Ten Things I Spend Extra Money On

For those of you who read my first post about saving money, you might have the picture from that penny-pinching persona that I hoard money at the expense of living life. 

I decided to post a few things here that I am willing to drop some extra cash on--some for practical reasons and some personal. Regardless of the item on the list, I want to be clear that living with money requires a delicate balance of valuing your dollars highly but below other priorities in life. 

If you are a Christian reading this post, you should already know that Jesus spent a great deal of his earthly ministry talking about money and how it exposes our true motives and priorities. God doesn't love you more or less depending on how much money you have, but He does point out that money has a sneaky way of dominating our thoughts if we're not careful. 

Now that I've covered the serious stuff, be aware of a few things:

This list is NOT in order of importance. That's too much work.

In the interest of full disclosure, none of these brands mentioned here are paying me to promote them. I really, really wish they were; but they're not.

#1: Verizon

Their commercials do not lie. I cannot remember the last time I had a dropped call that I attributed to my phone service. Wait. Hold on. That's not true. The last time I had regularly dropped calls was when I had T-Mobile. But you say, "Dan, you've only tried two companies." This is true. My knowledge of other companies comes from talking to their customers and smiling at them when they have no service, and I do (have service AND smile). My wife had Sprint for years and hated it--dropped calls for every dollar per month. I have a personal distaste for AT&T that goes back decades, and I haven't heard stellar things from their clients either.

Some of you that don't travel very often might be very happy with your service because you are within a metroplex with cell phone towers every fifty feet. If that's your life, great. Make no changes. However, I travel the country often. We live seven hours from one set of grandparents and twelve hours from the rest of my family. I have driven through Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Colorado, Wyoming, South Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois, Tennessee, Missouri, Arkansas, Kentucky, and Indiana with my Verizon phone. I never, ever remember looking at my phone and seeing there was no service. Ever.

#2: Chick-fil-A

If you don't have Chick-fil-A in your area, I am truly sorry. When it comes to fast food restaurants, there is no comparison. Best food. Best facilities. Best personnel. Best Service. No, they do not have burgers. If I need a burger, Five Guys has it. Chick-fil-A is a little pricier than your "average" fast food, but worthy every penny.

#3: American Crew Forming Cream

Go head, make jokes about me putting a hair product in my post. If you are a guy and you style your hair, you should try this stuff. It doesn't give you "helmet head" like most hair gels/sprays. It is made from all natural products and is water soluble. There is nothing pretty about the price, but some things are just worth it. I shop around online and buy it in bulk (3-6 pucks) to get it for about $11/puck (3 oz). Each puck lasts about 4-6 weeks. If you style your hair like Justin Bieber, you might use up a puck in a week or so.

#4: Starbucks

I love coffee. I've tried many different brands. I know it's controversial and some of you might hate me for this, but Dunkin Doughnuts coffee is about as good as Folgers. It's not bad coffee, don't get me wrong. I'll drink it if it's given to me; but Starbucks is the only thing I pay money for. And yes, it costs a few extra dollars.

I have a gold card, which, if you don't know, means I am in their stores about as often as their store manager. If you like their coffee too, put $5 on a gift card in their store and start using it (or get one as a gift). Go to www.starbucks.com and register the card with them. Just doing this will give you a free drink of your choice on your birthday every year! Nice, huh? After you've made several purchases, you will receive a gold card. This gives you FREE REFILLS on brewed coffee on the same day. I have a Starbucks in the same building I work in, so I buy the smallest cup of coffee for $1.69 and refill it as many times as I need throughout the day (I'm still cheap, remember). Every 12th purchase, they load a free drink on my gold card which I use to purchase their "fru-fru" drinks, like the beloved Peppermint Mocha. Being registered on their website also means you get the occasional 50% off coupon sent to your email. I like those.

#5 Shoes

I learned this the hard way. Bad shoes mean sore feet and sometimes a sore back or even a headache. You wear shoes every day--buy some nice ones that support your feet. I have tried to be cheap with shoes in the past, and it did not turn out well.

I started running about a year ago, and my wife still finds me! Kidding. I run 2-3 days/week and I started having pain in my knees. I purchased a pair of running shoes (K-Swiss Tubes) and now my knee pain is much better. It makes a HUGE difference having a decent pair of shoes! My every day shoes are K-Swiss as well ($60-80/pair) and I love them. In fact, I've been buying K-Swiss for about ten years--never get tired of them.

Everyone likes different shoe brands and that's great--keeps the market competitive. My point is, shoes are not one of the things to skimp on because it can make your life miserable to have bad shoes.

#6 Giving

Some of you might have read my post on thankfulness. If not, the message was that giving to others is possibly the best proof (to yourself and others) that you are truly thankful. If you think you don't have enough money to be generous, you are deceiving yourself. Find a need and give to it. I am too lazy to cite references, but research has shown that generous people are not only healthier, but are also more financially successful. I believe God, and He has made some promises in the Bible about rewarding generous people (disclaimer: money is not necessarily the reward!). What should I give to? That's up to you, but I have some suggestions:

A. If you are a Christian, give to your church and church-supported missionaries.

B. Samaritan's Purse
C. St. Jude Children's Research Hospital
D. Next time you find out a person really needs something, buy it for them, or pay the bill.

Warning: One of the most popular scam tactics in our perverted world today is to trick generous people into giving their money to an individual or organization that either doesn't really need it or is only transferring a small portion of the funds to the need. Research your charities before giving!

As for the guy on the side of the road, that's your call. I have noticed a disturbing trend with those folks though. If I stay and talk to them and try to find out what they REALLY NEED, they eventually get very specific--they want cash. They say they need a bus ticket, but if I offer to buy it for them, they say no. If they say they're hungry and I offer to buy them food, they pass. The Bible has a great way of saying this--be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.

#7 Toyota*

My 1997 Camry just blazed past the 200,000 mile mark and hasn't missed a beat. It is simply the most dependable car I have ever owned. I take care of it, don't get me wrong; but it's a workhorse. I have owned an Oldsmobile, a Buick, and a Chevrolet, and I currently have a Honda. These cars are/were not bad, but the Toyota trumps them all. Here's why:

A. Dependability - Not just the power train! The WHOLE CAR.

B. Economy - Good gas mileage and plenty of space.
C. Well-designed - Comparatively easy access to components when replacing parts.

*No sooner than I write something down do I end up eating my words. We recently sold the Camry and replaced it with an Acura SUV (May 2014). That means we now own a Honda and an Acura. I suppose I'm a hypocrite--but I still love Toyota!

#8 Dates with my wife

Dates don't need to be expensive; but if they are, it's worth it. Fork out for a sitter. Buy some tickets. Waste some money on flowers and cards. Incinerate your checkbook with chocolates and jewelry once in awhile. This is the best investment a married man can make. Your wife will feel as valuable as you treat her.

Ladies, you're not off the hook. You know what your husband wants to do. No, not that. Buy some tickets to a football game, or basketball, or monster truck rallies. Whatever. Take him out to the gun store.

It costs money, but if you're smart, you'll have some of that around.

#9 A good conscience

We live in a strange digital world that allows easy ways for people to steal and call it something else. If you have software, movies, or music that you did not pay for or receive as a gift, it's stealing. I have had pirated stuff before; I get it. You don't have to give me the reasons why it's okay--I was a thief; but quit arguing for two seconds and listen to your conscience. The estimates of what piracy costs the USA every year are astronomical. That loss is passed on to companies that make the music, software, books, movies, etc. Those companies employ people, but now they're losing money so they need to cut some people. How many unemployed people might have jobs if America paid for things? It's wrong.

I file my own taxes. I live in a great state that charges no state income tax (Yay Tennessee!). I said that for no reason. When I file my taxes I have choices to make about honesty, right? So do you. Pay for a good conscience. For example, the US government decided a long time ago to start taxing internet transactions via something called the "Use Tax". It's roughly 4-5%, but that adds up if you're a savvy internet shopper. When you file taxes, you are asked how much you spent online in that year. Are you honest? Pay for the good conscience (repeated on purpose).

It costs money, but if you're smart, you'll have some of that around (also repeated on purpose).

#10 Claussen pickles

Now that I've stressed you out with talk about giving and dating and taxes, you need a break. Go buy yourself the world's greatest pickles and relax a little. Why are these the best? Because.

Image credit:
Wad of cash image from http://marniepehrson.com/unplugged/2014/04/01/hows-money-treating-you/


  1. I agree with you about most of these . . . now I have Chick Fil A on my bucket list!

  2. I'm pretty sure Chick-fil-A opened a franchise in Minnesota--somewhere.