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We talk a lot, here at Wealthtender about mindful spending. It’s one of the keys to feeling in control of your finances and comfortable with your spending habits on any budget. There are an awful lot of things we spend on that are unnecessary and even likely to add to our mental stress. So thinking before we spend can be really useful, even when we’re doing well, financially. There are a few things, however, that are (almost) always worth spending money on.
Medical debt is now the most common reason for declaring personal bankruptcy in the US. In fact, it’s been estimated hat that over 66% of US personal bankruptcies are caused by medical issues. Those declaring bankruptcy due to medical bills tend to be well educated and middle class, and many of them are not without health insurance. They are often simply underinsured, and may of course experience other financial problems alongside medical bills, such as unemployment linked to their health issues.
It’s worth taking a look at your insurance situation, and seeing if it can be improved. If you’re enrolled in a high-deductible health plan, don’t forget you can take advantage of your Health Savings Account, and the funds you pay into it won’t be subject to tax. Medical insurance is a complex issue, so it’s worth taking time to do your research regarding the best policy and savings plan for you and your family.
If you live in a country with universal public healthcare, you won’t be going bankrupt to pay medical bills, but you’re still likely to suffer financially if you get seriously ill. Spending proactively on preventative measures to protect your physical and mental health is generally a worthwhile investment. It’s pretty much up to you to put a plan in place for this. Statistics suggest that in EU countries, all of which have public healthcare systems, the amount spent on preventative health is less than 3%.
There are numerous studies that indicate experiences make us happier than possessions, and it’s really not hard to see why. Ultimately it is what we do that defines us, not what we have. Experiences give us something to look forward to, a story to tell, and common ground with others who have had similar experiences. Owning the same designer purse as someone else doesn’t give you a whole lot to talk about. It may even make you resentful that yours isn’t as special as you thought. But if you meet someone and you both happen to have traveled to Europe, hiked into the Grand Canyon, or learned to scuba dive, that can be the start of a wonderful new friendship.
It’s likely that part of the reason experiences make us happy is that many of them are shared, so they tend to involve social connection, and there is increasing evidence that good social relationships are the most consistent predictor of a happy life. There’s no need to think you have to do something extreme, or expensive, to enjoy interesting experiences, but there’s certainly an argument that it’s worth spending the spare money in your budget on experiences rather than things.
People say investing in yourself and your education is always worthwhile. But they’re only half right. Formal education can be useful and does result in a higher salary over a lifetime, but it’s also expensive, and not every degree will pay you back for the time, effort, and cold hard cash spent on it. Spending on the type of education and training that results in marketable skills is generally worthwhile, as long as you go on to market them.
I know freelancers making a good living online as social media managers, digital marketers, content creators, and virtual assistants. Some of them have degrees, some of them don’t. They almost all developed the marketable skills they use on a daily basis by finding high-quality, actionable short online courses. That doesn’t mean their 4-year degrees were necessarily a waste of time, but those with and without those degrees seem to earn roughly the same. One of the highest-earning freelancers I follow online doesn’t have a college degree, just a lot of very marketable skills in a lucrative niche.
In a world where so many people are spending money on relatively worthless consumer goods, consider making these three things top priorities in your monthly budget.
About the Author
I’m a freelance writer specializing in online business, personal finance, travel and lifestyle. I also work as a content creator for hire, helping brands and businesses tell their stories, grow their audiences, and reach their ideal customers. I’ve lived, worked and studied in six countries, across three continents. Stop by my blog TheSavvySolopreneur.net to learn how to run your own (very) small business on your own terms. You can also connect with me at my website KarenBanes.com or follow me on Medium.com.
Disclaimer: The information in this article is not intended to encourage any lifestyle changes without careful consideration and consultation with a qualified professional. This article is for reference purposes only, is generic in nature, is not intended as individual advice and is not financial or legal advice.