The Audacity to Waste Money for Better Finances

By David Ning on 11 August 2010 (Updated 4 June 2014) 8 comments

I always thought it would be great if a screen door would work with the double french doors in my kitchen. That way, air could come in without the bugs having access to my house. Recently, I saw a retractable screen door at a friend's house. It would be the perfect solution I thought, until he told me it costs $700 to get it installed.

$700?! That's practically a decade's worth of air conditioning. I might as well just turn on the A/C any time I'm hot. But then a few days later, though the temperature was high in the kitchen, I opted to just bear with the heat since it was actually cool outside. The retractable unit obviously popped into my mind again. Since I was never going to turn on A/C anyway, is comparing it to the cost of running air conditioning just plain wrong?

This got me to think: Is there anything else that seems to be a waste of money at first glance but might not be so bad for certain types of people? Here are a few examples.

What's Worth the Waste

Financial advisers want 1 percent every year, and I've read loads and loads of articles about financial scumbags. Expensive, right? I get it. But for those people who can't keep themselves from themselves when the markets are at extremes, isn't that 1 percent a very smart price to pay? Buying a cup of Starbucks coffee every day may cost thousands of dollars a year, but isn't it better than feeling miserable all day?

I mean, some people end up buying a big ticket item every few months just because they aren't happy! And if you feel at peace, what's to say that you won't end up finding the motivation to start a side business that will make you that Starbucks fund many times over? Same with houses, cars, dresses and whatever else you fancy. If it motivates you, makes you happy, and you can afford to pay for it, what's so wrong about buying it? After all, money is meant to be spent, not hoarded.

What I Mean

Look. Most of us can probably use more of the "don't ever spend on anything" articles because we aren't saving enough. But in specific types of situations, what seems like a big waste of money is actually worth it. Think of it as an investment. Investment for your peace of mind, investment for your business, and maybe an investment for your happiness. Not every waste is actually a waste. Know yourself, and may your decision take you onto a smoother path to financial freedom.

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Guest's picture
Sean

I'm a guy who used to "save" money by hardly ever buying clothes. I recently started picking up a few things at discount clothing stores and started feeling better about myself and have even received some compliments on how I look. So now I'm setting aside about $50 (U.S.) a month for clothes. I don't need to spend that much, but I think the "feel better about myself" quotient is worth it!

Guest's picture

Great post! I especially love the last line: "Look. Most of us can probably use more of the "don't ever spend on anything" articles because we aren't saving enough. " But, there is a awesome point to be made about spending more upfront to save later.

Guest's picture
Becky M

I bought a brand new car because it gets great gas mileage. However, the added cost for getting this car vs. another car that would have gotten decent mileage was at least $5,000 higher... even if I save $500 a year on gas it will take over 10 years for this to "pay" off. Not counting additional financing costs. Unless the price of gas just skyrockets. Or if gas goes much cheaper, then it will never pay off. I still like my new car, but ultimately, I could have spent less money upfront on a different car & still saved. Ultimately, using less fuel is a good thing though, and I do feel better about that.

Guest's picture
Candice

Great article - I think it's very true it's important to look at the value of the purchase, and not just the cost!

So did you buy the retractable screen door?

(I didn't know those existed, but I have a set of french doors we were thinking of replacing with a sliding glass patio door so we could let in a breeze, too!)

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Kari

I have recently come to this conclusion myself. There are some things I would like to buy but I always told myself I didn't have the money and to wait but then I would just blow my money on purchases that were 'in the moment' type things instead of the stuff I researched and decided to did want to purchase ahead of time. Now I figure if I buy the stuff I have actually been wanting I will spend less over all and be a lot happier.

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Jason

Great article David.
I believe saving is important, but there has to be a balance (like in anything in life).

Guest's picture
GreenRider

Save yourself the $700, go to the hardware store grab a couple lengths of screen and some weight strips. Cut 3 or 4 strips of the screen the length of the door and wide enough that they'll overlap each other by 1-2 inches, then attached the weight strips to the bottom edges evenly distributed and attach to the door frame. I haven't done this myself, so don't know the exact details (moved to a place that had screens). Course this depends on if you have pets you would allow in and out.

I agree sometimes it's worth the price for a convenience, and sometimes being creative with your solutions can have multiple payoffs. It's all pros & cons.

Guest's picture

On the French screen doors...

I have French doors at my cabin. Air conditionaing isn't an option, however two $35 wooden screen doors hinged to swing out and opposite each other, with a 1/4 x 2" strip on one facing edge that forms munion between the doors works fine.

Think about it for a second, it's a perfect solution. In a high traffic area, the screens open with a push and can swing closed automatically behind you on spring loaded hinges. You don't have to slide them open and shut by hand every time you pass through.