By: Mike Earl
You're probably thinking this post is some kind of joke. But really, I'm here to talk about great ways to spend some money. Not ways to spend less, and not ways to save more. Just some high-quality uses of those greenbacks in your wallet.
1. Vacations (i.e. Experiences)
With the growing footprint of VRBO (Vacation Rentals By Owner) and Airbnb, it is easier than ever to create memorable, one-of-a-kind, affordable family getaways. If you're looking for meaningful activities during your vacation, check out Trip Advisor's resources. Further, with Southwest Airlines now flying to Mexico and the Caribbean, the airfare to warm weather destinations has also become more reasonable.
I'm not talking about collecting $5,000 pieces of art. I'm talking about much less expensive pieces from up-and-coming artists bought online. Society6 and Etsy have a lot of great art at reasonable prices. One you find several artists whom you like, it's pretty easy to find great pieces to beautify your home.
My wife finds fun prints like this one. A 17" x 20" print for $29.
3. Gym Membership (or equipment to build out a home gym)
Any time spent lifting weights and getting your heart rate elevated will pay you a myriad of dividends: you will live longer; your brain will be stronger (yes, science confirms this); and you will be able to enjoy your daily living activities more.
4. Amazon Prime
The Earl household puts in at least 1 or 2 orders a week on Amazon, and the Colby family of 9 also does their fair share of commerce via Amazon Prime. Prime currently costs $99 a year. The free 2-day shipping on all orders makes it well worth the $99 sticker price. You also receive instant access to video streaming from Amazon, where they are working hard to compete with Netflix.
5. A Pair of Sorel Boots
Sorel has great-looking boots for both men and women. My trusty Sorels are a staple for me all winter long. While the sticker price may turn you off, bear in mind that department stores often have Sorel boots deeply discounted. We found my pair for just under $100 a few years ago. These boots are waterproof and made to last many, many years.
6. A Quality Bicycle
Any amount of time you spend exercising helps you live longer. It also increases your future enjoyment of life, as being fit makes everything else in life more pleasurable. A couple of places to check out for the purchase of a bike here in the Twin Cities:
Tonka Cycle & Ski in Hopkins -- we bought my wife's road bike here a few years ago. The service was great, and we found a decent deal by buying the prior year model of bike.
Jonny Rock Bikes (also happens to be in Hopkins) -- this store has a really cool back-story. Jonathan Minks is the owner and founder of the business. He sells new and refurbished bikes. If you like buying from a truly local shop, check out Jonny Rock. It also helps that his prices are great.
7. Amazon Kindle
I now do the majority of my reading on the Kindle. I read faster on my Kindle than I do with physical books, in part because I'm not fiddling around with the pages and the positioning of the book in my hands. Plus, public libraries offer an ever-growing selection of e-books available for checkout 3 weeks at a time. I can download a book to my Kindle instantaneously from the comfort of my couch.
8. Miter Saw
If you have an ounce of interest in DIY projects or woodworking, a power miter saw should be one of your first purchases. I use my Hitachi saw for just about every project I take on in the home.
9. Perennial Plants
Planting perennials has a very high return on investment. As a financial guy, I like that. If you plant no-fuss, reliable, cold-hardy perennials in your yard, you will have gorgeous plants that spring forth from the ground each and every year -- with very little ongoing maintenance.
My go-to resource for "plant vetting" is Dave's Garden. For example, check out their page on the plant Hosta 'Sum & Substance'. If you scroll to the very bottom the page, you can read "Gardeners' Notes". This is invaluable feedback on the specific plant from ordinary gardeners around the country
Talk about a high return on a minimal investment. Since we bought our home in August 2014, we have re-painted just about every square inch of the home. Switching to lighter colors throughout our home made it seem so much more bright, modern, and cheery.
So, there you have it. The Wealth Group is officially telling you to go out and spend money.