1. I’m going to spend money on education (finishing my Master’s) and travel (we’re taking the kids and Mr. ThreeYear, for the first time ever) to DisneyWorld! We’re going to try and be more frugal in food spending!!

    Like you, I get a lot of value in our cleaning service and our handyman (we are not handy either!!). But we’re trying to make sure that whatever we spend on is thoughtful and adds value, not just mindless spending or because we haven’t planned well or are panicking!!

    • I’m so glad you’re finishing your Master’s. I’ll be done with my second one in July, and I cannot wait. My last tuition payment is set for March. HUZZAH!

      I can’t wait to hear all about Disney. I feel like I should start saving for that now. What is the 529 equivalent of a Disney trip?! 😉

  2. One big splurge for us is always photos. I just love professional photos, and since littles change so much, we go every six months.

    I’m also considering an experiment wherein I track all of my spending money for the year and see what I spend on what, and is it worth it?

    • We do track all of our money. But we don’t really look at it come year end (lolz wut?). I think that’s a great experiment that would be really enlightening. For example, I know we spend up to $3600 a year on spending but I don’t know what exactly that entails. Might be fun to know what percentage of that is eating out versus shampoo.

      And I digress. Photos, yes. Always. $106 of this month’s $300 was wiped out the first week of January on photos, and I’m not the least bit sorry.

  3. Buckeyecub

    It is funny how in the FIRE community we feel we need to justify spending money on things that are our main priorities or that bring us great value through the time/pain they save us. You are spot on about the whole point on maximizing time.
    I spend money on my fids (feather kids). They bring me more meaning then they could ever cost, but the decision to have them in my life was never financial. We just spent a large amount in vet bills trying to save our budgie’s life. I don’t regret the decision I just wish he hadn’t had something that couldn’t be successfully treated. The grief is heartbreaking. I was glad that with an emergency fund we never had to worry about whether we could get him treatment. We plan to get a new bird and we are completely willing to commit to the expenses involved.

    We have a rec center membership as well that helps us be better about being active. We love the indoor pool as well. So nice in the cold weather to swim and great in the hot weather to not worry about sunburn.

    • I love that you had an emergency fund in place and were able to do everything you could for your fid. I’m sorry to hear of your loss. I’m excited that you are getting a new bird AND that you are an amazing pet parent by preparing financially for it. I can’t tell you how many postings in my neighborhood that I’ve seen recently of people giving away (or selling!) pets that can’t care for.

  4. Great list! I went shopping yesterday at some home stores, and lo and behold, I had so many ideas for how I want to spend money. Man, there really is a tool for every single purpose–like tiny containers to store your random paper clips!

    I too want to buy some more storage/organizing solutions. We have a bunch of random pots in the cupboard, and it frustrates me every time I look for a pot. I also want to finally invest in a better trash can, a stainless steel one. Ours is old, has no lid on top, and has absorbed all the icky trash smells! Anyway, I’m amazed at how small changes like this can improve how you feel at home.

    Re: environment, we ran out of paper towels and I haven’t ordered more. I’m trying to wean off of using a paper towel for every single thing. I guess that means I need to get reusable napkins now.

    And reusable bag purchases are always good buys!

    • I could spend my life in The Container Store just marveling at all the things I don’t need. But I do think buying some things to help with organization can really optimize your day.

      I didn’t put this in the post but I’m also working on restocking toiletries and beauty products that are cruelty-free and more natural. This has been a labor of love for YEARS. I feel like I’m finally close to not sacrificing quality. Maybe I’ll write more on it later!

  5. kddomingue

    Money will be spent on replacing tools that are broken or dying on good quality tools that have been carefully researched. Researched, ordered, bought and received our new finish nailer yesterday. Planer is next on the list. We do a lot of DIY and cheap materials and tools are simply more expensive in the long run. Convincing the hubs of this has been a challenge. We will be spending money on sturdy shelving units in the garage instead of continuing to “make do”. “Making do” has led to having a constant mess, not​ being able to find the thing that you KNOW you have and having to purchase another after you’ve wasted hours looking for it unsuccessfully and a lack of enthusiasm for starting a new project or finishing an old one.

    Cheap and frugal are two entirely different things. I plan on being frugal this year…..
    not cheap.

  6. I completely agree with your philosophy. I’d add the caveat that both money and time are best used when they produce happiness. If the proper application of those assets are bringing you and your family happiness and joy, then you are doing the right thing.

    As for the Oldsters, we would not be as happy without our house cleaning help. Also, we’ve been known to hire a professional organizer to assist in planning how best to purge/keep our stuff (and we have retained her on the front end of moving into our new digs so we’re off on the right foot).

    We should not be afraid to spend our money or our time on the things that make us happy. Happiness delayed is happiness denied. (especially true at middle age or later 🙂

    • I could definitely see value in enlisting organizational help! My biggest regret is that my husband and I both moved so much more STUFF into our house than we needed. In my opinion, it’s easier to start with less than declutter. Sounds like a great plan for your dollars to me!

  7. These all make complete sense to me. I’m all for being frugal but I’m also willing to spend money on things that will make my life better…and certainly all the things you’ve listed fit that bill.

    I’m with you on the gardening thing. I’m not exactly known for my green thumb and by the end of the summer I’m usually cursing the garden. Then winter hits and I forget all the sorrow and start ordering seeds and planning out the yard.

    • YES! I always joke that I really enjoy my $4 tomatoes…because it really feels like that’s what they must cost! But there’s just something about the possibility of what can be grown in a season that makes it irresistible to me.

  8. Great list. I’m also going to spend some on housecleaners for happiness’ sake. I’m going to spend a bit on travel, considering that we haven’t been on a proper vacation in a few years. I also want to up my charitable contributions. Unfortunately it looks like we will continue spending just the same on medical expenses (and probably dental, too), but consider myself fortunate that we are able to do so.

    • TRAVEL! How could I leave this off my list? Maybe because we already prioritize it…or maybe because after one trip with a newborn, we are holding off on flying or major travels for a while 😉

  9. I love the “time” one… I am totally with you! I see the bit more I spend in grocery delivery as “paying for my weekend time” because it means I don’t have to try to navigate big box stores with a cranky toddler (and mamma!) 😉

    • The worst feeling for me is that he is too little to easily take to the grocery store, so hitting up a bunch of different places to save 50 cents a pound on apples is really time away from him (or time away from sleep). We aren’t at the delivery stage yet…but it could be fast approaching!

  10. Money is all about buying time, yes! Right now I’m working a ton of overtime and don’t have the time, energy, wherewithal to shop/cook/clean. I’m eating so much food prepared by other people, but my overtime pay covers it.

    • That is my struggle with side hustling. It’s so nice to have extra income, but if I have to spend most of it to make up for lost time, is it worth it?

  11. I was just thinking today about how much I love making the small tweaks and adjustments to different areas of life. It’s not always about making wholesale changes to add incredible value. For example, I’ve decided to turn the car radio off on my 40 minute commute each morning, and just have quiet time. Thinking time. It’s been fantastic. It’s amazing how creative your mind can be when you allow it space to breathe!

    I love the ways you’ve decided to add value this year, Penny!

    • I’m not sure when it happened exactly, but I’ve even phased myself out of podcasts. I really like to just drive. Or to just sit and think. I used to always have music going or the TV playing for background noise when I type or clean or do other tasks around the house. Now, though, I just like silence.

  12. These are all great! I know people hotly debate cleaning services and grocery delivery, but I think that we should all apply our money to the things that most maximize our time. Heck, I bought a Roomba for myself in December and it was THE BEST money I spent. I swear, it’s lifechanging just to not spend 5 hours a week sweeping, sweeping, sweeping. Ugh.

    • I’m hearing more and more about Roombas, especially from people with pets. It seems to me that Roombas are now part of pet ownership. Ha! I always say that we are saving so much time by not having animals that shed. And my husband quickly points to all of my hair on the floor. Then I tell him at least I have hair 😉

  13. Whymances

    I’m so glad you posted about where you’re spending money on things above what’s needed for ‘survival’! There’s such a focus on frugality, eliminating spending etc, which admittedly is required and a corner stone to saving. BUT I’m noticing a trend of those new to FI/financial literacy where the point that it’s OKAY to spend money on things as long as it’s a conscious decision (it supports goals and you know how much you’re spending) is missed.

    Also, I’ve read several comments on blog posts on how FI’er’s wondering if they’re losing their ‘frugality’ badge since they decided to spend x.y.z this year.

    • I really appreciate this comment. Thank you! I do often worry that I’m not frugal enough. But I’m not here to out-frugal the Frugalwoods or anyone else! The plunger story is a perfect example. I feel like I’ve taken frugality to the edge of cheapness enough times (OK, OK, I’ve crossed over a bunch!) that I realize it’s about optimization more than anything else.

  14. I can’t believe you’re talking about HP’s first birthday, already! Of course you gotta spend some money on that!

    We’ll be spending on building our new home but we’re prepared for it. We’ll probably spend some money on vacations but it might just be a few weekend getaways or an impromptu trip. It depends on timing: when we sell, when we move, how long the house takes to get built, if we’re still talking to each other (we will be).

    • I know. It’s still quite a few months away, but if the speed at which these first six months went, I’ll blink and he will be turning 12! Yikes!

  15. Travel and entertainment. I’m a bit addicted to traveling. I always want to run away to somewhere new. And I love seeing blockbuster movies in theatre.

  16. Jacq

    Last year I bought a table I’ve been wanting, and being at the right height for eating, vs in the past hand me down table + hand me down chairs is worth it! I’ve decided to honor other spend decisions like that. Life is too short to be uncomfortable.
    I’m planning travel, we do a family trip every other year. Some kind of additional training for work. But not much planned spending. Therefore I save for when the ‘unexpected’ comes up, or I find another comfort decision.

  17. Such a thought-provoking post. For now I know what I do not like spending on, be it expensive mobile phones or ad-free apps. But I guess it is as important to know and decide what to spend on. Your list was interesting and the writing really engaging! Now I am off to think about what do I want to spend on, for the rest of the year 🙂

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