Things I Want to Do With My Money

Last week, I had reason to sit down and think about whether or not I was putting enough money away for my future goals.

Despite saving around 35% of my income (+ any extras), it turns out I'm not. I have so many things that I want to achieve with my money to build a better life for myself. I decided to write down exactly what these things were, when I wanted to do them, and how much they'd likely cost me.

It turns out that having goals is expensive. Who knew?


My biggest career goal requires another certificate on top of my degree. Even if the specific jobs don't require the certificate, it will give me a clear edge in my career and in the competition for some positions.

The certificate in question costs $7,500.00. There is also an associate certificate that I can take for $2,400. I'm not sure which one would be the most applicable to the career I'd like to pursue.

Because I'm so new to my career, this won't have to happen for another couple of years.

Total: $7,500


There are certainly a few huge trips I want to go on, one in the next year (Europe) and then one within a couple of years (South East Asia/India). We would love to go to Africa and South America as well, eventually.

To just look at the Europe trip, I think my individual costs for 3-4 weeks (which I think we'll be aiming for) will be around $3,500.

  • We can likely get flights for around $1000.
  • If we use AirBNB, we can likely get hotels for about $100/night (averaged) * 20 nights = $2,000 ($1000 for myself as the boy & I will share the cost)
  • Food for around $1000
  • Sightseeing for around $500

This is very much an estimate that we won't be able to finalize until it's a lot closer.

Total: $3,500


The boy and I have been together for five and a half years. We'll want to get married sooner rather than later. Weddings are expensive and I don't know how low cost we can keep it, but just as an idea:

  • The venue we want will cost about $2,200
  •  Food at $20/person will be about $3,000
  • Dress at $1,500
  • Invitations, suits, bridesmaid dresses, shoes, decor, flowers, alcohol, etc 
This is also an estimate but I think we could get away with about $8,000, between both the boy and I. We will have partially combined finances by then so I am just going to have to budget for all of it.

Total: $8,000


I don't have terrible teeth. My top teeth don't need braces at all, but I would like to have my bottom teeth straightened out at least a little.

My benefits say that they do cover it at least partially, but I have heard feedback from my colleagues that they rarely cover adult braces.

So I think I'm looking at about $2,500. I could be way overshooting this, because my bottom teeth aren't even bad and I doubt I'd need them on for over a year.

I'll have more information when I see my dentist next month.

Total: $2,500


Those are the short term things that I'll want to spend money on within the next 1-2 years. The grand total on these things is an estimated $21,500.

Luckily, the wedding will be a shared cost between the boy and I, and the braces and certificate might come in a lot cheaper, so I'm thinking a more realistic sum is about $17,000. 

How's that for financial goals?

Do you have any outrageously expensive financial goals that you want to achieve within the next couple of years?


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58 thoughts on “Things I Want to Do With My Money

  1. I'd love to go to grad school for an economics MSc - partially because I think it would help my career, but mostly because I think I would enjoy it. I consider that splurging on myself, really.

    I'd also like to travel for a year (yes! a year!) - which might take around my current income, just to be on the safe side. (However, minus the £700/month debt payments!)

    But before I do that, I'd like laser eye surgery so I don't have to worry about getting gritty contacts or breaking my glasses while hiking in central Europe!

    In total...around £30,000, NOT including making enough to live on during my year of grad school or putting anything more towards savings during that time.

    If I don't think about it, I won't panic...

      1. Yeah, I started an MA (for unrelated reasons - I needed one to emigrate and I picked English as something I could do easily) and dropped it halfway through - it was stressful but I was also working full-time while studying full-time so I hope "just" studying will be a little less intense!

  2. Anya

    Have you thought about not having a wedding or having something small? I never wanted a wedding, but DH insisted on having something small, so we did the whole thing for 1k and maybe 20 people. My parents paid $500 for my dress and his parents paid $600 for the reception (and donation to the priest). My parents agreed with me on the no wedding idea and said that they'll buy us a honeymoon. For us, that was much more memorable than the wedding.

    1. Post author

      I understand the desire to save money on weddings, however, it's not about the money for me. It's going to cost money but we have big families that we want to bring together and celebrate with. Our honeymoon will also be Europe if we get married in 2013 so that makes up for the honeymoon thing. A wedding is important to me!

  3. Looks like you've got some good goals to shoot for. We love to travel, that is always a big one for us. Our goals right now revolve around our house. We need to get the fence replaced, a new deck, and the master bath redone. Of course, that will all take time and prioritizing. Right now we're just getting ready to get started on the master bath! 🙂

  4. We have a lot of things that we will be spending on within the next couple of years. We want to get married either next year or the year after, I need some dental work done as well, and of course traveling!

  5. In June we set the goal to pay off about $100K in non-mortgage debt in 27 months - so far we've paid off almost $20K, and are ahead of schedule!

    Putting it down in writing makes a world of difference in terms of the focus to meet your goals. Good luck with it all!

  6. That's a cheap wedding, my wife and I spent about 25K on ours :s

    If you can do it for cheaper I definitely would, the wedding day goes so fast and then its over and you're left wondering where your money went...

  7. We want to get married within a year, and do lots of traveling, too. The boy may go back to school in a few years, but we're hoping that it would be at least partially employer-funded. And come to think of it- the boy could use some dental work, too. Although getting him to actually go to the dentist is a wholly awful experience.

  8. Brian

    Traveling is our major expense. The good news is our little guy flys free for the next two years (if we are willing to hold him on our laps, which may or may not happen). Other than that the only thing we have that is a budget killer is stupid high cost of daycare.

  9. Elena @ Increase Your Metabolism

    I love your list of things you want to achieve - I am sure everyone has one of their own. I, personally, would go with the wedding first. I am getting married myself after 5 and a half years 🙂
    After you get married and figure out the way you want to deal with your finances (joint accounts, separate accounts and so on), then it will be easier to realize some other goals.

  10. I think if you really put your mind to it, you can do the wedding on 8K. It's astounding how quickly the costs add up *sigh*.
    We're hoping to go to Europe next year. I haven't really thought too much about the costs. It's probably 6-10K.
    Can I ask why you plan to AirBnB over hostels? I definitely know there are reasons, I'm just curious as to why. I'm going to struggle to convince my spouse to stay in hostels, but I really prefer the experience, especially when it's an overseas trip. We'll probably throw in a few B&Bs and whatnot, we'll see.
    I'm also going to work on a designation and we'll pay for whatever work doesn't cover, but only time will tell on that one. My boss wants to pay for all of it, but we'll have to see what the higher ups say.

  11. I only needed braces for about 16 months and mine were $4k. Yikes! I got the clear ones since I was 17 and super self-conscious, but that only added about $300 to the price. Definitely look into that because you might be underestimating that cost.

    We're saving for a master bathroom remodel, but other than that, for the next 1-2 years our focus will be on raising a new baby, saving for retirement, and making sure I can work part-time for awhile. Kind of boring 🙂

  12. I know your Europe costs aren't finalized, but you may want to consider adding transportation costs to your estimate. Taking the train between countries will add a not insignificant amount to your savings total.

  13. Daisy, what certificate costs so much money? I thought certificates were short programs and were usually really cheap to complete?

  14. Don't know about the rest, but your European costs are reasonable. I am looking at construction costs for a new house on a land I just bought, I would say about $50K minimum will be gone by the end of next year!

    1. Post author

      There are a lot of things that you can DIY with construction - but then, lots of things that you shouldn't DIY. Good luck!

  15. The boy and I are also going back to school (he's currently already back in school and I will be going in MArch). Luckily, my job pays a hefty portion (70%) so I'm saving up forthe other 30%, in addition to trying to pay off the boy's.
    We also want to take some major trips, and save for a down payment.

  16. ugh I can't look at the cost of multiple goals over multiple years like that, it stresses me out!! I'm sure everything I want before age 30 prices in the six-figure range so I'm just going to spare myself the heart attack and not add it up.

    Is denial bad???

    I think you have really achievable (and beneficial -- all of those will forward your life/happiness) goals. Looking forward to watching you tick them off the list one by one!

  17. Fiona

    For me, I'd like to fix my teeth (one or two crooked ones) and get laser eye surgery in the next few years. Right now these two are my priorities because they have been bugging me for a long time. I'd also like to save up for travelling to Japan, which can get pretty expensive.

    1. Post author

      If my eyes were bad, I would definitely want laser eye surgery as well. I don't know how much it costs but I've heard it's not super expensive. My teeth are the same - just one or two that I want fixed!

  18. Obviously I don't know your mouth but if it's a few teeth you may be able to get away with a spring retainer..if you need full braces you're looking at 4k minimum though, and that's conservative. Hopefully it's an easy fix 🙂 I also need to do a list like this but may have a heart attack when I see it!

  19. Weddings can be expensive and costs can add up quickly. My husband and I saved on wedding costs by getting married at the courthouse and having a big party the next day at a relative's house. We then went to Hawaii for our honeymoon. We saved so much money this way! We didn't want to go into wedding debt.

  20. That's a great idea, writing down the costs for all of the things you want to do so you know what exactly you need to save up. I should really do that too! I definitely want to travel, do a backpacking trip around Asia and I just kind of estimated that if me and the BF went for a month it might cost us $2000 each, but I need to do a bit more research first. We've got our wedding budgeted ($10,000 total so $5,000 each). And I have also thought about going back to school to get a certificate in Marketing since my fine arts degree seems to be a bit of a hindrance as I try to crack into that industry. Great post!

  21. All of these goals seem very reasonable, Daisy... And I think that your cost estimates don't seem outrageous at all.

    We are saving for a most of the same things (travel, braces, education), and those are huge expenses indeed.

  22. Visualize the goals!!!! We have so many goals as well. We want to travel as well. Right now we are staying in the US, since there are so many places to visit and it's cheaper. We have family in Mexico and in South Africa, and all over the US.

    We still have to go on our honeymoon.

    We are also saving for a house, retirement funds, and investment accounts. My husband wants lasik surgery for his eyes.

    I just got braces. My total treatment is $5600. My insurance is covering $2K. I also had to get four teeth removed at the dentist. After insurance it was $300.

  23. We already achieved our super expensive one - closing costs including 20% down on our new house. That ran us about $50,000 and we're currently recovering. Our expensive goals over the next 2 years are the $24,000 to pay off the old house, $15,000 to finish maxing our Roth IRA's this year and max them out again next year, $2000 for the media room projector, screen, receiver, and surround sound, $2500 estimate for Lasik for Mr. BFS, and $3500 for a couple of big vacations. Yep, we want $47,000 in cash over the next 18 months...

  24. Short-term, I'm planning 3 vacations next year. Long term, I want to have enough for a downpayment or massive home renovation of our current home. So I'll need to save masively in the next few years. O_O;

  25. Edward Antrobus

    It's kind of a chicken-and-egg problem of needing industry experience to get accepted into grad school for the program I want, but can't get hired in the industry without some further education. But that's my big financial goal for the future. Three years of grad school with in-state tuition works out to about $30,000. Which is more money than I've personally made since getting married.

  26. Refreshing to hear how people want to SPEND their cash and not just save 😉 - One minor point - I think you have seriously under-estimated the cost of food while in Europe. Depending where you go, the UK (where I live) is very expensive and the pound is strong against the dollar. Most Euro countries are also expensive... Benelux countries are expensive, as is France, Spain, Italy, Germany and then Norway / Sweden are RIDICULOUSLY expensive!

  27. Jenn

    I love to see other people's savings goals, and I think it's always smart to plan ahead.

    My husband and I always have multipe savings goals. The big one right now is home repair and remodel costs. (Home ownership can be expensive!)

    My wedding a few years ago was a little less than your estimate, but for only about 110 guests. The cost of our individual items were considerably less than your estimates (our reception hall was under a grand, my dress was off the rack sample marked way down -- though alterations, a veil and shoes added to the total.) Wedding costs add up quickly, and wedding cakes, photographers and reception music are generally not inexpensive, though there are ways to cut costs or do without. Our wedding was in a very low cost area, which really helped too.

    You said your Europe travel expenses are rough, and I agree with others who say you may be underestimating somewhat. Europe is expensive (but I think it's totally worthwhole!). I roughly planned on $7000 for a two week, three country trip last year, and it ended up costing nearly $9000. We went during summer, but the weather was so miserable (almost every day for two weeks it rained and was chilly), I would strongly consider the cheaper off season if I went again. It was still an amazing trip, and we didn't try too hard to keep expenses low. If you are there and not sure how soon you'll get back, you will want to see the attractions.

  28. It probably all seems like a lot right now, but if you break it up into smaller, more manageable goals it probably won't seem like such a huge task. I'd like to do more traveling, but first and foremost is an emergency fund and retirement savings. I sometimes question how that will be possible on my income. But again, baby steps.

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  30. I think your Europe estimate is accurate. We spent $3000 per person for flight, accommodation, food and fun money when we went to Germany for 3 weeks. We only stayed at the hostel for 3 nights and for the remaining time, we rented apartments and stayed at B&Bs. We still did lots of attractions, had a 10-day rail pass, and ate and drank very well.

    I got braces (invisalign) as an adult and had no problems getting my work extended health plan to pay for it. I got $2000 covered, and had to pay the remaining amount. I would definitely get a few quotes though - the prices I was quoted varied by several thousand dollars, and some orthodontists even tried to upsell me on jaw surgery! :S

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  32. Don't forget photographers for your wedding. You don't want to hire a hack. Decent full day coverage starts at around $1500 and goes up from there. You could pay less, but you really don't know what you're going to get. They may have a flashy website with lots of photos... but did they really take all of them? A few google image searches will help.

  33. Vangile Makwakwa

    After reading this I'm inspired to actually sit down and put together a cost for all the things I want and to polish off a strategy on how to cover these costs. If you can I recommend not taking on a loan on the certificate. I took on student loans for business school and paying them off has become my priority because the interest rate is insane. I highly recommend the traveling though. I am not sure about the sightseeing. It may cost a bit more. Just traveling around England can be quite costly.

  34. Jd Flora

    Hi, I hope you reply to this...because I really need to know your feedback as THIS IS CRUCIAL..Christmas is approaching, um how do you manage gift-giving? And how do you filter whom to give gifts to? It's so hard because I want to give everyone even a tiny/cheap but meaningful gift but the truth is, it all adds up.. Please advise. Thanks! More power to you!

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  43. cj

    Great prices on the wedding in 2013! I knew people in 1999 that paid $15,000 or even $20,000. And big congrats to you on that!

    Travel will cost us in the near future for sure. We want some Vanguard index funds min $3000 to start and new laptops are becoming an emergency;) May you have all those goodies and more, Daisy!

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