Spending: needs vs. wants

July 4, 2019 by David Riedel

Summer is here (yay?). With the kids out of school (assuming you have kids, as I do), it’s a good time to take an hour or two, hunker down, and decide how you’re going to alter your summer finances to accommodate the change.

If you’re like me, you love your children, but they can, and will, eventually drive you insane. My 4-year-old spent two days a week at pre-school and two days a week at daycare, meaning he was home one day a week (a week in this example is the typical workweek, Monday through Friday).

Because I work from home, I now have a 4-year-old who’s home two days a week more than he was last week. It’s the end of the first week and I’m already pulling out my hair. (Young kids have so. much. energy.)

To keep my sanity at something regarding a normal level, my wife and I decided to send him to daycare an extra day. Sure, I want to send him to daycare, but I also need to, for two reasons. First, I’m losing a work day when he’s home and I earn more than an extra day of daycare costs, so it’s not going to harm us financially. Second, because he never stops talking or banging things or shouting for yogurt, I need the respite from his tiny-dictator demands.

My wife and I also looked at whether to take a family vacation. We like taking the boys for a week each summer to the lake where my wife grew up. Do we need to? No. But our 4-year-old is part dolphin, and each opportunity he has to jump into a body of water makes him happy and content, and as a result his mother and I are happy and content. The vacation is a want worth spending.

Because I have several costly hobbies (collecting vinyl records and gamebooks from the 1970s and 1980s, to name two), I stuck those into the don’t-need pile for the summer. Sure, I want the new Bob Dylan vinyl box set, but I don’t need it (plus, I have it on CD). As for gamebooks, I’m missing a few rare Choose Your Own Adventures (remember those?), but I’ve lived without them since 1989, so what’s another three months?

And for those of you who work out or play recreational sports, I’m putting this out there: Keeping your equipment up to date is a need. I purchased a new pair of running shoes last week and my shin splints are already taking a powder. The second new pair of shoes is in the mail.

What can you cut to make you summer more cost effective? Or what can you add to make your summer more enjoyable?


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