Tag Archives: discretionary income

What’s Your Spend-Ability?

Credit http://discusseconomics.com
Credit http://discusseconomics.com

Trends and people’s behavior are fascinating. They reveal what people believe, what kind of action they take, and how they go about living their lives.  Looking at trends and behavior help us identify what is important to people, which is a reflection of who they are.

Recently I had a conversation with my wife Tia about how people spend their money that looked fitting to share with you. Now please understand what this post is NOT doing – judging. As a general rule-of-thumb it’s easy to make observations of others and less of ourselves, so please take the article in stride.


Take for instance that we have these friends who love to go to concerts and sporting events. They have season tickets to the Arizona Cardinals, and are constantly at one music event or another. Having a good time away from home on a consistent basis is important to them.

My wife and I fit a little different mold – we’d rather take that money and spend on a 1 or 2-day staycation for our family at a local resort, like the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess. There is just something we inherently value about down time and relaxation – doing nothing in a nice place.

We also value family vacations and leaving town completely to new destinations. To us it’s all about experiences, and less about the “stuff”/tangible items. The saying “you can’t take it with you” is very real for us, but what is left behind at the end of your life is the memories and experiences you have created with those you love.


Other friends choose to buy big fancy expensive vehicles, upwards of $50,000 or more, with all the upgrades known to mankind. And that’s great! Glad they see value there. To me, vehicles are a necessary nuisance. Something that can get you from point A to point B.  We have 2 vehicles, a 2011 Toyota Camry and a 2005 Dodge Caravan. While my wife is more than ready to trade-in for a nicer “mom-mobile”, she understands (thankfully) my view to wait.

The van is paid for and we still have about 2 years left on the car loan. What’s important to me about a vehicle is that it’s reliable and lasts a long time. One of the most frustrating things for me is vehicle maintenance. I feel like my life is passing me by when I have to go in for an oil change. Certain models require more maintenance, and interestingly enough, some very expensive vehicles require more maintenance. I guess that’s the tradeoff for image?


This is a big one for me, not only just because I am a REALTOR ®, but because it is THE biggest single expense for the average household. In the days before I got my license, our real estate professional pressured us into getting a bigger, nicer house than what we wanted simply because we could afford it. That didn’t sit well with me, and it still gives me a sinking feeling today. Not sure how other people think it’s in their place to tell me what I should and should not purchase.

As a result of not listening to that advice, we have never short sold or been foreclosed on. During the 2004-2006 Phoenix real estate market run-up many people got in over their heads & lost everything over the next several years.

So we live in a good, nice neighborhood. It’s not the fanciest or gated or on the water, but we enjoy it. We are happy with our standard of living, and having a manageable house payment allows us to do other things and not feel stressed out, especially because I’m on a commission-only income.


I’ve always been a saver, even when those around me would suggest I do different. I probably do it to a fault and overcompensate by saving and investing more than needed, but I value getting free at some point and do not wish to rely on selling homes or the government to support me. Hopefully this will happen sooner than later! As a result I am rarely put into a position that I “have” to make a sale , which serves no positive purpose to either me or my client.


Most people are insurance poor. We know this because most of the time when we see people die prematurely on the news there is a gofundme site started to take care of final expenses. Life insurance doesn’t have to be ridiculously expensive – go with term, which takes care of you for a specified period of time. Ideally you are saving & investing money that you can live on in the *likely* event that you live until retirement.

This doesn’t just go for life insurance, but health (which is the United States is a total mess but that’s for another post), auto, home, and disability. Most people don’t find this out until they need to file a claim and it’s too late.


I could site plenty of other examples like my friend who is the most frugal teacher on the planet, but loves sunglasses and probably owns a good 15-20 pairs of them. Another friend saves money to go on multiple Disneyland trips a year, because he values those experiences with his family.

Although my life isn’t perfect, I like to think it’s pretty darn close. People’s money habits tend to either enrich their life or make it tough to bear.

What kind of money habits do YOU have and what do you enjoy spending your discretionary income on? Please leave a comment below!