Are You Wasting Money With Traditions?


I was wasting money without even really thinking about or realizing it. I had been doing this for nearly 20 years. It was something that was assumed and expected. But when I really took a good hard look at it, I wasn’t getting any value out of it.

My wife and I have a party every year on the weekend preceding the Memorial Day Holiday. It started as the housewarming party for our first home, and has grown into our official kick off to summer. We invite friends and family, grill some great food, have some drinks and have a great time. Over the years it has grown into a massive event, the guest list growing to well over 100 people. The last couple years I’ve started taking the week off leading up to the event to clean our home, perform food prep, and decorate our garage.

This year I caught myself counting down the days and hours until the party was over. I was would say the words, “I just want this to be done,” or “get through this,” to myself. Those phrases don’t convey the right attitude for a party that is completely voluntary, and sucks a significant amount of money out of my pocket each year.

I couldn’t wait for the party to be over.

I spoke to my wife after the party, and coincidentally, she was feeling exactly the same way. We were continuing on simply because it had become tradition. Having a party on Memorial Day Weekend was our “thing.” People expected it. But we had both had lost our passion for our yearly party, and it was time to end it.

The time has come to stop spending our time, energy, and money on something neither of us wanted to do anymore.

We reviewed how much we spent on this year’s party, and thought of some things we could do instead with the same amount of money:

  • Emergency Fund Boost : We like to keep a $1000 liquid emergency fund, but with our home and vehicles reaching an age where more maintenance may be needed, it would be nice to bump that up a little.
  • Weekend Getaway : Instead of spending a bunch of money on hosting a party for other people, why not spend it on a nice romantic weekend for my wife and I?
  • Home Improvement Projects : We have a list of things we’d like to do to our home including replacing some carpet, painting, or even some new furniture.

The more we verbalized what we could do with the funds we spent on this year’s party the less important having the party felt. All of the alternate uses for the funds that we came up with seemed like a much better application of the money.

We’ve already told a few people that we won’t be having the party next year. They were surprised because we had done it for so long, but understood as they imagined the effort money involved in throwing the party.

The party didn’t provide enough value to continue.

I want to spend our money on things that give us enjoyment and value. For many years the party did, but that is no longer the case. It’s time to move on.

How about you, Clever Friends, are you spending money on a tradition right now that could better be used on something else?

Brought to you courtesy of Brock

Disease Called Debt

About the author

Brock Kernin


  • Traditions are whatever you make why not change the tradition. Why don’t you reduce the size and outsource the party? Aunt Betsy can bring the burgers and Uncle Bob brings the potato salad….

    I’ve seen other groups do rotations. Every year a different person hosts a different even. John hosts Christmas parties, Sarah hosts Memorial day….Then next year rotate.

    That way it isn’t just one person with all the burden.

    • That’s a good suggestion, Eric. The biggest thing from time and effort perspective is the decorations. We do a LOT of decorating. Putting them up, and taking them down is a big time suck. From a money perspective, we rent some tents, tables and chairs. There’s a lot we could do to maintain the tradition AND cut down on cost and effort. It’s worth taking a look!

  • This is a good one and fortunately, I don’t put up a bunch of effort in entertaining. I’m more of a whim sorta girl and if one year I feel like having something, we will, but people know that nothing we do should be expected. Good for you two that you realized the value of your time and resources and decided on another way to exhaust them:)

    • Great comment….I agree, and our party has become expected. Next year, I’m sure we’ll get lots of questions about the party and why we’re not having it.

  • We used to host a couple of parties a year (birthdays, milestones, etc) and looking in hindsight this was a huge expense for us. While we still celebrate, we’ve scaled down considerably and have tried our best to ‘adopt’ cheaper traditions (and use the extra money towards extra debt repayments).

  • When a party becomes a financial and emotional burden, it’s definitely time to quit hosting! Our neighbors have hinted that the former owners of our house used to have parties all the time, but we are just not those kind of people. Sorry neighbors 🙁

    • Wow, that’s some interesting expectations that you should have parties because the previous owners did. lol. Peer pressure!!!

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