Author: Lote Steina
Being economical with money and putting it to good use (saving, investing) is one of the best long term goals to have. It is not just something we have advocated several times (read more here and here), but also something you’ll hear every personal finance advisor say.
Given this backdrop, the word “splurge” seems out of place, if not absolutely inappropriate. However, there are a handful of things that you should not only never skimp on but actually pay top dollar for even if it leaves a little dent in your bank account. There are a bunch of reasons for this ranging from gains in productivity and income to improved health and life satisfaction.
In this blog post I will highlight five things that you can splurge on guilt free and explain why that is the case.
It’s always a good idea to invest in things that will help you be more productive and make you more money. For instance, if you are a home-working freelancer, do not count pennies when buying a new computer or setting up your workplace. Even if you are a remote worker whose employer has provided the base IT equipment, it is still a good idea to get yourself a good ergonomic chair and a desk with adjustable height. A powerful computer will increase your productivity markedly while reducing frustration linked to glacial operating speeds. Getting the right headphones and/or microphone is also essential if you tend to be stuck in long meetings. As for the chair and table, it’s not only your back that will be thanking you. You’ll see that feeling comfortable and not constantly trying to find the least tedious position to work in, will help to improve your concentration.
This general principle is not only limited to the typical office worker. Regardless of your profession, think about the things you can invest in to raise your productivity and the quality of your work. Professional video editors should not only invest in the aforementioned things, but look for the best software and online courses to learn the newest functions and effects. People working in finance would do well to invest in both the newest analytical software and access to the best information sources concerning the relevant trends in the field. Even skilled niche artisans like carpenters, builders, and blacksmiths should follow the latest developments in their industry, acquire the best tools, and invest in learning valuable skills that could help improve their product or make it accessible to wider audiences (for instance by investing in building an online store and social media presence).
Even if you are pretty content with everything as it is right now in your current workplace, do not hesitate to invest in yourself. See where you want to be heading in future (inside or outside your organization), analyze the trends of your industry, and invest time and money to learn new skills that will give you a competitive edge over others in the future. To take an obvious example – if you are an economist, don’t wait until your employer forces you to learn about fintech and blockchain. Be proactive, study the field, impress others with your knowledge, and reap the financial and career rewards from it!
In general, I’m a big believer in not paying for things that you can do yourself. However, if you are not an expert in a certain thing or field, it is wiser to save time and your nerves by hiring someone else to do it. To illustrate, here is a personal example. A while back my husband and I ordered a new kitchen. All the equipment and furniture cost us about $2500. It would have been another $500 to hire a professional and have him install it from start to finish. We decided to do it ourselves – how hard could it be, right? Well, it took us three months of weekend and late evening work, several disputes, and seriously strained nerves to finally wrap everything up. During that time our apartment was an unenjoyable and dusty construction site with limited functionality.
In retrospect we probably wasted four times those $500 in lost free time, unusable kitchen (i.e. ordering food), and emotional exhaustion. All while it would have taken a skilled contractor no more than 5 days of labor.
Now think about yourself – how many tasks do you have weighing on your shoulders? Whether it is landscaping your garden, cleaning your car, or assembling furniture – if these tasks seem to constantly travel from one day to the next in your calendar, consider hiring a professional to take care of them for you. Even if you still believe you will get around to doing these tasks, think about it in a more macroeconomic way – by outsourcing labor, you are not only freeing up your own time to engage in more productive activities, but you are also stimulating the economy by hiring others and raising their income, spending, and tax input (effectively subsidizing health care, schools, and infrastructure). A win-win in my view!
A healthy body and a healthy mind are the two things underpinning everything else in your life. Without these two in order you can forget about achieving anything, let alone function normally on a day to day basis. I remember my father telling me “that money, career, and experiences come and go, but your health will stay with you.” So don’t take it for granted and take care of yourself!
Keeping tabs on your health condition on a regular basis (health check-ups, medical tests) and not skimping on medicine, vitamins or supplements, as well as paying top dollar for a good doctor when treatment is needed is absolutely essential. While you are young not doing so may not seem harmful, but wearing our bodies down to the knob will hit you back sooner than expected.
Healthy lifestyle is not just about regularly checking on your health condition, but about proactively investing in it too. So try to follow a balanced diet (maybe consult a dietary expert for personalized insights and recommendations) and a comprehensive exercise routine (including time spent outdoors). With regards to the single most time-consuming activity of the day – sleeping -, invest in a good mattress and keep it clean. Bad sleep can have all sorts of negative repercussions in both short and long term. In a way, the pennies you spend on maintaining your health now will save you thousands in decades to come.