Author Topic: What "should" we spend money on?  (Read 8686 times)

SpendyMcSpend

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What "should" we spend money on?
« on: July 14, 2012, 07:16:51 AM »
I am excited about my plan for early retirement, but I am wondering if there are areas that I should be spending money on to enhance my career or life now.  For example, I really want to learn how to play a new instrument.  The ones I want to learn to play aren't really featured on YouTube with instructional videos.  I think I will need 4-8 lessons to get the idea.  Is it worth it to spend $200-400 to learn something that will bring value to my life now?  I could wait 10 years but I want to eventually become very good at it.

Second example.  Learning a new language will help me in my career and I've always wanted to learn French or Italian.  I could do this on my own, but it might be fun to hire a conversation partner and have them show me, or take an immersion course. 

I am looking at these things as hobbies because right now, I'm pretty bored and I don't have much extra time to work with.  If I put in an initial investment, I should be able to practice on my own thereafter.

What do you think of expenditures like these?

herisff

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Re: What "should" we spend money on?
« Reply #1 on: July 14, 2012, 07:57:14 AM »
I don't believe in putting my life on hold just so that I can retire early. I would rather retire a bit later than not enjoy my life right now. If you are bored, then something needs to change - try looking around your community for things to do such as local farmers' markets, art shows, gallery shows, etc. Many of them are free except for travel costs (I'm going to one such event today). Take yourself to your local beach, park, mountain etc. Try getting out of your current day to day habits - life can be much more fun than that.

And if you really want to learn an instrument or a language, then go for it. But before you make a major investment such as buying a really good instrument, borrow an instrument and take lessons first. You may find that you don't like it as much as you thought or you just don't have the right muscle synchrony. $200-400 is a relatively cheap investment before spending up to thousands on a really good instrument.

And as for learning a language - mental exercise is good for the brain! But don't learn from tapes, go to a teacher who is a native speaker and can correct you as you go. Learning languages can keep you busy for years on end.

mugwump

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Re: What "should" we spend money on?
« Reply #2 on: July 14, 2012, 08:49:11 AM »
If you can't afford to take lessons now, you won't be able to afford them when you retire.  I believe in frugality, but I think one should save up for a sustainable lifestyle. I think you should take the lessons now, assuming you won't go into debt for them. If it changes your savings rate from 40% to 30% (just to pull numbers out of the air), who cares but you? And who knows, pursuing these interests may lead you to a Moustachian part-time job that allows you to pull out of the rat race even earlier.

I took a different path than most early retirees, because I started earning at age 29, experienced major career disruptions, and ended up pursuing an interest that led to a very-well-paying 30 hour a week job that I kept at for 10 years, despite a long commute.  The important thing is to set up a frugal lifestyle and reap the benefits over a long period of time, not to deprive yourself of things you enjoy that may build a foundation for your future life.

grantmeaname

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Re: What "should" we spend money on?
« Reply #3 on: July 14, 2012, 02:04:51 PM »
Italian. French. You're welcome.

(They won't be free, because they usually meet up at a restaurant if they're anything like the ones here in Columubus. Still, it's a whole hell of a lot cheaper than a tutor, and great fun too.)

SpendyMcSpend

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Re: What "should" we spend money on?
« Reply #4 on: July 14, 2012, 02:14:32 PM »
Italian. French. You're welcome.

(They won't be free, because they usually meet up at a restaurant if they're anything like the ones here in Columubus. Still, it's a whole hell of a lot cheaper than a tutor, and great fun too.)

I am rather shy so meeting up with strangers and even people I know can be difficult but I guess I could try. 

deciduous

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Re: What "should" we spend money on?
« Reply #5 on: July 14, 2012, 03:36:09 PM »
I just started learning Spanish yesterday at http://duolingo.com/ . They have a French edition that's in Beta.

The core concept behind the site is that once you get a little basic proficiency, you learn by helping to translate the web. It claims to be free forever for chumps like you and me; I guess they sell our collective brainpower.

The site is well-designed, to my eye. They've put some effort into it, and it shows.

deciduous

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Re: What "should" we spend money on?
« Reply #6 on: July 14, 2012, 03:40:16 PM »
I find with musical instruments the most important part is just to play, every day. If it's fun to you, that'll be natural. Lessons could sure help to structure and guide your practice, but they'll probably be most useful once you've tried your hand at things for a while on your own--at least, that's been my experience. Yours may be different. (It sounds like you already know piano or guitar or something?)

SpendyMcSpend

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Re: What "should" we spend money on?
« Reply #7 on: July 14, 2012, 03:41:19 PM »
I find with musical instruments the most important part is just to play, every day. If it's fun to you, that'll be natural. Lessons could sure help to structure and guide your practice, but they'll probably be most useful once you've tried your hand at things for a while on your own--at least, that's been my experience. Yours may be different. (It sounds like you already know piano or guitar or something?)

Yes, am expert on flute and play a little guitar and also piano.  I am looking to learn something like the mandolin.

SpendyMcSpend

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Re: What "should" we spend money on?
« Reply #8 on: July 14, 2012, 03:50:14 PM »
Thanks guys!

MrSaturday

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Re: What "should" we spend money on?
« Reply #9 on: July 15, 2012, 09:21:26 PM »
Also check out livemocha for language learning.  Unless something's changed since I used it there's no cost and they get the users to grade each other's work so you'll be encouraged to give people feedback on their english lessons while native speakers of the language you're learning will grade your work.

It has rosetta stone style lessons and tests that are automatically graded, then simple writing and speaking (if you have a mic) tests that are user-graded.

amyable

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Re: What "should" we spend money on?
« Reply #10 on: July 17, 2012, 06:39:02 AM »
Do you know anyone who speaks fluent Italian or French?  Even a friend of a friend?  I couldn't go the meet-up route, because I live in a pretty rural area, but I am scheduled to start learning Spanish soon with a friend of a friend's coworker who needs some English practice.

I love the Coffee Break Spanish podcast, and I'm pretty sure they have Coffee Break French as well--I don't know about Italian.  It's a free resource unless you buy the accompanying worksheets, etc.


igthebold

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Re: What "should" we spend money on?
« Reply #11 on: July 17, 2012, 08:05:43 AM »
For the languages I've studied (Hindi, Mandarin, Esperanto (don't ask), Spanish), I've found that it's only  a couple months before I run into a brick wall that simply requires lots of verbal practice with real humans in real situations. As such, if you're bound by shyness (like I am, somewhat) you'll find it very difficult to progress beyond a certain point.

I really like the Praxis language resources for learning. ChinesePod worked really well for me, and they have a program where you can hire a virtual language coach, find Skype buddies to practice with, etc. Probably the best you can do short of living immersed in the language. You can get a lot for free, too, though it seems like they change their pricing plans fairly often.

As for musical instruments, I agree with deciduous: play every day. Also, play with people in different modes: informal jamming, formal practice-heavy music like Western classical, informal practice-light music like pop songs, bluegrass, celtic, etc. I find playing with people really helps me get out of funks.

Once you're pretty good at an instrument, you can probably take a 30 minute lesson here and there to get you over various hurdles. If you spend $45 every couple months and practice practice practice what you learn, you'll use your money a whole lot better than you would signing up for a weekly class for 6 months.

Gerard

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Re: What "should" we spend money on?
« Reply #12 on: July 18, 2012, 09:30:40 PM »
For language learning, another option (once you knock off some basics with online tutorials or stuff from the library) is to have a two-way conversation partner. There are probably people who speak Italian or French and want to practice their English (or have you proofread stuff they need to write in English for school or work). Try putting up a couple of flyers at your local college.

Also, can you audit university courses where you are? Like, just sit in the back of the room and soak up knowledge without getting credit for it?

SpendyMcSpend

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Re: What "should" we spend money on?
« Reply #13 on: July 19, 2012, 07:57:47 PM »
Thanks good tips here.  I don't know anyone who speaks fluent Italian or French currently but I could ask around.  I was hoping for the learning to be part social (although not meeting up with a group of strangers) so that is kind of why I wanted to go with the one on one learning.  Doing it virtually or over Skype would be pretty cool too.  As far as classes go, I just graduated from a grueling 5 year part-time MBA program in accounting while working full-time so I am not that interested in classrooms but maybe next year when I"m over my aversion ;)

These are excellent tips and I will check out some of these podcasts and sites to get started!  I agree about the social aspect of music.  It's not nearly as fun to play when you aren't around others.  I just need to figure out how to even hold the darn instrument.  I picked up a DVD that hopefully will help.

trailsend

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Re: What "should" we spend money on?
« Reply #14 on: July 19, 2012, 08:15:33 PM »
If you're interested in learning languages from other speakers (in groups or one-on-one), like with a conversation partner, I recommend checking out Where Are Your Keys. It's a game that you can learn to play with other people to either teach them a language, or learn a language from them really quickly. There's a lot of material available on the website, and they have a manual for the game due out shortly. It's helpful for adding some structure to conversation-partner talks, and speeds up the learning process considerably over directionless chatting.

rugorak

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Re: What "should" we spend money on?
« Reply #15 on: July 20, 2012, 07:05:28 AM »
Another language learning resource is the blog Fluent in 3 months (http://www.fluentin3months.com/) Besides a ton of good tips the forum has a conversation exchange. So you could use that to find someone who speaks your target language. I haven't used the forums there yet as I am just starting. I am using duolingo for German and in a few more weeks when I feel I have a better handle on the basics I'll probably start looking for someone to practice with. But just reading the blog has provided motivation and some really good tips. I am picking things up much faster than I have in the past. Benny does have a book you can buy but repeatedly says in his posts and videos you do not need to. All it is is a collection of all his knowledge which you can get from his blog. Plus I am pretty sure he would be considered mustachian as he moves around every 3 months and has all his belongings in his bag he travels with. He frequently encourages people to use all the free (or almost free) resources they can get their hands on. So a perfect fit for those of us here.

igthebold

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Re: What "should" we spend money on?
« Reply #16 on: July 20, 2012, 07:12:37 AM »
Another resource worth exploring is Alexander Arguelles's website. He has some techniques for self-teaching language learning that I haven't tried, but seem interesting.

Monkey stache

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Re: What "should" we spend money on?
« Reply #17 on: July 20, 2012, 07:24:21 AM »
I really enjoy using www.livemocha.com to learn a language. It was recommended to me by friends who have tried Rosetta stone and Live Mocha. They said they liked Live Mocha better and it's free! Similar to Rosetta Stone, they show you a picture of the word, the word written out, and you hear the word spoken all at the same time. I like the social aspect of it too. There are people in Latino countries learning English and I can give them feedback on their writing and pronunciation and they do the same for my Spanish. You can also chat online with native speakers to gain practice.

ShanghaiStashing

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Re: What "should" we spend money on?
« Reply #18 on: July 24, 2012, 12:53:56 AM »
This may be obvious and / or implied in the comments above, but I've always tried to go the barter route through my network.

For me this typically looks like the following:
1. Post desired skill / lesson / activity on facebook, twitter, linkedin and ask if anyone has someone who knows this skill. Also reach out directly to my close network for help.
2. Barter with them for something that I am good at (in this case typically cooking or business skills)

Wait for the magic to happen. I've had success with this learning Mandarin (cooking lessons in exchange) and finding a personal trainer (business coaching and consulting for his PT business).

JJ

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Re: What "should" we spend money on?
« Reply #19 on: July 25, 2012, 06:16:30 PM »
Italian. French. You're welcome.

(They won't be free, because they usually meet up at a restaurant if they're anything like the ones here in Columubus. Still, it's a whole hell of a lot cheaper than a tutor, and great fun too.)

I am rather shy so meeting up with strangers and even people I know can be difficult but I guess I could try.
I used to be really shy, but I did a couple of mental exercises from time to time and I got past it.  Something like:
Imagine you make a total fool of yourself with a stranger (e.g. length of toilet roll hanging out of your pants when you come back from the washroom, or can't think of anything to say).  Think hard about the net effect on your life a week later - zero or positive (you have a funny story to tell).  So, downside=nothing.  Upside=potential to learn a new language in this case.  Deliberately embarrass yourself a couple of times and you'll see it isn't so bad.  Making small talk to get things going takes a bit of practice so it may be a good idea to think through a few non-controversial topics to get things going with someone new.

If you want to learn a language you'll have to get past shyness anyway, particularly Italian where only 50% of communication is through speech, the rest is through violent gesticulation.  (I learnt to duck while waiting at the crosswalk in Rome - cell phones are a really bad idea in Italy.)

ludwig

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Re: What "should" we spend money on?
« Reply #20 on: July 27, 2012, 09:40:37 AM »
I don't know anyone who speaks fluent Italian or French currently but I could ask around.
Now you do ;-)
I can help you learning French if you want. And you can surely correct my English I think it's a win-win, PM me if you wanna chat on Skype.

See ya

Sparky

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Re: What "should" we spend money on?
« Reply #21 on: July 31, 2012, 06:17:47 AM »
I've attempted learning languages strictly from a few travel books and making friends with other language speakers. Travelling to areas with the language can be a cheap way to learn too and you learn quickly too.

On/off again learning how to speak Sichuan Chinese (girlfriend native language), Thai (there often enough) and Swedish (blond women...). Random, but useful to me. And free.