In Praise of Weird Spending

Weird spending is probably the best thing you can do with your money - here's why.

There’s a whole range of ideas out there on how much you should spend on a thing – hell, I made an entire budgeting tool out of those recommended numbers – but honestly, the best spending you’ll ever do is weird spending. By weird spending, I mean spending that seems way out of line with what’s “normal”.

Uh, what?

Hear me out.

This all came up when I saw an infographic Statistics Canada published, which is a profile of the average Canadian and what they spent in 2015 on everything from housing costs to their pets.

An infographic about how much the average Canadian spent on different things in 2015

And if you know me at all, you know I took one look at that pet number and tweeted my disbelief.

This was my reaction because in a normal, nothing-special year, my dog ran me $3382.23 if you count his emergency fund contributions.

While it made for a pretty fun Twitter conversation, the truth is that even though I know that $590 is laughably lower than my own pet spending realities… I don’t care.

At all.

In Pursuit of “Normal” Spending

There was a time, years ago, when I would have seen this one graphic and been like, shit, I need to frugalize my life. Dog, you’re on a budget as of right now.

In fact, this is legitimately a thing I did with coffee when I started reading financial blogs, because everyone was all “Never spend money, and also make your coffee at home!” That’s normal for personal finance folks, so I took those things way too much to heart, and it resulted in that phase where I made coffee using a sieve and paper towels.

Yes, really.

Yes, I know it was nuts.

Yes, I have since bought a French press (this one) and it has radically improved my life.

But that’s what can happen when you run head-first into the financial blog-o-sphere (or into a StatsCan infographic) with no real understanding of how your spending makes your life awesome.

Back to Weird Spending

These days, I can sit back, peruse an infographic about what the average person spends, and my biggest, most forceful reaction is…  ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.

And it’s all because I know what’s up with my spending.

I’ve made a plan for my money, that yes, involves saving a ton right now, but also involves spending on the things that really matter to me. It wasn’t a fast process, and it did involve spreadsheets (specifically, the one in this post) but it was so worth it I can’t even tell you.

At its core, this approach all boils down to knowing what you want, and using your money to get it. And as much as the world is crazy, and a floppity jillion kinds of messed up right now, I think that’s still something worth pursuing.

See, one of the biggest benefits from a heart perspective that I’ve noticed from all the tracking my spending, and making a plan for my money, is that I know in a pretty exact way how much “extra” I have. (It’s a lot of extra, I’m very lucky, and am working with boatloads of privilege up in here.)

So when things Go Wrong, I know how much I can divert from both my regular spending, and my goals, to help out where it’s needed the most. I can do this with full confidence that it’s not going to seriously derail my money, and that my dog isn’t going to have to go without his dental food this month.

Plus, There’s The Whole Confidence Thing

When you work through building a plan to align your money with what really matters to you, be it dogs, or activism, or travel, or whatever – and I mean really work through it, month over month, in a trial-by-error kind of way – you come out on the other side with a much more confident view of your money, and your decision-making abilities.

So when you see an infographic that’s all, “The average Canadian donates $652 to charity every year” and you’re like… “Shit, I donated $60 (or $6000),” you can do so knowing it’s fully in line with what matters to you.

If it’s not, that’s another thing entirely. But if $60 is what you can realistically give in monetary terms, while keeping your life on track and putting your own oxygen mask on first? You can own that entirely, and understand that your spending does not need to be their spending.

Can we just pause and reiterate?

Your spending does not need to be their spending.

So if you spent $3382.23 on your dog, literally six times more than the average Canadian spends on pets, but you know you’ve made that one of your weird-spending priorities? You go, fellow crazy dog lady.

If You Aren’t Weird Spending, You Need To Be

Clearly, the first step in all of this is to figure out what your own priorities are, which can be daunting enough when you’ve had years and years of shoulds thrown at you by friends, the media and basically the world at large.

I’m not even talking about the Big Shoulds, like buying a house – I’m literally referring to the fact that I feel like, as a millennial, I should want to travel more, or I should want to live downtown.

But once you’ve got your priorities in place, and you know that Thing 1 + Experience 2 + Place 3 make your heart sing? Spend money on those things.

Yes, even if it’s more expensive than an alternative, as long as your budget can handle it.

Yes, even if it means not spending money on the things you’re supposed to like / have / want / be.

Yes, even if it’s seriously weird spending.

Because if something makes you over-the-moon happy, like my dog makes me? It probably needs a disproportionate place in your budget. And no average, or “normal”, or formula, or blog post, should make you feel bad about how much or how little that amount of spending is for you.

Weird spending just means you’re doing it right.

Desirae is on a mission to demystify and un-boring financial info for millennials, so that we can all save more money, spend on stuff that matters to us, and still have a latte or two along the way. Money is literally why we can have nice things, and Desirae is committed to helping make sure you know just enough to make the right calls for you. (She’s also committed to her expensive dog, her side hustle, and her retirement fund.)

29 Comments on “In Praise of Weird Spending”

  1. Potato

    I like this message.

    For the Stats Can figure, I’m pretty sure that number is across all households, so it’s not just guinea pig-owning homes that bring the average down, but the ~43% of families that spend $0 on pets. As per the post, it’s not hugely relevant, but the average spending on pets then of households that have pets would be closer to $1035/yr, which is about what my cat cost for over half of her life.

    1. Desirae

      Awww, I like you! And the fact that no-pets people are included makes me feel so much better.

      Also, I remember the days of having a cat! She felt expensive at the time, mostly because of this one time she needed her teeth cleaned, but now that I have a dog I’m just like lol no cats are fine, give me an every-seven-years teeth cleaning any day.

  2. Colin @rebelwithaplan

    Make weird spending great again! Seriously I would buy a coffee mug with this on it, haha.

    I do spend money every now and then on web design stuff since I do like learning more about design. I file it under personal development in my budget and make sure it doesn’t get too out of wack. I desperately want a dog but know that now is not the right now (although I’ve already picked out the types of breeds I would want most, haha).

    There’s another article by Be Awesome Not Broke that I think goes well with this. It’s all about rethinking needs vs. wants.

    1. Desirae

      Bahahaha oh my god I would buy this mug so hard too.

      And YES to spending money on design and personal development! I just dove back in to Skillshare to finally figure out InDesign once and for all, and I’m so glad I did – it’s a good skill to have, has been useful for my day job and the blog, and learning is fun.

  3. Erin

    That average pet cost … let’s just say I’m well above the average, and your spending. But two pups make me happy and I like spending money on them instead of other things. Such as that average spending on clothing!

    1. Desirae

      Same here! Honestly, I feel like you could just swap the numbers between clothing and pets, and I’d be the most average human, haha. But that’s exactly it – as long as your spending makes you happy, go for gold. (I would be SO UNHAPPY if I spent $3K a year on clothes! People would like, expect me to be fashionable and keep wearing ~outfits~. No thank you.)

  4. Kira

    I am so glad that you brought this up. There are definitely days where I feel like I am spending my money on all the wrong things because “they” said so. Who are they anyways? I even get that from my parents sometimes! But, I think the message you have is absolutely right – you need to spend on the things that make you happy and not what others deem as appropriate.

    As a fellow crazy dog lady I also spend a lot more on my puppy. I made the decision to put him on raw food and that certainly isn’t cheap but, I feel like it’s right and I am happy with it. (Also my furbaby loves this food more than life) I also spend a fair bit on my cat but, again, not concerned in the slightest.

    For me, as long as I’m not stretching my budget thin to be able to make these purchases it’s all good. Sometimes I will consciously spend less in another category to beef up the dog fund. Whatever makes you happy at the end of the day. People definitely shouldn’t feel like they need to match the average, just do what feels normal for you. 🙂

    1. Desirae

      High fives to fellow dog ladies! And I’ve heard such good things about raw food from everyone who does it – there’s a gorgeous German Shepherd down the street who’s on a raw diet and is gorgeous. She’s a great spokesmodel, lol. But you’re 100% right – as long as it’s not compromising your financial situation, spending on that kind of thing (making a furbaby happy!) is A+++.

  5. Sarah

    I am all for weird ways to spend and save. “Who’s doing your wedding make up?” was a question thrown at me. Well, since he proposed to a woman who rarely wears make up, I wasn’t planning on painting on a different face for my wedding day.

    To me, making coffee at home is a no brainer. Starbucks in the UK is average at best, with a premium price. A monthly subscription to a small roaster is cheaper and gives much better coffee.

    I’d definitely recommend a French press. I’m not sure how usual they are in the states. When we visited, waiters kindly gave us instructions on how to use them, so maybe not that common? Used grounds can also be used as garden fertiliser 🙂

    1. Desirae

      Our compost always smells so good after coffee on the weekends! (And my new life goal is to have someone teach me how to use a french press. Like… I can’t believe that’s a thing people don’t know how to do!)

      And yesssss to makeup! I do wear makeup, but I’m more of a moisturize with coconut oil and put mascara on then leave the house kind of person – I feel like there’s no way I’d go all in on a face full of makeup for a special occasion, just because it would be SO unlike what I usually look like!

  6. Kate

    So, first of all, amazing post, per usual.

    Second, I looooove my french press. I don’t even drink much coffee (hubby does) but I love it. We went through 2 that shattered on their own before we upgraded to a swanky and sturdy Le Creuset one and now I love it even more.

    BUT MORE IMPORTANTLY. How did you manage to make coffee with a sieve and paper towels?!

    1. Desirae

      Oh god Kate it was not pretty, and took like half an hour, and didn’t taste very good. Let’s never speak of this. It was a Dark Time, lol.

      And I think you just sold me on putting a Le Creuset french press on my wishlist, because the only reason I had the Amazon link so handy is that I shattered our original french press just two weeks ago trying to load it into the dishwasher, and had to replace it. It had a long full life for the price, so I’m fine with the replacement (and am never going back to my old ways) but seriously, a sturdy french press is a thing I need.

  7. Jena

    Have I mentioned lately that you are awesome?

    This post definitely made me feel better about some of my spending… Whenever I read personal finance blogs, or “FIRE” blogs, I always feel a bit bad because they always say that you should cut back on your housing costs, and my housing costs are a bit ridiculous. “Move somewhere cheaper and close to your work…” But… I don’t really like the neighbourhood where my office is… And the neighbourhood where I live is great! I want to live there forever! So, thank you for giving me permission (or making me realize that I don’t even need your permission) to spend how I want, not how “they” think I should.

    1. Desirae

      Awwwww Jena! Yay to feeling good about spending! And can I just say, SAME HERE?!

      My *current* house situation is super frugal if you consider it as a portion of my income, but my boyfriend and I are looking at houses that are more in line with the 30% of your income to housing expenses rule. Which like sure, is not bonkers or super-out-of-whack, but if I was REALLY frugal, we’d stay here forever, haha. The thing is, we’re total homebodies and spend a ton of time at home and want to spend money on that part of our lives! So… we’re going to, lol. (And it probably even means I won’t be able to save half my income on a regular basis! GASP. Lol still worth it!)

  8. Lindsay @ Notorious D.E.B.T.

    Yay for spending on puppers! 😀

    I spend almost my entire Fun Money budget on guitar lessons. I want to learn how to play metal. I’m a 5’4″, 120-lb female. I am the epitome of weirdness and I love it. 🙂

    BTW; apparently my dog is trying to learn how to play too. I keep my guitar propped up on a stand near by desk and sometimes she stands in front of it and wags her tail and strums the strings. It’s pretty much the best/weirdest thing ever.

    1. Desirae

      Oh I love all of this so much. YES to weird hobbies! (I work in marketing at a tech company, so people assume I’m not as weird or nerdy as most of the team, and then I took literal vacation days to stay home and play video games all day. The looks you get when you surprise people like that are PRICELESS. I’m sure you get the same when you play metal!)

    1. Desirae

      Haha I think you’re plenty interesting! And it can even be things that you don’t spend money on, because you don’t care about it as much as other people. I’ve never paid for live TV, because my antenna gets me Survivor (I have weird taste in TV, and am a Survivor superfan) and Netflix covers the rest.

  9. Pellrider

    I really really love pets. I mean cats and dogs. I don’t have one. So, that is not a weird expense for me. I used to spent on crafts a lot. since i consciously stopped all those buying, the weird spending also stopped. I am glad that my present hobby is blogging and reading frugal and financial blogs.

    1. Desirae

      I used to spend so much on crafts too! It’s a fun hobby, but omg I do not have the willpower to walk out of a craft store with just one item, haha.

  10. Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life

    No lie, I still get those feelings of “oh shit why am I not doing that??” sometimes, even though I know I’m *on* my money. But seriously – our dogs! I just added 3 cans of sardines a week to Seamus’s diet for his skin. I also just gave him a pedicure. What I spend by way of money and time on my dog reflects how high he is on the priority list, and that’s how I like it.

    1. Desirae

      Ok, I need to know: what constitutes a doggy pedicure? Is it showing peanut butter in his face while your partner holds him down and cuts his nails against his will? Because if so, we totally do doggy pedicures here too. Otherwise I am in awe of your dog-foot-maintenance skills.

  11. MSW

    I just spent this months fun money on flower seeds and bulbs for my garden. Gardening brings me joy and relaxation. I also noticed those who walk their dogs tend to slow down and admire my curb appeal game.

    1. Desirae

      Oh I’m sure they do! I’m in awe of nice gardens, for real. I have a total black thumb and have literally gone to open houses in neighbourhoods where people are great with their lawns and gardens, and told my boyfriend we can’t move in because I’ll be the lady with the Bad Yard, lol.

  12. Piggy

    Crazy dog ladies REPRESENT! My pooch is spoiled af and wants for nothing in his pampered life. Though I have to correct your assumption about guinea pigs: my co-blogger, Kitty, lavishes her weird spending upon her two guinea pigs without shame.

    1. Desirae

      Hahaha as she should! My privilege is showing, because the last time I had pigs, I didn’t pay for them (I was a child who had no money and was an excellent pet negotiator. Also, my pig lived for 9 years?! We fed him a lot of organic baby greens and he had a homemade, 6-foot-squared outdoor “cage” so he could eat baby greens. He was such a good pig. I miss him.)

  13. Daisy

    A high five from one crazy dog lady to another because this post was awesome! I found myself nodding along to everything you said – and thank God I’m not in a public place right now as all the nodding I’m doing would look really weird – and laughing at points too.

    My weird spending is for travel and my dog, and everything else is as low as I can make it. I already felt this was the right move for me but your post just reaffirmed it. Thanks and now off to see the rest of your site!

    1. Desirae Odjick

      Oh yay! I’m so glad we connected – high fives right back from a fellow nodder-in-public! (I kid you not, sometimes I smile at a post or a video if I Want to be like, encouraging for the person to go on. When I’m reading or watching it on my phone. My reactions are… let’s go with unique, lmao.)

  14. Daisy

    I do too, lol. It’s called cheering people on and rewarding good work.

    Your site’s amazing btw. You’ve just reminded me money’s not all that complicated, after all!

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