If you have some money but not all the money, I ask you to consider how you choose to spend it. What things are worth splurging on? What things you should buy as cheap as possible? Here are a few questions to ask yourself before spending money:
Where do I spend the most time?
We can get a lot of value out of money if we spend it to enhance the places where we spend the most time. You should spend an average of 8 hours a day on your mattress; make sure it’s a good one. The side effects that come from poor sleep can literally wreck your entire life. Spend a little bit more and sleep well.
We recently had an energy audit on our house. Aside from wrapping water heater pipes and replacing light bulbs, one thing they did was offer to install a water-efficient shower-head. Sure, I said without thinking. The next morning, I was treated to a Seinfeld-like shower with no pressure. NO PRESSURE. I immediately emailed my wife and told her not to stress, that a new shower-head was on the way. I believe my exact words were “We are not going to live like savages.”
I soon installed a Delta 75152 and it was the best $23 I ever spent. Now we are still seeing a noticeable decrease in water usage while getting a better shower than we ever had before. Fifteen minutes a day in the shower is over 91 hours every year. Money well spent.
You probably spend an awful lot of time at work. Why not spend a couple of bucks to reduce the misery of your workday? A nice plant or decoration can make a huge difference if you have a dedicated workspace. If you are on your feet all day, get quality shoes. These things matter in your life.
What do I see/hear the most?
Screens. The good ones usually don’t cost much more than the crappy ones. You can’t tell by looking in the stores b/c the lighting and displays are not the same as your home. Check out a site like The Wirecutter and trust their research. You will be thankful later.
Get the biggest screen you can with the highest quality you can. This will pay off for years when you do not feel the urgent need to upgrade again quickly. It’s far better to save and get the right one rather than settle to get one immediately.
Remember that screens now have multiple uses. I bought a large 27″ display for my home computer. I like having it in a dedicated space with a big screen. I also use it to watch Netflix or stream sports in a pinch. This makes it much more versatile than saving a few dollars and reducing my options for using it in different ways.
Between my television and computer screens, I spend a lot of time looking at them. My life is greatly enriched by having a terrific experience in those hours instead of watching mediocre screens. Also, a decent soundbar can make a huge difference in the quality of your home viewing experience without all the hassle of a surround system.
What do I touch the most?
Spend money on things you touch the most. Even if it seems silly, this will make a huge difference in your daily life. It’s much better to spend money on a shoe horn you use daily instead of a tie you wear once a month. It’s better to have a well-fitting undershirt you wear daily that makes you feel good than one that is too short and irritates you constantly.
How many times will I buy this item?
We recently replaced our furnace and central air unit. We chose to spend more money on these because even though they are not highly visible, a more efficient furnace will save us money on future energy bills and add value to our home. We also hope this is the only furnace we buy in the next 12-18 years.
Our garage door also recently broke, splintering the wood (it was an old door) beyond repair. Again, we only plan to buy one garage door and felt that a really great door would add value to our home and give us a feeling of pleasure when seeing it daily versus a door that was poorly matched or saved a few hundred dollars over the course of our lifetime.
What should I not spend money on?
Think about how many times you use a given item and spend money on the things you use the most. Avoid so-called luxury items that are for special occasions only. Odds are, you can rent or borrow one if needed for far cheaper than buying one and you won’t have to maintain or store it.
Do I care what other people think?
If the most important thing to you in deciding how to spend your money is that other people know how you spend your money, you are going to make poor decisions. You might have a house that’s too large for no reason and a car that costs too much. You will have a lot of things on display for others to see that you rarely interact with yourself. You will wonder why these things do not make you happier.
Don’t do that. Look at your own life, ask the questions above, and spend your money accordingly. If you spend 3 hours a day in your car, by all means, get the best and most luxurious ride you can afford. But make the choice consciously, knowing that you are doing so because it will bring you joy, not just because the neighbors will see it.