You would probably be disgusted by the amount of money I spend on travel.
Last year I spent nearly $3,000 in plane tickets, hotels and eating out while on the road. I know that there are a million other things I could’ve used that money for. If I’d saved that money and used it to pay off my student loans, I’d be 100% debt free by now.
But I don’t care. Travel is a priority for me, and I will gladly spend thousands and thousands of dollars every year to hop on a plane or stay somewhere new.
3 Things I Will Always Spend Money On
Before you judge me for my lavish travel spending habits, you should know that I’m still a very frugal person. Before I purchase anything, I will always compare prices and make sure I’m getting the best deal. But there are a few things in my life that are extremely important to me. Here are three things that I will always pay good money to do and refuse to ever let the cost phase me:
- Travel – I live on the east coast, and a lot of my friends and family live on the west coast. I miss them terribly and I want to see them as often as possible. That means a cross-country trip at least 3 times a year. So you can see why my travel budget may seem a little bloated 🙂
- Healthy Food – I’ve stopped eating easy and cheap meals. By refusing to buy pre-packaged or processed food, it that my monthly grocery budget has nearly doubled in the last two years. At the same time, eating high-quality food has helped me reverse so many of my health issues. so spending a little extra for fresh vegetables and locally raised meat is always worth it to me.
- Professional Development – If there’s an opportunity to take a class, attend an industry networking event or travel to a conference, I’ll try to find a way to go. I know that the return on investment for this kind of activity is usually worth the upfront cost, so I’m willing to spend extra money to travel and meet new people in my field.
Those are my priorities in life, which means I allow myself to spend extra money in the three categories to make me happy.
But it means that I am merciless about cutting costs everywhere else…
3 Things I Will Never Spend Money On
- Books – I love reading. I read about 2-3 books a month. But owning books is different than reading them. While it would be nice to have a home library overflowing with classic novels and well-worn nonfiction, buying books is just not one of my priorities. I started going to the library once a week when I was surviving on minimum wage, and I’ve been addicted to it ever since. Sure, sometimes there may be a two-week queue to check out the 5th book of Game of Thrones, but the wait is worth the money.
- Clothing – I also love clothes and will buy a new outfit every couple weeks. But because updating my wardrobe with the latest trends isn’t on my priority list, I limit my shopping sprees to Goodwill and consignment stores. By shopping used first, I know I can still buy an entirely new outfit for under $25. Even though it’s gently worn, it feels new to me!
- Eating Lunch out – Save a few days here and there, I have brought my lunch to work everyday for four years. I will only eat lunch out if it’s an emergency (like if I forgot food at home), if it’s a special occasion with co-workers (like a birthday), or it’s a networking opportunity (see my Professional Development priority on the list above). Besides, whenever I do eat out, it usually conflicts with my priority of eating healthy food 🙂
Are Your Spending Habits in Line with Your Priorities?
So those are my spending priorities and the things that I have mercilessly cut from my budget.
The beauty about my list? It probably doesn’t match yours.
Ramit Sethi from I Will Teach You To Be Rich put it best: Find out what matters most in your life. Spend money on that. Then eliminate everything else.
Ask yourself these three simple questions:
What are your 3 priorities in life?
What are the 3 areas where you’re currently spending your money?
How can you better align #1 and #2?
If you realign your spending and use your money to support your values, you’ll find that you’ll have plenty of money for the things you truly care about.
Let me know in the comments: what are your priorities that you spend money on?
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