Conscious Spending

I have noticed that people tend to hold me to a very high standard when it comes to spending. As a financial planner, I think most assume that I am super frugal and never spend money. I frequently hear statements like “As a financial planner, you should appreciate…” followed by how they saved money on a purchase. I recently signed up at a new CrossFit Gym in the area, and am now paying just over $100 a month for a membership. The reaction was swift –“You’re paying how much for a GYM MEMBERSHIP? I thought you would be smarter about your spending!” I’m paraphrasing of course, but the overall reaction wasn’t positive.

Most of my readers know by now that I believe in setting spending goals and living frugally. While this is all true, I also believe in Conscious Spending.

Think back over the last 48 hours. How have you spent your money? Open your bank statement and see if you remember every expense. Many of us end up going about our normal routine and spend money without even realizing it. I like to call this Unconscious Spending. Unconscious Spending is when we spend money without stopping to ask ourselves if this expense will actually make us happier.

I have learned that I do much better in a group setting when it comes to working out. While some can go run by themselves every day, I prefer to have a group to hold me accountable and provide the extra bit of motivation I need at 6:30 in the morning. I also value my health, and believe that I need to be working out 3-4 times a week to stay healthy. Because of this, I choose to spend a little extra money on a gym membership.

This expense is offset by not spending money on things that don’t make me happy. I don’t buy expensive clothes, drive a new car, or go out to eat every weekend. This isn’t because they are “bad” things to do, they simply don’t add to my level of happiness and satisfaction in my life.

Do you really love football and want the NFL Sunday Ticket? If you have the money and believe it will make you happy, for goodness sakes buy it. Then try to avoid the Starbucks coffee in the morning and brew a cup at home or at the office.

Above all, be sure you spend money on things that make you happy and healthy. This can include family vacations, gym membership, healthy food, etc. Offset these expenses by saving on purchases that don’t make you happy, or only make you happy for a very short while.

You will be amazed by the positive changes practicing Conscious Spending will create for you.

So what do you think? Are there things you pay “extra” for each month because they really do increase your happiness? Have you ever bought something that you thought would make you happy, but ended up not? Share in the comments section below!

About the author

Alan Moore, CFP®, MS

Alan is passionate about providing individualized financial advice to individuals and families, regardless of their net worth, income or investable assets. An educator at his core, he strives to serve as his clients’ guide, available to help with the sometimes stressful or exciting financial situations that life inevitably brings.

Alan is the founder of Serenity Financial Consulting, which he started after noticing the lack of hourly, as-needed financial planning advice available to consumers. With experience working in several nationally recognized firms including Kahler Financial Group and Financial Service Group, Alan combines his industry experience and technical knowledge with his entrepreneurial spirit and penchant for teaching others to create a refreshing style of truly personal financial planning.

Alan is a Certified Financial Planner™ professional and Certified Retirement Counselor™. He earned his bachelor’s degrees in Family Financial Planning and Consumer Economics and his Master’s Degree in Family Financial Planning from the University of Georgia. Driven by his desire to educate, Alan also taught undergraduate financial planning courses while in graduate school.

Alan prides himself on being active in his community and feels privileged to have served in the Georgia National Guard for four years before receiving an honorable discharge. Originally from Georgia, Alan now lives in Shorewood with his wife Melissa, and enjoys taking advantage of the abundance of activities that Milwaukee has to offer.

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