What's Your Guilty Pleasure?

C’mon admit it – you have a guilty pleasure.   You don’t need to be embarrassed; we all have them.  There is nothing wrong with having them.  In fact, as long as they are within reason, we encourage them as life is about relationships and experiences and sometimes a guilty pleasure is just what the doctor ordered.

For example, your family might love the joy that Disney brings to our lives so much that you need to experience it every year by way of a visit to California, Florida or by booking a Disney cruise.   

You may love the sound of a sports car--the feeling of power and speed that reverberates through your body as you step on the gas pedal and round the curves of a remote country road. 

Experiencing your favorite musical artist through front row tickets at their concert could be one the most magical, uplifting moments of your life.

Maybe you love the thrill of victory or agony of defeat seeing your favorite sports team playing for a world championship or a big game with a hated rival.

Perhaps you find joy living in a home with great views, lots of square footage, in an enviable neighborhood or a location that keeps your commute short or is walkable to great restaurants.

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My wife says I’m frugal with a capital ‘F’ and she is right with one exception—I am a huge sports fan and will pay absorbent amounts of money to attend sporting events that are worthwhile to me.  Yes, I’m that guy that is standing up blocking your view, cheering every time something even remotely good happens to my favorite team.  I love competition. I love to hear the crowd roar. I love to scream until I’m hoarse. I am willing to spend recklessly on experiences like this because they build great memories for me.  Game 6 of the 2011 World Series was a prime example—it was a night I’ll never forget with money well spent on tickets, beer and postgame celebrating.  

When we speak of guilty pleasures, we are not talking about eating too much ice cream every once-in-awhile or binge watching the latest NetFlix show. We are talking about guilty pleasures from a more financial context. We all have that one thing that we are willing to pay extra money for as the experience or feeling we encounter when we use it brings us joy. This is not to be frowned upon or considered wrong.  We just need to make sure we hold our guilty pleasures in check.  It is all about the word moderation. 

If your habit of spending money on Tumi luggage, Tiffany Jewelry, or nights at the Four Seasons is hampering your family’s ability to remain financially secure in the future, then something has got to give or someone needs to step in.  Unfortunately, (or fortunately depending upon how you look at it) many times your financial advisor has to be the bad guy.  As advisors we are all for having guilty pleasures, we just don’t want them to be a detriment to your long-term financial success.

Could you listen to your favorite artist in the car and enjoy the experience as much as buying front row tickets to their concert?  Could you enjoy watching your team win the World Series on TV as much as if you were at the game?  Could you take your Toyota Camry on a little countryside racing excursion and come away feeling the same as if you owned a Porsche?  You get my point.

We all have guilty pleasures.  Here are some suggestions we have on building a healthy relationship with them:

Own It: Hey, we think guilty pleasures are okay within reason so you should to – own it!  Which things really bring you joy and which things that you spend a lot on now don’t really move the needle for you? Do some self-reflecting and come to an understanding as to what guilty pleasures you have and then embrace them.

Communicate It: Whether you are married or single, once you have admitted to yourself what your guilty pleasures are, make sure and communicate this to your spouse, friends, family and financial advisor.  Far too often those most near to you are left in the dark.  If we know that there are certain things in life that you can’t live without and are willing to spend money on, then it will be easier for us to understand you and know what makes you tick.  Heck your spouse may have an easier time buying gifts for you if they knew more about your guilty pleasures. 

Plan for It: Again, we are all about experiencing what life has to offer, we just do not want your guilty pleasures to be a detriment to your long-term financial success.  Once you have admitted to yourself and/or your significant other what your guilty pleasures are, make sure to budget for these items in order to determine how much and how often you can splurge on them.  Future financial conflicts can and will be avoided if an annual family trip to Disney is factored into your budget.  It just may mean that your family will need to run a little lean in some other areas, but that sacrifice may be well worth it. You’ll enjoy these pleasures even more if you know you aren’t derailing the rest of your financial life to have them.