A while ago, someone asked me what areas I splurge on. I gave the easy answer: food and travel. In the PF blogging world, travel and food are the safe answers. While you can get a ton of criticism for shopping sprees, travel is an experience that is rarely frowned upon. In fact, it is encouraged. After all, you’re only young or young-ish once and who wants to see Europe for the first time as part of a large tour group going from site to site on a megabus because they’re too old to walk? My first European trip was the classic back-packing trip and I would never trade that experience for anything!
However, I realized that I wasn’t completely honest. I do want to splurge on facials, massages, clothes, shoes and other fun stuff more often. The problem is two-fold: 1) I seem to have problems (guilt) spending on myself and 2) everytime I think of splurging, I get hit with an annoying but urgent expense like traffic tickets, car repairs and vet bills. I’m seriously not kidding. One year I won an office pool; I got hit with a $400 traffic ticket the next day. Recently, I received a small bonus and was hit by a car repair bill that same week. No wonder I hesitate to spend any ‘extra’ money.
On top of this streak of bad luck, I am developing a spending phobia. It’s almost like I have to re-learn the joys of spending. Of course, I get periodic urges to spend but I actually find it very hard to spend on myself, even in areas like career improvement. It’s not hurting me to spend less on clothes and shoes. However, it is hurting me that I hold back from spending on seminars, conferences or classes that could improve my career. Isn’t it worth $1,000 to increase my earning potential? I know the answer is “Yes” but it’s hard to know if a class will actually make the difference. That’s a risk I should take but I just can’t. It’s been so long since I have focused on my career and I feel like I’m falling behind. I am also a bit spoiled in this area. In the past, my employers have paid for all my classwork and seminars. However, right now, my employer is not willing to spend much on training and the areas I would like to study are a bit outside my job description.
I’m curious if others find it easy, or easier, to spend on career development? What if you are just exploring career options or changes and don’t know if you’ll even go in that direction? Is there always a pay-off?