Justifiable spending frugalDo you ever feel guilty spending money unnecessarily? I used to be super cheap when it comes to entertainment spending, but I’m loosening up as I get older. I’m not sure if this is a good or bad development. It’s a conundrum. This summer, I’ve been spending more money than usual. Our son is out of school and his schedule is wide open. Summer break is so awesome for the kids. I went to pick him up on the last day of school and all the kids were ecstatic. They were so happy to be free from school for a while. However, the parents weren’t so enthusiastic. We all felt like the English side at the Battle of Stirling Bridge. The horde of wild kids looked exactly like this.

spending money

Unfortunately, summer break doesn’t really mean freedom to most kids. Most parents work full-time so the kids will be enrolled in day camps. My son and a few lucky kids escaped this fate and will get to spend their summer aimlessly. That’s how I remember summers and I’m glad our son has a chance to experience it. However, I can’t have him at home all day. So that’s why I’m spending more money on entertainment than usual.

Spending on entertainment

So that’s my conundrum. Most parents are spending $250 per week to send a kid to camp. I don’t have to do that because I’m taking it easy this summer. We already achieved financial independence so my time is flexible. This summer, I’m working just 10-15 hours per week from home. I can blog 2 hours/day and spend the rest of the time being a stay-at-home dad. This is a big privilege that only a few dads have. I get to spend the summer with my son. It’s good for the most part, but it can also be tedious.

If I left RB40Jr to his own devices, he would spend the whole day glued to the tablet. This is not acceptable. He needs other activities to keep him busy. Since I’m not spending $250/week on camp, we can use that money to have fun instead.

Free entertainment

Normally, I’m pretty cheap when it comes to entertainment. I prefer to take advantage of free activities around town. There are plenty of activities in the summer here.

  • Parks – RB40Jr still enjoys going to the playground especially if a friend comes along. We’ll go to the playground 3-4 times every week so he can run around.
  • Library – We go to the library to pick up books and DVDs, but he’s not interested in story time and other scheduled activities anymore.
  • Walks and hikes – I’ll take him hiking more this summer.
  • Music – There are some free concerts around town and we’ll go check them out. He isn’t really into music yet, though.

We’ll enjoy these free summer activities, but we’ll spend some money too.

Entertainment spending

Normally, I don’t really like spending on entertainment for myself. I’m just too cheap by nature. However, I don’t have a problem with spending money on my son. I guess it’s easier to spend money on your loved ones than yourself. RB40Jr is getting older and he enjoys other activities now.

To prepare for the summer, I spent some money at Groupon. I purchased some passes for an arcade, laser tag, and mini golf. RB40Jr will enjoy these fun activities with his friends. Also, it will be nice to hide from the heat at the peak of summer.

Backyard projects

I also got a few father/son projects lined up for us. We just moved to a new home so we need to build some stuff.

skateboard swing

A skateboard swing – Our son likes going out to play in the backyard, but there isn’t much there right now. I got a slackline ninja kit, but you can’t leave it up all the time. I’ll put it up whenever he has friends over. So I was searching for something I can leave up more permanently. That’s when I found a skateboard swing kit. It looks like a lot of fun for the kids. However, it costs $129. That’s pretty steep.

DIY

Instead of paying for a kit, we’ll just build it ourselves. It will be a fun project for us. So I ordered these items from Amazon.

  • A blank skateboard deck: $15.
  • 3/8” Rope: $16.
  • Tree swings strap kit: $16.
  • Wooden dowels – I got a couple of wooden dowels lying around so we didn’t have to buy these. It’s probably easier to pick these up from the local hardware store.

These items should arrive soon. I’ll let RB40Jr drill the holes and we’ll set up the swing together. This project should keep us occupied for a few hours. I think Junior and the neighborhood kids will have a lot of fun with this swing once it’s up. I got a few more projects like this planned.

Unnecessary spending

So that’s the kind of unnecessary expense I’m spending money on this summer. We don’t need to spend, but we’ll have a lot of fun. I figure as long as we spend less than $100/week, we’ll come out ahead. So far, we’re doing pretty well.

  • Week 1 – $75 slackline kit.
  • Week 2 – $47 skateboard swing.
  • Week 3 – ? I’ll take Junior to lunch at Din Tai Fung (a famous Shanghai soup dumplings chain) and go hiking.
  • Etc…

Anyway, I’m justifying our unnecessary spending by offsetting the camp expense. Since we don’t have to spend $250/week on camps, we could spend it on other fun activities. Our finance is good so I don’t have to be cheap anymore, right?

Still, I’m feeling a bit guilty because I’m frugal by nature. My default mode is saving, not spending. This worked well when we were young, but we’re doing well financially now. It’s okay to loosen up a bit.

So what do you think? Do you think I’m wasteful to spend money on stuff we don’t need? Do you sometimes spend money on unnecessary stuff?

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Image by Bruce Mars

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