To Skimp or Not to Skimp

The majority of my clients, to no one’s surprise, are baby boomers. You may think that their main concern is overspending their retirement dollars, but you’d be wrong. In fact, for many of my retired clients, convincing them that it is OK to spend and enjoy their hard earned nest egg, is one of the hardest things to do. Even among my non-retired clients, getting them to enjoy their “saving years” while being prudent spenders can be a challenge.

I consider myself to be a frugal spender, while allowing myself to indulge in the durable goods (read: electronic toys and gadgets) that simplify my life, last a long time and bring me comfort or pleasure. I personally would never spend $9.50 on a latte (I’m not a coffee drinker, but I doubt I could bring myself to spend that kind of money on a cup of anything.) Some people won’t skimp on a good meal; I won’t skimp on a good hotel room. We each have our own compromises and “do not compromises.”

But save and invest. Save and invest. Isn’t that all you hear when it comes to planning your financial life?

An online article by an individual who refers to himself as “the Financial Samurai” makes a more balanced case regarding how you deploy your money. Yes, you should be capable of deferring gratification and have a healthy savings rate during your accumulation years. But there are a few items that are well worth investing in: your comfort, well-being and certain aspects of your lifestyle. Some of these items might be considered luxuries by people who are perhaps overly frugal.

For instance? The Samurai says you should splurge on a really good mattress—recognizing, of course, that you can avoid markups and still buy quality. His argument: you spend almost a third of your life sleeping. Your waking hours will be more comfortable and productive if you are spending your nights on the most comfortable, supportive mattress you can afford.

Another example? Your glasses or contact lenses. Vision may be your most important sense, so it is worth buying glasses with the thinnest lenses with anti-reflection and a scratch-proof coating. If you wear contacts, splurge on daily wear that contain the latest breathable technology.

If you’re serious about athletic performance, then the Samurai thinks that buying top-of-the-line sports equipment makes sense. If you have a baby, the best baby care products are worth the extra expenditure. If you’re in the habit of watching movies at the theater, then you might consider buying a high definition TV and surround sound system, which makes watching movies (and listening to music) at home more enjoyable—and economical. He also recommends that you take care of yourself with massages, physical therapy and coaching—arguing that physical and mental health are priceless.

Finally, since most Americans receive very little vacation time from work, the Samurai recommends that you make the most of those days or weeks, by selecting the best adventure and the best amenities possible. The point: live a great life while you’re saving and investing.

To his list, I would add comfortable clothing and footwear. A comfortable desk chair and good sized desk can make all the difference in the world for the time you spend in your office. And if your computer is more than five years old, treat yourself to the latest hardware, including at least a 24 inch monitor to save yourself time and strain on your eyes.

If you would like to review your current investment portfolio or discuss any other financial planning matters, please don’t hesitate to contact us or visit our website at We are a fee-only fiduciary financial planning firm that always puts your interests first. If you are not a client yet, an initial consultation is complimentary and there is never any pressure or hidden sales pitch. We start with a specific assessment of your personal situation. There is no rush and no cookie-cutter approach. Each client is different, and so is your financial plan and investment objectives.


The MoneyGeek thanks guest writer Bob Veres for his contribution to this post

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