Do You Really Need to Avoid ALL Unnecessary Spending to be “Smart” with Your Money?

Recently, I saw an interesting ad on a local Classifieds site. The ad is for a $200 amp, and it is titled, “Dave Ramsey Has Ruined My Life — So Please — Buy My Amp.”

Among the gems in the ad, the poster offered these observations:

You know the joy that comes from tightening the old spending belt and saving all of your disposable income instead of blowing it on things that do nothing but provide personal enjoyment?

Me neither.

Because even though I am gainfully employed with a semi-decent salary, I am now broke. Basically, every penny I earn now goes to either building a six month emergency savings account or paying off my mortgage, which, with our new aggressive plan of paying extra each month, I should have my mortgage paid off in 27 years instead of 30. Great.

What that means is, every expenditure is highly scrutinized and reviewed. I can’t stop at a 7-11 for a Wild Cherry/Pina Colada Slurpee without being reminded by my Dave Ramsey shoulder angel that we are now $1.39 behind achieving our financial goals. And now I hear there’s a lemonade Slurpee flavor with real fruit juice! Darn you Dave Ramsey!

This ad made me think about the way we tend to judge financial decisions. If the purchase isn’t absolutely necessary, we tend to look at it as a “waste” or as a “stupid” spending decision.

In order to afford to buy a guitar, the poster is selling an old amp for an electric guitar. That way, he can have a guitar that he enjoys playing, and he can buy the guitar without changing up the super-aggressive Ramsey-inspired plan for his family’s finances.

But is it really worth it? And is spending on personal enjoyment really a sign that you aren’t “smart” with your money?

Other Reasons to Spend

If you know me in any capacity, you know that I’m a big fan of spending on things that I enjoy. I’m totally fine with getting that Slurpee, and I’m fine spending on a manicure. These are things that are unnecessary, true, but they also bring me a great deal of enjoyment. To tell the truth, I think that money should be a means to an end. Just piling up money, or trying to get rid of a mortgage a couple years earlier, doesn’t really appeal to me. And maybe that makes me stupid with my money.

But here’s the thing: I think that if you are building your assets, and you aren’t spending more than you earn, there is room for the occasional indulgence. We donate to charity. Money goes into an emergency fund and a retirement account each month. We pay our bills. We live within our means. Why shouldn’t our extra money go toward something enjoyable — even if it is unnecessary.

Money isn’t just about hoarding it until the end of time. It can also be used to enhance your quality of life. When you never spend on anything enjoyable, your spending plan starts to feel like shackles. Even if you aren’t in debt, you feel constrained by your budget. I say, as long as you have the basics, and you are preparing adequately for the future, go ahead and spend on something unnecessary and enjoyable. A strictly utilitarian life is no life at all.

About the Author

Miranda writes about financial topics for several web sites. Her blog is Planting Money Seeds, and her book, Confessions of a Professional Blogger, is available on Amazon.