There is a lot to be said about being a frugal person. I try to save money whenever possible – I use coupons, buy quality items, and shop with a plan. But that doesn’t mean I am cheap or afraid to spend money. I have no problem spending money, so long as I make the conscious decision to spend. I don’t like the idea of buying things out of habit.
The Benefits of Spending Consciously
I try to avoid spending money for the sake of buying the newest gadget or out of boredom. When I spend money, I want to receive value and pleasure from the action. Let me give you an example.
Eating out. Once a week I go out to eat with a coworker or with my wife. It is a planned event and it certainly isn’t a big splurge for my wallet or my waistline. I have no problem spending money once a week for a change of pace, to socialize, and to get out of the office. The rest of the week I prefer to brown bag it. I enjoy eating leftovers – they often taste better than eating out and are healthier for my waistline and wallet. I enjoy going out to lunch, but I don’t think I would enjoy eating out everyday. Now let’s look at a different situation.
I have a coworker who eats out for lunch everyday. Is that a problem? Not for him. I asked him about it one day and he responded, “I’m in my fifties. I don’t drink, I don’t smoke, I don’t fool around with the ladies. This is my vice.”
I’d say on average, my coworker spends $10 or more on each lunch (he never eats fast food). That comes out to well over $200 per month, and probably over $3,000 per year. But that is not a problem for him because he budgets for it, he enjoys it, and he does it consciously. Eating out is one of his spending priorities.
Unconscious Spending Causes Problems
Spending money is not bad – it is designed to be spent. But unconscious spending can cause big problems. It would bee a big problem for me if I ate out every day, spent several thousand dollars every year, blew my budget, and didn’t derive any pleasure from it. But it’s not a problem for my friend who budgets for it and enjoys it.
So long as you are sticking within your budget and aren’t spending yourself into debt, then you shouldn’t be afraid to go out to lunch every day, or spending money on another habit. If it is important to you, then find a way to fit it into your budget. Just make sure that when you place those items on the counter and reach for your wallet that you are doing so consciously, and not out of habit.