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I spent $100 on fun instead of saving it, and I refuse to feel guilty

  • Most personal finance experts would recommend saving, investing, or paying off debt with $100.
  • I decided to spend it on fun instead over a three-day weekend.
  • I’m done feeling guilty for spending money on fun.
  • Read more stories from Personal Finance Insider.

Many personal finance experts recommend drastically cutting back on eating out or having fun with friends to meet major financial goals, like paying off student loan debt or saving for a home. 

But I personally believe that investing in my happiness right now is more important than becoming debt-free in a short amount of time. After working with my financial planner, Cait Howerton at Facet Wealth, I realized that creating long-term habits that help me think differently about money can be more effective than stressing myself out to pay down my student loans in a short amount of time.

In fact, Howerton encouraged me to focus on creating smaller, more realistic savings goals instead of making dramatic changes, while still leaving room for fun spending. For example, she asked me to think about where I can save $75 to $100 per month without depriving myself of joy. This could look like choosing not to get an appetizer when eating out with friends (but still eating with friends!), or finding fun free things to do in Los Angeles to offset the rising price of gas.

With that in mind, I decided to spend $100 just on fun on a three-day weekend. Here’s what I spent it on.

Gas ($40)

I live in Los Angeles, where gas is $5.55 per gallon in my neighborhood and up to $6.75 per gallon in other neighborhoods at the time of this writing. So naturally, gas was one of the biggest expenses over this three-day weekend.

Target run ($24)

In November, I received a gender-affirming surgery and lost 20 pounds. It’s been hard for me to justify spending money on clothes as I’m still recovering from surgery and my body is continuously changing. Still, wearing this shirt makes me really happy because I love wearing bright colors.

I also spent $4 on crayons because a friend bought me a “Moana” coloring book for my birthday months ago. I’ve been dying to use the coloring book, but couldn’t because I didn’t have any crayons.

Tacos ($11)

After my Target run, I went across the street to Leo’s Taco Truck to buy really cheap tacos and a side of french fries. I love supporting food trucks and street vendors, plus the tacos were great, so it was a treat for everyone involved.

Pool party at a mansion (free)

It just so happens that one of my friends was house-sitting a mansion that weekend in the Pacific Pallisades, a very fancy part of Malibu. A few of my other trans friends came to hang out, and we swam in the heated pool at the mansion.

That $40 I spent on a very small amount of gas was killing me, but the drive out to the Pallisades was worth it.


Hiking (free)

The next day, I drove to the east side of LA to Debs Park for a really nice hike with a friend. I didn’t have to pay anything to get into the park, and I was eyeing my gas tank like a hawk.

Once I got there, saw the sweeping views of LA, and heard the birds chirping, I completely forgot about my gas tank. I was able to stay in the moment and have a nice, funny, much-needed conversation with a friend.

More tacos ($17)

If you can’t tell by now, I love tacos. On the way home from Debs Park, I had crispy fish tacos from Playita Mariscos, one of my favorite restaurants in Silverlake. The tacos were delicious, as always, and I was grateful I had the money to spend on food that I love.

Coloring (free)

To end a great weekend, I went home and colored in my “Moana” coloring book. The Disney movie “Moana” came out in 2016, when I was 25. I saw it in theaters with my little sisters. The movie made such an impact that I was fully sobbing in the movie theater.

This simple act of coloring one of my favorite cartoon characters made me so happy, relaxed, and calm. All it took was a box of $4 crayons from Target.

I’m done feeling guilty for spending money on fun

A lot of personal finance advice out there fails to address the economic realities that make managing money so hard for millennials like me.

For example, in the first three months of 2022 alone, 37.2 million people owed our government $1.4 billion in federal student loan debt, according to a 2022 report by Federal Student Aid. This means 37.2 million of us Americans are stressed over what’s going to happen once the pause on federal student loan payments ends in September.

I simply can’t wrap my mind around pinching every single penny to pay off my own $94,000 in student loans when larger systems are profiting from our collective misery.

That said, I don’t think I spent so much money that I’ll never be able to achieve my long-term financial goals. After this eventful weekend, I still had $8 leftover from my $100 fun spending budget. The only purchase that actually weighed on me was spending money on gas, because it’s gotten so expensive lately. 

Other than that, I’m done feeling guilty for spending money on fun.