I write a lot about frugality, about saving for the future. But what about enjoying life today? My friend Matt recently asked, “Amid all the saving and sacrifices you make to keep your financial life in order, what is your one extravagance that you deem worth spending money on? I know with you it’s that Filson clothing stuff, right? Maybe Apple products?”
He’s right. I love both Filson and Apple. I don’t often splurge on Filson — I’m just too cheap — but I always spend more for Apple computers because they’re worth it to me. I don’t really consider that a splurge, though, because it helps to increase my productivity. My food spending? Now, that is a splurge! Kris and I love fine food, and we’re not afraid to pay for it. On our recent trip to San Francisco, I spent more on food than I spent on clothing during all of 2007.
But Matt wanted to know more. “I’d love to hear these personal finance bloggers who try and one-up each other on how hard they clip coupons or how much they devote to their 401k, I’d love to hear they get a massage every so often or bought a new fancy car and why they chose to spend their money on that one thing.”
Armed with Matt’s suggestion, I approached some of my colleagues. Here are the things personal finance bloggers splurge on:
NCN from No Credit Needed wrote:
I like saving money but I don’t mind splurging on a few things. Included among these are gymnastics lessons for my daughter. She’s eight, and she is a competitive gymnast. Her training sessions are expensive but important to her. So, we gladly pay for them. I’m not sure that this is an extravagance, but it certainly isn’t necessary.
FMF from Free Money Finance wrote:
Cycling is my one extravagance. I bought a new road bike last year for a few thousand dollars. Add in other purchases like a bike rack for my SUV, specialized bike clothes, hydration packs, nutritional bars, maintenance equipment and on and on — and it comes out to be a sizable amount. Then again, cycling keeps me in shape and has helped my cholesterol drop like a rock, so I’m sure it’s actually saving me money in the long run. That’s my story, at least, and I’m sticking to it.
Will from Wise Bread wrote:
I’m willing to pay a high premium to avoid LA traffic. I’ve never lived more than a ten-minute drive away from any of my jobs. This usually means paying an extra $300 a month for the convenience. But I think it is worth it because I get an extra two hours a day in my life. That works out to be $5 per hour — a price I’ll gladly pay for spending more time on my blog (um, I mean my family).
Pinyo from Moolanomy wrote:
While my wife and I try to save as much money as possible, we tend to splurge on things that bring the family together and improve our quality of life. For instance, we like to eat out on the weekends and don’t mind spending more money at a good restaurant. We also don’t mind spending money on trips and vacations. Lastly, we like to spend more money on higher quality items if we know we will be using them for a long time.
Jim from Blueprint for Financial Prosperity wrote:
I’m all about spend as little as possible for “stuff” and the splurging on experiences. For example, I’ll try to pay as little as possible for the computer I’ll need (almost the opposite of J.D. and his Apple fetish), or haggle my way to the cheapest cell phone plan, but I’ll go gangbusters when I’m on vacation. For example, on our honeymoon, we took a helicopter tour of Kauai, Hawaii that ran $240 a piece. While pricey, I value the experience of touring Kauai on a helicopter with my wife — and not feeling guilty over spending the money — more than accumulating “stuff.”
Plonkee from Plonkee Money wrote:
I’m not the most frugal person in the world, but I do tend to stick to a pretty middle of the road existence, not splashing out on much. My main extravagance is haircuts — I get my regular cut and blow dry in probably the nicest and most expensive salon in the city. Given the unexciting hairstyles I normally sport, I could probably spend about half the amount and get the same cut, but I trust my hairdresser, and I feel like I’m spending for quality. I also love pretending that I’m fashionable and sophisticated, and can afford the high life.
Trent from The Simple Dollar wrote:
I tend to splurge on anything Nintendo. I own a Wii and a DS and have a grand old time with both of them.
The GLBL Guy from Gather Little By Little wrote:
Dress shoes. I wear my dress shoes all day long, 5-6 days a week. I want shoes that are durable, comfortable and easy to maintain. I started wearing Doc Martens ten years ago, and I still have and wear that first pair. I’m willing to put out the extra money in the short-term to wear them in the long-term.
Nina from Queercents wrote:
My partner and I prefer to buy experiences rather than things. We’ll spend money on a nice piece of fish and an above average bottle of Sauvignon Blanc. That’s a typical Tuesday night for us. Most people concentrate their disposable dollars on things reserved for special occasions rather than on what we do or use everyday. Alexandra Stoddard writes of the 5-percent Rule. This translates into: “a tendency to save up for a few outstanding events each year — for a particular party, anniversary or birthday celebration, a vacation. Such events comprise at the most 5 percent of our living time, and the remaining 95 percent is often merely walked through in wistful anticipation of some later joy.” We pay attention to the smaller, day-to-day occurrences and are willing to splurge on these experiences.
Flexo from Consumerism Commentary wrote:
My biggest splurge, which I would consider to be a series of small splurges, is my habit to eat lunch with my coworkers out of the office. I do this because I don’t like cooking for myself at home, the office’s cafeteria is as expensive as going out (and I can get better food out of the office), and I prefer the company of my co-workers. I’ve tried brown-bagging it, but after many years, I can’t get that to work for me.
SVB from The Digerati Life wrote:
I am a frugalist at heart and practice a lot of discipline and self-control when it comes to spending. I don’t buy stuff very often and don’t buy on impulse. However, I do have a few things I may splurge on without regrets. I usually don’t hold back when I purchase things for my house that I think will beautify it or make it more comfortable to live in. In particular, I have a weakness for fabric and linen (e.g. pretty curtains and bed accessories), as well as garden plants. Not only do they add to my family’s personal comfort and enjoyment but I also feel that they add to the value of our surroundings. I view curb appeal as an investment! Or it could just be my “nesting instinct” kicking in.
Cap from Stop Buying Crap wrote:
When I’m traveling or on vacation, I would splurge as if there’s no depths to my bankroll. My internal calculator will turn off, and everything will suddenly become affordable in my eyes. Expensive dinner? No problem. Overpriced souvenirs that’ll most likely collect dust soon after? Two please. The spend attitude, of course, quickly wears itself out after the vacation is over — especially when the bill arrives. Having said that, I generally won’t revisit these places again, so the price of a fun experience for myself and loved ones is well worth the splurge.
Lily from The Honest Dollar wrote:
My boyfriend and I are fairly serious about saving. Being young and living in New York, we have a lot of opportunities for spending money, but we tend to be conservative in daily spending. Our main splurge is food. We save up to go to Michelin-rated restaurants. We drop the big bucks on organic chicken and beef because my boyfriend swears they taste better (I’m skeptical, but I humor him). We invest in quality cookware. After all, you are what you eat.
Mrs. Micah wrote:
When I asked my husband about my one splurge, he said exactly what I was thinking: “chocolate!” I buy a bag of Nestle semi-sweet chips every week and by the end it’s all gone. If I want a little pick-me-up, I’ll have a dozen chips straight. Or I’ll mix them up with peanuts as a trail mix to stave off blood sugar drops. If it affected my weight I’d stop, but since it doesn’t I count it as a regular grocery expense like rice and milk.
Jeremy from Gen X Finance wrote:
As Elaine described George in an episode of Seinfeld, I’m very careful with money. Most purchases are planned out well in advance, and I almost always buy something when it is on sale. The one exception is food. Now, I’m not talking about fancy restaurant food, but fresh food for cooking at home. I absolutely love to cook. So if I feel like cooking steak, I’ll go buy steak. I’m talking NY Strip, Ribeye, etc. I’ll buy 20 dollar a pound fresh sea scallops, imported cheese, or whatever is needed to create the meal I desire. To me, great food is one of the best things to experience in life, so it is worth every penny.
Nickel from Five Cent Nickel worte:
Over the past couple of years, our spending patterns have been increasingly shaped by a desire to create wonderful memories as opposed to accumulating more stuff. I think this is largely driven by the realization that our kids won’t be young forever, and we need to enjoy this time in our life as much as possible. So our biggest splurges now run toward travel — either trips to see extended family, or family vacations.
I think that even the most frugal person has one or two indulgences she allows herself. And that’s not wrong. In fact, it’s good. It’s these things that keep us going as we save for the future. What do you splurge on and why?