The "Treat Yourself" Syndrome

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The "Treat Yourself" Syndrome

Postby Cady » Wed May 23, 2007 7:26 am

I started to put this in my FFJ but decided to make a new thread on it because I'm curious if other people experience this.

I'll call this the "treat yourself" syndrome.

So after the new carpet was laid I fought to urge to go "treat myself" somewhere. I finally caved and went to a Bob Evans for a splurge of a meal but spent the whole time pondering the urge to splurge as a "treat." I can feel my lower lip start to poke out when I begin to try to talk myself out of "treating myself." This is definitely juvenile but I can't understand where it comes from because my parents certainly never opened their wallets to reward us for good behavior.

I have heard the phrase used by my friends too: To justify eating out when they don't want to cook at home, even though they ate out every other night of the week and the "Treat" actually might be to stay in.

Anyone else have this instinct pop up and sabotage their best laid budget plans?

What *is* it and where do you think it comes from?

Why would I need to go "celebrate" a new $500 carpet??? The treat WAS the carpet.
I just wanted to keep the party going I guess. ( I'm going to take the cost of the meal out of this weeks grocery budget to offset it in the big picture.)

So do other folks have that?
Any tricks for cancelling out the pull of the "Treat Yourself" call?

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Postby will0957 » Wed May 23, 2007 7:54 am

I'm planning on being debt free in December. I'm currently saving for a new TV that I plan to treat myself to around the same time I'll be debt free (paid cash, of course) :)

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Where does it come from?

Postby justjen1221 » Wed May 23, 2007 8:08 am

Honestly, I'm not sure where the whole Treat Yourself has come from. I do it ALL the time and afterwards I think, "Wow, that was an awful waste of money!" For example, yesterday I picked up breakfast at McD's (I do this about once a week). I then had to go get lunch since I had not packed one. When dinner time rolled around I had a meeting to go to and decided to treat myself to go out with the group after the meeting. I had treated myself all day to eating out! What a huge waste of money!

The real question is, how can we stop doing this? It's certainly a mentality and I'd like to stop!
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Postby sandycheeks » Wed May 23, 2007 8:44 am

I find the opposite. When I'm on a roll being frugal, I have a hard time treating myself. I end up hoarding, which can be it's own problem.

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Postby plonkee » Wed May 23, 2007 9:48 am

I do this too.

I think its not a problem as long as you keep it in budget. Frankly, I'm a great person and I deserve treats.
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Postby jdroth » Wed May 23, 2007 3:39 pm

I treat myself, too.

I don't think it's always bad to do so, but it certainly can be. Sometimes, though, it's hard to know when it's okay to treat yourself or not. This is another case where food/money methods overlap. (There are a <i>lot</i> of them.) I know that when I'm just starting a fitness program, I can't let myself have treats until I've established the routine. Once I know what I'm doing, and have proven to myself that I can do it, then I can add treats in here and there. Same with money. The real trouble comes when I'm treating myself all the time! I've been doing that with money lately and need to stop.

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Postby Gnashchick » Thu May 24, 2007 7:11 am

I know exactly where "treat yourself" comes from: Madison Avenue. It's wormed into our brains as a justification to buy more stuff.

The next time you sit down in front of the TV, count how many times you hear that phrase, or similar. The other word that drives me nuts is "deserve," as in, "Get the new ____ you deserve!" Gah.
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Postby JerichoHill » Thu May 24, 2007 7:54 am

sandycheeks wrote:I find the opposite. When I'm on a roll being frugal, I have a hard time treating myself. I end up hoarding, which can be it's own problem.

I am very guilty of this .
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Postby onebigmortarboard » Thu May 24, 2007 8:47 am

I suspect most people are programmed to see any shift toward less consumption as deprivation (and there are probably very good evolutionary reasons for that). "Treating oneself" might push back those feelings.

As for avoiding it: I think most budgets should have room for small pleasures that really matter, so that the urge to treat indiscriminately doesn't come into play.

For some people, that might be buying a new (paperback) book each month. For others, it might be good chocolate. For others, it might be new running socks.

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Postby RJ » Fri May 25, 2007 9:46 pm

I also have a hard time "treating myself" to restaurant meals, but when I do, it's good! For the most part, I equate eating out with getting fat, and eating at home with staying on my diet. So for me, the consequences of treating myself, such as it were, are double. When I do eat out, it's either something fairly special (like a celebration dinner or lunch with someone I haven't seen in a while) or something fairly exotic (like a dinner at the new Ethiopian restaurant). But I have a good knack for talking myself out of eating out, and sometimes all it takes is a middle road--I'll cook at home, but I'll make something special that would cost a lot more at a restaurant (mussels in white wine sauce, seared ahi tuna, etc.). In effect, the meals out do become treats--occasional events with some purpose.

When you have the hankering for a meal at Bob Evans, is it the meal itself which you crave? (And can you not make a better meal at home?) Or is it the experience of having hearty food in a familiar, comfortable environment? Sometimes what we're really trying to get with our "treats" is some sort of emotion or experience, and the food itself is not necessarily the main draw. The "experience," in fact, has become a major marketing device, and not just for food purveyors. When we seek to treat ourselves (that is, to soothe our emotions or spark our curiosity, etc.), what is it that we're trying to escape to? And escape from? And achieve? Consumerism has become a complex thing.

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Postby pf101 » Wed May 30, 2007 12:26 pm

I think it's important to treat yourself, but you should plan for it. In my goal setting class I stress that people need to build rewards into their goal plans. If you life a life of deprivation with no 'treats' then eventually you are likely to get frustrated and fall off the financial wagon. I spend a lot of time comparing a debt management/budget plan to a diet and the parallels are definitely there.

If you know you have a treat coming, in my experience people are more likely to wait and that treat is more satisfying for it. However, if there are no treats on the horizon then people are more likely to make unplanned splurges which is what can really blow the budget (or diet) wide open.

So add it to your budget. The treat fund. But make sure you stick to whatever it is. Also, you shouldn't get a treat for buying something since whatever you purchased IS the treat. Instead, treats should be rewards for achieving something you worked for.

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Postby jdroth » Wed May 30, 2007 3:32 pm

I've started a new approach to treating myself. My web sites are now generating a couple hundred dollars in Amazon gift certificates each month. This is more than adequate for purchasing all those little things I crave. I plan to set this money aside as my "treat money". So long as I have a balance at Amazon, I can order whatever I want. When that money runs out, I have to wait. We'll see how this works. For now, though, I have a DVD of <i>Spider-Man</i> comics and a couple of Ben Stein books on their way to my front door. :P

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Postby Cady » Thu May 31, 2007 5:30 am

Wow. Thanks for all the ideas and discussion on this. RJ, for me it is the waitress effect. Someone waiting on me, refreshing my drink, that is the treat. Altho I cannot deny I like their food as well and truthfully I probably couldn't come close to emulating that sausage gravy at home! Mainly though I think it is the service. I like to shop in clothing stores where the clerks will start a fitting room for me too. Whoever above mentioned Madison Ave. is right on the mark.

PF101 and JD you both have the right idea. I need a "treat myself" budget line. I think I'll toss $5 a month there and then when the urge strikes again the money will be there.

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Postby BrettMcKay » Thu May 31, 2007 9:08 am

I have the tendency to go overboard when treating myself. For example, after I finished my first year of law school, my wife and I decided to treat ourselves to nice restaurant. We didn't stop with one night. The next three days we ate out, justifying it as a treat. We were really just wasting money. Because my wife's not working as much this summer, we have to cut back on treats. Instead of eating out once a week, we'll having frozen pizza candle lit dinners.

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Postby jgs9455 » Fri Jun 01, 2007 2:07 pm

Am I one of the few people who doesn't believe in treating yourself?

Usually completing one financial goal is reward enough itself.

Most "rewards" don't last. If I want something, I start researching it. I learn about the pros/cons, value, and best models of whatever it is. Then I hold off for a bit. If later on I still want it, I buy it. If I want something else, I start the process again. Almost everything I have ever bought on impulse or to treat myself I regretted later. If I really really want something I get it, life is too short. But not many things fall in that category.

The simple test is - will I be happier months from now if I buy this, or if I save it and invest it? One of the few things I like that Rich Dad said - don't buy things that cost you money. Instead buy assets that make you money that you can then use to buy the things you want. But its a snowball effect. Once you make money off of money, you then want to turn around and buy more assets that make money.

Once you have the discipline not to spend and save for your goals, you also have the strength to resisit temptation to fall off the path.

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