Recently, I shared on my blog the five money mistakes I’ve made in the past and I’m trying not to repeat. This week I’m continuing the trend. This round, I’m highlighting five things I continue to spend on that other people may consider faux-pas. One of the best parts of personal finance is the fact that it’s personal. At the end of the day, it’s entirely your choice how you manage your finances. Sure, us bloggers like to drill down on what we consider best practices, but you’re the one that has to live your life. In that spirit, I’m going to share a few things I do that some of you might think are a complete waste of money. In my world, you would be wrong. But in your world, you’re allowed to set-up any set of rules you like. Just remember to keep your judgments to yourself. We all get to decide how we spend.
1. A Bigger House
If you haven’t heard, I’m moving. And it’s a slightly bigger, slightly more expensive house. But Sarah, isn’t housing commonly known as one of the biggest money sucks? Don’t you know that living tiny can save you a fortune in the long run? Well sure, but that’s not for me. I want a house that I love. One that is slightly larger than our current place because while we could make do, we’re feeling kind of cramped. I want a place that is filled with items we love and maybe spent too much money on. The boyfriend and I are still agreeing to disagree on how necessary a blue velvet couch is, but trust me, it will be finding a place in our new formal living room.
Housing is something I’m willing to spend on. It’s also something I’m willing to go into debt for. Whether you think mortgages are good debt, or that all debt is bad, it doesn’t really matter. If you’re comfortable making your mortgage payments and the math makes sense (i.e. your investments are earning more than your mortgage rate), then you’re all good. That’s exactly how I feel at this point. I’d rather focus on building my savings and not go crazy on my mortgage right now.
2. Eating Out
Eating out is a budget buster. There’s no denying it. Cooking for yourself and consistently packing lunch are two of the most common tips for cutting your expenses. And the logic is right on. The problem? Eating out is delicious, obviously, but it’s also one of the most popular ways to connect with friends, family, and colleagues. Sure there are other things you can do, but I know how challenging it is to be the person who always says no. That’s why eating out is still a part of my life — and not a small part. My goal is to limit restaurant visits to twice a week (super limiting, I know). Once for lunch with my office crew and once with the bf. I try to stick to the plan, but I’ll be honest, life often gets in the way. Sometimes a trip to the farmers market turns into dinner from a food truck, or a tough day at the office calls for pizza delivery. I know I could save money by cutting back on restaurant visits, but I just don’t want to. Instead, I try to cut back in other areas and keep my fun money for food. Life happens, and when it comes to eating out, I’m willing to embrace it (most of the time).
3. Fur Babies
If there is one thing in my life that is going to devour my emergency fund, it will be my critters. We’ve learned the hard way this year that pets can be ridiculously expensive, even when you’re prepared. With the recent cancer diagnosis for one of our pups, we’ve been forking over money almost weekly for his chemo treatments (and that’s after insurance). And now, one of our cats needs to have a tooth extracted. It has been a hella expensive year for pets. But they’re so darn lovable! I grew up with dogs and can’t imagine not having critters in the house. They can turn a bad day around with a tail wag, they get you out of the house for walks, and they make an empty house feel full. We currently have two dogs and two cats, and sometimes it feels like a lot. It’s quadruple the food, supplies, and vet bills. Sometimes I think it might be too much. In the future, we might consider a less is more approach to animals, but right now I’m keeping all the cuddles and tail wags I can get.
4. Ignoring My Investments
It’s funny that investing is popping up on both of my money mistakes posts. Let me explain. Last round I admitted that not starting to invest earlier was a big mistake. This time I’m admitting that I still take a very limited interest in my investments. The difference? I do actually invest now, but it runs pretty much on auto-pilot, so I don’t take an active role. Some people love the research and number crunching that goes into choosing investments. I don’t. I hate it. I’d prefer someone else do the work for me. Maybe that means I’ll never knock it out of the ballpark with a killer stock pick, but it also means I won’t lose everything on a bad gamble. I’m fine just rolling right along with average returns. My strategy? Automatic deposits and a good robo-advisor. Every month my contributions to my WealthSimple investment accounts come straight out of my bank account the day after payday. I don’t have to do a thing. I’ve been using the Wealthsimple platform for about a year and have only good things to say. They use a variety of low-cost ETF’s to build you a portfolio that fits your risk profile. You can even choose portfolios that only invest in socially responsible or halal companies. If you are avoiding investing because you think it’s too complicated, stop. It really can be simple.
5. Not Side Hustling
The side hustle life ain’t the life for me. I value my free time too much, and more importantly, I’m lazy. Sure, I have this blog. But it doesn’t earn enough to be considered a side hustle. At this point, it’s more of a side hobby. Maybe one day it’ll be an income producer, and I can knock this off my list, but for now, I’m not a side hustler. I’m so impressed with people who work full-time and then also blog, podcast, and run a kombucha subscription service. *Cough* Erik from Mastermind Within *Cough* I don’t have nearly that motivation to get shit done. A lot of that comes down to goals. Extreme goals call for extreme measures, and that’s why many in the F.I.R.E. community (financial independence, retire early) are avid side hustlers. I don’t have aspirations of retiring in the next ten years, so I have more flexibility to savor my free time now. Again this comes down to the personal in personal finance. Neither way is right or wrong. You have to find a way to strike that balance between what your goals are and what you need to do to hit them.
I’d love to hear from you guys in the comments. What are some common money mistakes you aren’t willing to quit?
Sarah is a Canadian personal finance blogger over at Smile & Conquer. She has been working in the world of finance for almost a decade and uses that experience to help other millennials get smart about their money.
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