Someone asked me the other day whether every purchase and financial transaction has to have deep meaning.
“To hear you talk sometimes,” this person said, “no one should ever buy anything unless they’ve carefully researched it, dissected it, and tallied the impact on the budget. Doesn’t anyone get to have any fun with their money?”
Okay, that’s pretty fair criticism. I am guilty at times of preaching that people should consider the impact on their budget of everything they buy. I’ll admit that I’m not that kind when someone comes running up to me to tell me that they’ve blown $500 that they hadn’t budgeted for on something like shoes or electronics that they don’t need.
That doesn’t mean that I’m against having fun, however. If you never have any fun with your money, what’s the point of working so hard to earn it? Unless you’re living at a level where literally every penny is needed to pay for necessities, you should have a little fun with your money. The idea I’m trying to get across when I tell people that they need to consider the merit and cost of every purchase is that your fun must fit into the budget.
If you have $200 left over every month to blow, your fun budget is different from the person who has $2,000 to blow. If you’re the one with $200, you are not free to blow it on a $2,000 computer unless you have banked ten months of blow money. The more money you have, the more you can blow, but you still have to stay within your budget.
I’m not opposed to seeing something in a store and saying, “I have to have that,” as long as you know how it fits into your overall spending plan. This means you have to know what you spend on necessities each month and what goes to savings. You have to know what you can blow on silly stuff. If that gotta have it item fits into your budget and you’re okay buying it right then and there without researching it or looking for a sale, then go ahead. Buying it just means that you might have to pass on other gotta have it items for the rest of the month. If your gotta have it item is more than you have, you either need to wait for a sale or you need to save a few months’ worth of blow money and then buy it. Have your fun, but do it within the budget.
It sounds like simple stuff, but since it’s where so many people go wrong I feel justified in sometimes being the no fun police. I’d rather tell people to curtail their fun than tell them to just spend willy nilly.
The bottom line is that every purchase does have deep meaning. It may not mean much from a usefulness standpoint; you are free to buy completely useless and frivolous items. However, the silly, random purchases you make mean something in the larger context of your finances and you have to consider that meaning or risk ending up in trouble. You don’t have to buy only things that have great meaning or utility, but you do have to understand that every purchase impacts your budget and plan accordingly.