Why I'm Happy to Spend Thousands of Dollars Each Year on Fun

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  • I have lofty savings goals for my family that require a lot of discipline.
  • I also believe in enjoying my money and treating my family to good times.
  • I can and do reconcile both of these activities.

I work hard to earn money. I don't want all of it to just sit in the bank.

There was a point in my life when I was really frugal, to the point where it would almost pain me to hand over $15 for a movie theater ticket when I had the option to watch a film at home for free. Nowadays, I spend a lot more money on an annual basis to keep my family entertained and enjoy fun experiences together.

In fact, it's fair to say that my family spends a few thousand dollars each year on things like arcade trips, theme park tickets, and other such outings. But I don't feel bad about that. Quite the contrary -- I'm happy to spend that money, even if it takes away from other things.

It's all about balance -- and also, enjoying life

I have a number of aggressive savings goals I'm pushing myself to attain. Not only do I want to build a large nest egg for retirement, but I'm hoping to save enough money to put my children through college. I'm even hoping to give them a modest but helpful amount of money so they can adjust to adulthood more easily -- for example, money that will help them put a down payment on a home or start a business if those are routes they want to take.

But while I'm very committed to these goals, I also refuse to sacrifice ongoing joy to meet them. The reality is that I don't know what the future holds. I might manage to save thousands of dollars for my kids' education only to have them decide they don't want to go to college. And so I firmly believe that it's okay to indulge in activities and experiences that bring us joy and help us create memories together as a family.

Of course, I also make some sacrifices to free up a few thousand dollars a year for fun. For one thing, I work a lot. Often, I'll hammer out some content early in the morning before my kids go off to school, and I'll pick back up once they've gone to bed -- and that's after putting in a full workday. I'm also no stranger to working on weekends or on vacation to some degree.

At the same time, my husband and I intentionally keep some of our major living costs on the low side to free up more money for fun outings. For example, we can easily afford double the mortgage payment we have now. But we've stayed in our home to avoid adding to our costs.

Similarly, our second car is a 15-year-old Prius that's seen better days. We could've upgraded our vehicle several years ago and worked a new car payment into our budget. Instead, we settled for a car that doesn't run optimally so we could free up more cash to go to concerts and enjoy events as a family.

The right choice for us

To be clear, I won't throw my money away on entertainment. For example, the cost of our local county fair rose substantially this year, so we're skipping it because I cannot justify spending $15 on a three-minute spinning ride.

At the same time, I'll gladly spend the $60 or $70 or so per person on theme park season tickets that give my kids unlimited rides from morning to night numerous times a year. And while we tend to watch movies at home, once in a while, I'll splurge on theater tickets and even spring for popcorn.

I work very hard to be able to do these things. And seeing my kids and husband happy makes me happy, which is reason enough to justify that spending.

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