I had to go to a theme park today. When I say I “had to go,” I mean that my son and I received two free passes to go to the park so that his football team could celebrate its season and participate in the filming of a commercial. We had a great time and it will always be a special memory for us.
Although our passes were free (a $150 value), I had to pay for parking ($12), lunch ($23), and a couple of sodas ($5), so my free passes still ended up costing me about $40. Normally, I hate to pay for parking and hate to spend theme park prices for food and drink. Today, I did not care, and it was not because I had “saved” so much money by not paying for admission. It was because we had such a wonderful day that I wanted to make sure I did not ruin the day by being overly “responsible.”
Sometimes, we have to accept that it is OK to spend money. Sometimes, we have to accept that it is OK to be a little frivolous with money. Other times, we need to accept that we have no choice other than to spend money because we are given no alternative.
At today’s event, I could not get into the park if I did not pay for parking and I obviously could not expect my son to go without lunch during the eight hours we were there. Further, I did not want to go without lunch and would have been very unhappy if I had not eaten. Later in the day, my son and I were thirsty so I willingly (ok, there was a bit of dismay) shelled out $2.50 per bottle for bottled water. It did not matter, the day was wonderful and we were enjoying ourselves.
While anyone taking the time to read this article will likely agree that it is important to be responsible with our money, I hope that we all also realize that our money is not going to do us any good if we die with all of it left unspent. Whether you are spending $40 or $400 on a day trip, or you are spending $500 or $5000 dollars on a vacation, when you spend your money on recreation, spend it without regret or remorse. To do otherwise is to throw your money away on an experience that should be fun but which is made less so by your desire not to spend – and that is a waste!
With fun in mind, here are a few expenses that you should not regret when circumstances require them:
Eat and Drink When You Are Hungry: We have written a lot about saving money by not eating out and by avoiding high priced coffees and other beverages. Yes, it is cheaper to eat at home or to bring a beverage and snack with you when you are going out. But you cannot plan for everything and sometimes you may be away from the bounty of your own pantry but still want something to eat or drink. Buy it. Enjoy it. Move on. Don’t make the expenditure a complete waste by being angry about the cost and not enjoying what you have purchased!
Sometimes You Have to Pay to Park Your Car: There are some venues that require you to pay to park and there is nothing you can do about it. In Orlando, for example, if you visit Disney’s Hollywood Studios, you have to pay a parking fee to get in the gates. At Seaworld, by comparison, you only have to pay if you are seeking preferred parking. It makes no sense to pay for parking at SeaWorld but all the sense in the world to pay at Disney. Just do your research before you go someplace new and know in advance whether there is an alternative to paying for parking. If there is no alternative and you want to enjoy the experience, don’t agonize over the parking fee. Pay the fee. Move on.
Not Every Souvenir is a Waste of Money: If you have a great experience, whether you are an adult or a child, it is only natural to want a tangible reminder of the event. Gift shops and souvenir shops have a lot of overpriced items but if you look, you can find nice mementos for under $5 and shirts and sweatshirts which, although often over priced, will give you years of use. You obviously never want to buy junk and you need to look for souvenirs that will not immediately be forgotten in the back of a closet, but if you see something that you really want . . . . Buy it. Enjoy it. Move on.
Sometimes You Miss the Matinee: When we go to the movies, we try to go to a matinee so that we can save money. Sometimes we can’t make it to the matinee so we pay the higher ticket price. Whether you are trying to get matinee seating or an early bird special at a restaurant, sometimes your plans won’t work out. If that happens, don’t further ruin your day or evening, go to the movie or go to dinner. The difference in cost will not be that great and you will still be able to enjoy your planned activity. Even if the extra cost leaves a sting, you can try to save the money by cutting something else from your budget later in the week. Just but the movie tickets (or dinner or whatever). Enjoy the experience. Move on.
What do you think? Where are you happy to spend money, even though you could easily avoid spending it? Are you a sports fan who always feels the call of the stadium, even though the hot dogs will be over priced and the beer even more so? Are you a fan of the theater, saving your money so that you can experience shows on Broadway or performed by touring companies? Perhaps you are buying more music than you really need to buy, but you love your collection enough that you do not care? Whatever it is that drives you to spend without remorse, let us know!