Where Would You Put Extra Money: Things, Travel, or Education?

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extra money

I am so accustomed to putting any extra money towards savings that I thought it would be fun to think about where I’d spend it if my savings account was all nice and tidy and full. But I wanted to more than just share where I’d spend extra money, I wanted other bloggers to weigh in. So, here are my thoughts and a few of theirs on what they’d spend extra money on first – things, travel or education.



There is definitely a time and place to buy things. Both of my cars are paid for but they are also 8 years old and 13 years old respectively. One of these days I’m going to have to buy another one, but until then I will be sending them all sorts of good mojo and sweet talk so they keep on running.

I will also need things for the babies. They are 7 months old, and I still haven’t bought them high chairs or booster seats mostly because I have to buy two of them or track down two of them on Craigslist. I know I will have to figure something out eventually, so I could put the extra money towards that.

Then, there’s Christmas. I’m imagining this is going to be one of the leanest Christmases we’ve ever had, so extra money could go towards that.

Still, it’s really not in my nature to turn towards buying things when I have extra cash. It is, however, in my nature to dream about travel. My friend Kayla at Shoeaholic No More agrees. She said, “I tend to put ‘extra’ money towards things right now but I’m working really hard to change that habit. Instead, I’d like to try putting it toward travel and making memories with my family and friends.” I agree!



I can think of about a million places in the world I’d like to see. I know that traveling is a luxury, but it’s also been one of the things my husband and I miss the most since having kids. After all, he and I backpacked all over Europe when we were still dating, and we lived in the Caribbean for three years. It’s a huge passion of ours. Our kids aren’t really stopping us from traveling. We’re definitely up for bringing them with us. We just can’t really find the time or the money to make it happen, so I think this is where I’d put my extra money if some fell in my lap today.

Maybe I’d go small like heading over into New York city just 40 minutes away for a nice holiday weekend or maybe I’d take a direct flight to London as a good jumping off spot since my husband and I are familiar with it after going there a few times.

It’s really sad for us to be living so close to one of the biggest airports in the world, filled with wanderlust as always, but not really being able to pull the trigger. We could really use a moment together and a break, so although things or education might be a wiser use of these extra funds, I think we’d use it right here in this category.



My friends, of course, are more level headed than I am and would spend extra money on education. Although I believe in the importance of education, and I’d love to go back to school just for the joy of learning some day, I don’t even want to think about paying for another credit hour at this point. My husband is almost to his 5th and final year of a joint MPH/MD program, and it’s been a very long road. I’d rather use this imaginary extra cash for something fun.

When I asked Holly Johnson of Club Thrifty where she’d put extra money she said, ” I would put money toward education at this point because I have two kids that will go to college. We are in the process of saving for them.” If you look at her monthly budgets each month, she consistently contributes towards her two adorable daughters’ college funds. Smart move, my friend, smart move.

Kassandra at More than Just Money agrees. She said, “We place a high premium on our child’s education and extra-curricular activities that make him happy and encourage positive development. His education will trump travel any day when it comes to allocating extra funds.” What a lucky kid to have such great parents!


So, now it’s your turn. If you had extra money fall from the sky where would it go: Things, Travel, or Education? You’re not allowed to say debt or savings because that would ruin the fun of this post. 😉

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Catherine Alford is the go to personal finance expert for parents who want to better their finances and take on a more active financial role in their families. Check out her award winning blog,


  • Education and travel for us. We hope to start taking our kids with us more often once they get a little older. They flew on a plane for the first time earlier this year and it went pretty well. I think they’re ready.

  • I feel like I SHOULD say education for my 3 year old daughter, but what I really want to say is travel. I never have enough money for travel and I’ve never been out of the country. Once our house is paid off, travel goes to the top of the list!

  • Kathy says:

    Well, we are debt free and mainly put the money into investments to grow wealth. We are retired and provided our son with a no student loan education through his Master’s degree so that’s accomplished. We have everything we want in terms of things. And travel…well, I’m at the point where I really am starting to dislike the whole experience. Flying is such a hassle with security lines, baggage fees and overbooked flights. If I could magically transport to a location (i.e. Star Trek) maybe my attitude would change. So for us, none of your three options apply. So…investing it is.

    • That’s cool. Since you have everything nice and tied up what is the goal? To give your children your investments in the future?

    • Betsy says:

      In pretty much the same place you are… Travel has become a huge hassle. I love your Star Trek analogy. What we are finding is that spreading some of our hard-won savings around to local shelters, food pantries, and arts and education organizations is enormously satisfying. And the adult children are supportive.

  • If money fell out of the sky and I HAD to spend it one one of the three things it would be travel.

  • Kim says:

    If extra money fell out of the sky and I couldn’t save or invest it, I’d probably put it into some upgrades or remodels on our house or rental houses. I say that only because our travel is set and pretty much paid for the next year. If it wasn’t, I’d pick vacation.

  • Catherine says:

    Aside from debt? I’d either use it for stuff (things) we’ve been putting off- like a new closet door sort of thing, or travel. But more likely than not save it for upcoming stuff…boring 😉

  • Easy – travel. We love traveling and the girls are old enough when they can handle a full day of exploring without needing a nap. Okay, these days it’s more likely Chris and I will need the nap afterwards. LOL! Education is definitely a higher priority, but we’ve been saving since they were babies and their 529 plans are in good shape overall. I guess Mom is a risk-taker and wouldn’t divert any of the “fall from the sky” money to their accounts. 🙂 Of course if the amount was enough for beach-front property, we would probably choose a new home over travel even.

  • Sarah says:

    Great question!! And yikes – I should probably be contributing to our daughters education funds too but I just haven’t made that a priority yet. Luckily, they’re still very little so I guess I have time.

    I usually save extra money or put it towards my home. We got a rid of so much stuff when we moved and slowly but surely I would like to get a few more items for around the house (you know – things like dining room chairs, dressers for our girls and a patio set haha).

    • Cat says:

      As you know mine are little too. Our income will greatly increase in the next 10 years so I am going to really save for them at that time.

  • Mario says:

    Oh man. Obviously, the starting point would be paying off debt. Then, it would be remedying the very sorry state of my retirement savings.

    I’ve also already got all the education I think I’ll need (and if I go back to get more, at that level, it’ll be paid for)

    But then… I think travel gives me the most bang for the buck. I mean, you get to plan it, anticipate it, do it, then look at the pictures after. No way any one thing is going to give me that much joy

  • Jason says:

    I would put my extra money towards travel. I love visiting new places.

  • I am putting extra money toward travel 100%. I definitely don’t think I’ll be getting any higher education anytime soon and things do not interest me. I am trying to declutter, not add clutter!

  • Of course, to education. My kids are growing up, you know the feeling of being overwhelmed if I could be able to send them to a university they prefer. Time goes by so fast….

  • Definitely TRAVEL! But if this was reality, I’d put it in savings, definitely! or maybe 50% of the extra money..haha!

  • Tre says:

    Travel! Without a doubt. We already put a large chunk of our budget towards education for the boys.

  • Kassandra says:

    I miss traveling for the pure fun of it as opposed for work related visits. We do hope to do more of this as time frees up but in the meantime I keep adding countries to my “must see before I die” list. 🙂

  • Thanks for the mention Cat! I am really trying to get away from my “stuff” mentality. My friends and I are hoping to do a short/cheap getaway this spring, but I’ve decided I’ll only go if I make some serious debt progress between now and then.

  • Great post, Cat!

    As I kid, I remember my mom telling me she would go travel if she won the lottery. At that time I thought it was ridiculous. Heeeellllllloooo! Think of how many toys you could get with a million bucks?! Travelling just seemed like an intangible waste of money.

    Now I cringe at spending $200 on a pair of much-needed winter boots but would gladly hand over the MasterCard for a $1000 flight. Nothing can beat the experience of travelling. Funny enough, I think my travels have taught me to live a simpler, more frugal life.

  • We talk about buying a cabin in the mountains or the beach house in San Diego with our extra money. Then we laugh and put it away in investments. It’s fun to dream and think about things, but I love reality much more. We’ll go visit those places but they aren’t the end goal. I love when I get bonuses and give most of it to my wife and say “do whatever you want with it.” Then she says she is going off to get a massage and pedicure…but just goes and invests it. Just can’t break the habit.

  • Travel, travel, and travel! We too are afflicted with wanderlust and look for every opportunity to explore the world. Travel has always been our largest discretionary expense and I hope it stays that way :)!

  • Chela says:

    Definitely travel! I’m so much more fond of having experiences and memories than stuff. Not to mention, travelling is educational! Growing up I travelled a lot internationally with my parents and I hope to be able to continue travelling once I have kids and they’re old enough to come with us. I want them to see the world, too!

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