1. I think you’re right, Abigail. Part of it was just getting out and doing something where I felt good about myself. It was nice to take a little bit of a break from the hyperfocus on savings. And it only set us back $27 with a $4 tip. Haha!

  5. We needed a new front door (and a storm door) for years, and I put off replacing it because of the expense, which is not minor. But we finally had it done this winter and it is definitely the best money I’ve spent in a long time. No more drafts (which is saving us on heat), more light in the room with the storm door, and our entranceway looks great.

    1. Sounds like a win for sure. This makes me so happy to hear…We can be door twins soon! We need a new front door as well. I always hated it because the previous owners painted over all the trim and everyone so it’s all one (ugly shade of) brown. Turns out, the door installation is why the basement wall drools on itself when it rains just right. That’s our next project when it gets warmer.

  6. I think this is like anything: moderation is key. Too much spending and you’ll almost certainly get spending fatigue. Too little and you’ll get saving fatigue. Balance is key! 🙂

  7. We are forcing ourselves to splurge on dinner for our anniversary. The only time we seem to go to a nice restaurant is when family visits.

    The best money we spent recently was on putting wood floors in on our second level. We saved and planned for years. We put it off because of the inconvenience factor: the mess, taking time off work, having strangers working in our home all day, the noise, and worrying about Groovy Cat. But they came out beautifully.

    1. So happy to hear about your floors, Mrs. Groovy. And hooray for anniversary dinner celebrations! I sense a blog post, perhaps?! 🙂 As for us, date night wasn’t at a nice place by any stretch, but it was quite nice.

  8. Yay, glad you got out and had a nice time before your break was over. I think the benefits of only going out once in a while are actually twofold: 1) you save money from all the times you *didn’t* go out, and 2) it seems that much more special when you do go out. $30 sounds like a small price to pay. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *