The following is a guest post from Jacob at My Personal Finance Journey.
This post was written as part of a “Yakezie blog swap” where members of the Yakezie Personal Finance Blogging Network pair up and exchange guest postings on a common topic. The topic of this blog swap was to discuss a time that you were happy that you splurged on a purchase. You can view my guest post live today over at Jacob’s site: The Digital Camera That I’m Glad We Splurged On.
When Splurging Was the CORRECT Thing To Do
After seeing the topic for this blog swap and enthusiastically signing up, I soon realized that it would not be very easy for me to select a topic about which to write. “Why is this?” You might be asking. “It’s probably because this guy is just another one of those tightwad personal finance blogger types.” Well, I guess in a way, that would be correct. Through analyzing my past spending patterns and planning out my finances in advance, I’ve luckily been able to (in recent years) curb most of the spontaneous spending that would qualify as “splurging.” TheFreeDictionary.com defines splurging as “an expensive indulgence; a spree.” In looking at my past, I was able to come up with two instances that would qualify as splurging. Except, in these instances, I was VERY glad that I did splurge! Read on to find out more.
Splurge # 1 – Spring Break Trip to Cancun – 2005
The 2004-2005 year period was my freshmen year of my undergraduate studies at the University of Arkansas. Freshmen year was a great time in life.
The Freshmen level classes were easy (or maybe easier would be a better word because I probably thought that they were hard at the time I was taking them), Facebook was just catching on, living in the Honor’s College dormitory was fun because I was able to meet a lot of new people, and best
of all, it was interesting to watch all of the kids that had been sheltered in high school go crazy and make mistakes.
In addition, I was 19 years old, and was still able to go to a party on Friday night, sleep for 3 hours, and wake up to go ride my bike for 5 hours (eating Cliff bars for breakfast on the way to the cycling meet-up spot).
Another very memorable experience from Freshmen year of college was Spring Break! For this special occasion, a group of approximately 6 of my friends from high school and college embarked on a week long trip to Cancun, Mexico. Remember, this was before the recent storms destroyed the beaches down there, so it was still quite nice! It also worked out well that the legal drinking age in Mexico is 18 years old.
Naturally, we wanted to pull out all of the stops for this trip to make it a
memorable one. We stayed in a beach front, all-inclusive resort very near all of the bars and clubs in downtown Cancun. And, furthermore, we got the all-access VIP party package to make sure we enjoyed the nightlife.
All together, the trip and airfare would end up costing about $1,500. While this was a lot of money (especially for a college student who didn’t have any savings from a full time job), and definitely set me back from my savings goals for the year, I would not trade the memories gained from the trip for anything.
It was money well spent indeed! This experience also helped me realize several important concepts that I can still apply in my daily life. See below for more details.
Financial Lessons Learned From Splurge # 1
- Buying drinks at a bar or restaurant is a rip-off. It’s better to drink before you go out.
- Be cautious of “extras” that a travel company or hotel offers to tack on to your package once you arrive at your destination. These can add up quickly!
Splurge # 2 – Hiking and Backpacking Gear – 2010
Being a hiking, backpacking, trail running, and all-around camping enthusiastic, it is fitting that one of my few financial flaws is being enticed to spend money on high-tech hiking/backpacking gear. Enter the scene of Splurge # 2.
This splurge was more recent (just last year in 2010). I was wrapping up my last few months living in the suburbs of Philadelphia before moving to graduate school and was getting slightly fed up with the lack of mountainous outdoor activities in the area.
So, to make certain that I was properly geared up for backpacking once I moved to my new location for graduate school, I bought the following items in a 6 month period:
- Leki treking poles – $200
- Lightweight tent – $125
- Baltoro 70 Backpack – $280
- Prolite air mattress – $100
- Camping stove – $35
- Water filter – $100
Clearly, this is a significant investment of money in backpacking gear. However, I was glad that I made the purchases because 1) I had done a significant amount of hiking and knew that backpacking was something I wanted to take up more seriously, 2) my cash flow while working at a full time engineering job would be more than my income in graduate school (which has turned out to be 67% lower than my f/t job income by the way), and 3) getting more involved with hiking would be directly in line with my Purposed Focused Financial Plan and my life values.
Financial Lessons Learned From Splurge # 2
- Large purchases are OK, as long as they are planned out in advance
- Purchases made to support your core life values are very useful.
In conclusion, I was ultimately able to learn a lot from my two splurging
experiences. I think that the key message that pervades all of this is financial planning. We all need to make sure that our current spending and savings habits line up with the broad goals we are trying to reach.
Personally, I try to assess my current financial position once per month to make sure I am on track and/or make adjustments. Then, once per year, I do a detailed “soul-searching” level analysis of my life values and reassess my financial goals.
How about you all? How often do you splurge on purchases? Are you more often glad that you did, or do you wish you could undo your actions?
Share your experiences by commenting below!
My name is Derek, and I have my Bachelors Degree in Finance from Grand Valley State University. After graduation, I was not able to find a job that fully utilized my degree, but I still had a passion for Finance! So, I decided to focus my passion in the stock market. I studied Cash Flows, Balance Sheets, and Income Statements, put some money into the market and saw a good return on my investment. As satisfying as this was, I still felt that something was missing. I have a passion for Finance, but I also have a passion for people. If you have a willingness to learn, I will continue to teach.