The list is growing! It started with sweet treats and plane tickets. Then, Matt added concerts and hockey. Now, Jacob from Power Over Life is here to remind us that strategic spending is the key to unlocking some of life’s greatest adventures. Here’s what he considers his best money spent:
Best Money Spent
I love the idea of making this into a monthly series. Penny is right… my wife and I put so much work into budgeting, saving money, and trying to live frugally, yet we do it so that we can also spend our money the way we want to! We routinely give up good wants so that we can experience our best wants.
The best money I spent this month (technically it was five weeks ago) was on a backpacking trip. My wife and I love backpacking, but we are so careful with our money that we can only justify going on one backpacking trip each year. We like to fund these trips in a specific way.
Keeping the Change
All year long, we buy everything with cash. But we never give the exact change to the cashier. We always give them full dollars. That means that for every transaction, we get coins back. Sometimes it’s five cents; other times, it’s ninety cents. No matter the amount, we bring the change home and put it in a jar. Once a year, we plan out a backpacking trip that we fund purely from coins! Before our trip, we take the coins into the bank, and we walk out with cash.
This year, we received $200 from our coins (a bit more than normal), so we decided to go a bit farther from home than we normally do. We took our adventure to the San Juan mountains, in southwest Colorado. We decided to hike and camp up at Ice Lake Basin for several nights. Side note… if you are a backpacking junky like us, then go grab your adventures list and put Ice Lake Basin on it! It was absolutely worth going to.
Here were our expenses:
- $59 – Gas money.
- $47 – Backpacking food.
- $9 – A few miscellaneous supplies.
- $20 – Travel food.
- $59 – Hotel room for one night.
All in all, we spent $194, and some change, to have a 4-night backpacking trip (of course this doesn’t count all the gear that we had previously purchased to do excursions such as this).
We got to experience one of our best wants and it made living frugally all year worth it. In fact, I feel like skimping and saving money all year to have a vacation like this makes it more than worth it. Because I worked hard and saved every bit that I could, I don’t take these vacations for granted. I am so glad that we went; we had an incredible time!
Strategic Saving and Spending
When it comes down to it, we all make choices in this life. Either those choices will work for us, or they will work against us. Financial choices are no different. I choose to live within our means. I choose to save all year for a vacation, rather than just spend the money today on something that I don’t have the money for.
Because I make choices like these, my money works for me, not against me. I have financial peace knowing that I can account for every dollar and where it fits into my financial life.
You too can make a choice today: spend your money on the best wants that you have, but make sure that you save for it. I promise that you will feel much better about having that item or experience after you have worked hard for it than you otherwise would have.
So Tell Us…What’s the best money you’ve spent lately? What do you do with your spare change?
Note: The fact that Jacob and his wife fund these adventures with change makes my heart go pitter patter. Save those pennies, folks!
Second Note: If you’d like to join in this series whether you are a blogger or a reader, drop me a note in the comments or connect with me at shepicksuppennies (at) gmail (dot) com.
Gwen @ Fiery Millennials
Wow! Looks beautiful! I, too, save my pennies. My OCD kicks in so I have a big old pickle jar for nickels and dimes, a smaller jar for quarters, and a can for pennies. I haven’t emptied it for a while, but last time I counted I was up $80. My sister and I made it a challenge to see who could find more change on the ground this year. She’s up to about $50 and I think I found about $3 before I quit keeping track. Change is the best!
This makes me so happy, Gwen! I have a clear acrylic piggy bank from middle school that I still use. It’s my take on the $400 “ghost” chairs from Crate and Barrel that were really popular a while back! I never thought to separate them out, though. I like it!
Since the pennies are no longer circulating in Canada, I can’t find a coin on the ground.
This is the saddest thing that I’ve never thought about until now, Pellrider!
Oh! You made me giggle! I guess I have to admit to OCDness. I’ve saved change for years but always had it separated out. I found a small chest, many years ago, that had four drawers…..perfect! It sits in the foyer and I put my change in it as soon as I come through the door. I roll the change as each drawer gets full and put it in another chest until we decide to cash it out.
One year, we used it to have a senior portrait of my daughter done on canvas. Three years later, I’d saved enough to take my son on a week long trip to Florida which is what he wanted in lieu of a graduation present. Currently, I have a few hundred saved up and the hub’s and I will be going on a trip in the spring with that money…..or possibly the fall as our daughter just announced that she is getting married, lol!
The best money spent for me lately is way more boring than a trip. It was my boots. I wore my last pair for 5 or so years and now I just bought a new pair (at the outlets with a coupon of course). Hopefully I get 5+ years out of them!
Having proper shoes is a game changer. When I first tried to get my clutter and my dollars in check, I made myself swear to stop buying shoes. Last year, I was hobbling around with the WORST back pains. But I legitimately thought it was because I stand so much all day. Turns out, buying quality shoes are worth EVERY penny! Hope you get 5 years out of those boots!
I’m actually pretty radical on this….I give my coins away! Gasp. I try to avoid spending money places without my credit card, so I don’t get a whole lot of change to begin with.
I do have a pile of quarters on my desk, which I’ll occasionally use to buy a donut every now and then, but I toss my pennies, nickels and dimes into my sister’s coin tray and she gets the joy of rolling them up and depositing into her bank account. Unfortunately I don’t think my contributions go all that far in her quest for savings.
It’s weird, i have this mentality that change isn’t “real money”, so I treat coin purchases as “free”, even though it’s absolutely not. For example,if I have to mail a package and my sister is going in the direction of the post office, I’ll give her a few bucks via quarters to buy the postage and it feels like I didn’t actually part with money even though I totally did and it’s totally the same as if I gave her a few single bills. Completely illogical, right? I never claimed to not be a weirdo. 😀
Ha! That’s my problem with cash, especially singles. It runs through my fingers like water. I’m a “plastic” girl all the way! But found change always gets picked up and put in my piggy bank.
One of my best friends in high school (she’s still one of my favorite people today!) used to throw coins out her car window when we’d go through the drive through. Or she’d toss them in the parking lot coming out of the mall. I’d get so mad! She’d tell me, “They’re just pennies!” AHHH!
The Thrifty Issue
I love this! I like to travel so I’m saving my coins for that. Travelling should not be expensive. Thanks so much!
I’m trying to learn how to travel hack. I fear I’m not doing very well with it, though. I will definitely be posting an update soon! Where are you headed next?
Amanda @ centsiblyrich
That’s incredible, Jacob! I love how you funded your adventure and it looks positively beautiful!
I have a change jar (that is almost full!). We don’t use cash much, so it takes a little while to fill it, but now I’m totally motivated to use it for an adventure!
I use my piggy bank for fun money on vacation! Last year, my husband and I used it for dinner in Vegas 🙂 It wasn’t as beautiful as Jacob’s adventure, but there sure was a lot to see!
Full Time Finance
We save our coins when we get them in a jar but its a long time between usage since we primarily operate on credit cards for the cash back. Still the last time we did so it was around 160 dollars. We deposited that in one of the kids savings accounts. Still I like the idea of using it on something like a trip. That’s actually what we do with cash back from expenditures. It’s our mad money to set and forget and later use in one large trip to say Martinique (that was intentionally exact).
In terms of spending lately I just gave you a hint but to go further we bought a flight for the extended family to Martinique. Between the travel credit from our newly acquired Chase Saphire Reserve card and the kick back in points from achieving the signup bonus so far the flights are free (even net of the signup bonus which we will make up in using the rest of the points to displace normal spending). Now I’m working on how additional mad money can be applied to lodging…
How exciting! We also use our cashback for vacations. It doesn’t usually cover the whole trip, but we used it to fund a day trip in Costa Rica this summer. I cannot wait to hear about your adventure!
All of the comments so far have been spot on. It’s good to hear that others are using their change for good (for themselves or even for someone else). Keeping change is awsome…every penny counts.
T.J. talked about coin purchase as feeling “free”. I think all of us can relate to one degree or another. While it’s not technically free, I think its ok to view it that way. It makes buying things like donuts and sodas and the like exciting because it feels “free”. I know that my wife and I used to use our coins for those things (before the vacations) and it actually helped us have some fun while we were on a strict budget.
Thanks again Penny for letting me participate!
So glad you did, Jacob!
That photo sealed the deal. Ice Lake Basin is definitely on our list now too!
Plus, the money you spend on a backpacking trip will likely double its value in money saved on healthcare later on by being active rather than a couch potato. Win-win!
You are absolutely right! Getting out and going on a hike or backpacking trip is just so good for you. Not only physical health but mental health as well! (By the way…if you put it on your list, beware. It’s only 3.5 miles up, but you gain like 2,500 feet in those 3.5 miles. It was the hardest backpacking trip I’ve ever done…and I’ve done some 40-50 milers).
So very true! There are so many health benefits to being outside. I struggle so much in the winter with feeling blah. I already told my husband that I don’t care if I have to wear two coats…I’m going to keep walking the trails by our house!
Gary @ Super Saving Tips
Gorgeous photo! I love the idea of passing on your “good wants” to get your “best wants”. I’ve passed up vacations the last two years, but I think it’s time to start saving (or possibly travel hacking) for one now.
Isn’t it stunning?! I’m so impressed with his photog skills. Let’s travel hack together, Gary!
Dennis @ NestEggRx
Sounds like a great trip. Having adventures with family is the stuff that makes life wonderful.