We all make room—be it time, energy or money— for people and things which matter to us.
Many readers and acquaintances think I'm crazy for putting $23,500 into my Roth 403(b) and Roth IRA in 2015 (PGY1-PGY2.) In 2016 (PGY2-PGY3.), I will continue to put the maximum $23,500 into my Roth and meet my new goal of maxing out Mini's 529 at $14,000, all on a projected income of $60-75,000 (PGY2 base salary+ tutoring+ blog).
Quick math—that doesn't leave much room for splurging, does it?
So I am selective with my splurges, like I'm selective with every other aspect of my life :)
To quote one of my heroes and mentors, Dr. Diego Martin, chairman of the University of Arizona Medical Imaging Department, "Possibilities are infinite; time's limited."
Here are share six things I plurge on:
- Mini's Learning Mini knows too well what Dr. Wise Money repeats over and over, "The only thing that matters in life are stored in two places: your brain and your heart." I put my money where my mouth is and support Mini in anything she wants to learn or explore. Mini has dabbled in: Equestrian Acting/Theater Painting Sculpture Gymnastics Vocal Lessons Ballet Swimming Martial Arts Robotics Circus Arts Cheerleading Yoga Life lessons are just as important as any single discipline/hobby one can pick up. We live in an affluent part of Tucson (ours being easily the cheapest home in our neighborhood), so we are surrounded by expensive temptations. One Sunday, after a free yoga class at Lululemon, Mini was drooling over the beautiful fashionable windows in those high-end shops (I'd never voluntarily set foot in) at the mall. I want Mini to be happy in life and learn to spend her money on things that matter to her (as much as I want her to spend/save the way I do). So I told her she had a $100 budget and could buy any item(s) her heart desired. She came home sporting a pair of $72 silver flip flops from Ann Taylor, something I'd never buy because it can support my sponsored child in El Salvodor for nearly two months. Nonetheless, I was happy to see Mini learn about herself and money.
An important life lesson for $72; I'd say that's a bargain.
- Mini's Creative Projects While I abhor buying $30 toys that cost 50 cents to manufacture and are most likely made by a child in a sweatshop, I spare no expense in supporting Mini's creativity in all ways possible. I buy pretty much any art or craft supply Mini asks for. During our recent bi-weekly trip to the craft store, Mini picked up $100 worth of art supplies. But guess what: Summer just started, and Mini has been engrossed in making beautiful jewelry and accessories (including a set of birthday gifts that looks like it's worth $100 from the mall). I always tell Mini, "God has given you many talents, most of which lie in creating beauty to share with the world. Now, be a faithful servant and apply yourself and use your gifts to the fullest potential."
- Real Estate I've bought two homes since 2014. I cannot afford and am not interested in bells and whistles, but I care about location. Sure, I can buy a cheaper house in a cheaper location and save even more cash. I don't, because buying houses in the right location is a higher priority than saving upwards of $37,000 a year.
- Food We are, and definitely will be, what we eat. This started with my mom, aka the Wise Money Gourmet. WMG has written more than 20 recipe books. Wherever she is, the stove, slow cooker, and ovens are always on around the clock. Even in difficult times, mom's door was always open to a friend or colleague who could use a delicious and nutritious meal. So even though we do have a budget for food, we pretty much get whatever we want and need. We buy all organic, non-GMO products whenever possible. Plus, since we got the great deal of $1,200 cash back on $4,000 in gift cards from Sprouts, we feel pretty relaxed when buying food there, as it's always 30% off to start.
While some people spend money on ambiance and service while eating out, DWM tends to spare no expense in getting the best quality ingredients possible: organic, non-GMO, seasonal, fresh produce and protein sources. DWM makes simple and quick dishes in the oven and slow cooker that would knock your socks off! This is Chile Verde, ready to serve in 10 hours. Prep time: 10 minutes.
- Sponsoring Mariella One sure way to realize how blessed we are is to pass on the blessing by giving. We started sponsoring Mariella, a 5-year-old from El Salvador, on Thanksgiving 2014. She shares the same birthday as Mini's dad, and had the first profile on Compassion International's website that day. We decided to give a mere $38 per month to support all of Mariella's needs (education, food, medical care, access to church) as we were feeling grateful for all the blessings we received in 2014 (including buying our first home and paying down student loans). Sometimes I find Mini and I use Mariella's monthly stipend as a conversion factor. I wanted a pair of lululemon's workout pants until I learned that a basic pair cost the same as three months of Mariella's stipend... So I decided against it. Mini feels very blessed to be gifted with art supplies equivalent to Mariella's two-month stipend.
- Health I'd rather spend money on the model than the clothes :) In college, instead of buying cute clothes, I hired a personal trainer. I figure if my curves are kicking, I can wear rags and still look good. Instead of buying Mini a wholesale lot of desserts for her sweet tooth, I'm committed to treating her to the healthiest, highest-quality indulgences her heart desires. Every time Mini asks for a cheap or free piece of congealed sugar water colored and shaped like a treat, I remind her of the $8 dessert from our favorite Mexican restaurant or the $13 piece of cheesecake from our favorite American chain restaurant. In Mini's own words: "Sugar is bad for us and it gives diabetes, which makes people get their feet cut off and go on dialysis." (Mini used to go to the dialysis center with her Dad to fix dialysis machines when I was on the residency interview trail.) Since sugar is going to cost Mini money and her health down the road, she embraces the idea of getting the sugar that's worth what it costs.
As DWM cares much more about financial fitness than monetary ostenatiousness, she cares very much about physical, mental, and spiritual health. While DWM's perfectly fine wearing rags, she doesn't skimp on classes, activities, and foods that make her and her family healthier.
I splurge on what I care about, that's why I don't feel deprived the least bit and can save nearly 63% of my income.
But enough about me, what do you splurge on? What brings you the greatest amount of and most lasting happiness when you turn over your hard earned dollars?
This article is for informational purposes only and not intended as a substitute for professional advice. Please consult a professional accountant, financial adviser or lawyer, before making financial decisions.