Spend the money while you have it.

Before the kids were born, Mrs. T and I lived in a condo in Vancouver for a number of years. When Baby T1.0 was almost 1 year old, we moved from Vancouver proper to the house we live today, situated in one of the Metro Vancouver suburbs. While we lived in Vancouver, although we were very close to many things like concert venues, art gallery, performance arts venue, etc, we never went to a show. Because we lived so close to these venues, we always thought we could do it later. But later never came.

6 years ago, Mrs. T and I went to Italy for our honeymoon. We had always loved Italian food and loved the idea of signing up for an Italian culinary cooking class while we were in Tuscany. But when we looked at the price of the cooking classes, we had a price shock moment. The cheapest class was over 100 euro per person. Since we were trying to be frugalish on our honeymoon, we didn’t sign up for any classes. We told ourselves that we would come back to Italy again and take a cooking class later. Now over 6 years later, we have not been back to Italy. We still love Italian food but we haven’t had any authentic Italian cooking class experience. Deep inside, both of us regretted not taking the opportunity 6 years ago. Occasionally, we would talk about this missed opportunity.

After about a month of planning, this past weekend Mrs. T and I went on a 2-night staycation in Vancouver. My parents were nice enough to look after Baby T1.0 and Baby T2.0 for 2 nights. We booked a 2-night stay at JW Marriott Vancouver and were upgrade to a 1-bedroom suite thanks to my Marriott elite status. The idea of the staycation was simple. We wanted to have some time away from the kids, take care of ourselves, recharge, and work on our relationships without having to worry about the kids. To take full advantage of being in Vancouver, we bought tickets to World of Dance live 2018 tour and Moscow Ballet Nutcracker. Since neither of us have been to a dance show previously, going to these shows was an eye-opener.

While walking back to the hotel after the shows, Mrs. T and I started to talk about how we have changed in terms of how we spent money.

You see, years ago, we would have never spent over $250 per night to stay at a fancy hotel so we can recharge ourselves. We would have never bought tickets for 2 dance shows and spent close to $250 on the tickets.

The whole 2-day staycation ended up costing us close around $800. Years ago we simply would not have spent the money. We would have argued back and forth about whether to spend the money or not, and in the end, we would have decided to save the money and invest that money instead.

While Mrs. T and I are still very much focused on becoming financially independent in our early 40’s, we have come to the realization that we need to take things in balance. We have realized that money is just money. And sometimes, we need to spend the money while we have it and seize the opportunity.

Because if we don’t, the opportunity may never come again.

And because we can’t spend that money when we are dead. After all, we only have a set amount of time on Earth.

For example, the 12 day Maui vacation that we spent together earlier this year was one of the best vacations we had as a family. Although we travelled hacked our way there and saved over $10,000, we also spent quite a bit of money while there by renting a car, eating out at the different restaurants, taking tours, and attending a Luau show. It was absolutely amazing spending time with the two kids on the beach and just play on the sand, digging tunnels, playing in the ocean, checking out the different sights on Maui, and enjoying the different types of food. It wouldn’t have been the same experience if we were to wait for another 10 years before going to Maui together as a family. We would have a completely different experience. Vacationing with two young kids is a lot different than vacationing with 2 teenagers. As teenagers, Baby T1.0 and Baby T2.0 would probably want to do things on their own and probably wouldn’t want to spend as much time with their parents.

Kids grow up fast and it’s important to spend as much time with them as possible when they are still young.

So it’s OK to spend some money now, get that memorable experience, and enjoy the moment. Because if you don’t, you may never get the chance gain. And you may regret it for the rest of your life.

Dear readers, are there opportunities that you didn’t seize because you didn’t want to spend the money and now you’re regretting?

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33 thoughts on “Spend the money while you have it.”

  1. Hey Tawcan,

    2018 has actually been an interesting year for me in this regard. While I’ve always tried to remain cost aware, I have found myself on certain occasions “loosening the purse strings” to just enjoy time out with friends. The most recent example I have is when I spent $450 on a single dinner with a few friends because I picked up the tab (though it was unexpected on their part and not necessarily planned on mine).
    It seemed the right thing to do at the time and I believe it was; the meal was great, the company spectacular. Is this a case of doing the right thing or should I have been more “frugal” and not made the expense? The point could certainly be argued, but as you mention in your post… who knows when the next opportunity with that set of conditions will ever exist again? I may never pass that way once more and sometimes we need to simply do what feels right in the moment.

    Take care,

    • Hi Ryan,

      That’s awesome you’ve been able to loosen the purse strings a bit. Wow picking up a $450 tab unexpectedly is pretty generous. While that’s a big chunk of money, if you can afford it, why not right? After all the meal was great and the company was spectacular. 🙂

  2. Hi Tawcan,

    You’re absolutely correct about finding the balance and spending while you have it. Not to be a downer but I’ve known people who had health issues and weren’t able to spend it while they were young and healthy. With this in mind, my wife and I agreed that there must be a balance. Enjoy your life while you can while also preparing for the future. We allocated a certain amount for savings and investing. The rest can be spent guilt free.

    About two months ago my wife and I retired from the rat race and are slow travelling around the world. Could we have retired earlier? Sure but we wouldn’t have had the experiences we did.


  3. You’re absolutely right. I truly believe that life is all about balance. You only have one life to live so you might as well enjoy it; albeit responsibly of course.

    My wife and I try to live a balanced life. We balance our occasional splurges with the everyday non-splurges. For instance, before we had a baby we used to spend a lot on vacation. To the tune of $10,000 to $20,000 a year (even after travel hacking is taken into consideration). But we sorta balance that out by not spending much on food and not buying crap we don’t need. It all balances and evens out.

    It’s okay to spend money. It comes and goes. And you can always make more. But the moments that pass us by are transient. They only come once, and when they pass us by they are gone for good.

    We regret the things we don’t do more often that the things we do. So if I have the money, and it’s a responsible splurge, the voice in me always says go for it!

    • I love it that you are finding the balance between spending and saving. 🙂

      Not buying crap that you don’t need, especially on vacation, will decrease a lot of unnecessary spending that’s for sure. For the most part, I don’t get souvenirs when on vacation, unless it’s something that we can use on a regular basis. For example, when we went to Alaska for babymoon, Mrs. T got a hand-made clay water jug. It’s not your typical souvenir and we use it every day. To me, that’s money well-spent.

  4. I’ve read two books in the past year that changed how I feel about money. “Happy Money” and “Dollars and Cents” I always mix up which one is which, but one of them talks about how pre-paying expenses helps you have a happier and much more enjoyable vacation experience. It’s so true! We went to Hawaii last year, a big trip for us, and we pre-paid our hotel but not our food. We stressed about our meals but I never once felt anxious or guilty about our hotel (which was nice, but not fancy). I imagine it’s part of the appeal of all inclusive trips.

    • I’ll have to check out these two books that you mentioned.

      “Pre-paying” expenses is a great idea. Or just allocate a set of money that you’ve already saved so you know you have the money.

  5. Those weekend “staycations” can be so helpful! You don’t realize how little time you often end up with just to recharge with your spouse when you’re running around doing errands and chores all weekend. We now try to get 1-2 in a year plus a 2 week trip. I used to think those “trips” were a waste of money, but they can be incredible! We’ve been trying to at least vary where we go with them.

    One of my regrets from Italy is that we didn’t do a gondola ride! Venice was at the beginning of our honeymoon and we hadn’t had enough time to research since we were going right after our wedding and burnt out on planning things…

    • You’re right that these little trips do wonders in terms of recharging your battery. We managed to do a gondola ride (mind you, it was shared with other 2 or 3 couples), but it was such an amazing experience. 🙂

  6. I like to say that life is a participation sport. We don’t sped as much money on stuff and don’t mind opening the wallet a bit for experiences. We have gone dog sledding in the Rockies, zip lining in Alaska and a helicopter ride, winter sleigh riding under a buffalo robe, horse back riding and sailing lessons as a couple last spring. We tend to do our stay cations on the shoulder seasons to save a few bucks but have never regretted any of those activities done together as a couple. Money well spent. You might be surprised at how older kids may want to spend time with you. They love to see their parents living life to the full. More is caught than taught – so model an amazing, compassionate life.

    • “Life is a participation sport” – Man I love that! Dog sledding, zip lining, helicopter ride, sleigh riding, horse back riding, and sailing all sound like amazing experiences that you will remember for the rest of your life. Definitely money well spent IMO!

  7. Yes! Our kids are now 18, 16 and 12. Traveling with younger kids is actually much easier. When our family of 5 travels it is almost like traveling with 5 adults with different interests but the three kids don’t quite yet have the compromising qualities of real adults! :-). No specific regrets but I would have been more mindful about travelling more and save more and not frittering away time and money. Also if there were all these buy and sell sites and pf blogs when the kids were younger that would have been amazing. I used to go to garage sales which were hit and miss mainly miss as you’re just going somewhere random hoping they’ll have what you need and I’d buy or borrow pf books from the store or library.

    • Yea, older kids have opinions and minds of their own. You need to make sure to tailor activities to their needs too. Mrs. T and I plan to travel as much with the kids while they’re young and enjoy that experience.

  8. For me, I think I prefer to spend the money on experiences instead of things. A while back I read an article about people’s deathbed wishes. In addition to wishing they spent more time with friends and family, people wished they had traveled more and taken more adventures.

    Now that we’re cleaning up our financial act, I’m trying to take more time to travel and smell the roses. We only get one chance to do this life thing! Of course, you have to find balance between spending and being wise with your money. I think it comes down to your priorities and where you are financially.

    • Yup, we’re the same. We focus more on that experience rather than things. This is something we are trying to teach the kids as well, although they might be a bit too young still to fully understand the concept.

  9. There are opportunities missed but we do not regret them.

    We have had our share of great times on vacation with our two boys. Recently, in between medical treatments for Mrs. r2e we went back to Disney World for a week and had a blast recreating photos from 14 years ago to the present.

    As we have grown older, we have changed our priorities to put a higher value on living in the present. You can’t take it with you once you are gone so live it up now.

    • Yes there will be opportunities missed here and there, some you won’t regret, some you will. I think the important part of life is not to constantly living in regrets but live in the present moment and look forward to the future.

  10. Not to be flip about it but, “You can’t take it with you.” It’s important to manage money but it’s also important to not let money manage you and deprive you of real world experiences. I think you realized that after missing your Italian cooking class. Sometimes it’s OK to spend for the sake of an experience that will no doubt enrich you and offer you longer term satisfaction than any tangible item would.

    • Absolutely. You can’t take it with you… well I guess you can leave it with your kids and grandkids ha!

      Not letting money manage you and deprive you of real-world experiences is extremely important. You are the boss, not your money.

  11. you’ve got that right, bob. we’re not born into this life just to survive it but to live it. i was slightly irresponsible with saving and investing in my 20’s and early 30’s but those memories of things i did and chances i took when i was young and bulletproof are priceless. i just saw a friend yesterday who’s in his mid-50’s and limping around due to a not-so-great back surgery. he said “i used this body hard for 40 years and have no regrets” instead of complaining.

  12. I’m still too cheap to spend $800 on a weekend staycation. But I’ve loosened up quite a lot since I was young. I can see that you need these breaks occasionally to recharge. Someday… 🙂
    As for missed opportunity, the only thing I can think of is zip lining in Costa Rica. I wanted to do it, but my son was too young. He really didn’t want to do it and I thought it was fine. We’ll do it at some point. It’s not a big deal. Other than that, I don’t remember missing anything.

    • Haha Joe, you gotta loosen up a bit from time to time. 🙂

      That’s pretty impressive that you don’t remember missing anything. Seems that you got your priorities set correctly.

  13. I’m new to your blog and to dividend investing. Interesting stuff.

    We recently went to Italy for our honeymoon too. We didn’t take cooking classes since neither of us were interested in it, but we did most of the things we planned to do. It was expensive and we saved where we could and walked everywhere in each city. But the experience was worth it and it is something we would not be able to do with kids. FIRE is a good goal, and although we plan on travelling later in life as well, I don’t think we will have the same sense of adventure and energy to do certain things.

  14. You know, I really don’t have a lot of those kinds of regrets. I’m a frugal person, but if I really want to do something I just go and do it.

    These days we’ve got quite a bit of money, but much less time and energy to do them. Having kids changed all that. Two days in the city to see a couple of shows sounds pretty nice! I certainly have my days when I want a break from the kids!

    Like anything, it’s a balance. Find out what’s important to you and spend on that. Some people might say $800 for a weekend is nothing. Other people might say that’s extravagant. The difference (of course) is how you value that opportunity.

    • Do you still go ahead and do it even if it costs a good chunk of money?

      You’re absolutely right that everything it’s a balance. $800 may seem like nothing to people, while it may seem like a lot of money. It’s how you value the opportunity and the experience. For us, the experiences were worth spending the money.

  15. I am a firm believer of doing the thing when you’re on vacation. If you’re there, you should do it, because you don’t know when or if you’ll ever be back. We went to Puerto Rico about 12 years ago with my wife’s parents. Part of the appeal was going to a bio-luminescent bay. When they found out that it cost $100 per couple, they decided not to do it. My wife and I were upset about it (We’re here! They don’t have these where we’re from!) and didn’t go to the bay either, but we did skip out on dinner with them, went for a fancy night out and I made a point of tipping so that the bill came to exactly $100. It’s a dinner I still remember. The in-laws ate at the hotel restaurant for a second time. If you spend all the time and money going somewhere in the first place, why let a couple bucks hold you back in the end?

    • I like your way of thinking. I still have much to learn as when we go on vacation, I still try to find ways to be frugal. But you’re right, there are some experiences you should be OK to spend because the opportunity may never come around again.


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