I was talking to my manager the other day and she told me about how they were saving up money for a pool. Then she started talking about the huge amount of student loan debt that they have and how she wished she didn’t have it. I asked why not use the money they had saved up for that and she told me “well we should pay off our student loans, but instead we’re going to buy a pool”.
I was shocked, maybe even appalled by the statement, than I realized that It wasn’t that long ago that I had similar thoughts, maybe even still do when it comes to certain things.
For instance, it is common practice in the personal finance world to “not buy $5 lattes”, and for the most part I agree with that. But the thing is from time to time I do get myself one of those expensive lattes that no one should ever buy.
I also don’t always bring my lunch to work, in fact if you ask my coworkers I never bring my lunch to work. I have done long stretches where I brought my lunch every single day for a month or even longer but the majority of the time I buy lunch at work.
My wife and I also have a bad habit of not planning ahead and so we end up going out to eat or ordering food that we then pick up and eat that adds to our “grocery” bills.
Now, I could sit and look at my manager for not paying down the student debt but instead buying a pool. Truth is though that people can easily look down on me for all the things I do that don’t make financial sense.
So is it wrong for my manager to buy the pool? Is it wrong for me to get a $5 dollar coffee, buy lunch at work, and order food from a restaurant instead of cooking at home?
Yes it is. But at the same time no it isn’t.
See our finances are personal and how we decide to spend the income we get is up to us. What we have to do is decide what is important to us. What is important to you? If it’s a $5 dollar coffee every day than do it. If it’s spending money on lunch every day, fine.
What’s important is not how much we spend on things, but how much we spend on the things that don’t matter.
See if coffee isn’t something you care about, or you could eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich every day and be content than great. You can spend your money on travel.
My wife and I recently sat down to decide what was truly important to us, and we found that the $5 coffee isn’t it (though from time to time it is a nice treat). I don’t really like paying money for lunch at work when I really just eat it rushed anyway and don’t really get to enjoy it. Going out to eat we enjoy but we want something else more.
For us what’s important is travel, we want to get out of Florida and enjoy the world, to do that though we are going to have to cut costs in other places.
My manager and her husband want a pool, is that wrong? I don’t think so, I think that if someone wants a pool and they save for it and can pay for it than more power to them, it’s what makes them happy. They spend a lot of time at home with their son and want him to grow up having a pool. For all I know they want to throw the dogs in there too.
Just because this doesn’t sound like something my wife and I would do, or possibly you for that matter, it doesn’t make it wrong. It’s them exercising their right to the personal side of personal finance.
I hope all of us find what it is we want in life, what we are willing to spend our money on. Save everywhere else that doesn’t matter and spend on what does.
What’s something you spend money on that you know you could live without? What have you cut when you discovered it wasn’t as important as you thought it was?
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