I hope everyone had a super weekend. I attended my first local Mr Money Mustache gathering here in Southern California. Someone created a Facebook group, so it’s sort of legit, right? I have individually met a couple people from that forum over the years, but this was my first actual group outing. It was a poolside pot luck at one of the member’s home. It was a good time. Fun to finally put some faces to the forum names. Everyone’s most likely in a different place financially, but to hear people talking openly about investments, real estate, expenses was unusually fascinating. I may have said before (and clearly prove below) that I don’t necessarily identify with every single tenet of Mustachianism, but I look forward to the next event for sure. If you’re wondering what I brought: I splurged for a party tray of chicken fried rice from the Chinese take out place across the street from my apartment. I think this is where I really don’t identify with the DIY nature of mustachianism. I’m fairly lazy. A lot of people will spend their time and work hard to make a dish at home, but I’ll just spend the $25 because it’s easy and I know it tastes delicious. if The regular size portion usually lasts me a few meals, so the “party tray” size was indeed incredibly massive, but I’m told that somebody finished it off for dinner last night, which means it didn’t go to waste, so I’m happy!

WHERE I SPEND MONEY – SPORTS / FITNESS

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I’ve spent a ton of money on post-sport food and alcohol, the gas and wear & tear to drive all over SoCal, the occasional themed attire, and of course for the privilege of playing the sport itself, over the past five years. I didn’t spend every year though. I tend to go through phases. Some years I might focus more on traveling, or my music hobby. Anyways…sports I’ve played: Kickball, dodgeball, bowling, beach flag football, beach volleyball. You name it, I’ve probably tried it. More recently, I’ve transitioned away from team sports to a “fitness boot camp” outdoor work out that is an hour session, four nights per week. It’s definitely more value in terms of calories burned per dollar spent. I have absolutely zero regrets on any of this spending. I spend all my time at work behind a computer, I’d go a bit nutty if I didn’t have some dedicated activities to move around in my down time. I’m also not really sure how else how I would meet people as an adult since I don’t work with any peers.

Would having more cash by foregoing physical activity be worth the cost of the lost experiences? Not a chance. If I did not participate in these activities, I would have spent the past five years sitting alone in my bedroom binge watching NetFlix or Amazon Prime. Absolutely nothing wrong with that lifestyle, but it’s not what I want at this point in my life.

WHERE I SPEND MONEY – FOOD

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Food is something I’ve never been particularly shy about spending money on. Of course, I say this, but my food budget is rock bottom compared to some baller bloggers who track their expenses. When I had my first job in high school as a pizza delivery driver, my paychecks and tips basically went towards funding my ridiculous eating out habits. (Though there were also early signs of frugality as I’d often take the unsold slices at the end of the night for a free dinner!) Above (in the featured image we have tapas and Iberian ham in Barcelona,) the best ham and cheese baguette of my life from a random Christmas market in Paris, Pork schnitzel in Vienna, and deep dish pizza in Chicago.

Because Facebooking your food is apparently something that you do when you travel, it was pretty easy to pull up these photos. I’m not saying you need to go all out on eating every meal when traveling, there were many times where I just went for a hot dog or a bratwurst at a street market, or even had your typical cold cereal for breakfast. Any other weirdos who eat their cereal dry? This is something I definitely need to be mindful of on my road trip. I know that I’m going to want to try all the various regional cuisines, but I need to let myself not go too crazy in the food spending, or I might find myself in a scenario where I’m somehow spending more on food while slow traveling than I am while living here in California.

WHERE I SPEND MONEY – MUSIC

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Music has always been a big part of my life, whether that’s just appreciating and listening to it or actually performing it. There hasn’t been as much performing happening in recent years. There was a lot of performing it in college (as it was my major). Best advice I would give to any human would be to not major in a non-lucrative hobby unless it’s been a lifelong passion or dream. Music was never that for me. I majored in this because “I don’t know what I want to do, I want to graduate ASAP and I have a lot of music credits”. It’s very possible for said hobby to reach burnout status and become a thing of your past. Particularly when you are interning with a non-profit arts organization during a bear market and they tell you your best bet is in fact to not pursue an arts administration career after all. It might be fun to join a community band or orchestra after I settle down somewhere after my road trip.

I had my family donate my (or really, their) drum set to a local middle school a few years back. My guitars tend to stay neatly stored in my closet and under my bed collecting dust. I’ll probably take my small backpacker guitar with me on the epic road trip. I am definitely often still listening to music though. My favorite concerts to go to are the big brassy orchestral ones, hence the photo of the San Francisco Symphony Hall with a massive set up. I don’t regret a penny of my spending on CD’s, MP3 downloads, or concerts, but I’m definitely pleased that a lot of the music has transitioned away from a physical disc and towards digital MP3 files which means I don’t have to buy another big chunky piece of plastic to store my “music collection”, and that I can take it with me anywhere I go. It’s just a bunch of 1’s and 0’s on my hard drive that will last forever, with Amazon Music Cloud backup for something ridiculously cheap like $25/year. I know it’s blasphemy to all of the audiophiles out there, but my ears aren’t good enough to notice the difference between an MP3 and uncompressed compact disc.

WHERE I DON’T SPEND TODAY, BUT WILL NEXT YEAR

You might notice that I didn’t include the massively popular category of travel on this list. The reality is that there have only been a couple of quick weekend getaways here and there. One with the woman I was dating who literally disappeared without a trace while I was in the shower. She was bad news. She’d try to make bribes with intimacy. Best thing that ever happened for me was for her to disappear. The other was the road trip in the South with my dad. I actually haven’t gone on a major vacation in close to two years. This is one reason I’ve been able to boost my safety net to a point where I feel comfortable taking a longer period of time off. But the reality is that a lot of my success in my finances since the time my parents stopped supporting me has been because of my willingness to choose between my priorities and not buy all of the things all at once. That is, my life philosophy is pretty much the opposite of YOLO. I think that might be just how i was raised. You can pick the Kit Kat bar OR the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles action figure, but you can not have both. Or…you can go on a road trip OR you can spend a year abroad. Which one do you want to do more?

I’ll definitely be doing a lot of travel via automobile next year, which means I’ll be spending more on gas and probably oil changes, but I won’t be buying as many new music albums and I’ll be spending a lot less on sports and fitness. I’ll definitely be spending a lot less on rent. I’ll have to store all these exercises I’ve been learning at my workouts in my memory banks since I really can do them anywhere. 🙂   For a year and a half, I spent a lot more money on being able to live walkable to the beach. That was a great life experience and I’ll always value that I was able to do that during the final year of my 20’s, but it just wasn’t sustainable to continue to be there with my other long term financial and life goals.

I currently have over 200 vacation hours banked at work. At this point, I’m just letting them ride and looking forward to the not insignificant vacation pay cash-out check when I depart the company. I almost look at it as if I’m giving myself a severance/bonus check by not going on vacation for the next 6 months. Ha. I’ve been telling my parents for the past few years: “Why should I pay for rent AND travel lodging? That feels like doubling up on a place to sleep to me? When my lease is up, I think I’m just going to travel for a while and not pay rent.”

Well, in six months, that’s going to be my reality. I’ll let you all know how it goes…..