The 3 Best Ways To Waste Your Money
I was out with my partner having a coffee a few days ago, and we decided to get an overpriced vanilla slice and a brownie. This is something I normally don’t do, or at least don’t do without a reason to celebrate. The idea of paying more for something I could make at home just doesn’t sit right with me. It’s a waste.
At home, the total would come to about $5 (possibly less), but at the cafe it was $22.50. That’s a steep markup. I made the remark “at least it is a tasty way to waste your money”. One thing led to another and soon we were talking about the value of experiences. Was it worth an extra $17.50 for the experience of eating out and not having to wash up? For the nice location, the decor and the view?
For this post I am listing the three ways I like to “waste” my money. Some of you may not call it waste, but I do. Possibly good waste, normally fun waste, but waste nevertheless.
My definition of “waste” is unneeded or unreasonable. If you are thinking “nothing but water to drink”, you are going too far. If you are thinking “a $50 bottle of wine on more than very special occasions”, you are not going far enough. Now you know my definition of waste – on we go…
I know I said three ways, but all three of the best ways to waste your money are experiences. Sometimes those experiences come with or require physical items too, but they are all experiences.
So to start, I would like to define experiences. I think it helps to create focus. This is especially true when there is a specific word that is key to what I am saying – experiences. So lets start with a couple of definitions I found and liked:
- practical contact with and observation of facts or events.
- an event or occurrence which leaves an impression on someone.
- encounter or undergo (an event or occurrence).
When I read those three definitions, I had three different types of experiences that I was happy or willing to waste my money on. Two of them are (or are initially) physical experiences, the third is more of a mental experience.
1) Going Somewhere – Waste Your Money On A Holiday
This is, without a doubt, my first choice when it comes to wasting money. I am not talking about holidays in general, everyone needs to take a holiday from time to time. People need a break. They need to recharge and recuperate. I am talking about taking more of a holiday that is needed (now you see why I attempted to define needed).
I think it is easiest to explain with an example. Rather than staying at a hotel that is a bus ride away from the ski slopes, pick a place at the foot of the hills so you can walk to the lifts whenever you want. Or if you are on a guided tour, take that extra detour if it excites you. A holiday is an experience that you will treasure the memories and experience of for a lifetime. In most cases taking the same trip next year will probably cost just as much if not more. So in some ways the value of a holiday increases with inflation.
My point here is that if you are going to take a holiday, it is my number one area that I would try and splash that little extra cash when needed. I have been to too many places in my life and found myself not going into or onto or through some attraction because I was debating whether it was worth it. It may be an extreme example, but imagine going to Paris and then not seeing the Eiffel Tower because the bus ride cost a few more euros than you thought. Perhaps this is not a problem most people have, but I do. This is why my number one way to waste some money is a nice holiday.
2) Doing Something – Waste Your Money On Activities
In the same vein as a holiday are activities. Once again my second area for wasting money may be deeply rooted in my past failures in this area. You may not have this problem, but I can easily find myself looking at Facebook and Instagram and seeing all the fun my friends are having. I am not saying you have to be reckless here, but I am saying go and do something and put a smile on your face.
The best part about activities are that they can be found very inexpensively if you look. Keep an eye on Groupon for some fantastic deals around you. I have used them many times and often managed to have an afternoon of fun for $20! If you really don’t want to waste your money at all, then free activities like a card or board game night can be great fun.
Given this is about wasting money not saving money, go and take that extra flying fox (zip-line) ride, get the extended go-cart pack and sign up for that guided tour!
3) Learn Something – Waste Your Money On Education
I am sure people will disagree with me on this one at some levels. Even I disagree with myself on this one. I do not believe education is a waste of money. The huge student debt that people in the US talk about is often (not always) the result of an education that has greatly increased the earning potential of that individual. What I am talking about here, however, is learning that is not tied to helping you make more money.
A prime example of learning that is often not tied to money is your hobby. Have you wanted to learn how to waterski, take cross-stitch lessons, karate lessons, tennis lessons, piano, drums, painting, woodwork, or take a sculpting class? If you are looking for my third pick on good ways to waste money, this is up there.
Learning keeps your brain active. Keeps you healthy, social and happy. It can also be a lot of fun (after all that is why we pay for lessons).
Last But Not Least
There are two areas that I have not touched on that I am sure many of you would instantly think about after reading this: children and pets. As these are both living things I did not include them.
For me the line between need and waste is very blurry when it comes to children. Children need to feel loved, and while it can be easy to go overboard, you don’t want to be too strict either. I would elaborate further but have enough child finance tips that I think I will save it up for another post.
Pets are a good thing to waste money on too. However as with children pets are also living creatures, so I did not feel quite right saying that it was wasting money. Go and spend your money on a pet if you want one (I did), but only if you are willing to look after it for the long term! The RSPCA has far too many abandoned pets.
Enough reading – go take a holiday, drive a go-cart or learn how to cross-stitch. They are things that will enrich your life, and life isn’t just about saving!
I really like the message that doing things doesn’t have to mean wasting money but I’m also a firm advocate of the idea that you can be over-frugal. I believe that treating yourself on experiences is okay, if you’ve been saving particularly hard and if you stay within sensible boundaries.
I think that “sensible boundaries” is the key part. Many people can go to far, some (like me) can often not go far enough. I know there are some things I wish I had done, but didn’t because of the cost 🙁
A massive travel advocate and will continue to be so cannot agree more on that point!
For me experiences such as holidays, adventure, helping others out (which doesn’t necessarily need to cost money) are one of the best ways to “waste” money ha 🙂
I definitely agree RTW, what is the point of having all the money in the world? Money is there to exchange for something else. Life is always an experience, just most of the time not a very enjoyable one. So make sure you spend some of your money and time doing things you enjoy 🙂
Indeed. It is about finding a good balance between exchanging the money for something else and and using it to produce additional money. A balance that can easily shift over time.
Was it worth it? That depends upon how much you enjoyed the experience and how affordable it is for you. Perhaps it was well worth it.
OTH For a man on welfare it would be unaffordable and not worth it.
If the joy of the “experience” was mainly to tell everyone else via social media I would say no. Particularly if the person was anxiously checking the phone to see if it had been “liked’. Yeah, I have seen somebody do that.
For a man with cholesterol problems the vanilla square is not worth it at any price, for health issues.
I figure value for money stems from how much, and WHY, the experience was enjoyable, and financial positions and goals.
Whoa, that sounded complicated.
Very insightful! It is comments like this that drive me to rethink some of the positions and thoughts I have on things. I tend to be biased and see the world through my eyes. Understandable, but clearly missing a large portion of possible options/thoughts/outcomes etc. For example, in this post my mind was coming from a place of someone who had the required money. Then again it is about what I like to waste my money on – definitely not for everyone (even if you can afford it).