It is nice to be able to throw money at problems

As the due date nears, we’ve been eating out a LOT.  I just can’t do as much and poor DH is overworked with taking up the slack.  On top of that, I’ll get a sudden craving, “must have korean short rib tacos”… and given my mom (who is visiting) doesn’t eat beef, it’s easiest just to listen to the siren call of take-out.

There are choices:  we can throw money at a problem or we can throw time at a problem.  Right now time is at a premium.

It is wonderful to be able to throw money at problems.  Even more wonderful than the ability to throw money at problems is the ability to throw money at problems without feeling the least bit of guilt about it and without hurting our bottom line all that much.

Now, we can’t always throw money at everything… if we did that all the time we’d run out.  But for the short-term we can.

Why do we have this ability?

1.  We got rid of our (non-mortgage) debt quickly and early on.  The sooner you get rid of the drain of high-interest debt, the sooner you can throw that money at something that actually worth something, like investments or things that make you happy.

2.  We’ve been living below our means for many years now, building up savings.  We spend money on our priorities and not so much on things we don’t really need or want.

3.  These savings have been invested.  Now instead of money draining away as in #1, our money is *making* money for us, and it compounds.  We get money just for having money.  And that is awesome.  It is amazing being on this side of the investment curve… magical, even.

4.  We made these sacrifices early on so the drain stopped quickly and the compounding started soon thereafter.  “Gazelle Intense” (though we’d never heard of Dave Ramsey) in our early 20s meant that later on we could spend like people who talk about “balancing life while in debt,” only, without the debt dragging us down and with our net worth increasing at a nice clip.  The temporary sacrifice paid off well down the road.

So since we’ve got extra, we have that wiggle room to eat out a lot more than we usually do because that takes away stress.  At some point we’ll have time again, but right now it’s nice knowing we’ll be able to buy time and our finances will still be on track.

update:  Femomhist great minds think alike.  Also Club Thrifty.

Are you at the point where you can just throw money at problems?  How did you get there?  Was it worth it?  If not, do you have plans to get there?

31 Responses to “It is nice to be able to throw money at problems”

  1. First Gen American Says:

    Yes, I’m at that point and we have bouts of eating out as well. I still feel guilt over spending $65/session on physical therapy for my back even though I need it though, but if I really was hurting for cash I probably would opt out completely and live with the pain. It’s sad that healthcare has gotten so expensive that even someone like me with a “good” plan still ends up thinking about whether it’s worth going to the doctors because of our deductible expenses.

    The main way I got there was by continuing to live like a college student well past the stage I got a good paying job. I had roommates, I spent very little, I put all my extra cash towards loans and debt. Then I married a like minded person when it came to personal finance. (I’ve dated the other kind and it’s a no win situation…even if you save, the other person will squander faster than you can make up for it).

    • feMOMhist Says:

      one of my favorite lessons from my 1st marriage :) i wish i’d invested earlier. Accrual is almost non-existent on my “safety” account

      • feMOMhist Says:

        I’d actually love some $ advice on where to park that safety net account. I’ve got it an ING where is earning .8% APY. I would do rolling CDs but it hardly seems worth it at the rates.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        For short-term emergency savings, that’s pretty much as good as it is going to get these days. You could check your credit union to see if they have better rates on term-shares (which are the cu version of CDs), but ours doesn’t.

      • feMOMhist Says:

        thanks! I found this! Special EasyStartSM Certificate1

        Our 3.00% APY* Special EasyStart Certificate is the perfect way to jump-start your savings!

        Open with just $50
        12-month term
        $3,000 maximum balance
        Guaranteed returns!

  2. Leigh Says:

    I like that if I’m really hungry, I can afford to just get food without looking for cheap food to save money. When I was on my last trip, I was not very frugal about food much because I kept finding myself in situations where I was insanely hungry and just needed to eat. I’ve traveled with some people who prefer to hunt around for really cheap food, even if takes half an hour, than to just eat what you find. Eating out while in the process of moving is pretty awesome too.

    • feMOMhist Says:

      paying someone to move is with perhaps the exception of painting inside of house the BEST throw money at the problem situation ever

      • Leigh Says:

        I am never doing a self-move or borrowing friends EVER again.

      • Emily @ evolvingPF Says:

        Hmm, we are attempting a self-move (with friends’ help) next month. I keep telling myself “we don’t have much stuff” but that really might not be true. Do you pay for people to do the packing or just the moving itself? I have no experience with moving with professionals so I guess I don’t know how nice it could be. If it goes terribly I guess that will motivate us to save up money for our next move (in 1-2 years).

  3. Cloud Says:

    I absolutely throw money at problems. I feel fortunate to be able to do so- I remember when I couldn’t. But now that I can… I do it a lot. As you say, time is at a premium around here these days. My only problem is that I can’t convince my husband to do this to the same extent I would. He needs less sleep than I do, so doesn’t mind if he has to stay up until midnight to get solid work/play time in. I try to be in bed by 10:00- turns out that makes a big difference in our perception of how much time we have!

    • feMOMhist Says:

      OMG sciDAD is a huge spender EXCEPT on crap that we SHOULD throw money at, like little things around the house. I FINALLY convinced him to pay someone to mow the lawn, 10 years after he bought this house

    • Anandi Raman Creath (@anandi) Says:

      This is the story at our house too – DH isn’t always on board with outsourcing stuff. I think it’s because he grew up in a home where his parents did everything themselves so he thinks it’s somehow “being lazy” or whatnot. I’m totally willing to agree that if time were unlimited, sure we *could* DIY, but it’s not and I’d rather just get it done, whether it’s housecleaning, yard work etc.

      • Rumpus Says:

        Probably half of my reluctance about outsourcing things at home is the management effort. It takes effort to find someone to do the work. Then I have to carefully explain what I want to them (oops, forgot to tell them not to pull out our herbs). Then I have to manage them…including dealing with them when they screw up (hey, why wasn’t this room cleaned? and why is this bill an extra $50?) And finally, when they quit, or move, or I let them go, I get the joy of starting the process all over. Clearly I need a personal assistant…if only I didn’t have to hire him/her myself.

  4. Linda Says:

    Hey, feMOMhist, share where you found that deal on the CD, please!

    I love being able to throw money at home repairs and maintenance. Eating out is a something that’s fun to do, too, when I don’t feel like cooking. But since I like cooking and have gotten more picky about what I eat these days (this “ethical vegetarianism” that I’ve been sticking to gets a bit tricky when it comes to eating out) the eating out is sort of self-limiting.

    But home repairs and maintenance…that’s lovely to outsource. Now that I’ve had a few months to recover some savings I’m thinking of calling the handyman back to paint the hallway upstairs. I was going to do that bit myself, but it’s been several months and I doubt I will get around to it anytime soon. I’d rather be outside in the veggie garden or work on some knitting in my limited down time. :-)

    • feMOMhist Says:

      Navy Federal Credit Union but once I read the darn fine print i’m not sure it is worth it, have to open checking account (I only have savings) and have $15 auto transfer into it. All to make a max of $91

  5. bogart Says:


    It’s an interesting question. I finished grad school with basically no debt (not quite true, I probably still owed $1.5K on the vehicle) and no assets except an operational and fairly young vehicle (I drove it for another 10 years after that) and a job. When I started working I immediately started contributing the legal max (which at that time was 30% of my gross) to my retirement accounts and tried also to max my Roth (didn’t make it, year 1). I also acquired liabilities: a recently divorced hubby who basically had 10% equity in his house, two teenage college-bound kids we planned to (and did) pay half for (their mom picked up the other half) and support through college, and, thank goodness, a job with a pension plan. And, let’s not blame it all on the hubby, I acquired a horse and a strong desire to procreate with a man with a vasectomy (I just added them up, and 15 years of horse ownership — board, vet, shoes, transport — cost marginally less than what we paid out of pocket over 8 years of ttc).

    Fifteen years later, the fully funded retirement accounts leave me feeling much more secure than I remember feeling back then, market fluctuations notwithstanding and even though month-to-month is still more hand-to-mouth than one would hope. The adult kids are long through college and independent and we’ve never had high-interest debt (I think our first mortgage was 7.5% but that was back in an era when that was a “good” rate; it would scandalize me to pay that today) and never plan to take it on; I’m still rolling balance transfers used to pay for infertility treatments (a house remodel was squeezed in there too) and that embarrasses me, but it is what it is and honestly, the biggest regret I have isn’t paying for those but not spending more on them sooner. I do have a stopgap backup if those all completely disappear (which so far they haven’t), namely, taking the cash balance out of my Roth, which is enough to pay them off — obviously, not good, but IMO better than not having funded the Roths in the first place, which was the alternative (not to say there’s other stuff I couldn’t have foregone; there is, and not just the horse. But I don’t regret the proverbial good cheese at these interest rates, either, I just don’t).

    And for the past 2 and next 2 years, we’ve kind of been throwing time rather than money at problems, anyway, by having DH retire and collect his pension but before he can start (in 2 years, thus the next) collecting social security. But there’s no question that the current credit environment (etc.) has made possible for us things that we’d have foregone in a different context, and it’s also true that some of what we do (have non-mortgage debt! Aaah!) would drive many PFers off the deep end.

  6. notofgeneralinterest2 Says:

    We throw money at some problems (i.e., arrive in a strange city at night = take a cab & don’t try to negotiate the bus) but still mow our own lawns, etc. because of student loans. It’s a passion with me (husband says it is my hobby) to pay as much as I can on them.

  7. oilandgarlic Says:

    I still struggle with this because I have this bag-lady mentality, i.e money will run out. However, it is good to be free of debt due to good saving/investing habits from 20s/early 30s. I see peers who still have student loans and car’s hard to get out of that debt trap as you get older. And I love having the ability to pay for car repairs, vet bills, cleaning help and unexpected expenses without only a small degree of anxiety (I can’t imagine how anxious I would be if I actually still had debt or lived paycheck to paycheck.)

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      DH will remind me that it’s ok because it’s only money and we have the money. And when I’m feeling stressed one of the things I do is look at our money. Even if something catastrophic happens we’ll be ok, at least for a while. I can imagine how anxious I’d be if we had debt or lived paycheck to paycheck and I don’t like that thought!

  8. Meredith Says:

    Amazing that you figured it out sans Dave Ramsey ;)–enjoy the take-out and go you for holding out on “the siren call” for so long!

  9. femmefrugality Says:

    I’m not in a position to do things like this myself, but think it is so fantastic that you can and have taken all the steps thus far to make it possible. Inspiration! I don’t cook when I’m eight months pregnant. Or if I do, it’s something I can make in five minutes. I have an amazing boyfriend, though, so we don’t end up eating out all that much. He braves the kitchen for me. :)

  10. Holly@ClubThrifty Says:

    Thank you so much for the mention. I’ve been trying to log in and comment for a few weeks here, and I think I’ve finally got the bugs worked out. Thank you!!!

  11. Laura Vanderkam (@lvanderkam) Says:

    I’m a big fan of throwing money at problems. That hasn’t always been true. My cheapo inclination is to throw time at the problem, but eventually I realized that time isn’t free. It has an opportunity cost. Since my precious leisure time is worth a lot to me these days, the time I’d throw at a problem has a high opportunity cost. I can make more money. No one can make more time.

    • MomWithaDot Says:

      Completely agree with you on that last line. This concept had planted its seed in my head during a corporate training session some 18 years ago and stuck with me since. A manager I worked with during the early 90’s said to me, “Don’t save money at this age. If you invest in your skills, one day your monthly salary will be your one days’ salary” And so it did :)

  12. the thrifty spendthrift Says:

    I honestly love going out to eat and would probably do it all of the time if I didn’t reign it in a little. It is nice to say, “Ugh too tired today—can we just get some Chinese?”

  13. Carnival of Personal Finance: Proud To Be a 99%er Edition Says:

    […] from Nicole and Maggie: Grumpy Rumblings of the Half Tenured presents It’s nice to be able to throw money at problems, and says, “Nicole and Maggie discuss how 1. it’s nice to have extra money on hand to […]

  14. Shifts in money attitudes and life priorities | A Gai Shan Life Says:

    […] Nicole and Maggie and feMOMhist both talked about this. […]

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