3 Great Ways to Spend More Money

Photo by Photos8.com

The following is a guest post from Jamie at Steady Mom. Her blog is a gem and one that I read regularly.

You don’t need me to tell you that times are tight. Frugality is an important part of making life work in today’s economy, especially as a mother.

Yet sometimes I find that the pressure of needing to save money leads me to feelings of deprivation, focusing on what I can’t do.

Instead, I prefer to think about investing our family’s money, choosing with intention the items that will bring the best return on investment — in time, financial savings, and quality of life. This helps me feel empowered, not stifled. I enjoy knowing I’m spending our money in ways that reflect our top priorities.

So here are three ways to buy without feeling guilty afterwards:

1. Invest in your family’s health.

Photo by K Lachshand

Quality, whole food costs more than mass-produced, processed food – there’s just no getting around that fact. Saving money on food is possible, but it isn’t worth sacrificing quality to do so. Most families in the United States spend less of their income on food than those in other developed nations. While that sounds positive, it’s sadly true that those in our nation also spend more on health care – in a large part due to illnesses caused by the cheap, overly processed food we tend to eat.

Michael Pollan, best-selling author of In Defense of Food, advises people to spend more on food, but buy less. This strategy evens out the cost. I’ve found in our home that since we began investing in high quality food, we’ve naturally lessened the amount of money spent at Starbucks and similar spots. This has meant less of an impact on our budget as we choose what’s best – healthy food for our bodies.

When you invest in nutrition for your family, your body isn’t the only thing that feels better – your mind does, too. I love the feeling I have after shopping at our natural food store. Instead of handing over my family’s hard-earned dollars to the Mega Big-Box Grocery Store, I’ve supported a local business adding sustainable value to the world. What a return on my investment.

Need help figuring out what type of food to invest in? Check out these links:

2. Invest in your home library.

Call me old-fashioned, but I think books never go out of style. Your local library is a wonderful place to use regularly, but every inspiring home needs its own shelves of tried-and-true favorites. I’m not referring to stocking up on too many 25-cent finds from tag sales. Remember: It’s about quality, not quantity.

So take the time to make sure that the books you have inspire you and your little people. Books like Honey for a Child’s Heart and The Read-Aloud Handbook are fabulous resources to point you in the right direction.

Once you’ve found titles worth keeping forever, don’t feel guilty for devoting a little of your family’s budget on them. Books are truly an investment – in our children, in our imagination, and in our education.

3. Invest in experiences, not more stuff.

Most of our homes don’t need any more stuff. That’s why so many books and blogs have been written to help us organize our possessions before they consume us.

So when it comes to special occasions – holidays or birthdays – think outside the box. Instead of spending money on more toys for our children or ourselves, let’s invest in experiences.

Photo by Steve Evans

The possibilities are endless: memorable vacations together, tickets to the ballet, or maybe taking our kids to a new ethnic restaurant. Spending money this way invests in our relationships and in valuable memories the family will never forget. Try to get that same return on investment from another plastic, disposable toy off a store’s shelf.

Money itself is nothing to be afraid of, even in lean times. It’s just a tool – a powerful one we can use to bless our family. Yes, at times we’ll sacrifice in order to meet a higher priority. That’s okay. With each dollar we spend, we input into the type of atmosphere and culture we want for our loved ones. By investing intentionally, we reap the benefits of a closer, healthier family.

jamieJamie writes about her journey toward becoming a more intentional, professional mother at her blog, Steady Mom. Topics include getting organized, retaining enthusiasm, learning together, and making memories. She candidly presents the successes and struggles of doing life with her six-year-old daughter and two four-year-old sons (not twins!). You can find her with a cup of hot tea in one hand and a satisfying book in the other. Jamie’s upcoming book, Steady Days, will be available this winter.

What’s your favorite way to invest your family’s money?
About Rachel

I write about practical tips that will help you simplify at home. Connect with me on Pinterest and Twitter.


  1. #1 totally justifies my Vita-Mix purchase! :)

    Tara´s last post…Veg Head Playdate!

  2. Great Stuff Jamie as usual. I agree with you, especially with food and experiences. We are not big book buyers here (use the library every week) but what we do buy is quality. And I hadn’t heard of the Read-Aloud Handbook. A new resource to check out!

    I am encouraged reading this kind of post because I sometimes feel odd not being the coupon-clipping “kraft crap something or other is on sale at the grocery store so stock up”. The stuff I buy: veggies, fruits, beans, grains, nuts and a few condiments don’t have coupons!

    renee @ FIMBY´s last post…i love this kind of post.

    • Yes, Renee, I get you! At first I tried writing something about how to save money, and it just wasn’t going anywhere!

      Then I realized that SAVING money isn’t my strength – but deciding how to SPEND it wisely is….

      Thanks, Rachel, for letting me write for you!


      steadymom´s last post…3 Great Ways to Spend More Money

  3. I am a big proponent in investing in food as well as books. It makes sense to me to purchase books that you reference often and borrow the ones you don’t from the library. I also believe that in the long term you save loads of money on medical expenses if you are willing to put in the money and effort up front for a truly healthy diet.

    Shannon´s last post…Food Roots, October 8th: where does your food come from?

  4. Great thoughts! I love the idea of spending on experiences. Our youngest is turning 1 this week and we didn’t buy her any gifts, but we’ll have an adventure and take pictures for her to look back on later in life. This will mean way more to her than any toy.

    Andrea @ The Train To Crazy´s last post…Kids will be kids?

  5. I’m a big believer in #3. We quit doing the usual Christmas bonanza a couple of years ago with my extended family and just make a point of being together at the farm we grew up on. No gifts. Period.

    Last year we started that same tradition in our immediate family and took a trip to Nashville together. This year’s trip is being planned! We don’t need more stuff. We do need more time together!

    Mrs. E´s last post…TILT! TILT!

  6. This is a good reminder as we start thinking about Christmas.

  7. I’m not big on clipping coupons and pinching pennies. Instead of concentrating on what we can save, I concentrate on where our money actually goes. It is amazing what people spend on fast foods (us too at times)and junk because its on sale. We try to buy things of quality that will outlast the cheap stuff (like shoes, coats, furniture).

    Marci@OvercomingBusy´s last post…Join me at The Creative Mama!

  8. Hello…you sweet precious wonderful daughter. When I read this I couldn’t help but think about your Dad. I used to call him “tight and cheap”. I guess he was just frugal.ha When I think about your childhood..you never really wanted a lot of “things.” You were happy in your room writing and reading books. Now I get it…God was preparing you even then for this wonderful journey. Your Dad is looking down very proud of you.

  9. I believe that health should be prioritize first since we couldn’t enjoy anything that we work for if we are sick.

    Palabuzz´s last post…Marge Simpsons on Playboy this November

  10. Great stuff!! Lots to think about!! I def need to do better in the grocery area! :)

  11. Great post. When our budget gets really tight I tend to follow the coupon clipping blogs and then get caught up in the fervor. It’s fun to get such cheap food but often it is exactly that–cheap food. In my heart I believe Michael Pollan and the whole slow food movement is where we all need to be but sometimes I wander off track. I’m glad you reminded me to get back to whole foods.

  12. I couldn’t agree more. I’m not quick to buy “stuff” for our 3 year old, but have no problem whatsoever purchasing a subscription to an age-appropriate children’s theater and a child-friendly introduction to our local orchestra.

    We’re also trying to foster this philosophy with regards to gifts for our nieces and nephew. This year it’s tickets to “The Nutcracker” and lunch out instead of another plastic toy.

  13. great post. spending wisely is a HUGE part in saving money! i agree with all three things, although, as the daughter of a librarian, i am careful about what books are bought for our home library (which is huge due to gifts, freecycle, and library discards).
    less is more and quality is vital, in my opinion!

    nicola´s last post…weekend projects

  14. Fantastic post, Jamie! LOVE IT! So true. Some things in life are so worth the investment.

    Megan at Simple Kids´s last post…What We’re Listening To: Carly Simon’s Into White

  15. I stretch item #1 to include other health-enhancing things like a visit to the masseuse or a good quality back support. I don’t have a problem spending money to improve my health and well being.

    My home library generally consists of reference books that I refer to (or loan out) again and again. Other than that my home is too tiny for many books, but I do love love love my local library. Yay for requesting books via the interweb!

    Great post and I like the change of perspective. I’d say paradigm shift, but that phrase makes me itchy.

    Juice´s last post…Christmas On My Mind

  16. I love this post! Thanks so much. I am probably going to link to it on my blog at some point. I have had the conversation with so many lately about the food thing. I know so many people who pay crazy cable bills and then complain of not being able to afford organic foods. I would rather invest in my health than in watching TV (besides you can watch most TV on the internet now anyway!!).

    The one I need to work more on is number 3. Thanks for the reminder.

    Thanks again.

  17. Great post Jamie!! I built up my children’s library early by asking for donated books (from friends with older children)for my DD’s 2nd birthday. It was great. DD loved opening all the books up, and it didn’t add clutter to the house.

  18. Great post; I like the following discussion too. We definitely aim to buy quality food and slowly replace harmful products in our lives and are willing to give up certain things as a trade-off (to compensate for higher prices in certain areas). Also, We aim to allocate more and more money to “education” in our budget which includes sports, arts, books and experiences. Not that we have tons of money to spare but we all choose where to put our money.

    • Just wanted to add that I still often feel discouraged because I can never do all I wish I could at one time for my family, (we still must live within our means, right?)… so it is always an encouragement to read posts like this which at least show me that I’m not alone in my values and even though I have much to learn, I am headed in the right direction!

  19. Fabulous post… It so nice to hear someone being positive and saying: “Do this and that” instead of the usual “Don’t…”

    And you are so right about food, I would rather have one piece of lovely organic food for everyone in the house and everyone begging for more… than a crate of budget fruit that no-one wants to touch…

    As for books: we buy classics, we borrow fly-by-nights and we donate anything we won’t read more than once.

    And we take our kids to a real restaurant (without a kids section/menu) to eat really good food once a month… rather than take-outs and junk food shopping through out the month. We all enjoy it together.

    se7en´s last post…This Week (12 October) At Se7en…

  20. Excellent post.

    Just last week I was having a conversation with the man in the booth next to me at a trade show about food. I told him, “I don’t mind spending money on good food as I view it as in investment in my family and our health.” It is so worth it and our girls see it. The girls are 13 and 16 and they have commented several times about how many more fruits and vegetables we eat compared to their friends and their families. Also, they love that I cook for them; minimal boxed/processed foods at our house. I do keep one convenience meal in the freezer for a night when the girls are on their own but it isn’t a regular occurence.

    Books ~ love them. We’ve always told our girls that we will buy them books over toys any day of the week. And, we’ve got most of them that we purchased for them as little girls. Hopefully they will want them some day. I tend to purchase books that my book club reads (again, thinking that my girls may find them of interest someday), cookbooks and reference books.

    Experiences ~ I’ve been trying to shift to this for several years and we are making progress. If we had started this when our oldest was tiny, it would have been the norm.

    Nancy´s last post…Friends of Old

  21. Great post Jamie! I am always telling my family, especially my parents, that if you spend more on food now, you’ll spend less on medical bills later. What a great post, we believe in the same things…healthy, organic food, good books and fun activities.

    Michelle Traudt´s last post…Do You Fear Commitment?

  22. This post was a huge encouragement to me! We buy a lot of organic and local food, but sometimes I feel silly when I look in our cart and see how little food we get with our allotted weekly grocery money. It’s tempting to stop shopping organic/local because I feel like I’d get so much more food (in quantity, obviously not quality) if I shopped “normal.” Thanks for the reminder that our health is worth it!

  23. i agree with number 1 and i think that is doable for me. i just need to research more on what to buy. thanks for this!

    hailey´s last post…Family Food for Less (2)

  24. I’m grateful for Mega Big-Box Grocery Stores. Today’s Weekly Standard (weeklystandard.com) has an alternate point of view on Michael Pollan.

  25. KS, I, too, am grateful for big box stores. That said, I think we are a society of excess. Not only with things, but also in thought. We are ‘all or nothing’. Our ancestors worked (physically) way harder than most of us can imagine. They didn’t have access to all that we do. And we are the fattest that we have ever been! With all the access we have to ‘excess’, it’s a blessing to be able to purchase beautiful fruits and veggies everywhere. But we have this frenetically paced lives and settle for fast/processed foods daily. That can’t be good. So I am striving for a middle ground.

  26. Such a great post!

    I totally agree with you on the food issue. We belong to a CSA which averages out to about $20 per week of amazing, organic food grown less than 100 miles from our home. Part of that $ goes to purchase shares for families in need so that good food isn’t only for those who can afford it but also for those who cannot.

    Meredith on Like Merchant Ships once said something like: you can spend $40 on cheap processed food bought with coupons or you could spend $40 on whole bulk food. – pasta, nuts, grains, etc. That really resonated with me.

    Katy´s last post…Tomatoes and Soy – who knew?

  27. It’s funny, Jamie, when I read the title of this post, I thought, Hmmm….Jamie doesn’t seem like the big spender. Well, I guess if I’m not referring to getting more stuff. This was great, and what I needed to hear right now at a time when the funds are very low.

    turnitupmom´s last post…Wild About Wild Dill (Giveaway)

  28. Swellflamingo says:

    What a beautiful post! Well thought out and well written. And your Mom’s comment made me cry. It seems your way of words comes from someone close to you:)

  29. “When you invest in nutrition for your family, your body isn’t the only thing that feels better – your mind does, too.”

    More literally than you mean: eating much fruit and vegs really helps against anxiety and depression :)