Spending Money: How to Get Bang for Your Bucks | Military Money Manual Podcast Episode 44

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Jamie and Spencer talk about a few of their favorite things in this episode.

Military Money Manual Podcast Episode 44 Links

Outline of Episode:

  • Things we don’t think are worth splurging on
  • Spending levels based on net worth
  • Setting a monetary threshold for spending/discussing with partner
  • Things Spencer has enjoyed spending money on
  • The importance of spending on things that add value to your life
  • Tasks that do not bring joy
  • Using money to improve quality of life 
  • Using money to free up time

Military Money Manual Podcast Episode 44 Transcript

[00:00:00] Jamie: I was listening to the Die With Zero audiobook, and I think the exact words were “Mowing my grass is a waste of my life energy and I'm no longer going to do this.” That's a theme that came up in the book. So lawn mowing service. I do not enjoy mowing the grass. This yard takes me about three and a half hours to do with a push mower.

If I have a sweet zero turn, maybe that should be an investment, but I can pay someone $40 or $50 a month to mow my grass and I don't have to spend three hours doing it every other week. That's worth it. Does not bring me joy.

[00:00:34] Spencer: Today, my co-host Jamie and I are talking about what we spend our money on. Part of the reason we want to have this episode is we want to normalize talking about spending. Too often frugality in the personal finance or the debt-free movement, or the FIRE financial independence movement is worshiped as this absolute virtue, always being frugal and always saving is much more highly valued than spending, but it's a balance, like so many things in life. So we want to talk about how we spend our money, and then we want to hear from you. So send us, something on Instagram or send us an email info@militarymoneymanual.com. Yeah, we can have a chat about what you spend money on, and then if you have any ideas for future episodes, you can let us know there.

And we just think that life is so much more than clipping coupons o save a few pennies, we want to talk about some of the things that we spend our money on today.

[00:02:01] Jamie: I feel seen Spencer, there was a phase of my life where I clipped coupons, but the three main ideas for today are that your journey to financial independence shouldn't be painful or full of deprivation.

Money is simply a tool that allows you to have great experiences and purchase some of the amazing things that are available today. So enjoy the journey. If you have a great savings rate, the rest of what you do with the rest of your money doesn't maybe matter as much. You don't need to be as strict with it.

Number two, if you're trying to claw your way out of a negative net worth, even with loads of debt, it's still important to balance that and celebrate wins and relax. Sometimes it's kinda like dieting. If you can't even have cake on your birthday, then what's the point? So you have to have a balance. Number three, frequently reassess your goals and priorities because we're not the same person that we were a year ago, or five or 10 years ago for sure.

So if you no longer watch tv, then maybe look at canceling some of those subscriptions, and things like that. So those are the three main ideas today. A couple of other thoughts to lead into first of all is that, like we said, frugality doesn't always have to be about saving money. So there are two sides to it, right?

You can either spend less or you can earn more. So a lot of times the debt-free community, as you mentioned, is all about saving. Never eating out, cutting out that latte a day like we talked about a couple of episodes ago, and things like that. We want to have a balance there. We want to recommend and encourage you to not blindly spend hundreds of dollars at Costco or Target, which I think we've all been guilty of sometimes, you walk into Costco for a $4 gallon of milk, and next thing you know, you have a kayak and a tent and 5 sets of windshield wipers because they were on sale.

I went to Target today, so I'm just as guilty as anyone, but if you do it too much, yeah, if you do it too much, it can impact your long-term wealth building, but if you're intentionally spending money, even if it's a lot of money, even hundreds or thousands of dollars on something that you need or that brings you joy or that will make your life easier, then that's what money is for.

[00:04:00] Spencer: Definitely go in phases too. So when I was paying off over $60,000 of student loans, like I've talked about on a couple of other episodes, my wife came to me and said that she wanted to go away for the weekend to Big Bend National Park in Texas. I was stationed at Laughlin Air Force Base for pilot training at the time, and at the time I couldn't justify it in my head to go on this trip with her just for the weekend.

She, I think she had it down to $80. We were going to rent the cabin. Gas was $2 a gallon back then. I said, no and we had this big fight over it, and what a waste. Like how stupid, like here I am 12 years later and I'll go spend $80 on lunch and I won't even think twice about it.

We could have, instead of having this story that I tell now about, “Hey, don't be me when you're on your journey to FI, spend a little bit of money,” instead of having that story, I could have had the story that, “Hey, when we were young and we had some free time, and we lived in Texas. We went and saw one of the cool national parks.”

 Guess what? I've never been to Big Bend since then, and who knows if I ever will. So that's an opportunity that I missed out on which reminds me of the book Die With Zero, which we've talked about on a few other of our episodes.

But if somebody hears it again for the 12th time, I think that's okay. It's a great book. I highly recommend you pick it up. I just had a family friend who went with his girlfriend to Europe and they're going to live over there for a couple of of years and work. When I, he said, “Are there any financial books that I should be reading?”

I said, “Honestly, just go to Europe.” He’s in his twenties, and he's already graduating from university. I said, “Go to Europe, make some money, but spend a lot of money too. Make some memories, man. You're not going to be, I think he's 21, 22. You're not going to be that age ever again. And you're not going to have the chance to live in Europe and travel. If you leave, Europe after five years and you have no money but you have five years of great stories and experiences, you can always make more money.”

And so what did he ask? “What should I read any finance books on my way to Europe on the flight?” And I said, “Honestly Die With Zero. Give it a read. Some of it's not going to be applicable to you because you're just beginning your personal finance journey,” but he doesn't have any debt. I think the lesson learned from that book, especially for the youth is if you have time and you have energy, get out there and go see the world and make some memories and have some experiences.

So that was the 20-year-old side of it. Then the other side of Die With Zero is the 80-year-old plus. I think my I recommended the book to my grandfather and he's 86 years old. After he read it, he started planning all these trips all over the world,

Iit's amazing to, to watch, he's got basically got this like fire, this passion reignited in him to go see the world and to go live life and enjoy it. Yeah. Go live life and do it with the people that he loves. It's really exciting to watch him do that. Even a lot of people his age are, have just resigned to sitting in their armchairs by the fire and that's a good life as well.

I think it's really exciting, to watch him go and live his best life even at 86 years old. So the journey to financial independence, it's not all about cutting costs and maintaining a strict budget, like you said, Jamie, it's about using money as a tool to add value to your life and others' lives and to bring you and others' joy.

And it's really this amazing thing that we've invented where you can do some work. You can be paid for it. You can invest those earnings and save them for the future. If you invest them wisely, then they'll grow faster than inflation can chip them away. Even in today's, high inflationary environment, and then you’ll have more resources to spend on yourself and the people you love.

So I think that's a really, that's one of the uses of money that sometimes isn't talked about so much in the personal finance community, but it's, and like you said, there are two sides of the equation. there are the, you can earn more or you can spend less. A lot of people just focus on the spending less part and they don't focus on the earning more part.

But if you think about it, you can only cut a hundred percent of your expenses, but you can increase your income by a hundred percent, 200%, or a thousand percent. Yeah. The potential to, the upside of increasing your expenses can pay way more than the amount of money that you can save from cutting expenses.

And at a certain point, you have to live somewhere. You have to eat something. A life of, like you said, frugality and deprivation for a lot of people, isn't a fun life.

[00:09:57] Jamie: Yeah. Spencer, what are some things though that before we get in a list of things that we are willing and we enjoy spending money on, what are some things that we don't splurge on or that we want to not be cheap, but be smart about how much we spend in these areas?

[00:10:13] Spencer: Yeah. So the two things that come to my mind straight away are investments and cars. So when it comes to investments, I talk about this in my book where you want to keep your investments low cost. The data shows that the higher the fee a manager charges on a fund, the worse they perform. You'd think, huh?

Why? Like, why? Why is that? And it's because they have to outperform their fee, basically. So if they're charging a 1% or 2% fee on an investment fund, now they have to, no matter what they make, it's going to be chipped away by one or 2%. So if they match the S&P 500 return, they're going to match the return minus 1% or 2% and compounded over a 10, 20, 30 year period.

That adds up to a substantial amount. You pay those fees even when the market's down. So if you're down 12% on the year or 19.6%, you still pay them 1% or whatever the fee is for your portfolio with them?

Yeah, I think it's it's either Jack Bogle or Warren Buffet. One of those two guys, all my quotes are from one of those two guys, but they say performance comes and goes but fees are forever.

And what they mean by that is no matter what you're going to pay that one to 2% fee. But, it doesn't, for a lot of managers they can't actually, they like to think they can control their performance, but their performance is really dictated by the broader market and the broader trends in the market.

And there is a lot less control there than fund managers would have you believe. So the other thing I mentioned was cars. So I'm a point A to B kind of guy. I've test driven a lot of nice cars test driven a lot of crappy cars, and I just, I fall firmly in kind of the middle of the pack there.

I am a Mazda, Toyota, Camry kind of guy and I want to get in the car, I want it to start every time I start it, and I want to safely get from point A to point B. That's one area. I'm not saying that's an area that everybody needs to cheap out on. I think in our car buying episode, we talked about if you're a car guy, then by all means, spend money on cars.

I'm just not a car guy. You'll hear about in our list of when we go through our list of some of the areas that we like spending money on. For me it's, I don't spend extra money on investments and I don't spend extra money on cars. 

[00:13:15] Jamie: A couple of things that came to mind for me are not buying things just because of societal pressure, like a certain clothing brand when you were in high school.

It's like everyone for us was Abercrombie and Fitch or Buckle or some of those popular ones as I don't even remember where I shopped, like Aeropostale or something. I don't know. But like nowadays, I get a lot of clothes at Old Navy and Target and I know you have some items from Sak’s Fifth Avenue, but that doesn't mean it's like your main thing.

But I shouldn't feel pressured to shop there because just because you are, right? You enjoy that. You really like the items you've bought there. I'm comfortable with the Old Navy shirt I'm wearing right now. These are really good workout shirts by the way. The Beathe On from Old Navy Hashtag not sponsored.

But the other thing is things that are going to make you go into debt unnecessarily. If you're in debt and you want to take, your whole family on a $20,000 Disney cruise, okay, that might not be the right time to do that. Maybe there is a way you do a national park vacation that year and keep trying to make progress.

So be careful about things like that. Then the last thing I wanted to mention was impulse buying. So anytime you think this deal is so good, I have to buy this TV right now, or else Costco's never going to carry this model ever again, you're probably being lied to by either yourself or from marketing.

So one technique for this is to consider waiting maybe 24 hours. Some people say five days, but 24 hours or more before buying something big. Unless it's just, it's small potatoes for you. If you're worth $5 million and it's a $200 thing, then buy the $200 AirPods or whatever you want.

But if you have a negative net worth or a very low net worth and you want to spend $200, that might be something you should wait overnight before deciding on buying.

[00:15:05] Spencer: Yeah. I saw this great thing on Reddit, where they were talking about what are the different spending levels. And they mentioned, so if it's 0.01% of your net worth, so if you had a million dollars 0.01% or one basis point would be $100 purchase.

So if you had a million-dollar portfolio, a hundred-dollar purchase, you can basically do every day and it won't really affect your bottom line, right? Because you still have 99.99% of your net worth left over after that purchase. Assuming that, you have some kind of income coming in as well, and then the next level up, so it works in like powers of 10.

So the next level up would be a 0.1% purchase. So again, you can scale this, right? So if you're only worth $30,000 or you're worth a negative net worth, then maybe, I don't know, round up to $50,000 or something or use your annual income as like a barometer, but at a million dollars, if you have a 0.1% purchase, that's a thousand dollars.

And that's something that you probably don't want to do daily, but, with a little bit of budgeting, you could probably do that a thousand dollars purchase monthly. Again, it's not going to impact your bottom line that much. The stock market will swing up or down 1% in a week, sometimes in a day.

Over a long enough period of time, especially if you have income still coming in, a thousand dollars purchase probably isn't going to absolutely break the bank. So it's something that you want to budget for and you probably could do monthly, but again it's not something you want to do daily, right?

You don't want to go be going out and dropping a thousand dollars everyday on different stuff. So that's 0.1%. Then a 1% purchase on a, again, a million-dollar portfolio would be like $10,000. That's something that you really want to, plan out and figure okay, like how am I going to purchase this?

$10,000, it's in that, $10,000-$99,000, that's like right in the sweet spot of like most cars purchases are in that range. If you're going to, if you're like somebody who likes going out in the water, that's probably right around the range, like most boats are purchased at.

So again, it's something that you can do probably annually or semiannually, but you don't want to be going out and spending 1% of your net worth weekly or monthly. Then finally, the top tier would be like a 10% purchase. Now you're talking like on a million dollar portfolio, you're talking about like $100,000.

And that would be for most people, that's like in the range of a house deposit or a house down payment. That's something that probably is like once every, maybe 10 years or 20 years where it's going to be, it's going to be a significant chunk of your portfolio or of your future income that, that you're locking up if you have to borrow for it.

So I think that was a useful model to think about when if you're down, let's say you've got a $100,000 portfolio, then you can think of those one basis point purchases as like a $10 purchase. So if you're at the shop and you're doing your grocery shopping and you didn't have ice cream on the list, but there are two new ice cream flavors you want to try. Hey, if it's $10 bucks, go for it, man.

It's probably not going to impact your financial situation that much. 

[00:19:02] Jamie: Yeah. One of the other, one of the other things that my wife and I did when we were newlyweds and working to get out of debt is we set, it's very similar to that. I like those percentages a lot, but we set an arbitrary amount of $100 and then later on we moved it up to $300, and so on.

But hey, anything less than a $100 is like fair game. Anything more than that, let's talk about it before you buy it. That kept both of us in check because I like we both have our own things that we do like frivolous spending on. So that kind of helped both of us come to an agreed-upon number.

And then when I wanted to buy gadgets off Amazon, which we didn't even use back then like we do now, it kept me in check. If she wanted to go do whatever she liked to spend money on, then it kept her in check.

[00:19:31] Spencer: Yeah, so we, we have this concept of like materiality or immateriality and it breaks down into the dollar amounts that you talked about.

So when we first got married it was basically like anything under like $20, $25 you can just buy with joint money. We had our joint money and then we each had our own money, so our own money, you could spend whatever dollar amount you wanted to. Usually, I would at least have a conversation, if I was about to go buy like $1,000 or $2,000 bike, I would like just have a conversation with her, “Hey, I'm about to spend this it's my money but I'm about to spend it” and just get an outsider's perspective on the purchase.

But yeah we have this, so we have this concept of immateriality and it's moved up, as we've, we, our net worth has grown, but basically, we just picked like you said, an arbitrary figure, $100 and we'll say, Hey, anything you spend, and that money can come out of joint money, anything under $100, you don't have to check with the other person.”

But anything above that, just have a conversation. In my mind, it breaks down into those percentages where, you know, a 0.1% purchase. So 10 basis points is something that, we have to have a budget and a plan for, but anything that's like a 0.01%, a one basis point purchase, so in a million dollar portfolio, $100, anything under that, it's fair game.

Just go for it.

[00:21:04] Jamie: Okay. Enough about restrictions, Spencer, let's talk about spending some money. So what are some things that you've really enjoyed, let's say maybe less than $100, some really good purchases that you've made that you enjoy spending money on? 

[00:21:50] Spencer: Yeah, I went through my Amazon cart and this is funny, I thought, or my Amazon purchase history, and I had to go back five years before I found something that like I'm still using today, which I think gets at the use and replace and the consumer mindset we have in America and possibly around the world where you just buy something to fix a problem, but then as soon as that problem's fixed, you don't need that item.

But there were some things that I went through my purchase history and I thought about, and I also just opened up my closet. One of them was socks. I am a sucker for really nice socks and the best ones I found so far are Darn Tough. I buy them from REI usually they have their annual sale, I think in May, usually, and you can get like 20% off if you're an REI member.

Oh, that's another good one right there. Join REI, be a member. You get 10% back on all your purchases every year, and you get 20% off any like regular item and any outlet item, I think two or three times a year. So it's 20 bucks, right? It's not much. Yeah, no it's, and that was actually, that's a funny story.

I resisted becoming an REI member. I was like, no way. I'm not signing up for your stupid co-op program. What, like it was $20, if I had done it five years earlier than I did, like how much money could I have saved? I dunno, but anyways, Darn Tough. They're like $25. They go on sale sometimes.

Great socks, fantastic for hiking, cold weather, whatever you're doing. Then the other thing I did was I had these ratty, white socks. I probably had them back from college and they were so thread bare you could like almost see through them, and just being the frugal, saving person I was, I just kept using them and eventually I was like I can't remember.

I think it was probably Ramit Sethi. One of his blog posts or one of his podcasts or something, he talks about how don't let low quality equipment or items get in the way of doing something that you want to do. So his example was, if you want to go work and you want to make it easy on yourself, buy five shorts and five shirts and five socks.

And then that way you can never be like, oh my, my clothes are in the laundry, or they're dirty for yesterday, I can't work out today. No, you can work out five days a week and then the weekends you wash your clothes and then you're ready to go for the for the next week. So I heard that and I was like, oh, you're right.

And so when I got rid of all my socks and I bought these really nice running socks on Amazon. Yeah, and I've used them ever since. I replace them like every two years now and it's $25 and I get I don't know, like 6 or 10 socks or whatever. It's such a cheap purchase, but it does make running, makes working out so much more comfortable and enjoyable and it's just a, it's such a small investment of of money.

[00:24:47] Jamie: Yeah. It's funny how socks can make such a big difference. I bought a pair of running socks. I'm training for a half marathon actually by the time the podcast comes out, I think I'll be done with my half marathon, I'm in like week 10 now of my half marathon training. When I went to the local running store to get some supplies I asked about these socks and they were like, $15 for one pair.

I'm like, have you got to be kidding me? And they are good. They are really good socks. So I definitely appreciate your affinity for good socks. That's a good one. 

[00:25:31] Spencer: Yeah. So two other things I'll mention. For so long I've lived in hot weather climate, so I lived in the United Arab Emirates for two years.

I lived in Hawaii for three years. When I got to Hawaii I started traveling, for TDYs. We would go to Alaska, we would go to Japan, and it's really cold there. I didn't have a hat, I didn't have a winter hat. So what I did was I went on REI.com another plug for REI and I just sorted it by price.

So show me your most expensive hat and show me the reviews for it. So It was like, the most expensive hat I think was like $20 or $25 and it had 700 5 star reviews. I was like, great. I just bought it. I didn't compare it to any other hat.

I didn't like look at the features of another hat. Didn't see if I could save any money on it. Didn't see if there was a coupon available. Nope. Just buy the hat. Be done with it. I've been wearing that hat for the last four years now and it's my favorite cold weather hat.

I think another thing that we tend to do as people who want to be good stewards of our money, is we do a lot of price comparison and we do a lot of research on, “Oh, I want to make I don't want to make a mistake in what I buy,” but that can take up, for maybe for a car when you're going to be spending tens of thousands of dollars that, spending a couple of hours researching and comparing the different models is a worthwhile investment.

But if it's like a $25 hat, just do it. Amazon, I think, is actually good for this, where, a lot of times it just shows you like, Hey, here's an item. It has 16,005 star reviews. It costs a little bit more than the next cheapest one. I know for me, I'm just like, great.

Like that solves my problem. Yeah, don't buy it. Then I said I was going to mention two more things but I lied. So a global travel adapter, they're like $20. If you do any TDYs, around the world or you're ever on leave, like overseas or you live overseas they're amazing. You can plug into any any worldwide power outlet.

It can output to any device. It has USB plugs on the side. Again, they're on Amazon, they're like 20 bucks. So jjst search global travel adapter. Then finally, and we're going to talk about this a little bit later too, the Kindle. I resisted for, so longing a Kindle. I thought, Nope I'm old school.

I like reading paperback books and I do, I still do, but if you get a Kindle and you combine it with a Libby subscription or I think it's also called a Overdrive it's available for free from the DOD libraries and I think they're combining the Air Force Army and Navy libraries all into one super DOD library.

So you can have the Libby app on your phone and you can search for basically any book in the world, and then you can send it to your Kindle and check it out for 21 days. Here's a little hack I'm going to mention this. Hopefully nobody at the DOD library listens to me. No, don't. You're going to get it turned off.

All right. I won't share it. No. All right. No, I'm not to it. As long as you guys promise not to tell anybody. If you leave airplane mode on your Kindle, it doesn't check to see if the book has been returned. So if you just leave airplane mode on, you can keep reading the book past the the 21 day checkout period.

And then once you reconnect to internet it'll realize that the loan is expired and it will remove the book from your Kindle, but yeah, and then not only are there free Kindle Library books, a Kindle book is only sometimes as cheap as like $3, whereas like a paperback book is going to be, $5or $10 plus the shipping.

I know I've read personally probably dozens, if not hundreds of more books because of my Kindle and the the Libby subscription. My wife has also been able to read hundreds of books through it. So I know that's saved us probably thousands of dollars over the over the years that we've used it.

So yeah. There you go. Socks, hats, Kindle, and a global travel adapter. Four of my favorite things less than $100.

[00:30:00] Jamie: I love the Kindle too. We I'll tell a story about it later, but I first got a free one one of our friends in Hawaii they found, we used to do things in our neighborhood called Curb Alerts, where people would just put out stuff they didn't want anymore instead of having to go donate it or throw it away.

Someone had put a Kindle out and our friend grabbed it for us and brought it over to us because she knew we were thinking about one. It's incredible. I'm a huge fan. One of my favorite things about it is you can do all your highlights electronically and you can export your notes. So then I have aa summary of all my highlights from a book.

And I never really need to go back and read a book again. I can just go look at the highlights, but I'm a huge fan of the Kindle as well. 

Okay. The next topic I want to talk about is vacations and travel. We talk about travel hacking sometimes on the podcast. We're big fans of traveling.

Exploring the world, spending time with people you love and just expanding your horizons and not be limited to where you grew up. Sometimes it could be a location that is a little bit of a splurge like we talked about in one of our first couple of podcasts about our Lanai trip that we did together.

That Lanai is a pretty expensive location. We got lucky during Covid that it was a little bit cheaper, but it's not a cheap spot ever. Another good one is upgrades. If you have a red eye or a really long flight like 12, 14 hours, 8-hour flight overnight, something like that, if you can upgrade to a lie flat for a long flight or maybe for your hotel, you upgrade to a relaxing sunset view.

So once your kids go to bed, you and the spouse can just sit out on the balcony and enjoy the sunset or enjoy having some drinks on the balcony, like things that make a big difference on your vacation. So vacation splurging, travel splurging that's huge. One thing Spencer actually taught me was like you mentioned, I feel like you're preaching a sermon to me.

Are you ever at church where the preacher's talking like directly to you? So I am still sometimes guilty of spending hours to save like $25 on a flight. Okay, do I fly out of this airport or this airport? Do I want to take off at 6:31 or 6:35? Do I want an hour and a half in Charlotte or two hours in Atlanta?

Then Spencer's like “Dude, just pick the time that you want and it's going to be like $100, $75 more whatever. Instead of spending hours researching a flight just pick the time that works for you and move on.” So I'm trying to work on that, but. That's something Spencer taught me a year or two ago.

Spencer, you're a big fan of Google Fi. I have T-Mobile, so both are similar with international data and stuff like that, but that's a big one for vacations, is it allows us to have overseas data, which gives you Google Maps, Yelp, and TripAdvisor, free walking tours, or texting with WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger, those kinds of things.

So having data overseas is definitely worth it, and it's not really a splurge to be honest, because Google Fi and T-Mobile are cheaper than what you would probably pay with Verizon and AT&T especially when you're talking about the international plans, but what do you think? 

Anything under the vacations or travel that you want to add?

[00:33:10] Spencer: Yeah, the only thing I'll add is this is something that my wife taught me but even when you're flying like low-cost carriers or doing any kind of travel, a lot of times they'll offer you these like really small upgrades. It might be like, preferred seating for $5 or $10, or it might be, do you want a better room in the hotel for 20 bucks a night?

What she's found, and I found this to be true after traveling with her too, is anytime you can differentiate your experience from everybody else for a little bit of money, it just makes it so much better. I don't know if it's because like you're looking at the poor people sitting in the back who didn't pay $5 for the exit row or if it's like actually a better experience.

So much of human experiences like comparison, right? And so I think that helps, but I think it also helps where, when we flew to Europe, we would fly from the United Arab Emirates a couple of times. We flew on this low cost, I think it was a Hungarian carrier called Wiz Air.

And they had this like early boarding thing where you could board the plane before anybody else. It's kinda like Southwest, where you just pick your seat and it was like $7 or something to upgrade to this early boarding thing. We would do it and nobody else would do it. So what would happen is they would put us on the bus to drive us out to the airplane.

Either our own bus or they would put us on a bus and like rope off the little section so we would have our own little section. Everybody else was like crammed in at the back and we would spread out and have all these seats to ourselves. Then when we would get to the plane, they would let us off first and everybody else on the bus, and we would get to pick our seats, and usually we would just pick, the front row because then we were first on, first off.

Yeah. So yeah, it was just those really small upgrades. If you are traveling with a lot of people or you are really watching every penny because you want to get of debt a little bit faster than maybe it's difficult for you, to buy that small upgrade and think, is it really going to change my experience that much?

But I have found that it does actually improve your experience just a little bit. It can be painful when you're like getting to the final page of the airline checkout, and it's oh, do you want to add this? Do you want to add this? Do you want to offset your carbon? But checking the box and adding those little extras, I think do make a difference.

And also I think helps when it comes a time if they have to reprioritize the flight, if a flight gets delayed or whatever, hey, if you spend a little bit of money you're just going to be that much higher in the queue. If they have to reschedule the flight to a later time, you're going to get priority.

So yeah, just take the small upgrades and enjoy the journey because in the end, that's all we really got. 

So Jamie, the next area that I want to talk about is health, exercise, and fitness. So this is one of my favorite things to spend money on. So let's get into it. You recently bought, not just one Peloton but two Pelotons, is that right?

[00:36:45] Jamie: Yeah. Yeah. So in July of 2021, actually, the very first thing we got delivered to the house when we moved to Alabama was the Peloton bike. We got the idea from our vacation in Lanai where they had a Peloton bike in the fitness center. One of the days when Spencer and I were working out together we went and did a Peloton ride together.

And the instructor that we did it with was terrible. We don't like her. I won't say her name, but we were like this is a really cool concept and it was fun. Three kids later, I gained a little bit of weight over the years and so the Peloton bike was a huge investment and it, what it did is it made making a recurring exercise habit fun again for me because I used to play soccer. I used to play basketball and like most of us, I could get away with almost anything through college, pretty much. Then when I stopped playing soccer and didn't really have a structured exercise regimen anymore it just started catching up and then, have a kid, you're up all night, have another kid now you're, and so on excuses galore.

But last July we bought the bike and then last December, right before Christmas, we bought the tread. So we have four or $5,000 of Peloton equipment that we've invested in, but it's made a huge difference. I'm in the best shape I've been in, in probably 12 years or so right now, and I credit it to the investment we made in the Peloton equipment.

There is nothing special about that. If you want my referral code, I'll send it to you, but it's just whatever you enjoy that helps you be healthy is worth spending money on. Like Spencer, you recently bought a home gym, right?

[00:38:37] Spencer: Yeah, so my first home gym I built for under a thousand dollars and I've got an article on my site about that, building a home gym under a thousand dollars.

And you can still do that today. Even with the supply chain issues and inflation and everything, it's still possible to build a pretty solid home gym for under a thousand dollars, but on this one, I went all out. So I was leaving the Air Force and I wanted to basically build my dream home gym.

And so my wife converted half a hay barn on our in-law's farm into kind of a little man shed. I just went on rogue fitness and just selected every little thing, every little tool, every little fitness, and squat, rack and bar, everything that I wanted, added it all to the cart and it came out to $3,000 or $3,500.

So again, like a big investment of monetary value, but if you actually do the math,  if you were going to a regular gym with equipment, rogue equipment that's that nice, you might be paying $50 a month or, $100 a month even sometimes.

They do pay for themselves pretty quickly like three to five years, but more importantly, there is convenience. Just like you, Jamie, with the Peloton, there is the convenience factor. When it's right there when it's just a short walk from my house to the man shed with this beautiful gym in it where I get to pick the music, I get to decide, what exercises, if I want to curl in the squat rack, it's allowed. Cause it's my gym. It's so accessible. It's right there. Like you were saying, if it gets you fit, if it gets you healthy, if it keeps those habits going, then it's worth the money that you spend on it.

And yeah, so I'm really excited. I actually haven't set it up yet, but it's on its way. Yeah.

[00:40:55] Jamie: What you don't want to do though on the flip side is have a gym membership where you pay $40 a month and you never cancel it because you're embarrassed to go in and tell them you'd rather be overweight or whatever because that's how they make you feel when you cancel your membership, but, you don't want to get something that you know, you're not going to use, but there is something out there that you might enjoy. It might be a nice road bike, it might be better running shoes, it might be a treadmill or an elliptical or something like that'll help you be healthier, that's worth spending money on.

And if you don't, put it on Facebook marketplace, if you don't use it after a year and you can get rid of it. there are always use treadmills on there and you can easily offload workout equipment that you don't want.

[00:41:40] Spencer: Yeah, that's something that I always struggled with when I was a little bit younger was, buying like exercise equipment or buying tools basically to enhance my life.

I always thought oh, if I don't use it or if a year from now I don't want to ride my Peloton bike anymore, then it's like I've just wasted all that money. It's usually not for most things, especially if you buy quality equipment, it's not true because they hold a lot of their, not all their value, but they'll hold a lot of their value and you'll almost always be able to recoup, 50, 60, 70, 80% of the cost, sometimes even more.

A lot of people are buying cars in the last couple of years and they're being able to sell them now, sell used cars for more than they paid for them. So it's not to say that you should be investing in this stuff, but it is to say that, if there is something especially fitness related or health-related that you think is going to improve your health.

It might be worth it to take a chance, purchase the thing, and try it. Or even, even a lower threat experiment would be to go to a gym that has the equipment or go to a friend that has a Peloton and say, Hey, can I give it a ride? And if you do it and you're like, oh, that was the worst experience of my life, then don't buy a Peloton

But if you're like, wow, for me it's convenient. They tell me exactly what to do. They pick the music for me. The instructors are engaging. It's great. Like 20 or 30 minutes just fly by. At the end of it, I know that I've gotten a great workout in and it didn't cost that much as long as you, use it pretty consistently, it doesn't cost that much per use.

So another tool that I've really gotten a lot of use out of is the Theragun and I mentioned the Theragun, just because I have that brand. I'm sure there are other brands out there that are equally as good. I just haven't tried them, but again, that's not a cheap tool. I mean it was like, I think $500 bucks.

I got the pro model on a Black Friday sale, but the reason I bought it was, I don’t know if you remember but, I had one that you were borrowing from a friend. Yes. I didn't like it, but you did. Yeah. I went over to your house and you're like, “Hey, try this thing.” I was like, oh my gosh, that's amazing.

And now I've got one. Actually, my father-in-law just stole it from me. So I know what he'll be getting for Christmas, but again it's a great little tool. Really just if you got sore muscles or you just need a back massage and you can't talk your wife into it, then it's great to just have that little Theragun. But any percussive massage tool, I think most of them are pretty good now. 

Then a couple of other things that I've spent money on for health purposes would be physical therapy. So this one was really hard for me because in the military we're used to getting our healthcare for free.

But what happens is if healthcare is free, then they have to ration it some other way. The way that the military rations it is they make you wait. They make they build in time. It's kinda like the Canadian healthcare system. For me, every time I got injured, whether it was a lifting injury or a cycling injury, I would always go to the flight doc and I would say, “Hey, I've got this injury.”

And they would say, okay, go do these exercises. They'd give a referral to physiotherapy. Either they couldn't get me in to see the physiotherapist for 30 days, by which point my injury had miraculously healed itself. Or they would refer me off base and I would go there and they would maybe give me again a couple of exercises to do, but it was a lengthy process.

Eventually, I just went around all that and I said what would it cost just to get, some physical therapy out and just pay out of pocket. It was like they even offered a military discount, I think it was like 80 bucks for every visit. Most of the time they would get me, if it was like tennis elbow or some kind of like knee pain or something, they would get me fixed in one or two visits and they would usually be able to see me if not the next day then like within a week.

And so that kind of opened my eyes up right there to just the power of just going and just paying out of pocket and getting it done if it's important. Then, invest the money in yourself and get your injury fixed quickly and then get back to whatever you were doing or get back to work or get back to doing the activities, that you want to do.

But don't, again, don't have this excuse of, “Oh, I've gotta wait to see the physical therapist and they can't see me for two weeks or whatever.” Sometimes that happens, but a lot of times it's just there are so many problems out there that if you can solve a problem with money, it's not really a problem.

Right? Unless you don't have any money and then you need to listen to our podcast more so that you can get on the journey to financial independence.

Just a couple of other things I'll mention in the health, exercise, and fitness category. When we lived in Hawaii, one of the things we bought was an E-bike. Again, not cheap. I think the one we bought was just under $2,000 once we added all the different accessories to it, but it was so much fun.

So it is so powerful that my wife could ride on the back of it while I was up front. The town that we lived in Hawaii, Kailua was mostly flat, so we didn't really have to worry about hills so much, but it can definitely pull you up a hill, but what was great about it was the town was so busy and so small that we were actually able to get to most parts of the town quicker on the E-bike than we would if we were driving.

And so it just made everything so much easier, like going to the grocery store, going out with friends. We would just hop on the E-bike and ride there. That's awesome. Now if you're, listening to this in Tacoma, Washington and it's pouring rain and you're like, man that would be great.

But just for a couple of months, a year, I still, the company I actually bought it from was in Seattle. It was rad Power Bikes and they make some amazing E-bikes. I think they're like one of the largest E-bike manufacturers in the US and of all the E-bikes I've tried theirs. Are definitely the best quality and the cheapest price.

And yeah, if you like riding bikes, but you want to make it a little bit easier, take a look at E-bikes. 

Okay, two more things. Mattresses, I went through five mattresses like purple or some bed in a box, Casper. Yeah, Casper, that's what I was thinking.

Yeah. I think I finally settled on a Casper. Yeah, I have a Casper now, that's when I eventually settle on, but I went through, so like a lot of these, ship the bed right to your door companies, they'll let you try it for a hundred nights for free and then they'll come pick it up if you don't like it.

And that's what I did. I tried a whole bunch of them and actually settled on Casper. So there is a little bit of money upfront, but once you return it, you get the refund, and then you can just put that money right back into trying another one, but, sleep is so important.

It's, it is the foundation of good health. So if you don't have a good mattress, maybe take a little bit of time to get a good one. Don't just accept the status quo. 

Okay. Last one on health, exercise, and fitness. It doesn't really fit in this category, but basically, in the military, we have to shave. Some of us have to shave every day.

And one of the things I did, one of the small luxuries I allowed myself when I was still paying off debt and I was a young lieutenant, is I went to the Art of Shaving, which was a shop, it's probably still there in San Antonio, Texas. I bought a boar brush, like a boar hair brush?

Maybe it's badger and some oil and like some special shaving cream. I used Art of Shaving for years before I started looking at some of the alternatives on Amazon and was able to basically get the same setup for half the price, but if you're going to do an activity every day, whether it's showering or shaving or whatever, spend a little bit on making that activity enjoyable.

For me, I had to shave every day because my beard was so heavy. The other thing too is to invest in a good razor. I eventually tried the whole straight-blade razor thing. It never worked for me. I was a Gillette. I'm still a Gillette man. I think the Fusion five is the brand, but they're not cheap, but there are definitely cheaper models out there, but they've never lasted as long and they never worked as well. Don't be afraid to, if there is something that you have to, do every day, just invest a little bit in making it a good experience and, making it something that's worth doing.

[00:51:47] Jamie: All right. The next category of things that we'd like to spend money on, we're going to call under the heading of hobbies. So it could be something like a new board game or a set of Legos, something that enhances time with family and friends. I know that when we were in Hawaii we had a good group of friends there that we would play board games all the time with.

And Christmas gifts ended up being board games for each other. We had a blast around the dinner table playing board games, and some of them were with kids, and some of them were just adults. It was a lot of fun. So whatever it is for your family and your circle of friends your nieces and nephews or whatever that you can do together to bond and build memories, board game Legos, stuff like that, or some ideas.

That's worthwhile. Even doing something like having a Nerf battle where you buy five or, three new Nerf guns just so you have a Nerf battle with your nephews or something like that, that can have decades' worth of impact on your relationship to spend money on something like that.

Another one I'll say under hobbies is really anything you do to make yourself better. So could be books, could be courses, although a lot of courses you can find online for free or seminars, as long as it's not like a gimmicky, “Come to the seminar and buy a bunch of real estate from us,” or whatever.

But there are a lot of ways conferences or online programs like you mentioned earlier, Spencer, we'll drop like $80 or $100 on a lunch or dinner without thinking twice a lot of times, but then when you see a course that costs like $29.99 to enroll and it's going to make you better, you're like, “Oh, I dunno about that one.”

Anything that's going to make yourself better. Books, a magazine subscription to something like The Economist, or something like that is probably worth the investment. I know you enjoy books. 

You mentioned the Kindle, but do you have anything to add to the books? 

[00:53:56] Spencer: Yeah, I'll always spend $25, $30, whatever a book costs if somebody recommends it. Especially if it's somebody I trust and they'd recommend the book to me.

I just hop on Amazon and I'll either add it to my cart or I'll add it to a wishlist or I'll just buy it on Kindle and just send it to myself. So I say I add it to my cart. What I've tried to do is get in the habit of just buying it. Because usually if someone like takes the time to recommend a book, especially if it's someone I trust, then it's going to be worth my time to at least buy it. If not, read the entire thing. That's the other thing I've gotten a little bit better at is just because you buy a book doesn't mean you have to read it cover to cover.

You can just flip through it. You can look at like the highlights. You can just go to the back of the chapters and look at the summaries, but if you get one good idea out of it, it's worth the price of admission. That was an idea that Naval Ravikant, he's a Twitter, thought-type person, tech person.

And he mentioned that if you get one good idea of a book, then it's worth the price of admission. I've definitely found that to be true. If even if you spend, $25 or $30 and you flip to the entire book and there is only one sentence in the entire book that makes you go, ‘Hmm”, or makes you think a little bit differently.

People spend way more than that to get good ideas. So yeah, definitely worth that. A couple of other hobbies I already mentioned. I really like hiking. I like being outdoors, and if I can make it a little bit more comfortable experience, I'll definitely drop some money on that.

And then the other thing I spent a pretty penny on was a road bike. So I got into cycling and doing long-distance bike road biking a couple of years ago, and then I got into triathlons when I was in Hawaii. A really nice road bike was definitely worth the investment and just opened up so many cool opportunities to do the Half Iron Man on the big island to do triathlons with my squadron in Hawaii.

I got to do a couple of hundred-mile-plus rides across the United Arab Emirates through the desert. Just those are just experiences that if I had a cheap bike, from Walmart, they just would not have been as enjoyable or as fun. Yeah, if you have a hobby like that, it can be worth spending a little bit of money on it.

[00:56:34] Jamie: You mentioned REI, which reminded me of one of the experiences. I think this is a theme that we don't necessarily have a topic labeled experiences, but that would be another just kind of summary theme of something to spend money on, but one of the best things my wife and I did when we were in Hawaii was we did the hike down the Nepali coast, the Kalalau Trail, and I didn't have hardly any hiking equipment for a big hike like that.

So 11 miles each way and then camping at a beach out of cell phone service and all kind of stuff like that. So we spent a lot of money at backpacking stores and Amazon and stuff like that getting stuff ready for that hike, but man, when we think back about that hike that was a once-in-a-lifetime experience and was worth every penny we spent on getting there on the hotel, the taxi, the storage of our car, the storage of our bags, all the propane, the food, freeze-dried ice cream sandwiches, like everything we bought made that experience just incredible.

[00:57:34] Spencer: Yeah. Like, how many times have I heard you talk about that experience or heard you tell that story? Dozens. How many times have you said, “Oh man, I wish I had an extra thousand dollars in my bank account and I didn't have that Stoy.” Never. 

Yeah. Knowing you, yeah, you probably have a spreadsheet where you're like, man, if I had just invested that money, we could have $1,200 and 37 cents today. Yeah, it just goes to show at the end of the day, and Die With Zero talked about this, right?

Is like, all we have are our experiences and our memories and the people that we did them with. The more you can build up your bank of experiences and memories and people in general, that your life is going to be much better. 

Speaking of making your life better, let's talk about making other people's lives better.

So the next category we have here is giving you want to talk a little bit about that?

[00:58:44] Jamie: I think if you've listened to a couple of podcasts, you know that we are both really big on being generous, whether it's to charities, churches, building a well in a village that doesn't have any water, scholarships, whatever it is. Giving back to the community to your family and friends, or to people that you care about is just, it's just the right thing to do. It's part of being human. So being generous with family and friends or whatever charity or a religious organization you might like to support is worth every penny of generosity that you'll give. Some things that are a little, maybe more practical than just sending a credit card payment to a charity at the end of the year or something like that is spoiling your family.

I don't think my mom listens to the podcast, but my dad might, but Dad, if you hear this, don't tell mom, but I'm taking my mom to New York and we're going to go see some Broadway shows in a few weeks. My mom grew up in New York City and the trip is a gift. She's getting older.

I don't know how many more trips like this we'll be able to do together. So we're flying to New York together. We're flying in crappy regional jet first class to make it as comfortable as possible for her. When we get to the airport, I'm not going to go from LaGuardia to the bus that goes to the train station that goes for an hour and a half subway ride, and then walk for, 0.8 miles to the hotel.

I'm going to spend the extra money to get a private, black car that picks us up right at the curb, LaGuardia, and takes us right to the check-in desk at our hotel. So those are, that's like a practical example of some ways to use your money to help give back and you think about all the sacrifices your parents have made.

For example, I went to private school my entire life and think about the, I mean that that moved the needle on their journey towards retirement. Especially because there are a lot of kids in my family. Private school is expensive. So little things like that might cost 150 bucks or 100 or whatever, but I'm not going to spend two hours on the subway right when we get to New York just to get to the airport or from the airport to the hotel for $2.75 instead.

[01:01:00] Spencer: Yeah. One thing about giving, as you increase your net worth one thing you might want to take a look at is a donor-advised fund. This is going to be a pretty advanced topic for a lot of our listeners, but hopefully one day you can come back to this episode and you can think of this episode when you have a substantial net worth or income. 

What a donor-advised fund allows you to do is very easily contribute appreciated shares. So let's say that you bought some index funds in the year 2000, and now it's 2022 and they've gone up five times in value. Rather than paying long-term capital gains tax on those, you can donate them to your donor-advised fund.

And then from your donor-advised fund, you can make contributions to donations to charitable 501C3 organizations in the United States. What that allows you to do is you get a couple of benefits there. So one, you skip the capital gains tax because you're donating the shares. Then two, you also get to take the deduction on your taxes.

So it's really hard for a lot of people to itemize or to make it worthwhile to itemize their deductions now because they've increased the standard deduction so much, but, if you're in a certain tax bracket, a higher tax bracket, or if you are making a lot of income, or you have a lot of itemized deductions for whatever reason, making your charitable donations in that way can be very tax efficient.

And if you have a CPA, talk to them about doing it that way, but even if you have income coming in, if you donate that to the charity, you get to deduct it, but you don't get to skip the capital gains that you have on those shares. Then what you can do is you can donate those appreciated shares, and then you can turn right around with your current income and buy more shares.

And you have a step-up basis, so your net worth actually doesn't change, but your tax burden actually decreases. So a little bit more of an advanced strategy there for giving, but the important thing is, at any stage along your journey, be generous and be grateful for what you have.

Once you have a plan for financial independence and you're on the journey, for me it was very difficult to give when I was in a lot of debt. We still did, but the dollar amounts were much lower than they are today. It can be a little bit painful because, you want to give, and you have this drive to be generous.

But when go and update your net worth spreadsheet and you're still, paying off $10,000, $20,000, or $50,000 of student loan debts, it can be difficult to, send $100 to whatever charitable organization you want to support. Yeah. But what I would recommend is, maybe two paths.

One is that small donations still count, you're still helping people today. That's really important because, if you delay the contribution for years and years, then you'll never help anybody. The other part that you could think about too along your path to financial independence is to

Build it into your budget to be generous. What you can say is, okay, as part of my financial independence game plan, I want to be able to donate, 10%, 20%, whatever amount of your annual budget, and just factor that in there. Maybe wait to make your charitable contributions until you can make a larger impact, right?

Instead of donating $10 to whatever cause you're trying to support, you can donate $1,000, you can donate $10,000 annually, and then you can make a real impact, a large impact on whatever organization you're trying to support.  

[01:05:44] Jamie: A couple of thoughts I just had that I want to add to this category of giving is taking care of cousins, nieces, and nephews.

Almost every kid needs braces at some point. That's expensive, so maybe there is an opportunity to help with that, but what I really love is when you see the post or you get an email from a niece or nephew and they're like, “Hey our class is trying to raise money for whatever.”

And you get an email from your grandchild or your niece or nephew or some like kid down the street, or you see your Facebook friend posting a video of their kid trying to raise money. Send the kid $15 or $20 bucks, like just contribute to the fundraiser. Yeah, it's a shame that schools need that money.

Our kids' school this year needed to fundraise for a playground. Like how do our tax dollars not cover the one playground they have at school? It's ridiculous, but when you get it, like just give money to the fundraisers. When the kids ask for money, the football team is doing a car wash, stop by and get a crappy car wash. That's not going to look good. You'll probably have to go fix it yourself anyway, but just give the kids like $15, $20 bucks or whatever and move on with their life and help, help out their fundraisers. 

Then birthdays are a big deal. We all love getting gifts and we all love getting stuff in the mail. Maybe could you send all your nieces and nephews or your younger cousins, 10 bucks for a birthday or five bucks, or maybe send them some money and put some in an investment account on their behalf or something like that. Giving doesn't just have to be to charity. Being generous with the fundraisers and your nieces or nephews are a couple of ways to approach this topic and make your money worthwhile.

It's always worth giving some of your money away. 

[01:07:36] Spencer: Yeah. Back to what you were saying, Jamie, too, about, when you're traveling with your mother to New York City and, you're just going to get the black car and make the journey enjoyable.

One thing that I've been able to do is because I've accumulated a lot of credit card points and miles I've been able to fly my parents in first class several times and on some long international flights. So I brought them from New York City to Abu Dhabi. Dubai when we lived out there.

Also got them to fly out in Hawaiian Airlines, first class from New York City direct to Honolulu. Those tickets would've been thousands of dollars, but because I was able to travel hack my way through it, it was just a couple of points and miles for me. I could have held onto those points of miles and used them for my own travel, but it was like what you were saying, my parents paid for private school for me as well, for high school. They've always been there to support me and to love me and to be able to be in the position where because they're not going to they have points of miles themselves.

That's one other thing I've done is I've just logged into their accounts, with their permission, and I've been able to book tickets with their points and miles on the flights, that they wanted, but they couldn't figure out how to do it. So that's an investment of time right there.

But yeah, the other investment is, when they came out to visit me, I wanted them to travel in style and I wanted them to travel in comfort. So using my own points and miles and, some of our listeners probably have built up a pretty large stash of points and miles, you can use those for your family.

The other one I've done recently too is I had 8 Hilton Honors free night certificates after Covid between me, and my wife.  One thing that I've done is, my mother-in-law and grandmother-in-law are going to a Hilton resort soon and for the weekend, and it's completely covered by our free annual nights.

Just being able to do those small things for the people that you love, to some of us it's not such a big deal because we get to travel a lot, but for other people, like my wife's grandmother, she's stoked, she's excited.

She hasn't been, I don't think she's been to this resort if she has, it's been a few years. Yeah, just being able to share those experiences and, share the wealth that we've been able to build up through travel hacking and through our journey to financial independence.

And, that kind of segues nicely into our next topic here, which is friends and maintaining connections. One of the cool things that you can do when you do build up a large stash of points and miles, but even if you don't, if you're not a travel hacker, but you still have money, is spending it to fly across the country or across the world to visit a close friend that you don't want to lose touch with.

Investing in that relationship literally with the monetary value of the plane tickets and if you want to stay in a hotel because they're in a one-bedroom apartment or whatever, that goes a long way to building and maintaining those relationships. Then, if there is someone in your family or your friend circle that needs you to take some leave from your job or take some time off, flying out to see them can be huge.

That can be the difference between someone being in a lot of pain and living a very difficult life, just maybe there is nothing that you can do for them other than just be there, but that can mean a lot and that can go a long way.

One of my favorite trips that we got to do was the trip to Lanai. I think you were planning on going, right? Then you thought, who would have enough points and miles to go with you and make it not so cost-prohibitive?

Luckily enough, I had enough Amex points that we were able to go do that.

[01:12:23] Jamie: Yeah, but think about if you had, I'd rather save the points or I don't want to spend the money, our friendship wouldn't be where it is today. We probably wouldn't have this podcast, like all the times we went paddle boarding together.

And I think it was definitely worthwhile. So if a friend invites you to go on a hike or on a vacation, or on a girl's weekend or guys' weekend or something like that, find a way to say yes if you can, it'll be worth it to invest in meaningful connection, especially after a couple of years of Covid.

Get off of Facebook, get off Instagram, and make real friends again, like you had to before because that's what's going to get you through the next round of hard times. Not another series of Stranger Things, season four, being binge-watched alone in your basement. 

The other one I want to add for friends and connections is we're both married. If you're married or you're in a serious relationship, you know how valuable alone time can be or time with your spouse, especially for couples that have kids. So invest in date nights. Like it doesn't always have to be Applebee's on a date night or dinner and a movie. Do something fun do something creative.

Like I was just looking for like top golf reservations. Katie and I have never done that. So I was like, I think next Saturday we're going to be out of town in a town where there is a top golf, because we don't have that here in Alabama right now. Not in this town at least, but, so I'm like, just want to go do top golf.

Yeah. I think there is one in Birmingham probably too, but I don't know, we're not quite in a big enough town, but be creative with date nights and it doesn't always have to cost money, but it's just under the theme of prioritizing it, making it important to you. Don't be cheap on the experience of spending time with your spouse or your fiance or something like that.

That'll pay big-time dividends in the relationship, especially if that's your only time away from kids. I constantly have friends that I wish we were better at it, but we do, Katie and I do at least one vacation a year where we travel without our kids. We've done that every year we've been married, which is almost 13 years, except for the one time, and it was a PCS year. It just didn't work out, but we did like a one, one overnight, but anyway, we do a vacation without the kids and we invest in that. It costs a lot of money. We have to do babysitting. We have to fly a family member in or figure out what to do.

So sometimes we'll fly someone to us. Sometimes we'll fly as a family, up to a family member that watches them, and then we fly out of there, things like that. It's a big investment, but it is definitely worthwhile to invest in date nights and vacations with your spouse, especially if you can do it without kids.

All right, the next heading I want to hit on is tasks that do not bring you Joy. This is another one that bubbled up from the Die With Zero book. So I just actually looked back at our WhatsApp thread, Spencer, and in July of 2021 right after our stuff got delivered, I was mowing my lawn for the first time in several years.

We lived on base in Hawaii so I didn't have to mow. I was listening to the Die With Zero audiobook, and I think the exact words were “Mowing my grass is a waste of my life energy and I'm no longer going to do this.” That's a theme that came up in the book. So lawn mowing service. I do not enjoy mowing the grass.

This yard takes me about three and a half hours to do with a push mower. If I have a sweet zero turn, maybe that should be an investment, but I can pay someone $40 or $50 a month to mow my grass and I don't have to spend three hours doing it every other week. That's worth it, it does not bring me joy.

Some people love it. Some people love the lines. We had a buddy Steve in Hawaii, he always had the best yard in the neighborhood. He really loves decorating his and cutting his grass really well. I do not, that's not me. Another one is house cleaning. Having service or house cleaning help is clutch when you have the buffer in your budget to do that.

We've had periods of that on and off throughout the years, and it's really nice, especially if you're in a situation where both parents are working or something like that. For example painting after PCS, painting a room, or multiple rooms right after moving into a house or before moving out does not bring me joy.

So if I have to do it again I'm going to pay someone to do it. It might cost $600, I don't know, but I hate painting and it's not how I want to spend my last couple of nights or my first couple of nights in the house. 

Then assembling stuff. When you move, you get a lot of stuff. If you ever bought IKEA furniture, that's like they should just, instead of selling you a warranty at Ikea, they should sell you like a marriage counseling add-on, because by the time you put that bookshelf together, you're going to need to go to counseling or you could just pay someone to do it.

So those are some ideas I had of tasks that do not bring me joy, that I'm willing to pay someone to do because I don't like, I don't enjoy doing them. 

[01:17:39] Spencer: Yeah. The IKEA assembly, I think is like a marriage counseling session all on its own because you have to communicate, and you have to work together. It's it can really make or break couples.

[01:17:40] Jamie: I love it when my wife reads the directions better than me, and she's like, “That's not the right piece.” I have to undo five steps. I'm like, “Oh man.” 

[01:18:24] Spencer: The big thing for us is house cleaning. I could do it. It's not that hard. I've done it before, but especially if you live in the right area of the world or the country, it's very affordable and it's so nice to just come home and when you were out at work or whatever you were doing and someone's been in and everything is neat and tidy and everything's been cleaned and disinfected. 

It's a beautiful feeling. For me, for us, my wife and I, house cleaning is definitely one of those things that we started doing it very early in our relationship and, when we were still paying off debt we had house cleaners and it's probably improved our relationship honestly, because, we don't have chores, we don't have assigned tasks that we have to worry about.

We have the house cleaner do that, and then because the house cleaner comes and whenever the house cleaner is coming, My wife goes into this super clean mode where like she picks up the house to a point where I'm like, “Why do we even have a cleaner?” You have to tidy up before the cleaner comes.

Exactly. After the cleaner's been there, we have this nice clean house. Guess what happens? We don't have piles of our clothes on the floor because we're like, oh man. Look how clean the floor is. Look how nicely the bed's been made. What do we do?

We make the bed for the next two weeks. When there are piles of clothes on the floor, we just pick them up, fold them, and put them away. It really does make a difference in both our quality of life, our relationship, and just having a neat and tidy house. So yeah, like I said, from all net worths from when we first got started to the middle point of our financial independence journey towards getting towards the end of our financial independence journey. We've always had house cleaners and it's just made our life that much better, and we've really enjoyed the time it puts back into our lives and having a neat and tidy house is always pleasant.

That also segues very nicely into our next topic, which is comfort and quality of life items. So I think house cleaning fits into that.

So let’s get into this. I talk already talked about having a comfortable bed mattress situation going through five different ones before I found the right one.

It's so important. It's so important to have a good environment where you can sleep. I've stayed in places before where you don't have a good environment to sleep and it really does impact your quality of life and your health.

Jamie, you bought a massage chair from Costco and I know you are a big advocate of getting frequent massages. So, you want to talk about that?

[01:21:21] Jamie: Yeah, so the second thing that got delivered to our house after we moved here, actually I ordered it early, had to deliver it to my parent's house, and then they brought it down to us, or I think we, we brought it down, but it took up like the entire minivan that we were renting or had borrowed at the time.

It is big and it came in one piece. It was a huge box and it is an amazing massage chair. Better than the ones at the mall. Like the ones in the Costco advertisements, it's one of those. A couple of thousand dollars maybe it's just under $2000, but it's so nice to be able to pop in there and get a 15 or 30-minute routine.

Previously we did monthly massages and so we found room in our budget to each get a massage at least once a month plus a tip. Then maybe once a quarter whatever we would throw in an extra massage for each of us. So get more than one a month. That's great for relaxation, and stress, it's really good for your body.

And now when I'm running a lot, it's been really nice to loosen up the hips and legs and work out the calves. My calves for some reason are the only thing that still hurts when I run. Everything else doesn't really get sore. Today I ran five miles this morning and I literally sweated out two and a half pounds.

I weighed myself afterward. It's so hot in Alabama now, but it's only the caps anyway. So massage therapy's been awesome for us. We both love it and having an opportunity to get away from the kids and get our own quiet time and relax and it makes your body feel good. So the trade-off we did was let's do fewer person massages or pay for a massage and get the chair.

And it basically paid for itself in I forget a year or 18 months, something like that. Compared to what the frequency of massages we were getting before. So a huge fan of massages, and quality of life increases. That does bring me joy. It does increase my life energy any term like that. So on one side, I'll spend, $2,000 on a massage share, and then the next day I'll text Spencer and be like, I finally did it and I bought a new Kindle.

So one of my children stepped we think that one of the kids stepped on the Kindle that I, we had gotten for free that I mentioned earlier. So for three or four weeks, I was debating whether to get a new one. I think it costs like $105 on sale. It took me like three weeks to decide to spend a hundred bucks on a new Kindle.

And after getting it, I confessed to Spencer I'm such an idiot. I don't know why it took me so long to do this. I got a new Kindle. It's great. It's four times as fast as the old one and it's really nice. The other day at the pool, I'm sitting outside at the peak sun of the day and I can see it and it was amazing.

So $100 on a new Kindle paperwhite recently, is definitely worth it. As we mentioned earlier. 

[01:24:37] Spencer: Yeah, When you told me that story, Jamie, I've been there too, where there are been something I wanted, I've put it off, when you talked earlier about, waiting 24 hours or waiting five days before you buy something.

I'll do that sometimes for like weeks and weeks, and then I'll finally pull the trigger and it'll show up. I'll just think, why did I wait so long? Why didn't I just do it, I think where it comes from though is it's the habits, right? It's the habits and it's the rules that we made for ourselves on our journey to financial independence.

Now that we're getting we're I would say, is it fair to say we're both over halfway on our FI journey? Like we, we've paid off the debt. Now you almost have to relearn some habits and some techniques of smart spending. Just enjoying life.

And so we built these habits of frugality and saving money, and we're really good at that, but, sometimes your Kindle breaks and you need to buy a new one. If you had done it three weeks earlier, then you know, that would've been a couple of more books you would've read.

I totally understand where you're coming from there, and I've definitely done that several times. I don't know if I've done it so much recently, but one thing that your massage chair reminded me of though, is it's basically a Theragun for you.

[01:25:56] Jamie: Yeah, that's true. A more expensive one. I actually enjoy my massage here, unlike the Theargun I did not like, but yeah. I’m glad you do.

[01:26:04] Spencer: Yeah. One, so one thing that has really improved my quality of life, especially when I travel and you'll see a lot of guys in the military have the Bose noise canceling headphones.

Yeah. I think those have really improved my quality of life when I'm in airports, when I'm flying I'm actually wearing them right now as I record this podcast. Just the ability to switch off from the world, and listen to music at a comfortable level. It's always amazing to me when I take them off on an airplane and I'm like, “Oh my gosh, it's so loud in here. How are you people not wearing these?”

Especially military planes. There are lots of studies on how your happiness decreases when you're in a loud environment and if you can decrease the level of ambient noise in the background I think it definitely improves your life. 

I will say one thing that's really funny though, about anything super expensive like Bose noise-canceling headphones. So when I was much earlier in my journey to financial independence, probably like a lieutenant, maybe a captain, I bought with my marriage premium, I bought Bose noise canceling headphones.

I think they were $300 at the time, maybe $250, probably at the BX or whatever was on sale. I was stoked and I can't remember where we were flying from Seattle to Detroit or something. Then onto my family in Connecticut. I wore them on the flight from Seattle to Detroit. I got off the plane and I had left them in the overhead locker.

I got one flight out of them and at the time I was so stung and so hurt by losing them. I was just like, oh my gosh. I didn't have another $300 just go out and buy another one. So I didn't, and it took me years to go and buy another pair.

And when, once I did, I was like, I should just I should have just bought it again right away. Yeah, but, it always seems like when you're in a tight financial place where every dollar does count, that's when bad things happen. I could go out tomorrow and buy three more Bose headphones and I've never lost this one. I've had it for five years, but it always seemed to me that, like earlier in my financial independence journey, Would always buy these nice things to increase my quality of life, and then I would lose them or break them very quickly. I'm sure there was like some kind of Amex protection. I could have used that.

[01:29:09] Jamie: Oh yeah, you probably should have done that. Probably not eligible anymore. I don't know where this one would fit in, but I just thought of, protecting your investments. The Apple Air Tags I don't know if Samsung has something similar but like the tile tracker of Bluetooth trackers, but the Air Tags are really nice and they're easy to pair for iPhone users.

I have one on my AirPods case, I have one on my keys. I put them on the kids when we went to Disney World in the spring and they're like 20 bucks. I think you can get a four-pack for 90 bucks. Less than a hundred bucks for a four-pack of them. So that's worth worthwhile too.

I don't really know where that fits in. Maybe quality of life, just because you're not worried about losing your keys.

The last kind of sum summary category that we have is things that save time. So I already talked about mowing the lawn and things like that, but a couple of other ideas I have under this category is online grocery shopping versus going into the store.

So you might pay, $4.99 for the delivery fee, or, if you have a Walmart near you that delivers, you can use your Amex Platinum Walmart Plus credit, and then that delivery is free. You have to throw them a couple of bucks for the tip, but when you do online shopping, not only do you typically have fewer impulse buys at the gum or the soda at the cash register or the magazine.

You're getting what you want, but you save the time of having to go and walk around the store, which is nice too and drive to the store. So that's another thing. Online shopping has been huge, but online grocery shopping is great to save you time because time is money and that's something you like to talk about both on the podcast and in the book.

So anything I can do to buy myself back some of my time is huge. Over the last year as I was doing some school. So, Spencer, you have to call me Double Master. Now I got my second Master's degree. Finished that up this month. One of the things I spent money on is a Grammarly subscription and Speechify.

So if you're not familiar with those, if you're not in school or in college recently or anything, if you're working on any kind of extra degree or anything, Grammarly, you've probably seen the ads for, it runs a grammar and spell check and context of are you writing in the most academic way or are you trying to be persuasive?

You can change the settings. It does all that. I think it costs like 120 bucks for a year or something, but it saved me a lot of time on proofreading and it would pop up with a suggestion of, “You should rephrase it this way.” Done. I don't only have to think about it. Then Speechify is an app where you can upload a picture of a book or you can upload a PDF or a web link for a news article or something like that, or a journal post and it'll read it to you.

And so you can set it to, 2x, 2.5x speed. So all these PDFs that I had to read over the year, most of which I didn't fully read but the ones I did read, if it's a PDF or an online journal or something like that, being able to import it into Speechify and then do it while I'm out on a walk or while I'm in the car and not having to take more time away from my kids.

So Grammarly and Speechify were also big-time savers for me this year.

[01:32:33] Spencer: Yeah, those are two awesome apps. To be honest, I think I did the free trial of Grammarly and I haven't used it since, but I do so much writing on my website. That's probably a good investment. Then yeah, I'll take a look at speechify too, so I got something out of the podcast today. That's awesome. 

Thanks again for joining us today on this episode. We talked a lot about what we enjoy spending money on, and none of these are the right answers. It's such a personal, but we just wanted to open up the conversation and if there is something that you enjoy spending money on, whether it's a hobby or special treat for your family, or a travel tip or trick, go ahead and reach out.

We're on Instagram @militarymoneymanual or email info@militarymoneymanual.com. A couple of the main ideas we want you to take away today. Number one, the journey to FI shouldn't be painful or full of deprivation. Money is a tool that allows you to have great experiences and purchase some of the amazing things that are available today.

You can go on, it's amazing what you can get on Amazon or online. So enjoy the journey. If you've got a great savings rate, if you've set yourself up for financial independence, then enjoy the journey to FI, figure out what are some of the things that you want to do once you reach FI, and you can decide what you want to do with your time. 

Number two, if you're clawing your way out of a negative network situation, you've got a lot of debt, it's still important to remember to celebrate the wins and to relax a little bit. Just like Jamie said in the beginning, like dieting.

If you can't have cake on your birthday, then what do what are you doing it all for? And now if you just started your diet, or you just started your financial independence, birth journey, and your birthday's tomorrow, okay, maybe skip the cake, but life is short.

And if every day you're slogging, if you're dragging your way through it, if you're not listening to what your wife is saying and she wants to go on a trip for $80 to a national park, you know what I would do today? I would spend way more than $80 to go on a nice trip to a national park in the US.

So make sure that you're taking time to. Spend time with those of you that you love and making memories that you can cherish for years. 

Then finally, number three, just occasionally reassess your goals and priorities. The person that you were two years ago, a year ago, five years ago, or 10 years ago, it's not the same person that you are today.

Circumstances change, families change, and kids get older. Maybe some of the things that you were spending money on, you don't need anymore. Maybe there are some things that you've never spent money on, and you're like you know what? I'm 35 now and I'm going to buy a massage chair. I'm old.

I want to be able to have someone rub the kinks out of my back. It's okay to change. It's okay too, if you like, for me personally, I've always been a saver. I've always been someone who enjoyed saving money and investing it, but that's not an end unto itself, right?

It’s a tool that you can use for other things and whether that's, giving your money to great causes or helping out a family member. In a time of need or just, upgrading for five or $10 to preferred seating and being able to board the plane a little bit quicker. I think there are so many good ideas out there.

[01:36:31] Jamie: The one important takeaway is that this isn't a list of things each listener should also spend money on, but hopefully by you seeing that we've now talked for 95 minutes, which this might be our longest episode ever. It's definitely up there, if not, but hopefully, it just shows that we are trying to normalize it in that.

As much as we love to talk about saving and growing our net worth and things like that, you still have to spend money. It's a part of life, it's a part of being an adult and growing up. So at some point you're going to be spending. So just enjoy the journey. Find things you enjoy spending on whatever it is for you.

You may think having a massage chair in my bedroom or a Peloton in my bedroom is asinine. I may think that whatever you enjoy spending money on is asinine. That's cool. We're individuals, right? We can all decide our own priorities, but like I said, 95 minutes of talking about spending, there are very few financial independence podcasts that will do that.

So hopefully it just goes to show how you too can find things that will make your life better, that will allow you to spend money in alignment with your priorities and what matters to you the most, but as always, we appreciate you guys listening. Spencer said, hit us up on Instagram or info@militarymoneymanual.com if you have any other questions, feedback, or other ideas for future episodes or anything you want to add about this. Thanks again for listening. We'll catch you on the next episode of the Military Money Manual podcast.

[01:38:06] Spencer: Thanks so much for tuning in to this episode of the Military Money Manual Podcast.

If you are enjoying the show, please feel free to rate, subscribe and leave a review wherever you listen to your podcasts. This helps others find the show, and we really appreciate it. Thanks again for tuning in and we'll catch you in the next episode out.

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