Personal finance experts frequently advise people to live frugally and save as much as possible.
For most folks, this advice is spot on. Without a trust fund, a winning lottery ticket, a 7-figure salary, or the desire to become an entrepreneur, saving religiously might be the only way to build a sizable nest egg.
Usually, I am a die-hard advocate for living way below your means. But today, I’m going to throw a somewhat controversial idea out there: some things are worth splurging on.
And no, I’m not talking about Starbucks Frappuccinos, Le Creuset casseroles, or tulle dresses from Etsy, as much as I adore them.
In my opinion, something is worth buying if it can produce long-term benefits that extend beyond the “feel good” factor at the moment of purchase – much like an investment.
Keep reading. You’ll see what I mean.
1. Taking care of your health
If saving comes at the expense of your physical and/or mental health, then it’s absolutely not worth it.
The importance of physical health cannot be stressed enough. As the saying goes: health is wealth.
As we all know, the key to good health is regular exercise and eating well.
But alas, staying fit and eating healthily is not a cheap endeavor. Gym memberships cost between $40-$50 per month on average, and don’t even get me started on the prices of organic produce.
With that said, if there is a choice, please don’t talk yourself out of doing the right thing for your body because of money. You’ll be glad you made these choices.
Spending for your mental health is a tad more complicated, as the line between shopping spontaneously to cheer yourself up and practicing mindful self-care is often blurred.
Going to see a therapist for a mental tune-up is considered good practice.
But what about getting a hot stone massage at the end of a grueling day when nothing seemed to go your way? Is that spending justified?
Clearly, on the subject of mental wellness, I’m out of my depth.
However, as a personal finance blogger, I say go for it! Indulge in whatever it is that helps you get through a particularly tough day.
But only on the conditions that:
1) Free or cheap alternatives are not feasible (venting to a trusted friend, watching romantic comedies, doing yoga, meditating, cozying up with a book, or getting a good night’s sleep are inexpensive ways to keep our spirits high).
2) You don’t want it. You NEED it (to prevent a breakdown, for example).
3) It’s a “once in a blue moon” type of situation (meaning, you don’t splurge more often than you have to).
2. Getting an education
Improving oneself through education is a reward in itself.
Also, few things boost earning powers like getting an education, whether by completing a bachelor’s degree, getting an advanced degree, or gaining an industry-recognized certification.
Of course, I’m not just talking about formal educations. Taking an online class (except for for-profit colleges), attending industry seminars, webinars, and conferences also count.
In most cases, the price you pay for education is directly proportional to its quality, the caliber of your teachers, and the connections you make along the way, so never skimp on education!
3. Buying books
Please don’t ever feel bad about buying a book, even if it’s a silly book, even if the book does not benefit your career, even if – gasp – it’s Fifty Shades of Grey!
Okay, maybe borrow Fifty Shades of Grey from the library if you insist on reading it. But my point is: I doubt anyone in the history of the world has ever gone bankrupt for buying too many books. I’m making this claim without the research to back it up, so feel free to offer counterexamples. I’m actually curious to know.
In my opinion, reading anything is better than reading nothing. Reading can reduce stress, stimulate your mind, expand your vocabulary, improve your writing skills, and I’m saving the best for last: you’re likely to learn a thing or two from every book! How wonderful!
I usually have two books on the go simultaneously: a nonfiction book with substance and a page-turning thriller. The former expands my horizons while the page-turner keeps me entertained during long commutes.
I can go on and on about books, so let’s move on to my next point before this turns into a book blog.
4. Maintaining your house
My husband and I have a lot to learn about fixing up our house, so we hired professionals to help us, with plans to eventually tackle all the small renovation projects on our own.
We’ve also hired professional cleaners to clean the house every two weeks. It might sound like a complete waste of money to hire people for something we can take care of ourselves, but it is absolutely worth it. Not only is our house always clean and ready for guests, my husband and I never have to argue about the division of cleaning chores.
The reason I’m encouraging you to splurge on home maintenance is that it would actually save you money down the line and keep your home value on par.
When it comes to your house, minor issues, when ignored, could easily grow into severe and more costly problems later on. So it’s best to tackle them as soon as they’re discovered.
Never put off critical house repairs in the name of saving a dollar. A cheap fix could morph into a full-blown financial disaster if you put it off for too long.
Last but not least, make sure to hire someone trustworthy and experienced. It might be expensive, but peace for your mind is priceless.
5. Making connections
The people we choose to surround ourselves with say a lot about us.
Personally, I value people that offer at least one (or some combination) of the following:
- Knowledge, wisdom, advice
- Sense of humor
- Interesting stories to tell
I try my best to provide all of the above, to build genuine relationships with great people.
Because this is a personal finance blog, I strongly encourage you to connect with those you deem financially successful.
Just think about it. All it takes is one slice of sound financial advice delivered at the right time for you to make a key investment decision that forever changes your life for the better.
My husband and I rarely spend money treating ourselves. Still, we go all out when friends come over, especially those who are compassionate, inspiring, and willing to share (not brag about) their strategy for success.
The value that we get out of these productive conversations far outweighs the cost of the meal, every single time.
6. Buying things that you use frequently
If you’re a professional painter, you need artist-grade paint, paintbrushes, and canvases.
If you’re constantly on the go, you need a reliable vehicle.
And if you spend more than 8 hours a day on a laptop, you probably want a fast laptop that can keep up with your productivity.
Forking over some extra cash is totally acceptable when it’s something you use every day, especially for work.
Considering the number of times and how long you’ll actually be using the item, you might realize that, on a cost-per-use basis, it’s not a bad deal at all.
What was the last item you splurged on, and do you think it was worth it?