I am naturally cheap. I get it from my Dad.
The point is that being cheap is not a very desirable trait. I am conscious of this fact and strive against my instincts.
I purposely spend money now and again to guard against sinking into a miserly existence surrounded by my piles of gold and no friends.
As a devotee to FIRE, I can’t exactly bring myself to blow through money just for the sake of spending. So at the end of the day, what I am seeking is a balance between cost and value.
The idea for this exercise came from OurFinanciaPath’s post ‘Frugal, Not Cheap Challenege‘. It is likely to take off as another chain gang link.(Number 4 if you are keeping track).
I have come up with a few examples of dropping bills purposely in exchange for perceived value and the anecdotes to go with them.
First, my eyesight started failing around age 20. I was poor, so I just trudged onward squinting at road signs, that is until I
stole re-purposed my first pair of glasses. It is OK though, really, they were left at my house by a stranger who was so drunk and so rude he had to be ‘escorted off the premises‘. Luckily our prescriptions matched and I could see again!
Fast forward 10 years or so and I forked over around $3,000 bucks to have my eyes fixed. Lasik was still some sort of Canadian pseudo science at the time and $3,000 was no small feat at that time in my life. Best money I ever spent! Now, I can not even remember what wearing/needing glasses felt like.
Second, we spend a third of our lives in bed right? Logic and experience sleeping on too many floors and couches drove me to my first Big Boy purchase. I was still living in bad apartments with ratty hand-me-down furniture, but I was working and so was DW, girlfriend only at the time. We combined resources and spent over $2,000 on a mattress.
There are some things in life you just do not go cheap on, sleep in one of them. Still have that mattress. In fact, we have upgraded 2 more times since then and I have never shed a tear for the money spent.
Third, that dreaded word all new parents fear, Disney! I knew I had to go at least once. It has become an American right of passage. The family talked it over and decided if we are only doing it once, we should do it right.
We stayed in the park at a resort for the whole week. We had ‘fast passes’ planned out and meal plans prepaid. I even spent money on an app to monitor ride lines. Result. No Regrets. Disney is a well oiled machine and a planned out vacation there is a lovely, fun even for the parents, family adventure. We might even go back.
Fourth, our cleaning service. We bring in a housekeeping service every other week. It is an expense that I always felt icky about. I felt awkward when I was home during the time they came. Eventually, I learned to love the housekeeping service.
Clawing back your time every weekend instead of scrubbing toilets is worth the expense. Your time has a price tag, it you can pay it, try it, you won’t regret it.
I would also make an Honorable Mention out of buying reliable cars 1-2 years old with low mileage.
One thing I’ve learned over the years of seeking FI and squirreling away money at every turn, is to remember to spend money once in awhile. Check out my ‘Wish List‘ post or my ‘Crying Over Spilt Money‘ post to see what I mean.