Recently, a post celebrating a homeless woman buying a $7 candy bar was featured on Rockstar Finance. I shook my head, read the post, shook my head again, and left a comment to the effect that such wasteful spending was nothing to celebrate.
My comment was deleted.
While I disagree with the censorship (perhaps it was unintentional / spam box) — dissenting opinions lead to a compelling conversation, I will admit that my snap judgment was rather harsh.
At first, I thought this woman was out-of-her-mind irresponsible. I mean, I could afford to buy $7 candy bars by the pallet if I really, truly wanted to, but I could not fathom buying even one single bar. And I’m something beyond financially independent — light-years beyond broke and homeless.
But, after chatting with my wife and reminiscing about the good times we had when we met and were both essentially broke, I realized how small luxuries could mean a lot when you have next to nothing to your name. For example:
That Time I Was Broke and Spent $1,000 on Beer
My final medical school rotation was elective in Stockholm, Sweden. About a half dozen of us from my class participated in an exchange program with the Karolinska Institutet. We were stationed in dormitories around the city, but with a much lighter workload than we were used to as medical students in the US, we could get together for happy hours pretty much every day.
Although I did have a dorm room in Stockholm, I no longer had an apartment back home, and I would be spending six weeks or so bumming around with family and friends before starting residency in late June.
It would not be a stretch to say I was homeless, and I had a decidedly negative net worth. I was beyond broke.
Yet, almost every day for the better part of two months, I stepped off the Metro at Odenplan to join my classmates for a round or three of delicious nitrogenated ale, along with a plate of hummus and bread or mashed potatoes and meatballs. Swedish meatballs. The cellar bar at Café Tranan, where apparently both Tupac and A Tribe Called Quest have performed, served us well and served us often.
Physicians and pharmacists, Register with Incrowd for the opportunity to earn easy money with quick "microsurveys" tailored to your specialty.
At the time, I knew I had more debt than cash, but I also knew that I would never be a Swedish medical student again. I also knew that I might not be back in Scandinavia for decades, if ever, and I shouldn’t let the cost of a pint ($6 to $7 US in 2002) be a deterrent to enjoying my time** with my friends as we wrapped up our final weeks of med school.
After seven weeks in Stockholm, including a long weekend in Oslo, Norway, and another in Reykjavik, Iceland (cities where beers were more like $10 a piece), I added the damage to my wallet and liver. Conservatively, I figured an average of $20 a day went toward buying a few pints from the bar. Realistically, my bar tab exceeded $1,000.
**I’m not saying I have to drink to have a good time, but I will say, particularly in my mid-twenties, that I was more likely to have a good time when I did. I’m not sure that’s changed much in fifteen years, but I now abstain more evenings than I partake.
Delayed Gratification versus Living for Today
The question comes up often. Is it better to live for tomorrow or live like there’s no tomorrow?
We ask ourselves The Question and answer with our wallets. Whether we know it or not, we’re constantly making decisions that give us what we want when we want it (Now!), or we deny ourselves to be better positioned for a financially secure future.recent thread on the White Coat Investor Forum was started looking for answers to The Question from people in their 80s and 90s. Rather than answer the question, I suggested he check out the Bogleheads, where Taylor Larimore and many a frugal and wealthy retiree hang out.
The answer, of course, is moderation. Moderation in all things, including moderation (but not black tar heroin).
Frugality is a virtue, but it can lead to unnecessary hardship today when taken further than necessary. Spend every last dollar today, and you have no dollars tomorrow, and financial independence will never be within reach.
The Seven Dollar Object
For her, it was a $7 candy bar. For me, it was a $7 beer or more like 150 of them.
These are the things we decided were within reach, despite circumstances that might suggest otherwise. Are they “luxury” items? Yes. You can score a standard candy bar or a cheap beer at the store for under a buck.
Did the purchase of these items put our future in peril?
No, they did not. But they did make us feel like someone worthy of such a treat.
I imagine the candy craver can earn that $7 in under an hour. Four years after my Nordic adventure, I earned $1,000 after-tax in a single day as a locum tenens anesthesiologist.
If I had chosen to skip out on our regular happy hours, I would have missed out on the riveting conversation, inside jokes, and various shenanigans that I’ll remember to my dying day. As Ferris Bueller famously said, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” If you don’t even show up, you’re guaranteed to miss it.
What’s the Point of the $1,000 Bar Tab?
I’m a self-described frugal physician. Based on my savings rate of about 77% net and 50% of gross income, I could be considered a super saver. But there are times, and there are places where the frugal choice may not be the best one.
I am most likely to temporarily abandon my more frugal tendencies when traveling and with friends.
With friends, spending decisions become group decisions, and unless you hang out solely with FIRE-minded folks, your friends may choose to spend in a way that you normally wouldn’t.
In these cases, it’s usually smarter or better to accept that you’ll be temporarily spending a bit outside your comfort zone, as MMM did with his pals, and understand that it’s alright to bust a budget on occasion.
- When you can’t afford big luxuries, like upscale housing or any housing, a small luxury can be rewarding without sacrificing your future.
- You can be relatively frugal without always being frugal.
- Don’t choose between living for today and living for tomorrow. Make good choices, and you can do both.
- I used to drink a lot of beer. To paraphrase Mitch Hedberg, I still do, but I used to, too. Just kidding. I think.
A generous welcome bonus of 60,000 points & Peloton membership credits onthe Chase Sapphire Preferred & premium card perks with the Chase Sapphire Reserve!
Chase Sapphire Preferred60,000 Points good for $750 in travel or more with a $4,000 spend in 3 months
The Chase Sapphire Preferred is an excellent first (or only) rewards card. $50 annual hotel credit for bookings via the Chase UR tavel portal & 5x points for all travel via the portal. 3x points on dining, 2x on other travel. Flexible rewards good for cash, travel, or transfer to travel partners, great travel protection & new Peloton, Lyft & DoorDash perks! $95 Annual Fee
Chase Sapphire Reserve60,000 Points with a $4,000 spend in 3 months
The Chase Sapphire Reserve offers great travel perks including Priority Pass lounge access, a credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓ and a $300 annual travel credit. When using Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal, get 10x points on hotels and car rental & 5x points on flights. 3x points on other travel & dining. Elevated Peloton, Lyft and DoorDash benefits. $550 Annual Fee
What’s your seven-dollar object? Do you find yourself buying more or less of them now that you can easily afford them? How do you balance saving for tomorrow when you don’t know what tomorrow will bring?
71 thoughts on “That Time I Was Broke and Spent $1,000 on Beer”
I consider myself a relatively frugal person but recently blew $1800 on a stand-up paddle board and a drysuit so that I could surf the boretide in Turnagain Arm (2nd largest tide differential in the world, after the Bay of Fundy in Nova Scotia). It’s all about the experiences!
A long, long time ago ~(1970),…… in a land far away (Germany), the gross pay from my employer the U.S. Army was about $200/month. All the savings from 8 or 10 months were totally blown on one vacation to Southern Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and Italy. My net worth was $0 afterwards.
It was a totally awesome experience!!! Even now the frugal me would say it’s OK to reward yourself occasionally and not pass up an opportunity to experience life.
47 years later and no regrets. I’m sure it’s easily one of the most memorable experiences of your life.
PS: We don’t censor anything on our site 🙂 If the comment didn’t show up it’s either because it accidentally landed in spam or got gobbled up by that damn internet monster that’s continually eating up my own messages over the years… (probably has all our long lost socks too. I pray to the internet gods they never merge with dryers!)
Good to know, J$
Sorry if I insinuated the censorship came from RSF — my comment was on a different site (BGR) and Kitty explained her rationale for the deletion in a comment on this post above.
I like to buy lots of the same socks. When the dryer eats them, or i wear a hole in them, the lonely singles will find a partner when another sock meets a similar fate.
Just scrolled up to read her response too – so interesting to read all the different sides. And even MORE encouraging that y’all are so civil with each other! You know if this went down in any of the media-media the hate would have started flowing, haha…
…. right into our beers 🙂
I think it makes a difference if you know (for sure) that your financial situation is going to improve considerably. The $7 chocolate bar woman probably wasn’t in that situation. Also, $1000 is not $50,000.
Nothing is certain but death & (some) taxes, but I was in a very good position at that time, knowing that I would finish medical school as soon as my European rotation was over.
Hey POF, true to your beer aficionado image, I found this picture over at 1500 days. Didn’t know George Clooney was a FIRE’d dude?!
Actually, I think splurging on world series tickets off StubHub during my fellowship is a better example.
I had to do some moonlighting to pay that off, but watching my team win the WS (with my wife and then 2 year old) was worth it. Game 7 and all.
Totally, RDMD. That’s a memory you’ll have eternally and an opportunity that may not arise again.
I think I have a few stories like this, but in medical school my classmates and I used to have regular games of no-limit Texas Hold’em. Most of us were playing with our student loan money.
Stakes were big considering we were med students. People bought in for $200-300 and would often buy back in if they busted out. A big winner on a given night could win $700-800. Losing $300 never stopped one of us from coming back another night.
We did this VERY often… great memories and great times and we lived to tell the tales. I was rarely the big winner or big loser though…
Great Post. I consider myself a relatively frugal person but recently blew $1800 on a stand-up paddle board and a drysuit so that I could surf the boretide in Turnagain Arm (2nd largest tide differential in the world, after the Bay of Fundy in Nova Scotia). It’s all about the experiences!
Sounds exhilirating, LFMD. A friend of mine recently snorkeled in Iceland at the continental divide. Dry suit required.
Thanks. I needed this.
I recently committed to going to two NHL playoff games (if the series goes to seven games, otherwise I’m only going to one) at the ridiculously steep price of $190 each. I love hockey. My team (non-local) is playing in my current home town. The tickets include unlimited food, beer, and (admittedly shitty) wine. I had no hesitation buying the tickets.
But, I’ve been feeling guilty — I could have invested that $400 instead or saved it for a vacation or … or … or.
Thanks for the reminder that I should remember that I save 50% of my take home income plus put 18% of my gross income into various retirement/pension accounts (thank you generous benefits program). I just got a promotion that came with a 15% raise. I make a ludicrous amount of money. If I want to spend $400 frivolously, it doesn’t make a drop in the bucket.
Not that I want to be spending hundreds of dollars willy-nilly on a routine basis. But, it’s good to remember that the reason that I live with roommates, don’t have a car, walk/take public transit everywhere, and generally don’t play the keeping up with the Jones game is SO that I can do the things I want when I want. Even if what I want is to blow a spendypants amount of money to see grown men bat a plastic disk around a sheet of ice with sticks.
Looks like the Pens are on pace to save you $190 by winning one of their next two games. Congrats!
I used to fall into the trap that I could spend this money OR invest money instead. Similarly, I could buy the ludicrously overpriced event tickets OR groceries for two weeks. The fact is you and I and most of my readers can afford to do ALL THREE.
I am investing plenty, I can afford all the groceries my family cares to consume, and still have the luxury of blowing money on a great experience or **gasp** object that I’ve had my eye on.
Track your investments for free with Personal Capital. It's how I track my portfolio.
Track your investments for free with Personal Capital. It's how I track my portfolio.
I’ve sometimes wished I could go for the candy bar, but I’d have so much anxiety and self recrimination over it I’ve never really gone for it. It takes all the fun out.
With that being said, I am considering one right now. Our cash is pretty depleted but i really want to take my kids to disneyland for fall break. It’s in my head and I’m trying to talk myself into and out of it at the same time.
It’s a tough call, isn’t it? Cash is one part of the equation. A bigger piece is are you meeting your financial goals, and how much would a trip to Disneyland do to bring your family closer together?
We did hit up Disneyland Paris recently with our boys. Nice to be able to tack Disney on like that without making a special trip just for it.
We weigh this question all the time. For example, it costs about $200 per person to hang glide in New Zealand, which sounds ridiculous. But once you’re there and already paid for the flight, rental car, and hotel, it’s only that $200 in question. If you decided to forego the experience then changed your mind, it would cost several thousand dollars to have another opportunity.
Exactly. You’ve spent a lot of money to put yourself in a position to have that opportunity. It’s not like you can change your mind in a month and just do it then.
The idea of treating yourself is a great one, but as you note, it needs to be special and somewhat rare.
In college, I remember what a scandalous luxury it was to spring for a $7 Papa John’s pizza (this was a looong time ago). It felt almost illegal.
Nowadays ordering or going out for pizza isn’t that special. And somehow the pizza doesn’t taste nearly as good 🙂
Absolutely, Paul. I borrowed a line from Sarah Silverman when I wrote about this exact concept. “Make it a Treat.”
p.s. Little Ceasars sells large pepperoni pizzas for $5 around here. With a radio station gift certificate at 40% off, I can get 2 for $6. Cheaper than most frozen pizzas or the pizza we used to order from Pizza Central to deliver to the dorms.
I’m laughing out loud that a multi-millionaire doctor just wrote your postscript. I think I’ve got a new handle for your twitter:
MD Anesthesiologist; “Little Ceasars sells large pepperoni pizzas for $5 around here. With a radio station gift certificate at 40% off, I can get 2 for $6.”
Life is all about having little things to look forward to!
Is that 140 characters? If so, then done!
It seems silly now, but cheap pizzas come in handy when our kids have a bunch of other kids over. And just the fact that I can get them for $3 makes me happy. I do sometimes spend more for a good wood-fired pizza, or a good steak, or sushi, etc…
Yes, everyone has their guilty pleasures. I have not read the post about the homeless woman and the $7 candy bar, but I had to laugh because last summer my son and I bought a ‘fancy’ Kit Kat bar in a luxe Japanese Department Store for about that much. Kit Kat bars are a HUGE obsession in Japan apparently with upscale chocolaterie in many stores.
Yeah, I don’t know what that’s all about. Did you hear about Kit Kat sushi?
One advantage of medicine is that if we play our cards right we can make up for whatever hole we dug ourselves into during our med school residency days. This is something other folks can’t do. (How many jobs do you triple your salary when you turn 30). Vacations, dining, and tech toys were my vices back in the day. As I’m older the vices are the same and probably more expensive, but thankfully now i have the income to support it and then some.
Triple? Mine went up triple that (nine-fold)! Pretty easy to make up for past choices, as long as they were reasonable. I still did a lot of the big things right, having scholarships pay full tuition and then some, staying at public schools, living in cheap housing within walking and biking distance of campus, etc… Even the money I spent on beer in Europe was offset by the fact that I wasn’t paying for an apartment back home.
My wife and I splurged on a two-week vacation to Eastern Europe near the end of medical school. To be honest, I didn’t think too much about the costs. All I knew is that I had never been to Europe and wanted to go. We both had a great time, drank some great German (and Polish) beer, and had a great experience. Granted I wasn’t as “responsible” with my finances back then as I am now. But, if given a mulligan, I wouldn’t change one thing.
I’m glad you were able to sneak that in. Life is so busy around that time.
Great post and great reflection.
My splurges are usually on for vacations with family. Sure they have caused some debt, but those memories will last forever. Conquering fears with family, flying down a dirt road with the girls squealing, how can you put a price on that?
If everyday is a misery, can we really blame someone for just wanting a moment of satisfaction?
With six kids, just taking the family out to Subway is a splurge!
There’s a $7 object we’re holding out for. But only if our lithium stock goes up to $10 (it’s under $1 now). Mr. Groovy and I want to take the family on vacation to one of Ted Turner’s ranches. 10 adults for 5 nights plus everyone’s flights will probably cost us around $25,000. It’s like wishing what you’d do with lottery money if you won.
I would pay $7 right now for one egg bagel that tasted like an egg bagel made with NY water. I’d even settle for just a fresh egg bagel if I could find one.
Whoa. A $25,000 seven dollar object?
I’m not sure you’re getting the point of the seven dollar object. 🙂
The egg bagel is more on point. I’ll give you that.
This is Kitty, who wrote Buying the $7 Chocolate Bar. I’m also the one who deleted your comment. We moderate comments really heavily to keep criticisms/dissenting opinions, but screen out comments that (as I think you realized later) are harsh or judgmental without offering a robust counter-perspective.
That said, this article made me SO happy to read! I’m really pleased that thinking on it softened as you remembered times in your own life when small luxuries made you feel human and alive.
I didn’t want to get too much into my homeless friend’s story in our original post because it wasn’t really the focus of the article, but the reason she was homeless was because of medical bills. She had an emergency fund, and used it to take time off of work for a knee replacement and PT. (She works two jobs, both of which require her to be on her feet.) Then her landlord abruptly sold her building, and the emergency fund she would’ve turned to for moving/first/last/security expenses was still depleted. What little was left she tried to reserve for her little border collie, who was fading at seventeen. My friend was haunted by the idea that if she spent the money on herself, she wouldn’t have enough to give the dog the painless death it deserved when the time came. It was a real turd sandwich of a situation. Sometimes she scared us with talk of suicide. Thankfully, she’s back on her feet now and in her own place.
I thank my lucky effing stars that life has never thrown such a haymaker at me. No matter how much money I accumulate, I know that circumstance can take it from me in a heartbeat. (Or give me the kind of problem that no amount of money can solve.) I opened my home to her for that reason. In another universe, she is me.
Not having that background, I get why you had a knee-jerk reaction to judge. If the only two pieces of information I gave you were “homeless” and “buying luxury consumables,” it’s easy to connect the two and infer that the latter caused the former. But really, she’d been battered by circumstance in a way that robbed her of a lot of choices. Trading $7 for a small, savorable, chocolatey sense of control was a move that I didn’t want to laud per se, but respect. It’s a little bit different from the story you’ve shared about beer, but the conclusion is the same: the right small luxury can be worth far more than it costs.
Lovely post! Hope to see you back in the future.
Sorry to hear about your friend. Having (as Paul Harvey would say) the Rest of the Story really brings things into perspective in a way that was difficult without context. I am happy to hear she landed on her feet, new knee and all, after tough circumstances piled up against her.
You have my wife to thank for giving me some perspective on the matter.
Cheers to $7 chocolate and / or beer!
First of all, nicely written blog 🙂
To me, the takeaway of this was more ‘things-you-bought-even-though-you-don’t-really-have-the-money’ versus, splurges you make when you clearly DO have the money. In that case, my mom comes from a developing country. One time, we went back and of course my mom gave all my relatives some cash. The next day I saw many of them buying cigarettes and beer. At first it bugged me, but then I realized that those luxuries were the only things that made them feel good when their situation was pretty much hopeless. And I can’t really judge people for that.
My maybe-not-so-smart splurge? I’d say the summer after college when I went backpacking around Europe with my best friend. During my last semester, I had saved up like, $1,500. I could have spent that time actually looking for a job, or setting myself up for the future in some other way. But I still think about all the trials and tribulations we went through together on that trip. Looking back, I STILL am amazed how we were able to figure out certain situations when the Internet wasn’t everywhere. But knowing I could navigate all these places without speaking the language really spurred my confidence. If I can do that, then I can do anything.
Thank you, TLS!
I’m never a fan of people buying or smoking cigarettes, but I’m sure others feel the same way about alcohol, so I should probably keep my mouth shut.
How did we do anything without the internet? Traveling has gotten so much easier, hasn’t it? Glad you got to do your backpacking trip. I have yet to spend months exploring foreign lands, but my time will come soon enough.
My entire twenties I lived in a giant glass castle of spending. I carry that around in my head, making it relatively easy for me to not cast stones at other folks’ spendy glass cottages now. I think two things saved my a** from the poor house:
1. I made a high salary
2. I spent on many things, but I didn’t have particularly expensive tastes, so coupled with ‘1’, I never experienced debt and despite myself, even managed to accumulate a (very) modest amount of savings.
Our splurges now tend to be in the area of consumables (e.g. Mr. BITA has twice now acquired some Westvleteren 12) and travel. In an effort to stay off the hedonic treadmill we try not to splurge as often as we can afford to. I want to continue to feel a little thrill at treats that don’t come around every day, rather than be jaded and continuously needing to up the dose.
Judge not, lest you be judged, or something like that.
I haven’t had the Westy 12, but I’ve heard St. Bernardus abt 12, which is easy to get your hands on, is quite similar. I found some in the “mixed six” section at a grocery store one time. I made a couple sixers of it.
I blew through money in medical school going on dates, out to bars, late night dinners with classmates. Did it put me back $10K or so, probably. Was it worth it….definitely.
Hindsight is always an amazing force, and as we move forward becoming more frugal in some ways (for instance I have not bought a Nintendo Switch) remembering that time with family and friends is priceless. I truly am happiest with others (funny how being a social animal helps) and eating/drinking is a large part of that.
So enjoy the bar tab…just don’t go doing it a lone (side note…I also would be okay with a $7 candy bar if you are sharing the experience with someone else…don’t eat it alone)!
As far as your time abroad, looks like you could add that to the Gap Year Post!
Hindsight does help. It’s much easier after the fact to say that $7 or $1,000 or $10,000 spend didn’t hurt that much when you have the benefit of knowing everything turned out alright in the end.
I think the concept of allowing yourself an occasional splurge is a good one, allowing yourself to live in the now, while also still planning for the future. Without allowing yourself a little latitude, those plans for the future can start to feel like a prison.
Like Mitch Hedberg once said, “You know, I’m sick of following my dreams, man. I’m just going to ask where they’re going and hook up with ’em later.” (Love me some Hedberg!)
I too enjoy a good beer now and again.. .and again and again..I remember going to Reykjavík back in 2000 or so with a good friend, and like you I remember the beer there being slightly more expensive than back home in Minnesota. But the memories we made there and elsewhere in Europe that trip have lasted. Plan ahead, but don’t forget to live now.
I believe you’ve got the balance thing figured out pretty well, Peter.
Love the Hedberg quote. “Bigfoot is blurry. It was not the photographer’s fault.” So many good ones.
The small luxuries I gave myself when I was less affluent: beers with friends (though they were probably cheaper than in Stockholm, which is a very expensive place). Young Mr. ERN always said: I don’t drink anymore. But I don’t drink any less either. (and I’m sure someone else said that before me)
And: concert tickets for the symphony hall (discounted last-minute tickets for students).
These luxuries didn’t break the bank and gave me the feeling of living a little bit.
“I don’t drink any less, either.” Love it.
Luckily, I’ve never been homeless, but I can think of times when I was spending money when I shouldn’t have been. Definitely the multiple bar nights a week in college. I was funding my education with debt and blowing any money I made on bar tabs. In the big scheme of things it probably didn’t add up to crazy amounts of money but for sure it was thousands of dollars.
I hear you, FF. As long as you weren’t derailing your future with those escapades, there’s no need to feel guilty.
With frequent bar nights, for some it’s not the money that becomes an issue, but the quantity of the bar’s goods consumed, and the ill effects on school and life it all can have.
I’d also add that it’s hard to judge other people, too. Sure, poor people spend money on things they don’t need, just like how people above the poverty line buy plenty of things we don’t need. Just because you’re not well off doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a luxury. That candy bar probably made that woman’s week.
My $7 item would probably be cheese and/or chocolate. I don’t need either of them, but I’ll spend a great deal of money to enjoy them. 🙂
So true, Mrs. Picky Pincher. You can get cheese in a can for under $3, but it can be worth it to splurge on a $7 hunk from the deli.
Personally, I like both the cheese in the can and the fancy deli stuff.
Although I an afford it, I unapologetically spend money on good, healthy food. I like kombucha, which isn’t necessary per say to keep me alive, but I love it! And it’s not cheap!
Good, healthy food is an investment in yourself. It’ll help you live longer than a diet of, say… Swedish meatballs and beer.
I try to eat healthier now than I did in my mid-twenties, but I’m far from perfect.
For me, it is spending money on good beer and tech gadgets for my hobbies.
I’m a huge fan of the local IPAs we have in Minnesota (Let it Ride is my favorite by Indeed Brewing) and some of the sour beers (Cromulence from Fair State is my favorite sour.) I have no problem spending $5 for a pint at one of the breweries, although I did see some of the breweries increase their prices to $6 for a pint :/
The tech gadgets I buy are relatively inexpensive to support my home automation fancy. I enjoy figuring out ways to turn lights on/off with either motion or brightness. I buy things like the Raspberry Pi or Arduino regularly for the brains behind any new project I start.
Finally, with our daughter, I don’t think twice about buying things that she needs – not wants – but needs (although at 6 months she doesn’t really want anything.) I want to be able to support her with the things she needs throughout her childhood to help her grow and be successful – investing in classes, books, field trips, etc.
At the end of the day, these are the things that make me happy. Spending money on things that make you happy is OK in my book. There was an excellent podcast the Mad Fientist hosted with Vicki Robin, author of Your Money or Your Life that elaborates on this topic: http://www.madfientist.com/vicki-robin-interview/
Thanks for the link — I haven’t listened yet, but it’s on my list.
I can’t say I disagree with any of your spending choices. It’s about mindful spending. Mindless spending is what gets so many people into trouble.
Great lesson today. I’m a natural saver and my wife a natural spender. She’s helped me see this lesson over the years and gotten me to enjoy the benefits of my saving/frugality. I like to think I’ve helped her see the benefits of moderation.
Sounds like an awesome study abroad program. I wish more students would take advantage of these opportunities!
It’s great that your tendencies have merged, rather than create marital strife, as they have been known to do!
It was a great trip — it only made me wish I had studied abroad as an undergrad, too.
Mine is my Corvette. I wrote about it recently on my blog, but I bought it at a time when all I had was the money I used to pay for it. Smart move? No. But, that purchase has kept me happy enough to not make other purchases later. It has also brought me immense joy while serving as a symbol that I need to control spending. Today the car still remains, worth about half as much as new. It wouldn’t make a significant dent in my net worth to replace the car with a newer one. And yet I have no desire to do so.
I remember reading about that Corvette.
It’s not exactly a $7 object, but it clearly didn’t ruin you, either. Personally, I’m a fan of the old Stingrays — that would be my midlife crisis car if I was going to have one.
Based in London UK in my early years with an Australian Consular stint the chance to travel to far away places was my drug of choice. Through the consulate, we could travel Thursday-Monday for 75 UK Pounds. That included air, accommodation & some food.
We justified it because the IRA were blowing up British Pubs & it was too expensive to hang out in London on weekends. Over a period of 5 years, I saw Beirut when it was a gorgeous beach resort & much of Europe & the Mediterranean when it was safe & civilised. (Brandy Alexanders were a AUS$1 on the beach in Nicosia).
I came home broke worked my butt off & still retired at 49.
Great story, Pat!
I don’t know if I would consider that travel a Splurge – sounds downright frugal to me! Not to mention memorable — most of us associate Beirut with unpleasantries, not beach resorts.
Travel is my thing. Unfortunately its never as cheap as $7. 🙂
As an early-retired person I need to be REALLY careful, especially early-on, not to draw down my savings/investments too fast. At the same time though we want to enjoy what we’ve earned – and what we enjoy the most is travel. Plus we want to do it while we’re young enough to fully enjoy the experiences. So we find ourselves splurging on travels.
Worse case I’ll start working again when I’m 60 and have sort of an anti-retirement. 😉 But seriously, we do diligently budget to keep the Monte Carlo results in at least the high 80s. It’s a challenge sometimes to balance YOLO and focusing on the future.
So you walk that fine line every day. You definitely know what I’m talking about.
If the coaching business can cover even a small percentage of your expenses, you should be able to push your likelihood of success into the 90s, I’m sure. Or you can choose to use only side hustle money for expenses you might consider a splurge outside of the normal budget.
Enjoy your travels!
Interesting post. I think so many in the medical field can look back at a “poor” financial splurge in medical school… and remember how we justified it. The more financially responsible hopefully only have one or two.
Mine is a $2000 cancun vacation I took after taking Step2CK at the start of 4th year. With an already negative six figure net worth at the time, and having paid for that trip with 6.5% interest govt loans – I can say it was definitely not a smart $ move. But, it was an awesome trip during a younger, in better shape, more single part of my life… and I’d probably do it again.
I’ll be doing this exact thing with my wife next week ? ~$2300 for an all expenses paid resort.
It goes against everything in me to spend this money when I owe so much in student loans. Can’t help but feel guilty. But sometimes you just have to give in when your wife begs for 2 years.
The trip was paid for by money we received after my grandfather’s passing. That money also paid all my residency application and interview costs, and will cover the cost of moving for residency next month. So I didn’t squander it all!
Maybe not a smart $ move, but probably a good Life move.
We physicians / future physicians have the benefit of knowing there will be many excellent paydays in our future, so it’s a little easier to justify an occasional splurge, even when we are broke and / or homeless.
Mine was a 15 day($12,000) honeymoon in Europe using med school loans.
Worth every penny and I don’t regret it at all.
As stated, you are only young once, and I had essentially guaranteed income(but not time) coming soon.
Great article. When I was in New York City working on Wall Street, my wife (girlfriend at the time) and I went to so many of the fine restaurants in NYC. We went to places like Eleven Madison Park (recently crowned the best restaurant in the world) and ran up a $500 bill for dinner for two (just one glass of wine each) at Le Bernardin.
Even my father, a frugal but reasonable person, questioned my $500 dinner bill. We grew up rarely eating out, and the concept of spending one month’s worth of food in one meal didn’t process. But when I look back on my time on Wall Street, I do not regret going on this lavish dinners one bit. I do not live in New York City anymore, and possibly will never return except on vacation. As the kids say, you only live once. Enjoy every day and be responsible, but as readers of FIRE blogs, I’m sure we can probably loosen the purse strings a bit, as WCI would say.
Wow! Dinners can be major splurges. One $500 dinner for you was about a month’s worth of Swedish happy hours for me.
I think splurges are reasonable when you recognize them as such. When the splurge becomes the norm, you are on the hedonic treadmill and will struggle to get ahead financially (and likely won’t get a thrill anymore out of the expensive experience).
Michael @ Financially Alert recently wrote about his experience at the French Laundry. It was a splurge and he knew it, and treated the experience accordingly.
Wow, WSP and POF! I can’t relate to either experience as I am not much of a drinker and am a vegetarian, so hard to spend that much even in the world’s best vegetarian restaurant! But my claim to fame (or shame?) here is that on a whim (more than 10 years ago) I decided to live it up for a weekend. So, I left my modest apartment in my conversative mid west town and flew to San Francisco and checked into Ritz Carlton on Nob Hill (also called Snob Hill by some Bay Area veterans). I was probably the poorest person who stayed at that Ritz then! Spent $3k for that weekend total and got it “out of my system”. Haven’t, thankfully, had such urges since.
*conservative. Typed too fast!