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We Save So We Can Spend

A few weekends ago, we went home to New York in order to celebrate Chinese New Year with family and friends. The party itself was supposed to be on Saturday and we spent Sunday night in New York City with my sister and her husband. We took advantage of a promotion on Jetsetter for a swanky hotel, The Setai 5th Avenue [3], which advertises a night’s stay with continental breakfast at a staggering $585 a night, not including taxes and fees (our room, despite the Jetsetter deal, was still $400). That night, we went on the town, had ramen (and other deliciousness) at David Chang’s Momofuku Noodle Bar, visited a few spots like Cibar, Immigrant Bar, and the Ace Hotel (if it feels like I’m name dropping, it’s so I can look back at this post later and remember where we went :)). It was a pricey night, especially compared to Baltimore, but it was a blast and totally worth it. It was made even better because we could spend it with loved ones.

Then came the bombshell – my parents were snowed in and it would be impossible to get home on Saturday. The Chinese New Year party was cancelled, we’d have to spend another night in Manhattan, and we’d have to make the trek out on Sunday (later Saturday night we learned that the Long Island Expressway would be shut down after exit 57 for snow removal). So we moved hotels to the Waldorf-Astoria and spent another, more subdued, night in Manhattan that culminated in dinner at Les Halles.

The weekend was a lot of fun but it cost quite a bit, but we were OK with that. It’s my lovely wife and my 5th wedding anniversary coming up very soon and she’s always wanted to spent a night on the town in New York City. So we splurged. We splurged pretty big too because it was New York. That said, we were comfortable spending that money because we worked hard for it and that’s what we wanted to do. We save in the areas of our life that are less important to us and spend in the areas we care about.

Case in point, I shave about once a week. Every single razor I’ve ever used has been a sample I requested on the Internet. My electric razor is the same one from high school (I might replace it soon though). I don’t spend money on razors because I shave infrequently enough that I can live off samples and an old electric razor (it’s sturdy). But I’ll gladly spend the equivalent of a hundred razors on a single dinner because that’s more important to me. I like good food and I don’t mind paying for it.

I sit on the phone with the cable company once every few years because it can chop off a few hundred dollars off our cable bill over the span of two or three years. We recently switched from Verizon back to Comcast and were rewarded with a $300 credit and $50 off our bill each month. We ended up with a new telephone line and faster Internet too but it took a couple hours to take care of. It’s kind of a pain but that’s the tradeoff you make to save a little money on the less important stuff so you can spend it on what you do care about.

Also fitting that I saw Ramit [4] (and Cuba Gooding Jr. but my pal Ramit gets top billing this time) because that’s his whole argument. Don’t focus on the little things, focus on the big things and spend in areas you care about. We enjoy travel (and food) and in collecting experiences [5], not things, and so that’s why we splurge when we travel. When we look back on that trip, we won’t think about how our parents were snowed in and how the Chinese New Year party was cancelled. We’ll look back fondly on our trip to NY and how much fun we had.

(Photo Credit: Alaina B. [6])