Spend More on the Things You Love

16 Apr
by Jenny, posted in Consumerism/Minimalism, Money Honey   |  18 Comments

Source: flickr.com via Jenny on Pinterest


There are many areas in my life where I practice frugality, or just do without. The funny thing is, those areas where I cut back are areas in which I don’t notice any kind of lack. In other words, I never feel like I’m missing out.

For example, we almost never eat out. This is no big deal because I like to cook and have my family gather around the kitchen table for meals. Sure, some nights it would be easier to just order take out, but I enjoy the challenge of making a meal out of what we have on hand.

Home and personal care products are more areas where I don’t spend much money. I make many of my own cleaning products and laundry detergent. For personal care items, I try to use things around the house (like olive and coconut oil) and even make my own deodorant.

Don’t get me wrong, I still purchase things I really love. Some of them I could likely do without (e.g., I don’t need dark chocolate). But I choose the things or experiences that will bring me the most joy and then I spend on those.

When spending money brings lasting joy.

Sometimes I spend a lot on things I love. In fact, when I look back at the past two years, the most I’ve spent on things other than needs can be summed up into one word: travel.

I care about traveling — so does my family. We’re willing to do without certain things throughout the year in order to set money aside for traveling.

I’ve never looked back fondly at a shoe purchase, but I have always relished the memories and experiences gained from every trip I’ve ever taken. And even the seemingly horrible trips blow the memory of a new car payment out of the water.

The practice of not spending on the things you don’t really care about in order to allocate resources to the things you love is often called conscious spending.

For those of us that want to get and stay out of debt, conscious spending is one of the most important skills we can learn. The basic premise is that we can spend on the things or experiences we truly want. We just can’t spend on ALL the things or experiences we want!

What do you care about? What would you be willing to give up in order to get what you really want?

If you search your heart you’ll likely find some thoughts or ideas that you feel emotional about. You’ll know you’ve found what matters to you by the rush of warmth that crashes over your chest and stomach. Pay close attention to the thoughts or ideas that create that wave of positive emotion within you, for those are the things on which you should be focusing your resources.

Be careful though, sometimes we can mistake impulsiveness with emotion and meaning. Impulsiveness is the thud in our stomach that creates a reaction before we’ve had the chance to process the long-term consequences of our actions.

We usually don’t recognize that we’ve acted impulsively until after the fact. Think of the time you went to grocery store hungry and ended up spending $40 more than you had planned. Then you got home and realized you spent all of the extra money on things like marshmallows and potato chips. In floods the guilt. Oops.

Areas where spending more = fulfillment.

There are several areas where I find spending money consistently brings me fulfillment:

  • Travel
  • New experiences with my family
  • Self-improvement and mind expansion (books, education, seminars, etc.)

Conversely, there are several areas where I find spending brings me remorse and new bills, or items to manage and maintain:

  • New cars (by taking out a loan)
  • New gagets (that sometimes do the same things as other gagets I already have)
  • Anything on credit

Spend on things that matter to you.

No one can tell you what’s important to you. Only you can decide what will bring you joy. Follow your heart and spend less on the things that don’t make your soul sing — for those are the exact things that will hold you back and prevent your best life from unfolding.

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Related posts:

  1. Why I Love to Pay Bills
  2. Valentine’s Day — Can’t Buy Me Love
  3. Why I Love Budgets. And You Should Too!
  4. Spending Less of Our Spending Money
  5. Memories that Appreciate & Tiny Beach Vacation Rentals
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18 Responses to Spend More on the Things You Love

  1. Amazing, Jenny – I’m actually in the middle of writing a post on this exact same subject! I thought I’d comment here a.) just to say I agree, and that great minds must think alike and b.) just so you know that when my post appears in the near future you don’t think I’m ripping you off. LOL.

    • That’s great Travis! I love it when I’m in synch with other blogger friends like that! It always makes me think a message must need to be relayed and that I’m on the right track. :)

      I can’t wait to read your thoughts!

  2. I completely agree about spending on things YOU personally enjoy! It’s funny though–most minimalists suggest that should mostly include experience over things. I tried to buy into this notion for a little over a year to find that experiences often don’t bring me lasting joy. I find that I prefer to spend on items that will bring me continuous and variant experiences. For example, The Hubs and I couldn’t figure out what to do for our anniversary. We considered buying a new mattress, taking a trip, getting a new couch, doing a staycation, etc. We chose a new (to us) couch. I am deriving so much more joy out of our new couch than I would have by taking a short, expensive trip. I’ve just come to realize that I’m a homebody, so enjoy having things in my house (and of my house, like our new kitchen cabinets) that I love and use. I guess I prefer spending money on practical items that will see years of use and work with my house aesthetic over traveling or going to an event. Thanks for the reminder that I need to stop pretending I care about experiences or traveling when I find I’m much happier with an aesthetically pleasing house :)

    • This is great Megyn. Thanks for sharing your perspective on what you care about and choose to spend your money on.

      I love reading about your experience because it’s so important to realize that everyone has different values and what works for me might not work for you. ;)

  3. Jenny, I think you and I are very much in concert! In a bit broader terms than you wrote about, but I think mostly consistent, I tend to spend money on experiences and very little on stuff–just what I need. I may not be as keen on travel as you; I like to get around in, say, a 3-hour driving radius of our home, but once I have to get on a plane, I’m not so keen. But like you–cars, gadgets, the latest & greatest, and anything for which I can’t pay cash–I tend to avoid these like the plague!

    • Hey Kurt! It’s great to hear that you’ve also found satisfaction in spending money on experiences. It’s so interesting to hear about what others enjoy.

      Deciding what matters most to you is such a personal and important choice, I think. :)

  4. Robinson

    Hi, Jenny, greetings from São Paulo, Brazil. Six years ago I’ve started regular readings (books and blog posts) on consumerism, time, emotional and physical health. These are areas with many points of intersection. I’ve recently subscribed to your blog and I wish you get all you need to keep your texts dynamic and inspirational. Many readers are certainly blessed by your thoughts and life experiences.

    • Welcome Robinson! I’m delighted to have you here. :)

      You’re right, there are so many ties between consumerism, time and emotional and physical health. I find that there are also many intersections between minimalism and personal finance. In fact, I can see both disciplines so clearly that I find them hard to separate at times.

      Thank you so much for the lovely wishes and kind words.

  5. After spending too much, for too long, and not getting much satisfaction from it, I’m in a bare minimum spending mode. It’s been kind of fun to see how many ways I can cut back and how much I’m not spending now…I’ve been socking it all away into savings but…I’m feeling a little stingy and it’s making me think about your post where you wrote about a sick child and buying your child an ice cream on impulse. It’s time I make some memories by spending on experiences. I think a trip to the beach is in order as soon as the weather warms up.

    • I completely understand how getting into the no spending zone can feel so satisfying Heidi. I think it’s natural to swing from one extreme to another (from overspending to underspending).

      What helps us is to have a set amount each week that we can spend and not feel guilty about. We have an account we call our “spending” account. Each week we transfer $250 to the account. We use the account for any groceries, gas, personal car or entertainment we want. Once it’s gone, it’s gone. We can’t spend anymore until the next week.

      This has been such a helpful way for us to manage those irregular expenses that are optional, but fun. Bigger expenses, like a trip, we plan and save up for months at a time. That way we have the money upfront and we don’t have the stress of trying to figure out how to pay for a trip that was charged on credit once we get home. :)

    • Robinson

      Hi, Heidi! Your words “and not getting much satisfaction” are the most faithful portrait of human reality. Material things do not have the power of giving us full satisfaction. Things that money can buy and personal, deep satisfaction are mutually exclusive. I would say relationships (to ourselves, family and others) have much more potential for much greater and lasting emotional/spiritual rewards. :)

  6. Yesterday I was given £20 out of the blue. The thought crossed my mind what could I buy with it for me? I cannot think of one physical thing – how about that? Instead the money will go toward a family day out at a Safari Park.
    Travel and experiences is a big thing for us. So far this year we’ve had 5 days at EuroDisney and we are just back from 5 days in Wales (oh and I had 2 days away in Wales with the girls in January). We have our winter holiday booked for December and are currently sorting our summer trip also. No new pair of shoes can compete with that!

    • I love hearing about all of your trips Jo!

      Receiving cash and not feeling the urge to spend it on something is such a great feeling. Knowing that you can put every little bit that comes your way towards something you really care about is so motivating. It’s amazing how quickly those little bits add up!

  7. Hey Jenny! Long time no talk :)

    “There are several areas where I find spending money consistently brings me fulfillment: Travel, New experiences with my family, Self-improvement and mind expansion (books, education, seminars, etc.)”

    This resonated with me very much, because I recently made very BIG life changes (left a high-paying job, the comfort of having the so-called “good” things in life, moved to another country).

    I decided that my time on earth was short and I’d rather spend it doing things I did truly enjoy, such as traveling, self-improvement by experiencing different cultures and most importantly, spending time with my family making lasting memories.

    It’s amazing what happens when one decides to put aside less than ideal thinking patterns and substitute them with a new, better ideas of the things that in the end lead you to what REALLY matter.

    Good stuff as always.


    • It’s great to hear from you Rich!

      It sounds like you made so many huge changes in your life and that you’re finding your life to be more meaningful now.

      And you’re right — it is amazing what happens when we’re able to break out of the thinking patterns we’re used to and take a step in a new direction. :)

  8. I’m with you. Travel. It is really all I want to do. Five year plan in place to ditch everything and have a nomadic lifestyle. I just don’t care about anything else from a spending perspective.



    • Hey Mark! We have a similar plan. We’re in the second year of our five – seven year plan to take one extended trip each year. It will be interesting to see how it all turns out!

  9. Marilyn Berth

    That is a really great idea. Spending more on the things will leave you the happiest person ever in the world.

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