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The Simple Dollar

Which is more important: Your dream house or a Disney trip?

When making big spending decisions, make sure not to sacrifice big dreams for small indulgences.

By Guest blogger / February 26, 2012

Sheep Dog Hollow after renovations. One of the author's dreams is to own a large house in the country, and he is willing to forgo smaller luxuries like trips and new electronics to achieve that dream .

Joanne Ciccarello/The Chrsitian Science Monitor/File

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“Your house is paid off and you have some money in savings. Why not live a little?”

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The Simple Dollar is a blog for those of us who need both cents and sense: people fighting debt and bad spending habits while building a financially secure future and still affording a latte or two. Our busy lives are crazy enough without having to compare five hundred mutual funds – we just want simple ways to manage our finances and save a little money.

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A friend of mine asked me this the other day when I said that our family vacation this summer was just going to be a camping trip in a national park, shortly followed by a mention of the fact that I loaded up my Kindle (that I received as a gift last year) with public domain novels for free, particularly Charles Dickens novels.

It’s an interesting question, and it’s one that left me thinking for the last few days. I’ve come to the conclusion that the spending path we’re on is still the right path, regardless of how our financial picture has changed due to our debt paying diligence and careful spending over the past few years.

First of all – and this is the biggest reason – Sarah and I don’t have an aching desire to buy a lot of expensive things. Sure, we could fly our family to Disneyworld or something for a summer vacation, but it’s not what we want to do. We’re looking forward to camping with our children for several days.

We are aware of some of the things we could buy, but we don’t really strongly want any of those things. Honestly, I can’t even think of a remotely expensive purchase I want to make in the next few years beyond unplanned replacements for things we currently use.

Instead, when I think of what I want to do with our current debt-free financial state and our savings, I just have to look around our house and think about the future.

As I write this, my three children are going to sleep in the bedroom that they share. We choose to have them share a bedroom for now to build up stronger sibling relationships, and it seems to be working. Almost every night, I can hear our two oldest children talking together for a while before they go to sleep.

I read them a book this evening about different places around the world. There was a page about Paris and France, a page about Egypt, a page about Japan, and pages about many other interesting and beautiful places. We talked a bit about the places we wanted to see, but right now, they’re in there talking about those places some more.

My son has a strong burgeoning interest in martial arts. My daughter loves to sing and dance and is showing some beginning interest in playing music. All three of my children are inquisitive. It’s hard for fifteen minutes to go by at our home without a barrage of questions about various things.

Equipment. Lessons. Travel. Education. These all cost money, but they don’t cost money today.

On top of that, we’re also watching the property listings and looking for the perfect piece of land in the country upon which to build the house we’ve always dreamed of.

Spending our money on things that we don’t strongly want today sacrifices the things that we do strongly want tomorrow.

It is really easy to allow the temptations of today to drown out the bigger things we want in our lives. Eat out a few times a week, stop for Starbucks a few times a week, drive a new car on payments, go grocery shopping without a list and buy unnecessary things, have the latest and “greatest” cell phone, and you’ll find yourself wondering how on earth the family down the block can afford to go to Norway on their vacation this year.

Well, the answer is that they don’t eat out a few times a week, stop for Starbucks a few times a week, drive a new car on payments, go grocery shopping without a list and buy unnecessary things, or have the latest and “greatest” cell phone. I know that this actually describes us.

I recently saw a person standing outside a new Lexus in the parking lot and shouting into their iPhone at a bill collector. I’d far rather drive my eight year old fully-paid-for Pilot and talk into my freebie cell phone while knowing that I am going to have the freedom to dance with tomorrow.

The Christian Science Monitor has assembled a diverse group of the best economy-related bloggers out there. Our guest bloggers are not employed or directed by the Monitor and the views expressed are the bloggers' own, as is responsibility for the content of their blogs. To contact us about a blogger, click here. To add or view a comment on a guest blog, please go to the blogger's own site by clicking on www.thesimpledollar.com.

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