Although my income has increased over the past few years, my spending has increased as well. After living the better part of the decade watching just about every dollar leaving my bank account, saving as much as possible, and living within my means, I’ve recently begun allowing myself to spend more freely.
I’m sure to spend only what I have available after accounting for all my bills and obligations and saving a significant portion of the remaining income. I’m currently investing in my 401(k) up to the government-mandated maximum as well as in my SEP IRA as much as possible each year. I’m allowing my bank accounts to grow, in order to have cash available for when I decide to buy a house within the next few years. None of this has changed, though increased spending means my savings are growing a little slower.
Here are some of the big outlays.
Although I am far from a professional, I enjoy photography. I took one class last summer in order to sharpen my skills and my second class began in January. Photography can be an expensive hobby if you’re not satisfied with a cheap point-and-shoot digital camera. Two years ago this month, I purchased a Canon Digital Rebel XTi, a basic digital single-lens reflex (dSLR) camera. Since then I’ve been slowly accumulating various accessories like lenses. Last year was somewhat tame; I refrained from adding to my collection.
Here are the lenses currently in my arsenal.
- Canon EF-S 17-85mm f/4.0-5.6 IS USM Lens: a replacement after selling the Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS Lens that came with the camera
- Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM Lens: great for taking photographs at baseball games
- Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM Lens: perfect for indoor shots and offers beautiful bokeh
The last lens was purchased in 2008, so last year ended without any new major photography purchase. I couldn’t let that continue, so this weekend I ordered the Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L IS USM 1-to-1 Macro Lens. This will be a better choice than the other lenses for portraits and the only choice among my current options for macro photography.
I’ve enjoyed coin collecting since I was very young. I’m still dabbling in the hobby only rather than filling coin folders with pennies found in circulation, I’m looking for some nicer coins that have been professionally graded. At the moment, I’m focusing on a set of Lincoln cents, but my next project will likely be a 20th century type set.
Recently, I’ve been successful finding certified coins on eBay at a fraction of the current prices listed in widely-accepted guide books. I don’t intend on buying these coins as an investment, hoping they will increase in value so I can sell and make a profit. I’m more interested in building a collection that I would be proud to own and possibly pass along to a future generation. According to the price guides, I’ve already made a profit on paper.
I’m currently creating a system to track each coin as an investment in Quicken.
Hobbies are luxuries. I feel lucky that I have income I can spend on a few activities that interest me. I’m only able to spend this money after years of living quite frugally, including living with three roommates to share rent, eliminating cable, and finding ways to transport myself without a car. If I had credit card debt, I would not be doing this. If I had student loans to pay off, which I had until a few years ago, I would be dedicating the money spent on photography equipment and coin collecting to eliminating that debt.
For those who are more financially secure, how are you spending your money now? How are you treating yourself and your interests now that you have paid off debt and are still making your savings targets?
I could always do better for my future self by saving and investing even more of my income. But I strongly believe that, when it is practical, I should be doing whatever I can to enjoy my life.
Updated May 5, 2014 and originally published February 1, 2010.