Cashing in on not smoking

Sometimes life hits you with some financial surprises. These can be bad, like an expensive car repair or medical bill, or they can be good, like a bonus at work or a cash gift. Lucky for me this week, I received the latter: a large cash gift!

The day after my birthday, an unexpected $1000 was deposited in my checking account by my dad. Now, this is a very unusual birthday gift. In my family, we grew up quite poor and my parents have a long history of some very bad financial decisions. While this had some serious drawbacks — especially when I became aware of our financial shortfalls as a teenager — I wouldn’t necessarily say it was debilitating. After all, I’ve made it to adulthood with a university education, no consumer debt, and money in the bank. Anyway, the point of the matter is that $1000 is a lot of money to myself, and to my father, hence the surprise when it appeared in my bank account.

Well, it was more than a birthday present: when I was nine, my dad made a deal with my sisters and I that if we never started smoking, he would give each of us $1000 on our 25th birthdays. The promise was brought up a few times in jokes over the past few years, but for the most part was largely forgotten. However, now at 25 and still cigarette-free, I got to cash in on that deal (nevermind that smoking is by far one of the most expensive habits itself! At over $10/pack in Canada, a pack-a-day habit will cost you over $4000 a year!).

So what did I do with my unexpected $1000? Let me tell you:

$250 to my vacation fund, for my trip to Iceland in June
$550 to my emergency fund so it’s at $1000 and I’m finally practicing what I preach!
$200 to my house/car fund

I know, all into savings! Kind of boring, but I wasn’t all that interested shopping with it. Earlier in the day, I stopped by the mall to pick up a book I had on hold and I went to Aritzia for two more of the tank tops I love, so I was already out of my spending mood. Furthermore, since these purchases and the others I’m planning this month are already budgeted for, I don’t need to roll any extra money into my spending — and I really don’t think I should after all the fun I had last month!

What I really love, however, is not having to put this money towards debt. This is the first cash windfall I’ve ever had that I didn’t have to split between debt and savings! That in itself is such a reward, I almost didn’t want to spoil it by buying stuff. Instead, the $1000 gift from my dad is going to be part of a great travel experience with my friends, contribute to my financial security, and help me to reach some long term goals.

While I might not have a physical object to show for it, my cash windfall went very far and I am super grateful for my father’s generosity (if not a little bit concerned that he should be putting this towards his own retirement). I know savings was the best place for this money (for me, for right now) because this is where it will confer the greatest and longest lasting benefit — and that’s all it’s ever about: getting the most for your money!