Saving, Splurging, and Sticking With YOUR Financial Goals

posted by Andrea | 09/24/2018

Over the years, Dave and I have joked with friends and family about how we have literally gone full years of our life without spending a dime on travel or entertainment (yes, I know… it’s shocking, but very true!)

We don’t travel or go on family vacations, we don’t go to movies, we don’t go to events or parties, we don’t go to concerts or sporting events, we don’t do much “culture”, we don’t sign our kids up for sports or music programs (yet), and we don’t do many things that aren’t family friendly (most of which happen to be free).

A free pizza dinner and fun for the kids at their school last week. 

Free Jimmy John’s lunch and bounce-house fun, hosted by our car mechanic.

Free snacks, games, prizes, and activities at Family Night after VBS in August.

Free rides at the fair, thanks to a summer reading program at the library. 

We also aren’t big on going out to eat. We don’t ever go to fancy restaurants, we’ve never gone “out for drinks”, we almost never go anywhere just the 2 of us, and we rarely ever go out to eat as a family. We do use freebie coupons we get to various restaurants (hey, free food!) and we will bring pizza or Culver’s home to eat every once in a while… but that’s about it right now.

It’s just not our style, it’s not something we enjoy doing all that much, it’s not a way we choose to spend our time or our money, and it’s not important to us at this point in our lives.

Interestingly enough, the fact that we don’t spend time or money on all that many extra activities often means people categorize us in one of 2 ways:

  1. Totally boring blobs who never do anything fun or have any real “life experiences”.
  2. Amazingly frugal and disciplined over-achievers who are laser-focused on our long-term financial goals.

I guess if I’m really honest, we’re a little bit of both… but if I had to choose, I’d rather be perceived as amazingly frugal and disciplined! 🙂

The funny thing is… no one ever seems to care about the fact that we spend LOTS and LOTS of money on our home and our yard.

Seriously, we spend thousands and thousands of dollars on house and yard projects, general home maintenance, yard tools and equipment, decorations, antique store finds, annuals, potted plants, hanging baskets, etc.

I wouldn’t be surprised if we spend more on our house and yard every year than the average family spends going out to eat every week or traveling on a few smaller vacations.

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So technically, if someone lived in a tiny apartment with no yard but traveled and ate out all the time, they could very easily be spending less money overall than Dave and I are.

And that’s OK!

Neither way of saving and splurging is right or wrong… it’s just a difference of priorities!

Dave and I prioritize our home and yard over many other things we could spend money on — mainly because we are always home to enjoy our home and yard, and we like inviting others over to enjoy our home and yard as well.

Just for kicks, I looked up how much we’ve spent on travel, entertainment, AND restaurants so far in 2018… not surprisingly, the number was very low ($216.00, to be exact), or an average of $5.68 per week so far this year! 

$5.68 per week for a family of 6!

I also looked up how much we spent on all clothing, shoes, accessories, hair cuts, cosmetics, beauty products, etc. for our entire family… and it works out to roughly $7 per person, per month!

It’s almost laughable!

What might not be so laughable is how much we just spent on our recent bathroom renovation.

I believe I have everything tallied up now… and the total is right around $4000. This is more than we were anticipating in the beginning, but there were SO many custom features we implemented to best-utilize our space. We felt like it was worth the extra we paid to get exactly what we wanted since we’ll use this space several times a day for many, MANY years.

But still… $4000 for a HALF bath!

The bathroom did turn out REALLY well though!

If I just shared the bathroom numbers in this post, half of you would walk away thinking how wasteful Dave and I are, or how frivolously we throw away our hard-earned money.

Thankfully, I THINK most of you know how frugal we are in MOST areas of our life — which allows us to splurge on other areas that are more important to us.

And I want to emphasize the US part.

House projects ARE important to US… travel, entertainment, and restaurants are NOT important to US (at least not right now).

In 5 years, our house projects will be finished, our children will be older, and the ways we allocate our time, energy, and finances might look completely different than they do today.

I’m OK with that as long as we continue to do what works best for OUR family.

Free carousal rides at the mall via tokens we were gifted last year.

Freebie kid’s meals at Wendy’s via coupons from the library. 

I have a feeling many of you would go nuts if you restricted your entertainment budget and stayed home most of the time… so you’re willing to spend more on traveling, eating out, and fun entertaining experiences. You might also think spending large sums of money on your home sounds ridiculous… and it might be ridiculous if your lifestyle is focused on traveling instead of being home.

As I mentioned above, there’s no “right” or “wrong” way!

So… the next time you read about a crazy blogger who only spends $5 a week on entertainment and travel for her entire family (hypothetical situation, of course!) just realize she most likely spends her money in different areas — maybe even an area you are very frugal in.

You know YOUR financial goals, you know what YOU choose to save on, and you know what YOU can afford to splurge on!

If your budget allows, PLEASE just go on vacation or go out to eat guilt-free… no explanation needed. After all, you didn’t just spend $4000 on a half bathroom renovation!

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22 comments

  1. Emery

    10/08/2018

    Please show us your bathroom after pictures! I would love to see how you changed it.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    I believe the link to the bathroom renovation is in the post… I’m not at my computer right now, otherwise I’d link it here. But just go back to the post and click on the hyperlink where it talks about the bathroom renovation. That will take you to the post with ALLLLLLL the before/after pictures!

    [Reply]

  2. Gabriela

    09/25/2018

    I don’t think you are boring either. I’ve been following you for a while and you do a lot of stuff. Not traveling or not going out doesn’t make you boring.
    We don’t do much stuff – just church and sometimes having friends over. We do like to travel but we don’t go into debt to do it. We have family In Romania and Peru so we usually have 1 big trip a year. Except for last year when we bought our home and we had to do some stuff to it – that took precedence. Cars – same as others that commented here – older and paid off.
    And we do love trying different types of food that I could never cook at home, but when we’re tight, we don’t go out.
    It’s true – you will spend money on what is important to you. Just like with TIME – many say don’t have time to spend with the Lord – If He is your priority, you will find the time.
    Once again….great post!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    wow — those types of trips sound very exciting! We love having all our family living very close to us, but if they lived far away, that would give us an extra nudge to travel more! 🙂

    [Reply]

  3. Meghan

    09/24/2018

    I think the most important part of this post is in the title “sticking with YOUR financial goals.” No mattter your income, to win financially one needs a goal and a big enough reason to obtain that goal. We have been debt free except for the house for a long time and really had a hard time getting serious about paying the house off. When we decided the why for paying it off in the next couple years is so my husband could afford to take a less demanding job if/when he wants to, it made the goal so much more important to us. Yeah, it would be nice if our gravel drive was concrete, but it’s not worth $20,000 to me when that money can make a big dent in our larger goal.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    so true Meghan! Thanks for sharing your perspective and your goal — yay for paying off the mortgage quickly!

    [Reply]

  4. Jeanine

    09/24/2018

    You are full of grace, Andrea, and that is the best complement I can give you! You always have wonderful ideas, but you never shove them down anyone’s throat. You’re right that we all have different things that are really important to us, but it is ultimately important to have goals that we work toward so we don’t have regrets in the future. I have enjoyed your blog for a long time, so thank you!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks so much Jeanine!

    [Reply]

  5. Christina

    09/24/2018

    I completely agree with you on doing what works for you and your family. Most people have enough money to spend it exactly where they choose. If it’s a priority for you, you spend money on it. Where you spend your time and money IS your priority. You clearly love your home, spend your time and money there. We are the same way. We ‘sacrifice’ in some other areas to afford living where we do. We love our home and it’s our biggest expense! We entertain frequently and have a pool and large fun spaces for it. We spend a lot more feeding people than is likely normal, but rarely eat out.

    Most of the people that are spending their hard earned cash haphazardly, often haven’t planned and don’t pay enough attention to their actual budgets. Priorities are key. When I hear snide remarks about our older cars, (with no car payments ever) or how lucky we are with the deal we got on this or that, or even how organized and planned we are on everything… well it’s a priority for us to be good stewards with our funds, so we DO plan, prioritize and ‘sacrifice’ for our lifestyle. We also have no desire to “keep up with the Jones,” so that cuts down most significantly in our budget, because we don’t compare ourselves or our things to others. We make our life, well, fit US!

    Another great post! I love how you cut to the meat of subjects!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks for pointing out that “Most people have enough money to spend it exactly where they choose”
    This is EXACTLY why you will probably never hear me say “we can’t afford that”. I absolutely hate it when people use that as a cop-out excuse for things… like “we can’t afford to eat out every week” when they drive BRAND NEW cars and wear all designer clothes.
    It’s all just priorities — and one way isn’t necessarily right or wrong — just different!

    [Reply]

  6. Roxie Bush

    09/24/2018

    We spend more on our home and going out to eat (there are 2 of us) – but as far as travel, entertainment, etc., not so much. We also try to keep newer cars because we’re not mechanically inclined 🙂

    I have a friend and neighbor who is always going somewhere with her 2 small kids. Then I remember that she has older vehicles and doesn’t spend her money on her house. Instead, she spends it on her experiences.

    Neither is wrong; it’s just a personal preference. As a society we tend to condemn those who are not exactly like us sometimes…and I think we need to remember that what works for one doesn’t work for the other!

    Love what you’ve done around your home. It’s your sanctuary. Your children are well adjusted and happy. They know they’re loved. That’s what matters!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    exactly! Thanks for sharing Roxie!

    [Reply]

  7. LYNN GRABLE

    09/24/2018

    Thank you Andrea! I would not call you boring, just a family who knows their goals for their family and work toward them. I am not big for going out to eat, except for a few local places I meet up with some friends. I hardly ever go to movies, etc. I do like to travel, so I allocate $$ for those times. I am working heavily on my budget and where I want to allocate $$ to make the biggest impact! Thank you so much for this post! Have a wonderful day!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    haha — I think you might be in the minority if you don’t think we’re boring (most people we know think we are boring!) Oh well, we’re not “most people” and we’re OK with being boring for now!

    [Reply]

  8. Olivia

    09/24/2018

    I think it’s so important to remember that each individual/family prioritizes different financial goals, and we may not always know what those are! A few years ago we bought a nice house, and coworkers couldn’t understand why we were still driving an old car–not having a car note afforded us the opportunity to put more towards our home. My mom is the queen of the passive “must be nice” whenever we have or do something that appears expensive; however, she doesn’t see the very tight, intentional budgeting we do behind the scenes to make those things happen. It’s all about perspective.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    oh those “must be nice” or “lucky you” comments drive me nuts! I almost never say anything in return, but I have a laundry list of things I’d LIKE to say!

    [Reply]

  9. Shelley

    09/24/2018

    People can be so critical. We have forgotten how to live and let live. I had someone criticize something I had purchased once as she stood there with a $600 purse on her shoulder. I still have my purchase and she has gone through many expensive purses. In reality, neither one of us is wrong. We both work hard for money and are tax paying citizens thus we can spend our money where we want. (Emphasis-TAX PAYING:)

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    wow — that’s a lot for a purse!

    [Reply]

  10. Annette Silveira

    09/24/2018

    The point I took from this post is that you consider carefully where you spend money and only spend on what matters to you and your family right now. I think a lot of families could benefit from this lesson.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    yes! Thanks for summing it up so concisely! 🙂

    [Reply]

  11. JJ

    09/24/2018

    You have the right mindset: It’s about your personal priorities. And getting all the freebies is fantastic!!! The kids will have awesome memories no matter the price tag. So it’s great to have free fun!!! We don’t live near family, so for birthdays instead of a big party we spend money or time on an “experience” for the whole family. One year we went to a fire station, because my son was obsessed with fire trucks. We did have a family of friends go with us. Most fire departments will give you a free tour. Just call ahead. They even got to sit in the truck. They each got a free hat and coloring book. It was soooo fun! They also gave us a tour of the station. I had a newborn and a just turned 3 year old and 1 year old. So it was perfect! We had firetruck graham cracker snacks with our friends using mini Oreos for the wheels. I just Googled firetruck snack.

    Love how you inspire everyone to think outside the box!!!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    sounds like the type of birthday party all my kids would enjoy too! Fun!

    [Reply]