Gambling your savings or even worse from money you don’t even have yet can be a really bad idea when it comes to your personal finances. Anything from lottery scratch cards to online poker to high stakes Vegas table games can be considered gambling and typically winning in these types of games is the exception rather than the rule.
So why is it that this past Sunday and Monday you would have found the Money Infant and Mrs. Infant happily staring at the one armed bandits in Atlantic City NJ? You would think that even an infant would have learned that gambling is a definite no-no when it comes to personal finance, saving and building wealth.
It’s true, I do know about the evils of gambling and normally wouldn’t even think of such a trip, however Monday was Mrs. Infants’ 28th birthday and when asked what she wanted for her birthday she gleefully replied “A trip to AC!”. Always the loving husband I happily complied and immediately looked into our budget to see what kind of damage such a trip would make.
Now, if we were still struggling month to month or paying down significant debt I never would have considered this trip. If we didn’t have a clear budget and goals I also definitely wouldn’t have considered this trip. However, since I know where we stand in regards to paying off our remaining debt, saving and what our budget is, I felt we could safely take a moderately priced weekend getaway.
I firmly believe that no person or couple can continually keep saving or paying off debt without being able to occasionally blow off some steam as well, whether that means a weekend in the wine country, a day (or week) at the beach, dinner at that expensive new restaurant or in our case a weekend gambling away our hard earned cash in Atlantic City. While financial freedom is the most important goal for all of us, balance in our lives is important too and I don’t think it’s healthy to obsess too much on one aspect of your life. If you’ve gotten to the point where you have some discretionary income each month it’s not always necessary to stick that extra money into savings or use it to pay down debt…sometimes you can splurge. One of the beauties of financial freedom is being ABLE to do this occasionally without hurting your budget or feeling guilty.
One of the things that scares people away from budgeting is that it makes them feel trapped, like they have to robotically follow their budgets no matter what. A budget is not designed to trap you into spending or saving. It is simply a guide to your personal finances. A road map to your destination of financial freedom. Sometimes you’ll follow it towards the expressway and you’ll be closer to your goals faster and other times you may want to relax a bit and take the scenic route. Either way is acceptable, it all depends on your personality and goals.
Plan well with your budget, but don’t feel that you’re trapped by what your budget says you should be doing. As long as you’re moving towards the goal of financial freedom; paying down your debts, saving for retirement, building your emergency fund and most importantly spending less than you earn, you will be fine in the long run. Your personal finances are not a sprint, they are a marathon and a budget is by no means written in stone. Take the slow road occasionally and you’ll likely find that you come through refreshed and ready to take your finances to the next level.
Oh and the end result of our trip to Atlantic City was not too bad at all. After gambling for about 15 hours over 2 days we were down just $50. So basically the cost of the two days was our room at Caesars ($140) and a wonderful birthday dinner for Mrs. Infant at Dock’s Oyster House ($120 and worth every penny). All other meals and drinks are included in the $50 loss, so gambling was actually a bit better than break even. I would consider that a pretty cheap 2 days in Atlantic City!