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What Do I Miss From My Days of Spending Too Much Money?

Rhinestone pocket jeansIf you are on the road to debt freedom or financial independence, are you happy for friends and family when they purchase something new, fancy, and/or expensive, or does it make you cringe a little bit?  Do we feel a bit smug knowing that we are on the better path, or are we really just jealous because we don’t have new jeans from Macy’s with rhinestones on the back pockets? Are we even on the better path? I’ve heard many arguments about why it’s better to spend money when you make it. You could die tomorrow without enjoying things like the new car you wanted or those aforementioned rhinestone jeans. It’s an argument I’ve had with myself, and recently, I tried to remember what things I miss from my days of spending too much money.

New Cars

Beginning in 2000, my husband and I started buying new cars. One or both of us drove a new car every three or four years. We’d get one almost paid off and then trade it in for a new one. We never bought extravagant vehicles, mostly Hondas or Nissans, but they were brand new. Do I miss driving new cars?

Absolutely not! Everytime I look at my six year old car, I don’t see dings and scratches. I see no payment of $350/month. No new car makes me want another car payment.

Clothes

We used to buy clothes monthly. We have no clothing stores in our town other than Wal-Mart, so often we’d get up on Saturday and decide to drive the 70 miles to the nearest mall just because we were bored. Whether we needed something or not, we usually bought some item of clothing because it was on sale or a “good deal.” Do I miss new clothes?

I am buying no clothes in 2013, and so far, I don’t want a thing. I realize I will eventually have to buy clothes, and my daughter grows too fast to last a year without something new, but having money in my bank account is way nicer than new clothes every month.

Eating Out

Back in the day, I would say we averaged at least three nights a week either eating at a restaurant or bringing home takeout. We also did quite a bit of running by the grocery store deli and picking up chicken and a few sides. Do I miss frequent restaurant meals?

I’m actually enjoying learning to cook and follow recipes. It’s much healthier and gives us more family time in the evening. We still eat out maybe once a month. We actually enjoy it more because it seems like a treat.

Gear/Electronics

Before, if we did any activity once and liked it, we bought the gear. Sometimes it was a good purchase, like my bicycle that I’ve used hundreds of times. Others weren’t so smart and ended up in the garage where old sports equipment goes to die. We also traded in gear more often than we needed. Adult skis or bikes can last for many years if you care for them.

We also had to have the latest in electronics. I remember when Blu Ray players came on the market. We went in search one weekend, and they were all out of stock in most of the stores. We ended up paying way too much at an expensive electronics store just so we could bring one home that day. Do I miss gadgets?

Over the past couple of years, we’ve sold all the old gear that we don’t use. We only buy what we need now. If my laptop died tomorrow, I’d go buy a new one, but only after searching for the best deal online or in the stores. I’d also probably find some sort of coupon. I don’t own a smartphone, and I’m still breathing. I feel I have everything I need.

Is There Anything I Really Miss?

This is probably a false heading, as we never really deprived ourselves of the things we do use. We never cancelled our satellite TV. It is our entertainment. My husband likes ESPN, and I like to watch Kentucky Wildcat basketball and HGTV. I never cancelled my membership to the city recreation center. I hang out with my early morning girls in work out class, and we socialize. We still took trips. We stopped putting them on credit, and we didn’t do anything fancy, but we still took vacations.  I would probably have missed those if we’d cut them out.

The only thing that I kind of miss from our spending days is XM satellite radio. I liked some of the unique stations like Pearl Jam Radio, Lithium, or Hair Nation. Our local radio stations are terrible, so I usually use my iPod in the car (which is about 7 years old by the way, works fine).I do miss XM. Maybe when all the debt is gone, I’ll reinstall it.

That’s it. Looking back at all the stuff we wasted thousands of dollars on over the years, I only miss $10/month XM radio. All the other things were just window dressing that didn’t make us happy. Having all that debt made us miserable, and rhinestone jeans just don’t make up for that, even if they do make your butt look great.

About Kim Parr

Kim Parr is a private practice optometrist, freelance writer, and personal financial blogger. You can follow her journey to 20/20 financial vision at Eyes on the Dollar.

62 comments

  1. I have a lot of mixed feeling about not spending.

    I don’t mind my old car. But I realize that if I were to show up at a date in my ancient car, that the date likely just ended. Not exactly a confidence builder.

    I do miss the electronics. There’s so much cool stuff out there that I would like to buy. In particular camera gear. There’s no real end to the amount of great photo gear out there.

    Learning to cook is one of those areas where I really did the right thing by spending less money. Now I can cook pretty well, and reserve dining out for occasions which warrant an expensive high class meal.

    • It’s always a balance I think. My husband had the worst car on the planet when I met him, and it didn’t scare me off. It was kind of endearing.

    • I hear you about the car thing. A boss once told me that I”d never get married unless I bought a BMW. However, I kept my old, crappy car. The really cool thing was I think it caused me to meet someone (now my wife of 10 years) who shared my values. She had an even crappier car and didn’t care about mine. 11 years of marriage and counting…

      • I don’t think I ever dated anyone with a nice car, except this one guy who had and Infinity. He was a real jerk. I would choose a person over a car any day.

  2. I was never really a crazy spender, so there’s not a whole lot to miss =)

  3. I fall somewhere in the middle of saving and spending. I make it a point to save as much as I can – I make it a game to save a little more each month. But at the same time, if I want something, and I decide that it isn’t foolishly wasting my money, then I buy it. I don’t live like a miser to enjoy life one day in the future. I live frugally. It’s taken me time to get to this place as well. I rarely buy clothes (who needs new shirts every month) and I keep my car until it’s not worth it to repair it then I buy another one. I definitely think you can save and spend wisely at the same time.

    • I think we are pretty close to that place as well. We are really starting to need some furniture, but I know we’ll wait until our student loans are paid off. I don’t want to be the one who eats beans for every meal to save a few dollars, but I don’t need filet mignon either.

  4. I love the smell of new cars, but I just couldn’t justify getting one with all the expenses I have at the moment as well as the extra mouth to feed.

  5. Ugh!!! I know the feeling. I still have material possessions left over from my days of excessive spending. I don’t miss those days at all. It was such a waste!

    • Although we’ve sold most of the stuff we didn’t need, I still run across something from time to time. Milkshake maker anyone?

  6. It’s SO nice not having a car payment. I haven’t had one for a few years, but unfortunately I will likely have one on my next car purchase, even if I do purchase a cheaper used car.

  7. Good post Kim! It just goes to show you that sometimes it’s the simple things that you miss most, like your XM radio. We were in similar situations in how we spent, but what I miss most is gong to the movies. We used to do it all the time, but it was usually a weekend matinee to keep the cost down. Now we see a movie in the theater maybe twice a year for a variety of reasons. I LOVE not having a car payment too!

    • Having kids kind of ruins movie weekends. Even when they are old enough to sit through a movie, you’ll be watching Disney and Pixar for a while. There is just something about seeing a great movie on the big screen that you just can’t get from Netflix.

  8. I miss a few things as well, Kim. It is really good to remember that kind of stuff for sure. I hate to say it, but I miss my sports car (as much as it was stupid to have). It was a pretty incredible machine. Otherwise, I can deal!

  9. I used to be on the more cutting edge of electronics back in my days where I had a lot more disposable income. Now my computer is 8 years old, my surround sound system is almost 20 years old, and a refurbished HP TouchPad brought us into the tablet days. Also during those times, I had new cars (though affordable, payments usually around $200-300 per month) except once I also had a Corvette for a couple of years. That was awesome fun. I definitely miss that 🙂

  10. We used to spend too much money on EVERYTHING. I enjoy life much more now. Going out to eat at a restaurant every single day was stupid and such a waste of money for us. I like eating at home much more now.

  11. I miss instant gratification a little bit. And I miss going all out in the grocery store and coming up with fabulous meal plans. But that’s about it.

  12. I love this article. I can’t say that I have ever had the money to spend on some of those items that you have listed here – but good to know that you don’t miss them and perhaps I should stop coveting them. I have also had a bit of the smug, “I’m on a better path” feeling too.

    • It is hard to get down off the high horse sometimes. Everyone’s finances are personal,and who am I to say what someone should and shouldn’t buy.

  13. I think what I miss the most, is to instantly do whatever you want, at the drop of a hat. You didn’t have to think about it. I miss the carefreeness of it all. Now, it’s do we have the money? Have we saved up enough? Don’t get me wrong; I’m glad we are much more responsible with our money, but I miss just being in the moment.

    • It was sort of fun to wake up and decide to go shopping, but it’s kind of like drinking too much. Fun in the moment but feels like crap the next day.

  14. I drive older cars like a badge of honor. Before I crashed my Camry, I was happier driving my 20 year old sedan with 230,000 miles than someone who just bought a brand-new convertible.

    At the end of the day, pretty much the only category where I don’t cry a little when I pull out the money is food. If I let myself, I would spend way too much money on dining out AND in. I’d probably gain 100 lbs while I was at it!

    • In my opinion, convertibles are highly overrated, unless you live in Hawaii.

      I do like to eat out, but do eat much more at a restaurant than I do at home, especially with unlimited chips or bread.

  15. I miss buying clothes SO much!! I also miss traveling more where I totally didn’t pay attention to budget. OF course all of that came with consequences, but I’m looking forward to the day where I can have some money back in the budget for those things.

    • I always wondered if people who live in warm places miss winter clothes. Do you pull out your sweaters when it dips to 60 degrees?

  16. I know what you mean. When I see someone about to make a financial mistake (imo) I want to run over and beg them to reconsider. Of course, it’s not my decision to make and maybe I’m wrong. 🙂 For me, it’s all about balance. I don’t want to spend recklessly, but I also don’t deny myself either. I’m a big budgeter so I have a clothing budget. I figure out any items I need than with the leftover money – game on!

    • Our big thing right now is travel, even just weekend car trips. I like to look decent, but really could care less about most clothes at this point. Funny how priorities change.

  17. Like Mrs Pops I was never a shopaholic, but I enjoy having quality clothes, nice items that fit my shape… and can’t use them here where I handle paint, acid or chicken poop on a daily basis, so nothing to be missed!

  18. Funny, I have lived a relatively modest lifestyle and never felt deprived! I haven’t given up everything, but made savings and investing a priority. Although I buy new cars, I keep them for a very long time. I buy quality clothes and keep it a long time. I travel, but use frequent flier miles. I think you need balance or it is too extreme.

    • I think we’ll get to a point where we buy what we want, but the things we want have certainly changed, and there aren’t as many of them.

  19. We rarely buy a new car unless we can make a really good financial case for it. We did buy a new 2011 Hybrid Hyundai Sonata (in January of 2012) but the math made sense, it was 5K less than a 2012 and with the dealer incentive would have been the same or maybe only slightly more than a used one. So we made an exception and bought used in that case but it was an exception for us. Clothes we buy almost exclusively from Kohls with a 30% coupon, which we get about once every six weeks or so. Put in on the Kohls card and pay it off at the end of the month. I get the added bounus, the mens section always seems to have 4 or 5 racks of 60, 70 and 80% off clothes. That’s my sweet spot! So yes, we buy clothes, but we don’t pay a lot for them!

    • We have found some awesome deals at Kohl’s as well. I wish there was one closer to us. The nearest one is 3 hours away, and you can’t always find those clearance deals online. What do you think of the hybrid? We are in such a rural area that I’m not sure we’d get the benefit as it seems the best way to save gas is in traffic situations.

  20. I haven’t been able to get rid of my XM Radio yet…every time I think about it, we head on a 900 mile trip across country and that radio is my life saver from poking both of my eyes out.

  21. I was never a big spender, but when I bought stuff it was usually small junk that I didn’t need. Video games, books, cds and DVDs. Now you can get most of that stuff for free (legally) over the net.
    I’m not sure if you liked the talk shows or music, but I love Pandora and it’s free.

    • I usually only listen to the radio in the car, so if I ever get a smartphone, I can do Pandora while driving. I do listen to that at work and it’s very similar to XM. I like being able to choose and artist and listen to similar music. Regular radio plays too many songs I can’t stand.

  22. If you were a spender once, you will mostly realize how much money you have wasted on things you really don’t need. It all about being contented with what you have right now. If you think about it, there’s really no difference, like what you mentioned here about your six-year old car, right? 🙂

    • I think we tried to fill our lives with things to make up for having to work all the time, which made us have to work more to afford the payments. I’m enjoying part time work now with less things. Much happier:)

  23. I miss my Toyota Supra turbo MKiii. My wife misses my sweet truck with subs and a DVD player, black lights and underglow, LOL! Also, I could buy whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. That is, until I blew through $100,000 and it was all gone. Then I missed all of the opportunities I had to grow a HUGE nestegg at a young age. 🙁

    • Everytime I hear your story it kind of blows my mind, but look at the money smart person it has led you to become. At least you learned at an early age. If you’d never had that experience, you might be 40 and still have nothing saved because you spent it all on black lights.

  24. I miss DirectTV to the point that once we are completely debt free I will probably get it back. I also miss collecting graded baseball cards of Hall of Famers. I was really into that hobby but had to put it on hold as it can get pretty expensive to purchase a nice card.

  25. Kim, after reading this I will have to put my list together of what I waste money on. I have started buying everything on credit card mainly for rewards, but also in a effort to track my expenses. It is very sobering though how much we truly do waste. Guess that is why storage buildings are built everywhere, cause we are a society of consumers! We need places to put our stuff!

  26. Kim, GREAT post. When I first read the title, I thought I may have to battle my will as I read a story about you longing for the olden days of irresponsible spending. I’m so glad it was the other way around! Even though we’re new to our plan, I feel the same way. The peace that comes from having a plan and being responsible with your money outweighs anything I could ever buy!

  27. A kind of do and kind of don’t miss some things. The reason I don’t is because it created debt at the time I had to pay off later, I just didn’t think about it at the time in my early 20s. It was nice because I would go out to movies with friends, go on trips, go out to eat, etc. These days, some of my friends still go out every weekend(now in their 30s) and its created some distance. I grew out of that and prefer to stay home now and would rather read or watch a movie on Netflix. Now that I have a kid of my own, I need to set good examples.

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