Bad Spending Choices?

I recently finished reading the book “French Women Don’t Get Fat”, by Mireille Guiliano, and, while there a number of good things to think about in there (and a couple points with which I disagreed), the most important idea I walked away with was this:


There are no “bad”, “off-limit” foods, but one must always balance out the choices one makes.


It’s true, is it not?  If I indulge in a donut dripping in chocolate frosting for breakfast, well, that’s fine, but I need to offset that with better food choices and/or increased physical activity.  The donut in and of itself will never be my undoing… there’s so much more at play.


So it is with money and spending too.  There are no “bad” choices for what to spend your money on.  It’s all just a matter of priorities and personalities.  Does a daily $5 cup of coffee bring you joy?   Well, that’s fine.  As long as you recognize that your $100 of monthly discretionary cash won’t cover a manicure too.  Does your family love to go out to dinner together?  Nothing wrong with that… as long as the money has somewhere to come from.  Back in our two-income-no-kids days, I can remember being blown away by how much money some women would spend on going out to lunch each day.  But, to be fair, I’m sure many were shaking there heads at my massive collection of jewelry.


It is just a matter of choice.  Every month, I make the choice to indulge in one area while sacrificing in another.  My choices are probably different from yours.  No matter.  Doesn’t make either one of us right or wrong.  As long as we all remember the first choices we made.


When I signed my mortgage papers, I made a choice.  I made the decision (and the promise) that I would pay $XXX every month in order to have a home.  It was a conscious, carefully planned choice, but it was my own.  It is not a choice I get to revisit each month.  This isn’t like, “Should we go to Outback tonight?”  Because I made the commitment, I need to prioritize that money well before any spending or indulgences.


When I decide to flip on the light switch, I make the choice to pay my electric bill.  It should not come as a surprise when they’re looking for money later in the month and, since it was, indeed, my choice, it’s money I best not have squandered on a new pretty candle for my table.  (Though that candle might come in handy should they cut off the lights…)


There are times when I simply can’t afford to indulge my personal vices (good quality coffee and fancy cheese, to name a couple).  It’s not that’s there’s anything wrong with those choices… it’s just that I have to honor the other choices (and promises) I made first.  To not do so, well, that would be the bad spending choice.


Some of you likely don’t have mortgages.  Perhaps you have a rent payment that must be a priority or maybe you’ve made enough smart spending choices that your home is totally paid for.   (Go, you! :))   You likely do have utility payments.  Some will have car payments.  Many of us will consider giving a priority.  These are all choices, believe it or not.  And they are choices that, in my opinion, simply must be put before whims, fancies, and pleasures.


To me, that’s just smart spending.


How about you?  What do you consider a “bad spending choice”?  How do you prioritize where the money goes?


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9 comments to Bad Spending Choices?

  • This. Is. Amazing. Says everything I always want to say, but says it nicer. ;)

  • Well said. I agree that it’s all about choices. Having a plan & being conscious of your spending helps keep the bad spending choices at bay- for me anyway.

  • I think that’s very well put. It really is about choosing what’s important to you and your family. We don’t have cable and only have one car but we’ve been on more trips as a family this year than ever before. We don’t need 100′s of channels, that’s what Netflix and the library are for. I would much rather pay for the HD antenna one time and the monthly $7.99 in favor of camping and zoo trips. But that’s one of our choices and it works for us.

  • I used to believe “everything in moderation,” but I no longer think that’s true. Whereas I agree a donut here and there might not *hurt* you, I’ve come to understand that there are some foods that are basically poison to the body. And for some – like those who have an intolerance or allergy – this is even more of a reality. HOWEVER… though I’ve been trying to make better eating choices, I do indulge every now and then.

    The question you pose is a very subjective one, based on one’s own feelings and beliefs. Some people feel their time is better spent a certain way, and will pay others to do all the “dirty” work (housekeeping, managing, shopping, meals, etc.). These are things for which I would never pay, because I can do them myself.

    When I can go down the street and check movies out of the library for free – and not have to worry about my kiddos picking up bad habits from TV, to boot – choosing not to pay for cable is a cinch.

    One of my friends seems to think second hand clothing is beneath her, and I just don’t understand this concept. I try to stick to sale racks and secondhand stores for this type of shopping. Why spend $30 or more on one pair of jeans when I can get five items of clothing for the same amount of money?

    There are so many things we just don’t NEED, but think we WANT or have to have – if the item itself isn’t bad but is purchased with the wrong intent (greed, jealousy, materialism), I think that automatically makes it a poor choice.

    Our church tithe always comes first since this is the most important “spending” to us (it’s really just giving back to God). THEN we focus on bills, because we don’t believe it’s right or responsible to live in debt. Whatever you choose to buy, if you do so knowing you can’t afford it, I think that’s unwise.

    Eh… just a few of my thoughts.

    • Thanks for sharing your thoughts. There are so, so many things to weigh and decide as we establish our own priorities. It sounds like you’ve put a lot of thought into yours and that’s great! (For the record, I certainly would never suggest that people with allergies/sensitivities can eat anything with no negative results… I didn’t realize my words could be interpreted that way, so I apologize for that.)

  • You are so right! Why don’t more people think like this?

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