Before my first son was born I was working full time, we had no childcare costs, my husband was well-rewarded at his job, and our investment portfolio had yet to begin its terrifying toilet-bowl downward spiral. I only have to consider the stroller we got back then in order to truly visualize how things have changed. It’s not that we’re in trouble now, it’s just that with my 3-day-a-week salary, my husband’s exciting-but-scary startup, two kids in daycare, college savings plans, and a staggering monthly grocery bill (the children eat NOTHING, and yet I keep TRYING TO FEED THEM!), there’s no way in h-e-double-hockeysticks I’d buy such a spendy stroller today.
On the other hand, four years ago I never would have considered spending as much as I currently do on a gym. I pay to see a personal trainer twice a week, and even though I share my workouts with a friend so we split the trainer cost, it’s still a big expense. I justify this in my mind with the knowledge that my trainers help me work harder than I ever would on my own, and the benefits of this weekly exercise impacts every part of my life—I feel better, I have more confidence, I’m healthier, I’m happier. I’m more motivated to pursue other forms of exercise in between training sessions, and the accountability of having those two weekly appointments keeps me on track even if I slide with own workouts.
My husband’s been seeing a trainer too, and he looks like a new man. We paid our bills last night, and after taking care of our gym costs he said, “Well, crap. We may be broke, but we’re in the best shape of our lives.” It’s true.
In order to swing the gym visits, I’ve been cutting back on my previous splurges. I don’t spend much on clothes anymore, for one thing. We have a lot of discount stores in our neighborhood, and a particularly decent thrift store—that’s where most of my clothes come from these days. I no longer spend every weekend loading up on stacks of magazines and books from the used bookstore, and I can’t remember the last makeup item I purchased. My miscellaneous Amazon spending has been limited to using the rare gift certificate, and it’s been months since a Zappos box showed up with my name on it.
None of these have been what you would call hardships, obviously, just changes in my spending focus. How about you? What areas are you splurging on (however you define that), and have you cut back to make room to do so?