Everywhere we look there are ads to buy something- clothing, makeup, fitness products, food. In the US and other countries, the impulse to spend is constantly reinforced. Although I generally reject consumerist culture- especially if it means going into debt- there as some things I’m happy to spend my money on.
I’m talking about things that aren’t fleeting or wasteful. Things that actually benefit my life (physically, emotionally, spiritually) rather than detract from these areas. What I value spending money on does not suit everyone’s needs or lifestyle, but here’s my two cents on the topic–you will likely never regret investing in these things.
I believe that life is built around experience. It’s what shapes us and (arguably) what gives life meaning. New experiences provide memories, and are great means of connection when shared with others. They also push us out of our comfort zones in a way that nothing else can. “Experience” can include any multitude of things from adventure (skydiving, swimming with stingrays) to extracurriculars (running a marathon, learning to play an instrument). Maybe it means getting your fortune told for the first time or trying your hand at gardening. If there’s something you have always wanted to do but question whether it’s worth the money, I recommend trying to answer the question holistically. Look at how it will impact your life in years to come and if you will regret never giving it a go.
This is not limited to higher education (which I believe to be far overpriced in our country). While school is valuable, there are many educational resources outside of the classroom that are worth your funds. Books, workshops and classes, museum admission, lectures and conferences… Any opportunities to learn new material or stimulate new thought processes are ones I like to seek out. Education is something that has long-term benefits, so I don’t shy away from investing in it when appropriate. Whether it’s to further your career or your own knowledge, the payoff of academic activities often outweighs the initial costs.
Travel combines experience and education, but it had to have its own category. It gives you perspective, makes you a global citizen, reminds you to slow down and enjoy the little things in life. Although I try to travel on a budget, you can only save so much when it comes to things like airfare. When I have the funds available, I am able to justify spending them to travel because- like education- there are great payoffs. I think it’s necessary to take breaks from day-to-day life so that you can better appreciate what you are going back to. Travel is also a form of self-care, as it can bring relaxation and reflection.
I make art. I consume art. I like to support artists so that they can continue their craft. Plus, it is so multi-purpose! Art looks great (home décor!), it often stimulates social commentary, it provides entertainment (especially in the form of visual/audible media), it serves as inspiration. I feel good about using some savings- within reason- for show tickets, prints, even clothing or magazines that feature creative design. Shows are an experience, a memory, a story. Physical pieces of art are resources that can last a lifetime. (As you can see, there is some overlap within these categories). So next time you attend an exhibition or even buy a Spotify premium membership, remind yourself of the greater significance that these purchases have.
I’m sure you’ve heard the expression “pay now or pay later.” I would much rather invest in health foods upfront than rake it out for a doctor’s visit as a result of unhealthy eating. (Although, many healthy staples like whole grains and legumes are relatively cheap anyway). Going out to eat is a different story- healthier options are often up charged, but given the amount I eat out (very infrequently), I’m willing to pay a bit more for a meal that won’t leave me feeling lethargic. I also must account for the social aspects of eating out. While dining at home can be nice, a meal shared at a restaurant is a totally different animal. Sometimes the simple act of restaurant dining (at not worrying about cooking or washing dishes) is worth the investment- plus you are paying for the ambiance.
Okay, I get that this one can be controversial. But for me, given how much I walk and how hard I am on my shoes, spending a bit of money on them seems like a good investment. Not too much money, but enough. (I don’t spend much on clothing, so footwear is where I direct my focus). I like to purchase shoes that I know are going to last me, and ones that are made using processes and materials I support. (In other words, cruelty-free to both animals and humans). Oh, and they have to look cute, of course. Lately, I’ve been lusting after these vegan Dr. Martens.
What worthwhile investments have you made in your life? Are there any here that you agree or
Also by Quincy: 5 Cheap and Free Vegan Meals Around the World
Related: 3 Ways to Live Happily on a Budget
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Photo: London Scout via Unsplash; Quincy Malesovas, drmartens.com