Please spend lavishly on what you love. Seriously, buy the better quality item. Splurge on that once in a lifetime experience. Go a little overboard on a self-care day or date night.
What is that one thing you have yearned to buy, but haven’t?
Is it the type of item or experience that lights up your world? Does it fulfill you? How will it change your day, week, year, or life?
Find that thing or experience and please, spend lavishly on it.
Most personal finance tips focus on cutting expenses. There is nothing wrong with this advice, but it’s sterile. It pretends we operate our lives inside of a spotless surgical room, devoid of color, hostile to emotion, nothing soft to the touch, and our eyes glued open by the horrid fluorescent lighting.
We do not live our lives in a sterile, confined, and cold operating room. We live in the real world. It’s messy. It’s unbounded, colorful, and full of symphonies, clanks, sirens, yelling, and whispers.
There is merit in knowing your expenses and cutting where appropriate, but if that is all you did, you would be living your life in an operating room. That sounds pretty dull, doesn’t it?
What people do not hear enough is to spend lavishly on what they love. Cut the rest of the nonsense and then go wild with what truly delights you. Spending money on things or experiences is not bad. Spending money on the wrong things or experiences is bad.
Below is a basic drawing of how you should aim to spend. It’s okay if you laugh at the drawing. My elementary school teachers did not enjoy them either. If you have a hundred dollars to spend, most of it should fall on the right side of the dotted line.
Today, we give ourselves permission to spend lavishly.
Dream a Little
In our day-to-day lives, we rarely step back and ask, “Is this how I want to be spending?” We forget to dream about the big stuff. As each day passes, we lose an opportunity to live more intentionally, spend more intentionally.
Don’t forget to dream!
Why are you here? What is truly important to you? What would you regret not doing in this life?
If you were to paint an entirely fulfilling life, how would that look? How would you spend money? What could you spend money on to attain that life?
Although it may seem obvious what you want, it rarely is the first thing that comes to mind. We are conditioned to want certain things in life: a nice house, a good car, and great schools. Dig deeper.
For you, is it a dream vacation you don’t think is possible? Perhaps, it is traveling throughout Southeast Asia for three months. Maybe it is taking a road trip to visit all fifty states.
Is it never cleaning your house again? Imagine never scrubbing the toilets, cleaning the shower, or going to war with the microwave splatter. Do you want to spend lavishly on a house cleaner?
Do you want to buy coffee every single morning? It’s the nightmare of personal finance experts. If that is what gives you joy, dream it and go for it.
Are you one of those car people who love old sports cars and want to buy an old car and fix it? You might be thinking, “It’s a waste of money. It will take too much money and time to do it.” But, will it put a huge smile on your face? Is it the project you wake up every day excited to work on?
Or, do you want to spend freely on restaurants and host regular dinner parties? Does the conversation connect you to friends and family? Can you not imagine a better way to spend money than opening a good bottle of wine, laughing, and savoring a delicious meal surrounded by those you love?
Dream a little. Then, once you dream a little, dream big. Find what you love and whatever it is, spend lavishly on it.
Remember, you don’t live your life in a sterile surgery room. Money alone won’t transform your life, but if it is used as a tool to spend lavishly on what you love, it can bring color and richness to it.
How I Spend Lavishly
If you want to run a fun experiment, ask everybody you encounter over the next week, “If you only had enough money to spend lavishly on one thing, what would it be?” Take note of their answers. Is it an experience? Is it an object? Is it a service? Does it improve their life? How does it improve their life? Are there general themes?
Though there will be commonalities, everybody is unique.
For example, I never have been one of those people who needs to buy a coffee or tea every morning. There was about a year period where I became addicted to Starbucks breakfast sandwiches, but the personal finance person inside of me, as well as my health-conscious self finally decided it was time to kick that habit. I know plenty of people where that cup of coffee brings immense satisfaction every morning. For me, it’s a waste if I spent money that way.
I tend to spend lavishly on three things: food, electronics, and “things that make life easier.” These three things sound insane to some people. That’s okay. Remember, I want you to spend lavishly on what you love – not what others expect you to love.
I love food. I love the flavors, but I love how it brings people together. I love the creativity of how people can take raw flavors, mix them, and bring a finished dish to life. An entire dish can change based on the way it’s cooked. Fried you have one dish, baked another, and seared an entirely different creation. It’s this odd world of art and science. Your eyes can deceive you – sometimes in a good way when you don’t think you will like something and end up loving it.
The act of eating together forms wonderful memories. It creates strong bonds. The conversation opens up and the “Wow, that’s amazing” statements are created with each bite.
After I determined I loved food, I gave myself permission to spend lavishly on it. Whether it was a fine dining restaurant like Canlis, a tasting menu at Altura, a dinner party for ten with drinks, a summer barbecue for twenty, or cheap breakfast tacos every day when I visited Austin, I did not think as much about the bill. I still think about the bill, but I don’t feel guilty about it anymore. It’s taken time to get to this point, but determining how much happiness it brought and the relationships it helps build, I no longer need to hesitate when I want to throw another dinner party in the future.
Electronics is another area where I spend lavishly. I almost always buy new cell phones, near top-of-the-line laptops, high-quality microphones, and cameras. I do this because I like things to work and work quickly. I am not patient when devices don’t work as they say they will.
I buy quality electronics and keep them for a very long time. It works for me. The times I’ve bought cheaper electronics, they have broken or not worked well after a year or two, and I needed to replace them. I hate wasting time shopping, which means I’ll do a ton of research, buy exactly what I think will work best for me, and keep it for as long as possible. My recent laptop purchase shocked my partner, Molly. But, it is ready to go in about 20 seconds and her laptop takes about 20 minutes to turn on. Again, different priorities for how we want to spend lavishly.
The last category where I spend lavishly is “things that make life easier.” What does that mean? Life’s short, and I know I don’t have the skills or talent to do everything well. In areas where it makes sense to outsource, I outsource. For example, I could wash my dress shirts and iron them at home, but I don’t. A dry cleaner makes life easier.
Although I only discovered it in the past few years, hiring a house cleaner is one of the best services. I hate cleaning. I don’t mind the everyday cleaning, but the deep cleaning rarely gets done. Because of this, it does not feel like I spend lavishly on it. It feels like money well spent to make life easier.
A handyperson is something else in the “things that make life easier” category. Could I learn how to change the bathroom fan or caulk the shower? Well, maybe. My repair skills are lackluster, but even if I could, I know how much time and potential mistakes I would make – for me, it’s a no brainer to hire someone to fix it.
These are the three areas where I spend lavishly. This means the rest of my spending is where I do not spend lavishly. I am able to spend lavishly on food, electronics, and “things that make life easier” because I know how I spend in other areas of life and have been intentional about how I spend.
How to Set Yourself Up for Success Spending Lavishly
How can you set yourself up for success in spending lavishly?
The first step is knowing how you spend money today. It always comes back to understanding your cash flow or budget. As I have previously said, I don’t care if you budget regularly. You just need a way to know at any given time how your money is being spent.
Once you know how it is being spent, ask yourself, “Is this how I want to spend?” Does it match your dreaming from above? Are there areas where you want to spend more lavishly?
You can’t create money out of thin air, which means you do need to prioritize your lavish spending. If something is not bringing you joy and you can cut it back, do it. For me, it was Amazon orders. After reviewing my budget, I did not want to spend what I was spending on Amazon each month.
Cut where it makes sense and then spend lavishly.
Spending lavishly works best when you keep your fixed expenses low, such as your mortgage or rent, car payment, and other big-ticket items. I realize that is not a possibility for everyone, but when possible, it’s nice to be satisfied with less. A giant house is rarely the thing that brings people immense happiness. By keeping your fixed expenses low, you have more wiggle room with the variable expenses and spending lavishly.
Lastly, know where you want to go and how your money is positioned to help you get there. Do you want to take a sabbatical? Do you want to go back to school? Do you want to change careers? Your vision will be fuzzy, but at least start with having a vision. If you don’t have a vague idea of where you want to go, you’ll have a very difficult time knowing when you arrive.
By knowing your goals, you’ll know when you reach them and build momentum to reach other goals. You also will feel less guilty spending lavishly on what you love when you have peace of mind knowing you are achieving your vision.
It’s like turning the corner into your neighborhood as you get home from a long day. You know exactly where your home is, how close you are, and what awaits you. If you don’t know where your home is, you’ll always be in a scarcity mindset and more hesitant to spend lavishly.
Summary – Final Thoughts
As you sit there reading this, say, “I will spend lavishly.” Really, say it out loud. There is something to be said for giving yourself permission and hearing it.
Personal finance does not need to be “cut the coffee, reduce expenses, and make every smart financial decision.” We do not live in a sterile surgical room.
Get creative and learn what brings you the most happiness. You may need to experiment with different purchases. What you have always done may not be what fulfills you now. Throughout life our priorities change, people come into our lives and we adapt our lifestyle, and what provides meaning shows up in different ways. While I said I love food, and I truly do, the pandemic taught me I can live without regular dinner parties and restaurants. I don’t need to spend lavishly on it all the time, but I would like to get back to it soon.
As you think about what you may want to spend lavishly on, don’t forget to review how you are spending and what you need to change to spend lavishly on the right things.
And for good measure, keep those fixed expenses low when possible. I’ve never met someone with high fixed expenses who felt like they could spend lavishly.