The Expectation of Spending Money


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Every Sunday evening, my wife and I recap our weekend spending, and then do any budget adjustments required  due to higher than expected spending. After the conclusion of this activity recently, I broke the good news that we had stayed well within our allocated weekend funds. As soon as the words left my mouth, they felt wrong.

I was confused as to why they felt wrong, after all isn’t that the goal? Isn’t the goal to live within our means by creating a budget, allocating a finite amount of funds for bills and other activities, and then spend less than or equal to those set amounts? We had seemingly done everything right, but yet something felt off.

We commonly give ourselves a pat on the back for sticking to our budget. We go into the weekend with the expectation we’re going to spend money, so when we spend less than the maximum amount possible we applaud ourselves.

Why do we expect ourselves to spend money?

I’m not going to pretend for a minute that I can go through daily life without spending any money. There are bills to pay, and necessities to buy. But outside of just the basic cost of living, why do we expect to spend money? After the basic cost of living expenses are taken care of, I have a warm home, food in the cupboard, clothes in the closet and countless ways of entertaining myself.

Yet, I enter the weekend with the full expectation of spending money. In fact we go looking for ways to spend money. My wife and I actually have discussions regarding what we want to do. It’s almost like we brainstorm ways to spend our money, and we always succeed.  Most of the time we find ourselves with more ways to spend our money than we have funds. We determine which activities would bring the most value to our lives. Which is all well and good, but do you know what has never happened?

We’ve NEVER come to the conclusion that NONE of the ideas for a given weekend were worth of our hard earned cash.

It’s never happened. Ever. Look, I’m not saying that we shouldn’t spend money on things that bring us enjoyment. But it should be hard to separate you from your hard earned money. Really, really hard.

It’s time we changed our perspective on how we spend our money. Instead of acting like a five year old on a Friday afternoon with allowance burning a hole in our pocket, let’s treat our money like a business person looking to invest in a business proposition. If a business person gives their money to a questionable investment, it may fail and then the money is lost forever.

Think back over the last week.

What did you spend your money on?

Do you have any regrets?

If you had to do it over again, would you make the same choices?

If that same business person gives their money to a sound investment, it may grow and bring rewards that last a lifetime. Those are the spending experiences that are worth it.

I’m challenge myself to change my spending perspective.  This week, I’m not going to assume I’m going to spend money.  I’m starting with the expectation that I’m going to spend absolutely nothing. Before spending a single dollar, I will have to PROVE to myself that it’s worth it. Then, at the end of the week, I’ll celebrate how close I came to spending zero.


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8 Responses to “The Expectation of Spending Money”

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  1. Did you read Carl Richard “What’s your cost per unit of fun” post. Along the same lines. You need to define what you values before you just randomly spend on things. I think this way when I’m tempted to buy lunch out. I know I have perfectly good food at home, why would I spend money on take out. 99% of the time I’ll just go eat the food at home once I think of it in those terms.

  2. Tonya says:

    As soon as you give yourself permission to spend, you do. I don’t know why that is. I was perfectly happy being really frugal—ok sort of happy, but then Shannon gave me permission to spend a little, and all of a sudden the flood gates opened as to what I could buy. Crazy huh?

  3. Sassy Mamaw says:

    A wise man recently said, “I work too hard to spend my money on stupid S#!+” I believe it may have been you! It sounds like your mantra was ringing in your ears after the weekend. Good luck with your new mission.

  4. Kurt says:

    I think a key is vigorously working to sever what’s become a subconscious connection in our brains (probably the result of being subjected to umpteen gazillion marketing messages) between fun and spending money. Without realizing it, we feel fun = spending money, and that fun is impossible without spending money. Not true! Think back on the five most fun times in your life. I bet at least three of the five involved little of no spending!

    • Travis says:

      I can see your point, Kurt…..we shouldn’t feel like we *have* to spend money to have fun. Some of my favorite memories is sitting on the deck at night with friends. There is a little money involved there (snacks, drinks), but not much!

  5. Ashley says:

    “We’ve NEVER come to the conclusion that NONE of the ideas for a given weekend were worth of our hard earned cash.”

    OMG… I almost can’t come up with an activity that is worth the money. Everything is so expensive! When we do have a little outing to a fair or festival or something I always feel ripped off. I’ll say something to my husband like “So was that worth $80?” The answer is almost always “No”. As a result we have a pretty boring life!! That’s the downside… never leaving the house.

    • Travis says:

      I can say that many times we have the same reaction…..After the fact. It’s getting ourselves to come to the conclusion that it’s not worth it BEFORE we do it. LOL. Thanks for stopping by, Ashley – great to hear from you! 🙂

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