How to spend your money

Yesterday, as I was otherwise occupied (I spent five hours writing a post about programmable thermostats, a post nobody will even like!), the conversation on Donna Freedman’s article got a little cranky. Donna wrote about pinching pennies on some things so that she could splurge on others. In Donna’s case, that meant a trip to England.

Tyler K., who’s always a little cranky, wrote in response:

I’m just waiting for the post where someone’s passion, the thing they’re willing to scrimp on everything else so that they can afford, is a Range Rover. Or anything else but travel, really…It’d be fantastic to see someone write about not going to Europe so they could buy a luxury SUV

The Other Brian expressed his frustration, too:

I agree with Tyler 100%. I’m pretty sure the person that wrote that post would get absolutely BLASTED in the comment section for their prioritization of Stuff over experiences…

And Jane, who is usually mild-mannered, chimed in:

I would love for someone to actually have the courage to write an article about how they scrimped and went without for a big screen television! Why is that any less valid than saving for a trip to Paris? I’m sure everyone would say that it is just as valid and cite J.D.’s mantra “Do what works for you.” But let’s be honest — there is a pretty obvious privileging on this site and others of certain types of ways to spend your money. Travel is one of the ones that people categorically praise.

First of all, I’m as tired of travel articles as everyone else. Yes, it’s one of my pet topics, but we’ve featured it a lot around here lately. Time for it to take a back seat for a while. Second, I think travel gets praised a lot because people enjoy it. For years, I heard people extolling the virtues of travel, but until I tried it, I didn’t really understand.

That said, Tyler, Jane, and The Other Brian have a valid point. We do talk a lot about Experiences here — but I think that’s because in Real Life, so much attention is heaped upon Stuff.

Stuff isn’t evil (though too much of it can certainly become a burden). Maybe it’s time for a little reality check…

How to Spend Your Money

Jane is right: My gut reaction is to cite my motto: “Do what works for you.” Because that’s what it’s all about. If you’re out of debt and meeting your savings goals, spend your surplus on whatever you want.

  • If you want a big-screen television, buy a big-screen television.
  • If you want a Range Rover, buy a Range Rover.
  • If you want a surfboard, buy a surfboard.
  • And if you want to travel, travel.

I don’t care what you spend your money on, and neither should anyone else. Travel isn’t inherently better than television, and I’m not arguing that it is. (For me, travel is better than television, but maybe not for Jane.)

I spend plenty of money on Stuff. In the past two years, I’ve bought a used car, a new bike, some nice furniture, season tickets to the Portland Timbers, and more comic books than a grown man really needs. (Trust me: If I’m buying all these comic books, I’m not about to judge you for buying a television!) I’ve also paid for an expensive gym membership and traveled to nine other countries.

I’m careful to avoid debt and meet my savings goals, but I spend my surplus on Experiences and Stuff. Both have value.

And Donna, who just wrote about eating lunches of cheese and crackers so she can afford to travel the U.K.? Well, Donna’s willing to pay $9 for half a dozen cupcakes. Is that frugal? Of course it is! Well, maybe not frugal, but it’s certainly a reasonable expense. Donna can afford it, and it makes her happy.

There’s no one right way to do this. Donna splurges on cupcakes. I splurge on comic books. Maybe you spend on cable television. So what? If these are conscious decisions and we can afford it, there’s nothing wrong with buying Experiences or Stuff. Or both. (After all, that’s why we scrimp and save.)

Note: For another example of somebody choosing to use their money to buy Stuff instead of Experience, check out this article about a fellow who bought a boat.

What Do YOU Splurge On?

Financial writer Greg Karp recently dropped me a line. “I’m doing a column on what people splurge on,” he said. “Any thoughts?” I wrote back to share my main splurges: travel, travel gear, fitness, and computers.

I did a similar survey of personal finance bloggers almost three years ago. “What do you splurge on?” I asked. Free Money Finance spends on cycling gear. Trent at The Simple Dollar splurges on videogames. And SVB from The Digerati Life buys stuff for around the house. Most of the people I polled spend on experiences: especially food and travel.

What about you? How do you spend your money? Assuming you have some sort of surplus after saving, do you focus on Experiences or Stuff? Do any of these purchases ever make you feel guilty? Or do you see this spending as a reward for making smart financial choices? (I used to feel guilty, but now I see spending as a reward for doing the other things right.) Chime in with your comments.

And, hey — if you want to write a reader story about how you saved for a boat or a television or a Range Rover, please send it in!

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There are 256 comments to "How to spend your money".

  1. SF_UK says 15 March 2011 at 04:14

    Books. And knitting/crochet supplies (although my yarn habit is quite frugal for a yarn habit, I am experiencing lifestyle inflation, and I do insist on good quality needles/hooks). Arguably, these count as both Stuff and Experience. A book or yarn is Stuff, but I get hours of joy from it, particularly if I re-read a book or knit something complicated with the yarn.

    I initially reacted with “I don’t spend much on travel”, but now I’m not so sure. I’m going skiing soon – at a reasonable price, but I have deliberately chosen to pay extra for nicer accommodation and skis. But most of my travel expenses are travelling to see friends and family. I still don’t do this as much as I’d like, but it’s worth every penny for the joy I get out of it.

  2. kim says 15 March 2011 at 04:24

    Children. We have 5 of them. My husband and I always wanted a life with a large family and planned accordingly. We are not flush with cash, but we’ve met all of our children’s needs and many of their wants. Too many PF sites seem to dismiss a life like ours as “ordinary”, somehow less, but we’re living our dream, and our life is rich, edifying even.

  3. leslie says 15 March 2011 at 04:33

    For me, the goal of being frugal and having my money in control is then being able to use that money to make my life more enjoyable. Yes…for me that partially means travel. However, it also means spending money to build a nice screened in porch and deck extension on our house. My husband has both a Wii and an Xbox with Kinect because he likes playing video games with our kids. I am slowly (as I have the extra money) buying new dishes because I hate our old stuff and the growing collection of Fiesta Ware in the china cabinet makes me smile just looking at it (all the colors! And not a single one with a chip in it!). For someone on the outside looking at us they probably just see that we have spent a lot of money on this stuff in the past few years. They don’t see though that I meal plan, clip coupons, drive a 6 year old car that I don’t have any plans to replace, have a mostly empty closet because I don’t buy clothes that often, my kids wear primarily hand me downs and my furniture consists mostly of pieces that my parents gave us when they retired and downsized (15 years ago!). Would I like new furniture? Sure. But I wanted the deck more…

  4. Another Dave says 15 March 2011 at 04:35

    We splurged on a big screen TV. We use it for movies and th Wii that we received as a gift. We don’t even have TV programming. No Antenna, No Satellite, No Cable! It was going to be a Xmas 2010 purchase so we could reap the big deals. Walking around in July ’10, we came across a deal we couldn’t refuse. Basically 50% off similar models and it met my specifications. But the only reason we have it is becuase we saved, and had the money available (Opportunity $). Buying in July instead of Dec was total impulse, but we never saw a deal that good during the Holiday Sales. So it worked out.

  5. Gabriela says 15 March 2011 at 04:39

    I’ve never posted here before, but I feel now is the time. I’m 24 yrs old, brazilian, public servant. Since my last vacation in Sep 2010 I’m saving to go on a sabbatical for 6 mths to 3 yrs. I intend to live in my parents apartment, where I won’t pay rent (just the condo fees), eat at my grandmother’s who lives 3 floors below, and watch tv (I’ll buy the big LED 3D), play videogames (Already have the Xbox 360 and I’ll buy Kinect), read and surf until I get bored. I’ve already let my parents know I’ll probably need my allowance back. They’re not happy about this, but I’m sure they won’t let me starve.

    As my finances go, I have no money in my savings account because everything is invested. I’m getting between 2% and 3% and intend to fix up an office space I have so I can rent it.

    I could take the money to go to Europe, or even Disney (I like it), buy a new car or open a new business, but I prefer to do nothing for a while and I need stuff to entertain myself.

  6. Mike Piper says 15 March 2011 at 04:40

    We’ve done almost no traveling for the last few years in order to “splurge” on being able to do work we enjoy for a living.

    DW works in Social Work, and I quit my job to run a business that at the time was making about 50% less than my salary. (Now it makes more, but there was absolutely no guarantee that would ever happen. And we’d have been perfectly happy if it never did.)

    And we do splurge on some Stuff. DW is passionate about cooking, so we probably have more high-end kitchen tools than most.

  7. Hannah says 15 March 2011 at 04:55

    I’m sick of hearing about people who travel all over to world just to collect the experience and be able to say “I’ve been there.” Amassing countless travel experience is the same as hoarding physical stuff in my opinion. Personally I enjoyed the reader story about splurging to see a shuttle launch, because that was the fulfillment of a lifelong dream.

    The alternative to splurging on travel isn’t buying more stuff. There are a million reasons people could be saving their money to spend it here at home. Come talk to me about how your travel experiences were so worth it when you’re working into your 70’s to avoid draining your retirement fund. Mine is well stocked.

  8. Meghan says 15 March 2011 at 04:56

    Books definitely. I will gladly scrimp in other areas to buy more books. They are a pain to move (and lately I’ve been moving around once a year), but I don’t care. I love reading and I love my collection; someday my house will look like a library, and that makes me happy.

  9. Bogey@BackNineFinance says 15 March 2011 at 04:57

    Hey JD,

    I’d love to write a post for you about how I consciously spend about $6,000 per year on golf! I’m thick skinned as well, so not afraid to face the commenters.

    I agree with the commenters from yesterday though, would love to see more posts from the “other side” where people value things other than travel.

    I like the theme of this post, it gets back to the true GRS tone, which has been missing for awhile, in my opinion.



  10. Jenn says 15 March 2011 at 05:09

    Short term my only splurge is travel. Sorry if it’s repetative but it’s really the only non-essential we have in our spending plan.

    Long term my “splurge” if you can call it that is retiring early at 55. I figure that counts since we consciously cut our spending to ~55% of our take home so that we can contribute to our retirement funds and pay off the mortgage ASAP.

    Yes we could retire even earlier if we didn’t travel, but we also want to enjoy the present and there’s always the chance that if we put off all travel until we retire, we won’t be physically able to do some of the trips we take now. When we travel now we do the multiple country always on the move type, which may not be nearly as appealing for us when we’re in our 60’s and beyond.

  11. Betsy says 15 March 2011 at 05:14

    Well OK, here I go. I live in a small apartment with a low utility bill, drive a 12-year-old car, cook my own food or share with friends, don’t buy electronics or cable TV, and I don’t splurge on clothing or accessories, so that I can “have” a job that’s low-stress although low-paid …

    … and that enables me to volunteer for causes I care about. I serve on citizen boards in my city, give blood a few times a year, and I mentor a 7-year-old girl who is at risk because of her home of origin.

    I guess that’s what I’m “buying” with my thrift.

  12. Jane says 15 March 2011 at 05:29

    Wow, I guess I was a little cranky yesterday:). But thanks for responding. I guess at some level it’s also a stages of life thing. Ten years ago, I would have cringed to see myself today with my nice television and love of my DVR. But travel once you have children is less of reality, so I guess I find other ways to amuse myself. I certainly have done my fair share of travel and even lived abroad for two years. I was just playing the devil’s advocate last night. Like you said, I think there are lots of people who save for material possessions who are just afraid to write a guest post.

    I never have thought you sent the message that possessions are wrong, but you can’t control the comments (or you could, but it wouldn’t be good either). And there’s definitely a privileging of experience over things. But what I fail to understand is how people don’t recognize that things create experiences.

  13. Squirrel Saver says 15 March 2011 at 05:33

    Yes, it’s very easy to point fingers at people for being wasteful or for liking stupid things. But at the end of the day, all we are drawn to can also be viewed as wasteful and stupid in numerous ways as well. There are infinite ways of interpreting experiences and things, and the things we like have personal meaning to us for numerous reasons. I think it’s more important to focus on your own wants while filtering out other people’s wants. Yes, you can’t totally ignore other people’s wants, but getting all indignant about other people’s wants is just wasted energy.

    What do I splurge on? Well, I try to by organic and natural things, which tends to cost a bit more. I should splurge on a gym membership, but my living situation is uncertain for now, and I’ll wait until it stabilizes, as I don’t want to deal with the possible hassles of trying to cancel a membership. I think health is my most important asset, so I’m more lenient when it comes to spending money on things that are good for my health.

  14. Danielle says 15 March 2011 at 05:35

    Maybe people could splurge on charitable giving? Sure, I love books, good food and groceries, travel, but it is a great feeling to give away a chunk of change to a worthy group. Village Health Works and Partners in Health also do a great job of letting you see what your money is doing.

    I sometimes worry when I see news stories of “charity” executives with bloated salaries, but not these two. It’s worth double checking the organizations you favor, but it feels great to write that check–really, better than a steak for dinner.

  15. Bruce says 15 March 2011 at 05:36

    My money is used to buy time. Time to spend at home with my wife and newly born child and then doing a little work in my free time.

  16. louisa @ TheReallyGoodLife says 15 March 2011 at 05:40

    As I suspect many people on here do, we generally live frugally to free more money to spend how we would like to spend it — splurging on luxuries rather than general survival. For example, cheap (but tasty) food most of the times means we can eat out at fancy restaurants a few times a month.

    My splurges are a blend of stuff and experiences — eating at good restaurants, crafts (materials & training courses) and books (most are bought second-hand but we still buy a *lot* of them).

    I guess I do see it as a reward for good behaviour and I do believe treats are essential to staying on course – but I still feel a bit wasteful sometimes. I’ve recently started doing a “save as much as you spend” thing — totalling up how much I’ve spent on luxury items in a month then putting the equivalent amount into my savings — as a guilt offset plan.

  17. Casey says 15 March 2011 at 05:40

    Here you go: my car. I drive a Mazda RX-8 that cost more to purchase, has higher maintenance costs, worse fuel economy, and generally worse reliability than a typical econo-box. I love it though. Driving to and from work are sometimes the highlights of my day.

    I don’t deride travel though. I’ve been all over the US, Canada, the UK, and lived in South Africa on an extended work assignment. It’s not just about “collecting” memories they way people horde stuff. Seeing how others live can profoundly change your view on what’s necessary and what you truly value. To link it back to my car as a splurge I’m OK with, after months of driving my little econo-box all over South Africa, the first thing I wanted to do when I got home was jump into my (then different) sports car and floor the gas pedal. That made me realize that my car is a material thing that I place true value on.

  18. Kevin says 15 March 2011 at 05:41

    This is a great topic, I’m glad to see the other side of the argument getting some much-needed attention.

    My wife and I splurged on our house. We’re mid-30’s, have no kids (and absolutely no intention for any). It’s just the two of us, plus 2 cats. We live in a 2600 sq. ft., 4 bedroom, 2.5 bath McMansion in suburbia. We even paid extra for the corner lot, and 9′ ceilings in the basement. Central air, upgraded finishes, cherry hardwood throughout the entire first floor (including the kitchen), granite countertops, 2-car garage (even though we just have one car, an ’05 Mazda 3 with 235,000 km on it). There are rooms in my house I literally haven’t been in in months. It’s absolutely more than we need. And I love it.

    We’re frugal in a lot of other areas. We bring our lunches to work, cook our own meals at home, I rarely buy new clothes (I only own 2 pairs of jeans that actually fit), I brew my own beer, my wife makes her own wine, we carpool to work in our lone, economical car, we have basic cell phones on a bare-bones, shared family plan, and so on. We have no debt except for the mortgage, which we’re paying double on every month.

  19. Nicole says 15 March 2011 at 05:42

    Like I’ve said before, I’m pretty sick of travel since I do it for work. (This year I seriously cut back– only going to LA and Boston!). I would love more vacation time, but right now time is way more precious than seeing exotic new locales. Our personal travel consists of visiting family in the rural midwest.

    Since we’ve found our “enough” (which is a pretty high enough, but just over half what we bring in), any large purchases don’t really need to be saved for. If I want $2000 in trees (which bring happiness when I look out the window, and will hopefully lower the water bill and lessen the threat of HOA certified letters… also, one day fruit…), then we just don’t prepay the mortgage that month. That’s not very exciting.

    DH, OTOH, had an allowance that he saves up to buy things. He’s been making his own coffee and bagging lunch every day because of the Aeron chair he bought. But it’s still pretty predictable. He gets the same amount of “fun” money each week and 10X that at his birthday and Christmas.

    In terms of why travel… it’s not just that after a certain point most Stuff is comparatively less expensive than exotic travel and dull to save up for. I think there’s also possibly that most people don’t travel enough and have too much Stuff. So their marginal utility of each additional piece of stuff is negative or 0, and the marginal utility of travel is positive. Travel fatigue can also set in, bringing the marginal utility of travel to 0 or negative.

    p.s. I love that you no longer drink weak hot chocolate!

    p.p.s. The programmable thermostat article may not get a lot of comments, but it will help form the backbone of searchable articles whenever someone has a finance-related question. Not so controversial, but very important. Sort of the broccoli of the site rather than the cupcakes.

  20. Celia says 15 March 2011 at 05:45

    My family splurges on local food. We have two small children and don’t get out much to restaurants or on fancy vacations just yet. Instead we spend on local, organic food whenever possible and are teaching our kids how to cook so that they’ll have what I consider to be a valuable life skill in their toolbox for later. We’re also trying to teach our kids the importance of being conscious consumers–including considering the origin of what we buy. And yes, we do scrimp on some food items. Nearly everything is made from scratch; we buy dried beans; and we eat mostly vegetarian staples like legumes and whole grains.

  21. Gayle says 15 March 2011 at 05:46

    I do travel and love it but I “do frugal” so I can eat out, paying for my hosts while I stay with them. I also skip cable and internet at home so I can rent space at a pottery studio. I have just started spending some money on taking book binding classes and will continue to do that as a “treat”. Yup, learning is a great way to spend money on something one one can take away from you.

  22. louisa @ TheReallyGoodLife says 15 March 2011 at 05:47

    Hannah: I completely agree with you about the collection/hoarding of travel experiences.

    I had a “ten places to visit before I died” list until I realised that it was just consumerism in a slightly different shape. Sure, I might have some experiences there but the way I’d have to do it at the moment (very short stays) would be very surface, not full immersion in another culture — very much just ticking it off a list. To have rather than to be.

  23. Trudy G says 15 March 2011 at 05:50

    My extra money seems to be going to the dogs the past year – literally! We have three that I spend money on – not toys but obedience training, CGC classes, etc. Now that I have found their calling (for the two coonhound/wirehair mix at least) it has been getting more expensive as they and I all train for search & rescue. They love it, I love it, and some day soon we will make a difference in other people’s lives. That’s money well spent in my book.

  24. Chett says 15 March 2011 at 05:52

    Didn’t we hear grumbling from the GRS community as you were blogging about saving for your Mini Cooper? How is that different from a Range Rover? Now there’s grumbling because the discussion has turned to experiences.

    There are a lot, A LOT of families who don’t have the time or resources to blog that could write a guest post about their “splurge” to take their family to a restaurant, movie, or some other family activity once a month. Yes, someone could write about those choices, but that would be less inspiring and little to real for much of the population.

    Consider yourself fortunate if your decision this year is Range Rover or Europe. Especially in this economy.

  25. ShimmerGeek says 15 March 2011 at 05:53

    Books 🙂

    And gear for Roller Derby! 🙂

    Both of these things are Stuff-Experiences. As SF_UK said, books are an experience – I get hours and hours of joy out of each one. And as for Roller Derby gear? Well, having a £20 mouthguard makes the hours of skating much more comfortable (and safer – since I’m not hauling it out every time I talk!) 🙂

  26. Alma says 15 March 2011 at 05:54

    My splurge areas tend to be food, craft supplies, DVDs, music, technology, and occasional travel.

    I also tend to categorize my material purchases into Things and Stuff. DVDs that I can watch and get enjoyment from, high quality yarn, and other things that I actually put to use (and especially that I thought about before I bought) I categorize as Things. Impulse buys that end up collecting dust I categorize as Stuff. I think a lot of people are afraid of splurging on material possessions due to Things turning into Stuff, or maybe being viewed as materialistic. (The 30-day rule helps a lot with that!)

    I see no problem buying Things over experiences if people actually get use out of their possessions. Stuff that will end up collecting dust in the closet? Might be worth rethinking.

  27. Kelley says 15 March 2011 at 05:57

    We splurge on paying off our house. Most people would think we were crazy but it will be paid off before DH’s 35th birthday. Then I feel like we’ll be able to splurge on whatever we want for the rest of our lives. And we have a list a mile long, luxury cars, huge vacation to celebrate the payoff, orthodontics, DH’s dream yacht when he retires from the military and an awesome lake home. We will travel too at some point but when the girls are older so they can remember their experiences.

  28. Adam says 15 March 2011 at 05:57

    I spent my money on a boat. And everything boat related. Its all true what they say about it being a hole in the water into which you throw money, but I wouldn’t do it any differently if I had the choice.

    A boat is stuff that lets you travel.

  29. Cole Brodine says 15 March 2011 at 06:00

    JD – I for one can’t wait to see your article about programmable thermostats. I’m an Electrical Engineer and I love reading about energy efficiency. If you can put it in terms of initial investment versus payback period I would think it would make an especially interesting article.

    I would love to see some more articles about energy efficiency and renewable energy options that can help people save money. I think it is important to emphasize payback so that people know what they are getting into with those improvements.

    Also, my wife and I rarely travel out of state for vacation and typically spend our vacations staying with family. We spend most of our disposable income on electronics and video games. We pack lunches, we don’t have cable television, and we don’t even have very fancy televisions. We do have very nice computers with steam accounts full of video games. I’d write an article about it, but it would really be similar to any of the travel articles. I think they all follow the same theme of, “I don’t spend money on X, so I can spend money on Y because Y makes me happy and X really isn’t that important to me.” I’d rather hear about how you are saving money on X, then why you pay more for Y.

  30. Mike Holman says 15 March 2011 at 06:00

    Some people just like to complain.

    I just reread yesterday’s post and I thought Donna was clear as a bell on the idea that she saves in some areas so she can spend in others.

    I don’t think it should take much imagination or intelligence to understand that the “spend on” area could be anything – travel, range rovers, comics etc.

    My splurge is the same as Kelley – all the extra money goes into the mortgage which will be gone sometime next year.

  31. Pamela says 15 March 2011 at 06:01

    Everyone who comes to this site is looking for ways to have a happy and fulfilling life. And we all recognize managing our money is a piece of that.

    I think Donna’s post served two purposes and is more valid than a similar article about sacrificing in some ways to afford other “stuff” instead of experiences.

    1) Who needs another article telling you to buy an SUV or tv? We get those all day long. If J.D. wants a successful blog, he’ll post surprising info, not commercials.

    2) It is true that people get more long term joy from experiences from stuff. Look up the term “hedonic adaptation.” It’s the term that describes how we get used to having things and start to take them for granted. It can happen in travel too. If you stay at the Plaza every time, soon you won’t think of comfy, expensive sheets as a joy. They’ll just be routine.

    But traveling on the cheap brings lots of ever-changing experiences–experiences proven to have a greater affect on people’s long term happiness than a car or device.

    So I’d argue that Donna’s article did say something countercultural and surprising. And yes, travel is better than stuff.

  32. Elizabeth says 15 March 2011 at 06:01

    Interesting points. I know that studies have shown that experiences make us happier in the long run than “stuff”, but you don’t have to go far or spend a whole lot to get experiences. The idea that you’re “not really living” unless you’re travelling to far flung destinations is as much marketing speak as the idea you have to have more and more stuff.

    I honestly think people need to cut through the bull and do what genuinely makes them happy. For some people, that’s travel. For others, it may be a car or a TV that they enjoy and creates a different kind of experience (like having people over to watch the big game or taking a road trip). Personally, I love to learn so I scrimped and saved and went to back to school.

    I think Donna’s mantra is a good one. As long as it’s in the budget, I think people should pursue what makes them happy.

  33. Luke says 15 March 2011 at 06:09

    Kitchen equipment. I love to cook (the career that got away) and have bought a Kitchenaid mixer, a coffee maker, steamer and more in the last six months. In fact, if I ever decide to build a robot I’d probably just have to tape together the contents of the kitchen cupboards and turn on some plugs!

    That said, they’ve all been bought at the best price (sometimes with a huge discount) and I’m not a snob (although I like quality). So my £150/$225 mixer sits next to the £3/$4.5 food processor from the 70s that my mother in law found in a charity shop!

    Friends and family find it very amusing that we spend (relatively) large sums of money on food and its preparation. What those same friends don’t think about so much is that while they have a 42″ LCD TV that can read their mind we have a 32″ TV from several years ago that only starts on the third attempt.

    As with all things, do what you love and keep some perspective 🙂

  34. Chickybeth says 15 March 2011 at 06:11

    Totally agreed with #23 Mike. That is what I was thinking as I was reading about all the complainers. Sometimes I think people don’t actually read the post to get the lessons from it, they just skim it and then complain about it. The title of Donna’s post says it all.

    One topic I would like a post about is how to negotiate priorities with a partner. I know Donna is making choices for herself and it seems that J.D. and Kris make a lot of independent decisions, but what do you do when you and your spouse have totally different ideas of what is important, yet are sharing the same funds to accomplish those things with? (Example, my husband wants to keep 2 cars for himself and I want him to sell one so we can have money for a house.)

  35. Mom of five says 15 March 2011 at 06:17

    Well, I clip coupons and turn down the thermostat so I can have a cleaning lady in twice a week. It embarasses me even to type that. But it makes me a happier and therefore better person.

    Travel has no appeal to me, both (as Jane said in #10) because we have kids, but also because I like being around familiar, comfortable things. Travelling once our kids are grown might be a once in a while fun thing for us, but ultimately too stressful to ever become an actual hobby.

  36. Kate says 15 March 2011 at 06:19

    For us it’s travel. Hubby and I love nearly everything about it- including the airports! In fact, we’ve been known to go on cheap dates to the airport- buy a coffee and sit by the windows and just watch the planes taxiing back and forth.

    That said, our travel priorities have begun to change. Rather than rying ot stretch it out as long as possible (trying to stay in europe for 3 months, for example), we’ve really started to value the ability to take shorter trips. They might be more expensive on a per-day basis, but it also allows us to spend more time with our newly arrived niece and nephew, who seem to grow up so fast when you miss chunks of milestones…

    Maybe that’s all to say that priorities change. And that’s okay.

  37. chzplz says 15 March 2011 at 06:19

    I’m splurging on a single family house. Not a traditional “splurge” item, but I really don’t need it.

    I don’t need the space (I own a townhouse now and have rooms I never use). I don’t need to be near good schools (single, no kids). I am 100% buying this because I don’t like hearing noise through common walls, I want to have room for a garden, and I want to be able to let my dog go for a pee without having to get bundled up for a walk in the Canadian winter.

    For the past three years I have put myself on an extremly lean budget (only retirement savings went unchanged) and scrimped and saved everywhere I could to get enough cash to upgrade from a townhouse to a small single family house – without increasing my mortgate by a dime.

    I love to travel, and buy big screen TV’s and other techie toys, but I’d rather have something that makes my everyday life simpler and better than something that gives me a short burst of pleasure.

  38. Sara says 15 March 2011 at 06:20

    I spend money on makeup and skin care. I’m using a serum right now that costs $95 a bottle. I’ll drop $50 on foundation. I like playing with different eyeliners and eyeshadows. I also splurge on pedicures, and I’m starting to really enjoying getting facials. Yes, I brown bag my lunch, check out books from the library, and all that frugal stuff to be able to spend some of my money that way.

  39. Alexandra says 15 March 2011 at 06:22

    I just bought a $60 Coach keychain.

    It was a crazy spluge for me, but the blue elastic band that I took off a head of brocolli three years ago to use as my keychain was starting to fray.

    I figured I was due.

  40. El Nerdo says 15 March 2011 at 06:26

    My wife and I scrimp on everything and live like students so that we can make movies, which are expensive and time-consuming to make, even with video. If we spent like everybody else we’d have to have 2 jobs and we would have little time for this (we have friends in that situation), but as it is we make do with one part-time check and a little bit of freelancing. The equipment has been bought with grants and with reinvested income from the freelancing, plus the part-time job provides free access to some extra gear (a perk that makes the low pay tolerable). The time to work on things, which is the other side of the equation, has been bought by keeping the thermostat low, our diet simple, our mileage low and our wardrobe minimalist– plus many other feats of contortion too numerous to describe (we’ve lost interest in restaurants, we travel only to festivals that pay for our travel, we have no real living room, etc., etc.).

    As it happens we did buy a big plasma TV–not huge but huge for our budget. The thing is that it was a business purchase: it works as a computer/video editing monitor during the day, but we watched the World Cup on it last summer and we watch movies and TV on it every day– something we love to do. Oh, and the business pays for our Netflix subscription (we don’t get cable). Since our business coincides with our passion, we can afford the stuff we really care about– in almost every other front we would appear to the average American like we are living in deprivation.

    Sure, we expect to make real money from this some day, but that’s not the motivation– it’s that to live doing something else would make life intolerable.

    Also, the first word of the post by SF_UK reminded me of a quote by Erasmus: “When I get a little money I buy books, if there is any left I buy food and clothes”.

  41. Lisa says 15 March 2011 at 06:26

    We splurge on our childrens’ educations. We have three children and use our money to pay for their college educations and keep them out of debt as much as possible, instead of spending our money on travel or big screen tv’s. We also funded our retirement accounts so we won’t be a burden to them in the future. We mainly eat home cooked meals and socialize with friends in low budget ways that involve sharing hospitality and conversation.

  42. Jason says 15 March 2011 at 06:27

    When I splurge, I do it on books. At the moment I am trying to pay off a buttload of debt, so I get my fix via GoodReads and PaperbackSwap. But I’ve noticed that when I’m having a bad day and decide to spend emotionally, I go to the bookstore.


  43. Ian says 15 March 2011 at 06:32

    My passion is guns and shooting, and I happily spend a lot of my disposable income on new firearms that I couldn’t possible justify “needing”. But I like having them. One thing I did when I finished paying off all my debt was set aside a fund specifically to take advantage of good deals that came up, and I’ve used it several times to buy firearms that cost more than my truck is worth.

    Hopefully it doesn’t make me like a stereotypical xenophobic creep, but I’m not particularly interested in travel. I’m not against life experience, but I’d rather have tangibles than travel memories. If I’m going to invest in experience, I’d rather do it on something with a more definite useful outcome, like learning to rebuild my own vehicle or getting a HAM radio ticket.

    Not to put down travelers – I totally understand the attraction. It just isn’t for me.

  44. HokieKate says 15 March 2011 at 06:35

    MoneySavingMom had a story last month on saving up for a fancy television:

  45. Kaitlin says 15 March 2011 at 06:36

    I think that one person’s “stuff” can definitely be another’s “experience.” I am personally not into cars, but for someone who really cares about the driving experience, clearly a luxury car is going to provide a different experience than a budget vehicle. The same thing could be said of a top-of-the line stereo system or large screen television (or projector and screen, in the case of my husband).

    The common thread is that it is consciously spent. I don’t think anyone will offer to write about how they “consciously” spent a bunch of money on impulse shopping just to fill an emotional void or “keep up with the Joneses.”

  46. AP says 15 March 2011 at 06:37

    A big splurge is my dog. I used to work as a pet sitter and got paid good money to watch and play with other people’s dogs. When that became not enough for me emotionally, I made the conscious decision to incur the considerable expense of owning a pet. Now I pay a dog walker to take him out while I’m away at work/commuting for 11 hours a day, but it is so worth it to have him part of my life every day when I come home. He opens up my life to neighbors, new friends, and now we are starting the sport of agility.

    So is a pet a Stuff or an Experience?

  47. HollyP says 15 March 2011 at 06:40

    I was going to say the P family don’t spend much money on stuff, but in the last 5 years we’ve scrimped & saved to do two major home improvement projects.

    First, we saved to hire an interior designer. We were still frugal about the experience. She was young and willing to just give us guidance & buy accessories. She let me paint the walls (normally a designer would hire someone and tack on a % towards her fee) and shop around to get a better deal on the sofa. It was worth every penny, because for 4 years I’ve been *happy* every time I walk in my house.

    Once that project was complete, we scrimped & saved so we could pay cash to renovate our kitchen. It is gorgeous, and I was able to get everything that was important to me.

    We do spend money on travel too, taking at least one trip per year by plane to visit family and another vacation by car to goof off.

  48. Marcus Byrd says 15 March 2011 at 06:40

    I splurge on what ever my wife wants. It usually is clothes, jewelry, or some kind of home decor. I would love to spend nothing and let my money accumulate, but my wife is not the same. I have a hard time constantly saying no to her spending habits because i know they give her some kind of fulfilment. I guess I am a sucker but my splurging is letting her splurge.

    I could be much better saver if it was not for her. I try to involve her in our expenses but she shows no interest whatsoever. I would be interested in a post on how to deal with oppisite opinions on finances.

  49. Kim says 15 March 2011 at 06:41

    I just splurged on my dream car – a VW Beetle convertible.

  50. bon says 15 March 2011 at 06:41

    Travel and housing – I live in a very expensive city (Singapore) our apartment is a good deal for what it is, but we could get less comfortable and older accomodations for quite a bit less. I also splurge on practical things that i think are good quality and will last for a long time.

  51. Jill says 15 March 2011 at 06:42

    I bought an iPhone! It’s my first ever smart phone, and it required manipulating my budget a bit to pay the $30/month data package, but I’m so happy with my purchase and just the fact that I was money savvy enough over the past few months to be able to get it.

  52. Anne says 15 March 2011 at 06:42

    J.D., I was wondering, when you describe those comments as “cranky”, do you mean it in a negative way (the same kind of thing – “Please be nice… unduly nasty comments will be removed” – that you warn about at the end of guest posts)? I actually *love* these so-called “cranky” comments because they make the discussion much more interesting and are often very original and thought-provoking. I think they should be encouraged – too many blogs (perhaps including this one) simply have a long list of sycophantic comments at the end of articles all praising and agreeing with the writer. Sometimes the semi-enforced niceness seems a little fake. I’m not saying people should be rude, but I think too often in the blogosphere any disagreement, however reasoned, is shouted down as being “rude” or “nasty”.

    J.D.’s note: I think these comments are fine. I like them. They’re expressing disagreement in a polite way, if grumbling, way. I chose the word “cranky” because I thought it conveyed the mood/tone I heard in the comments, and because I *thought* it sounded a little tongue-in-cheek. (I hope so, anyhow.) I agree that these comments add to the discussion. Look! They produced this blog post!

    I would agree with Jane et al that some themes simply appear too often in blogs like these. It’s not only the focus on travel, but also on the supposed “right” way to travel – nice hotels are apparently a no-no, thou shalt not take more than one carry-on bag, everything you do must be “local” and “authentic” etc. I found it a bit distasteful that posh hotels were referred to as “hoity-toity” when the writer was staying at that horrendous-looking hostel. Another theme that comes up far too often is that you should become vegetarian or vegan – somehow it seems to make you morally superior.

    Being British, one of the interesting things about blogs like these, is the insight into the American mindset, since they seem to be aimed at American readers. I found out recently that most Americans get no more than two weeks annual holiday (why on earth do you put up with that?!), and that most Americans don’t have a passport – I think *that’s* perhaps why travel is such a big deal on these blogs, since most “Brits” would get four to six weeks holiday and travelling abroad is cheap, easy and taken for granted. It’s also interesting to see that the UK is simply lumped in with the rest of “Europe” by most Americans. Some Europhilic Brits might disagree with me, but I think most British people feel a little separate from the rest of Europe (in the same way Japanese don’t consider themselves Asian) and find this umbrella term to be meaningless. To us, “Europe” means *continental* Europe. There are some fabulous European countries, but the cultures are all so different that it seems a bit odd to be described as living in this apparently homogenous place called “Europe”.

  53. Jane says 15 March 2011 at 06:43

    “I don’t think it should take much imagination or intelligence to understand that the “spend on” area could be anything — travel, range rovers, comics etc.”

    The point is that certain types of spending are highlighted as examples more than others. And this certainly matters and the repetition of this creates values and pressures and perhaps shame for those who do not spend the same way.

    J.D.’s note: This is a good point. There are probably three reasons for this. First, I’m using examples that are important to me and my life. Second, I’m intentionally reusing examples because it creates continuity from one post to another and allows readers to see connections. (That’s why I always used to use my desire to own a Mini as an example.) And third, I’m unintentionally showing my prejudices. I’ll see what I can do to add some variety to my examples.
  54. RyanLoos says 15 March 2011 at 06:44

    My splurges are usually home upgrades or upgrading things for my business. I spend most of my time either at home with the family or at my office so the by-product of that is making sure we have everything we need. I have to say that I love buying new technology!

  55. Peter says 15 March 2011 at 06:44

    Our biggest splurge probably comes in our grocery bills – we buy organic dairy, free range eggs and fair trade coffee.

  56. Mimi says 15 March 2011 at 06:59

    Haha. My husband and I just splurged on going to the strippers. Was it worth it? Yes. Was it planned? No. Oddly enough, I don’t regret it (I regret the booze instead) 🙂

  57. Ruth says 15 March 2011 at 07:05

    Antiques…that’s what DH and I splurge on. Of course, who needs a $900 steamer trunk?…no one really, but it conveniently houses our ever-growing collection of photo albums from our travels. So really, stuff and experience are mutual splurges.

  58. Becky says 15 March 2011 at 07:08

    We are finding that things are just that, “things”. We think that it would be so great to have the newest camcorder or we need more then one TV when in the end we don’t end up using the “things” as much as we thought.

    Recently we have been selling off the items that we aren’t utilizing in order to save for experiences or home repairs. We are coming to the conclusion that experiences offer more happiness and last longer than things.

    We hope to save enough money for a trip to Italy for our 10 year anniversary in two years.

    The principles that are written here about travel can be applied to whatever interest you. I used yesterdays post about deciding not to go out to dinner last night so that I could buy something else that I want.

    I am grateful for this blog and it making me realize the psychology behind our spending habits.

  59. Gwen says 15 March 2011 at 07:09

    Restaurants. But not just regular restaurants, really nice ones.

    I actually learned this trick at The Simple Dollar. My husband is a grad student and we have a five month old baby, so we are not flush. We use to eat out maybe one or twice a month at medium-priced family restaurants, like Panera and Chili’s. When we would travel to the beach we would pass up the nice seafood restaurants because they were too expensive, even though they had fresh seafood. So now we just don’t eat out period, but when we are on vacation somewhere we don’t mind going to the restaurant right on the beach and ordering the crab cakes! If you only eat a truly nice restaurants, you enjoy the experience and the food more.

  60. Jen says 15 March 2011 at 07:14

    Stuff I saved up for:
    An Android cell phone 🙂 I haven’t bought it yet, but I will soon.
    A flat panel HD ready TV a few years ago, and I’ve enjoyed it greatly since.
    A Bose clock radio/CD player.

    What do I splurge on?
    Food – lamb chops are a particular weakness of mine. And I enjoy eating at gourmet restaurants.
    Expanded cable. I don’t have the top non-premium channel service, but close to. There are certain channels Ir eally want to have, like BBC America, so I get the service level that gives them to me.
    Liquor & other cocktail implements. This hobby is actually waning in interest, but I still like to try out interesting cocktails, so I buy the ingredients and the tools to make them.

    What I saved up for AND splurged on:
    My condo. No, I didn’t pay cash (would have been nice!) but I was able to put at least 20% down, and I got a very nice spacious place.

    Oh, and I travel some, too…. 😉

  61. Sara says 15 March 2011 at 07:14

    My area to splurge is the rebuilding of my wardrobe. After years of never paying more than $5 for a shirt or $10 for a pair of jeans, I’m making myself invest in wardrobe staples that will last for years and that I feel good wearing. I still look for deals but now I focus on quality instead of the biggest bargain.

  62. Julie333w says 15 March 2011 at 07:15

    For me it is our pool. It was expensive to put in and expensive to maintain. But I love that pool. It has made me happier than any other major expense that I can think of. I consider it more experience than stuff, because it is jumping in for a swim ever day in the summer (and lots of days more than once!) that I love – not so much just having a pool.

  63. LC says 15 March 2011 at 07:15

    My splurges are balanced pretty fairly on both experiences and stuff.

    One of my major annual expenses is travel (blah, blah, cliché) and that’s because I love to see new places, meet new people, and experience new things. I do my best to budget my travel so that I don’t have to track my spending while I’m traveling (because it bums me out) and so that it still allows for purchasing items I collect to bring home, like local art. I work very hard to maximize my travel savings by finding ways to keep big expenses that don’t matter to me, like airfare and boarding, low so I can spend more on the doing, seeing, and eating that I love. Sounds great, sounds responsible, but…

    I also have an affinity for fancy, high-quality shoes and handbags. Ok, an obsession, but one that I’ve found I can control by giving myself an annual budget just for these items. I’ve spent as much as $900 on one pair of shoes and no, I’m not rich or raking in the big bucks (I’m ready for that inevitable commenter who says: “$900 on a pair of shoes?!” Yes. $900 and I no longer feel bad about it. I love them. They are worth it to me.) I consider them investments, because I take good care of them and wear them for upwards of 5-10 years. That makes my price per wear a matter of dollars. (A $50 pair of shoes that I don’t like and that falls apart after a dozen wears garners the same price per wear, BTW.) Regardless, I have a budget and if I want to spend the entire budget on one pair of shoes or several, that’s my prerogative and the budget keeps that type of spending from getting out of hand.

    As is the theme on this site and so many others, it’s all about choices. You can have it all, but not necessarily all at once, right? Well, I go without (or spend as little as possible on) things that I don’t value.

    1. I don’t have cable TV
    2. I have an old model computer (which I got on sale and likely will keep for 5 years or more) and other electronics that I’m not replacing frequently
    3. I have an old model car that’s paid off (and I’m putting that old car payment directly into savings for the next one or for auto emergencies)
    4. I have a month to month lease in a low cost of living city (I have a down payment saved, but I currently enjoy not being stuck with the responsibility of a home or in a financial pickle should I lose my job, or, more appropriately, decide that I want to leave my job, etc.)
    5. I have a high deductible on my insurance, since I have a fund to pay from, if needed, which keeps my monthly rates low.
    6. All raises and bonuses go straight into savings, but I find odd jobs (focus groups, etc) or rebates to make extra dollars that I can choose to save or spend
    7. I look for small ways to save money on my necessary monthly expenditures, including Groupons (which I only buy for things I use anyway), and other deals like that. Every dollar adds up!

    I have no debt and a job that is secure. I don’t make a fortune, but I am saving 25% of my income for long-term/retirement. I have allowances for the above extravagances in my monthly expenditures budget. I used to feel guilty and awkward when people would notice or comment on my (seemingly) “extravagant” spending, but now I don’t. Those people don’t see my trade offs or the whole picture. For all of the reasons above, I am confident in my choices and am secure that I have set up my finances smartly.

    How you spend your money is none of my business and it’s not my place to judge you. Especially, when I don’t see the full picture. I appreciate the same respect.

  64. Steve says 15 March 2011 at 07:16

    We “splurge” on day care (that being one of the largest costs, so far, of having a child.) We used to splurge on travel just like everyone else. We still spend the same on travel, we just spend more on our kid.

  65. Adam says 15 March 2011 at 07:17

    JD – great post. Thank you for this, it also makes me feel warm that you read our comments (I know you do because you post in them) and react to them with quick posts like this right away. You’re a wonderful blogger.

    Enough brown nosing tho!

    I would love to splurge, and am in a position to do so in theory except for one thing, and I would love your feedback on it. Even though I read and hear the personal finance guru’s extolling the virtue of renting being okay for some people, I feel like I can’t touch my savings until I buy my “dream house”.

    I’m single, early 30s, make great income (low 6 figures) and travel a lot for work and pleasure on the cheap due to friends all over the world. I have never lived *anywhere* my whole life more than 4 years in one place. My rental now is a 2 minute walk to: work; the gym; grocery stores; friends; The rent is reasonable and it’s a nice place to live. I have no debt of any kind.

    By all barometers, I should rent indefinitely and continue to save for retirement (20.5% of gross income in index funds).

    I would love to splurge, I have a few orginal paintings I would love to buy from my favourite fantasy artists like Larry Elmore and Clyde Caldwell just to appreciate. I drive a 1999 Oldsmobile and I could outright buy my dream car Mercedes. I would love to go buy new shoes and a new suit and some beautiful dress shirts and pants for work so I can feel confident when talking to the company officers (I’m trying to make CFO in the next few years). And yes, the ubiquitous travel lust has hit me, I’m planning on going to South Africa this year and I want to see a Great White shark in the wild before I die or they (the whole population) are dead.

    I want to do all these things, and I have more than enough to do all these things without going to debt.

    BUT – until I am a homewowner, I feel like I have to keep putting thousands a month into a low interest savings account to save for it. Unlike an emergency fund, the downpayment fund is never big enough (okay, in theory it could be at $500k or so, what the houses in Toronto cost).

  66. Karen says 15 March 2011 at 07:17

    I’m splurging on going back to college online. I already have a BA and a Master’s, but my goal in life is to write scifi and I lack a science background. The post last week from the woman in Canada pursuing her online degree in Space Studies was an eye-opener to me – I didn’t know the degree existed, and it’s just what I’ve been wanting to do the last few years! So now I’ve enrolled and start my first class in April. It means cutting back on spending in other categories, but for me it will be well worth it, and I can’t wait to start!

  67. J.D. Pohlman says 15 March 2011 at 07:18

    My wife and I don’t spend much money on eating out (less than $150 between the two of us every month), along with other day-to-day activities, so we can afford nicer vehicles. We both bought our vehicles new, which I know most people wouldn’t agree with, but that’s how we choose to spend our money.

    People say we’re cheap in a lot of areas, but I’d rather save money everywhere else and have a vehicle that has what I want in it. My vehicle isn’t anything too fancy (2007 Honda Ridgeline), but I did buy it new (and it’s paid off). I could afford to do that because I don’t spend much money anywhere else.

  68. Christy says 15 March 2011 at 07:21

    I own a five hundred dollar sleeping bag and regularly pay over five dollars for a dozen eggs that are local, organic and the best-tasting eggs I have ever eaten!

  69. Mike Holman says 15 March 2011 at 07:25

    @Jane – I hadn’t noticed an excessive number of travel articles here, but when I checked the archives I see that:

    Donna went to England
    Max followed up on his travels somewhere
    A crazy canuck saw the space shuttle
    Louisa bought a house in Mexico
    Rebecca likes to travel for free
    Sierra has some money-saving Travel tips
    Some guy went sailing
    JD checks in from Africa

    And that is just in the last five weeks.

    That is a lot of travel articles, but there were plenty of other topics covered as well. Maybe this is just a Poisson Burst?

    As JD mentioned, people like writing about their travels. Maybe not so many like writing about their cars?

    I was reminded of this article – “No one cares about my life-altering trip. Or yours” 😉

  70. d says 15 March 2011 at 07:26

    I don’t normally post, but I can relate. I saved and planned to redo my living room. I looked at every possible furniture and realized that the two I was leaning towards were more than I originally planned. However, I waited for six months and put the extra money aside. I finally went to order my furniture and the weekend I went they were having a huge sale, which equated to almost $1000 in savings right away. I had not planned to replace our old tv for a flat screen, but with the extra savings, some gift cards and a sale at the electronics store I was able to purchase a nice large flat screen tv. Not only did I completely redo my living room, I finally got the new electronics to go with it. Additionally, this all came together the week before Christmas so we got to celebrate the holidays with a brand new room. Being a single mom this has brought many experiences and also many frugal fun nights right to our living room. My daughter would rather rent a dvd and have friends over than fork out the extra money to go to the movies.
    Was it worth it…you bet.

  71. Tim Armstrong says 15 March 2011 at 07:28

    I don’t know, I’d certainly file a Range Rover under the category of conspicious, unnecessary, consumption.

    Regardless of JD’s unwillingness to determine others’ priorities for them, I think conspicious consumption goes rather against the grain of the blog. One of the nice things about the blog is that it is willing to push back against the prevalent culture where people judge you based on the car that you drive.

  72. Maggie says 15 March 2011 at 07:28

    My splurge is currently Parochial High school and extra-cirricular activites for my sons. and soon to be a vehicle for the oldest to drive himself to and from said school and activities. I jsut realixed a big black hole in our life has been the 2002 Ford Escape I bought new right after 9/11. So rather than being surprised by repair bills up to $2200 a year (for the past 4 years – shoudl have anaylized it sooner), I’d rather budget a $200 car payment.

  73. Andy V says 15 March 2011 at 07:28

    We are those people who splurged on a luxury car. My husband gave me a BMW as a wedding gift. It is a fabulous car and a huge grin is affixed to my face every time I drive it. I still use my trusty VW to commute the 150 miles round trip I do a day – the BMW is my “weekend car”. I feel so embarrassed and ashamed to be admitting this…and I feel even more like a PF failure.

    Our other splurge are our dogs. Until a week ago we had 3 (we are now down to 2 due to an unexpected death.) If people saw how much of our income goes towards them for one reason or another they would think we are looney tunes.

    Things we don’t spend money on?? We don’t eat out, buy clothes unless we absolutely need to or have cable . We also don’t travel. Both our jobs require lots of it and we would rather spend our down time with our dogs at home because of this. Since we like to spend our down time at home, we also have a 65 inch tv (my wedding gift to him) — we love watching our Netflix on the big HD tv.

    I can’t believe I just admitted all of this in a public forum…….

  74. Belligero says 15 March 2011 at 07:28

    Of course travel is inherently better than television: TV makes you fatter and dumber, travel (done right) makes you smarter and fitter. I’m willing to make a judgment on this one. The reason we’re alive is to go places and do things, not sit and be passive.

  75. Carrie says 15 March 2011 at 07:28

    We sold our character house in the city to buy acreage outside of town with a smaller house. We splurged and are finishing off the basement (so weird to be finishing a home project instead of repairing constantly!) and I bought myself an obnoxiously priced Dutch style bike that I love more and more every time I get on it! Right now our teenagers fight to much for us to leave them home alone while we travel (I know I’d come home to only one kid, and that survivor won’t have cleaned up at all!), so we’re fixing up at home.

  76. MutantSuperModel says 15 March 2011 at 07:29

    I think the reason many people are inclined to spend money on Experiences vs Stuff is because saving takes work. And some people feel better about working towards something that will last them forever. That is usually associated with memories. And while I’m pretty sure you can have some great memories revolving your awesome car (which I don’t have an issue with splurging on at all), I think it’s harder to develop great memories about a big screen TV. And I just think more people wuold say “Ugh I totally regret buying this super expensive item that’s totally outdated just a couple years later” than would say “Ugh I totally regret going on this trip to see Tokyo/Africa/Italy/Europe/Egypt”. I’m not saying the latter NEVER happens but it just seems that Experience tends to generate much less buyer’s remorse than Stuff. Stuff gets old, broken, and outdated quickly– especially these days.

    I’m still working on debt devastation so the only thing I can afford to justify splurging on is an occasional restaurant meal. And I love those very much.

    When I’m done devastating debt and have accumulated savings and have retirement being funded, etc. I intend on splurging on travel (yes, *I* love it), a vintage Corvette Stingray, and literacy programs/charities.

  77. Jen says 15 March 2011 at 07:29

    Anne wrote: I found out recently that most Americans get no more than two weeks annual holiday (why on earth do you put up with that?!)

    Oh, probably for the same reason we put up with minimal maternity leave and barely there paternity leave… :/

  78. kh says 15 March 2011 at 07:30

    Wow. I missed all the drama! 🙂

    I will freely admit that part of my wanting to be frugal is to save for things. In fact I wrote about it on my “Minimalism” thread recently.

    I want stop having to buy cheap stuff and really be able to afford nice, quality made (and often expensive) furniture for my house.

    I would like at some point in my life to buy a new car with cash – and yes, I know “new” is anti-frugal. What.Ever. 🙂 I tend to run cars into the ground (the last one I gave up was 13 years old and had 250+k miles on it). I want a new car that is all mine that I can use until it falls apart.

    I want to remodel my kitchen and put in a Viking range and a double fridge.

    I want to be able to buy books w/out a 2nd thought – as many as I can read and as often as it strikes my fancy (although at this point books most often = Kindle purchase).

    I’m absolutely willing to admit that these are the things I am being frugal for. 🙂

  79. Lisa says 15 March 2011 at 07:31

    One year, we hoped to take a vacation but instead, we got air conditioning and finished off half of our basement. I waited 7 years for air conditioning and it is a blessing to have!! Plus, the added room in the basement for the family is great.

  80. Matt says 15 March 2011 at 07:32

    I saved for nearly a decade to buy one of my childhood dream cars. If that isn’t the ultimate ‘Stuff’ I don’t know what is. Having owned the car for a few years now, I can recognize the difference between it and an ‘Experience.’ Being in my middle 30s, I’m starting to prefer ‘Experience’ to ‘Stuff.’ However, I also recognize that ‘Stuff’ can be an enabler for ‘Experience.’ For instance, I’ve had several great drives and experiences in my dream car that I wouldn’t have had in my regular car. Who drives around in their regular car when they’ve got no place to go? A car is just a car, especially when it is in for maintenance or you’re paying the insurance bill, but sometimes a car can be more than just a car. Sometimes I think I can hear that car whispering to me to get out on the road (or the track) to go experience something.

  81. Crystal says 15 March 2011 at 07:36

    We splurge in this order:

    1. Experiences/Travel (Las Vegas or a Cruise every summer)
    2. Housekeeper every other week
    3. Cable with DVR
    4. Lawn care guy every other week
    5. Hobbies – Board gaming and Curling (the ice sport…expensive here in Texas…)
    6. Massage Envy for hubby and Steak every week for me.
    7. We did save for and buy a big screen tv (47″ LCD) 3 1/2 years ago that is still one of our favorite gadgets in the house.

  82. BETH says 15 March 2011 at 07:36

    I’ll proudly admit I scrimped and saved and went without for 10 years so I could afford my dream kitchen redo. Rather than doing a small job every year, I saved and sacrificed, bought at the thrift shop, never ate out—so I could do the dream gutting and rebuilding all at once. It was grossly expensive. I earned it, worked hard for it, sacraficed for it and LOVE it.

  83. PB says 15 March 2011 at 07:37

    I don’t mind “cranky” comments here, because generally people express themselves frankly without being actively rude, unlike many other blogs.

    And if it makes you feel any better, today I am going to buy a framed mirror for the living room — been saving for that — and hire a person to hang it, since long experience has taught me that neither I or my husband should be let loose with a hammer. After that we will continue to save for a tv for the living room, although it will probably be fairly small since it has to go in a small space. And a blueray player.

    Achieving small purchasing goals is like getting rid of small debts — psychologically, it keeps you going!

  84. Becky P says 15 March 2011 at 07:37

    I missed the last post. Need to check it out.

    I agree with Tyler K. in this as I used to be frustrated with Polish people who went without a working bathroom but “went away” for the summer to a place “for vacation”. I didn’t understand why the money wouldn’t be better spent putting in a bathroom which would help you 365 days a year rather than 2 or 3 weeks of “relaxing” in a vacation spot.

    Maybe a “vacation spent abroad” wouldn’t be as necessary if the daily life stuff was less stressful.


    That said, I like travel and fabric. Terribly. But we have a working bathroom…but when our house was new and unfinished with no walls, hot water, etc. I didn’t even breathe “vacation”.

  85. LC says 15 March 2011 at 07:40

    @kh #76 “I want stop having to buy cheap stuff and really be able to afford nice, quality made (and often expensive) furniture for my house.”

    I completely agree. I definitely abide by the mantra: quality over quantity. I may not have as much stuff, but I’ll have exceptional items that I love and that will last a long time.

  86. Flaneuse in Dc says 15 March 2011 at 07:41

    Great thread! Here’s my splurge: nice body products (e.g. Weleda wild rose oil) and exotic bulk teas from the natural market. Woo-hoo, livin’ large! I buy a fair amount of books, but less than I used to, and they’re cheap on Amazon. I haven’t watched television since I left my parents house as a teen; TV and other electronic gadgets just don’t draw me.

    I too get annoyed at people bragging about their travel/adventure experiences – I think Hannah’s right, that it’s not so different from showing off Stuff. Not to mention the carbon footprint of all that air travel. I enjoy travel as much as anyone, but find it hard to spend the money of a large trip, even if I “have” it to spend. Also, I wonder whether people come to value travel over Stuff because…well, on vacation you’re not *working*.

  87. Andy says 15 March 2011 at 07:41

    JD wrote “Well, Donna’s willing to pay $9 for half a dozen cupcakes. Is that frugal? Of course it is! Donna can afford it, and it makes her happy.”

    I would call that a splurge, which isn’t a bad thing, but it is definitely not frugal. Just because you can afford to buy something doesn’t mean that it is a frugal purchase.

  88. Annemarie says 15 March 2011 at 07:41

    I love my Stuff. Mostly it is composed of books and craft supplies and teacups and so on. I skimp on other stuff. Including travel. Why go anywhere when I’ve got all these great books to read?

  89. Stacy says 15 March 2011 at 07:42

    My husband, toddler and I live in a 969 square foot house, which needs some serious updating. The small house (with its small expenses) leaves us with a lot of cash left over every month. We rarely eat out, I buy half our clothes from thrift stores, we have no cable and go the library a lot. That’s where we scrimp and save.

    My husband splurges on his BMW, his pride and joy. I splurge on my garden and clothes occasionally. We also get a CSA share, grass-fed beef and organic pork, etc. from a local farm. We do like to travel sometimes, but we have friends and family around the world and manage to save by staying with them a few nights. The rest of that money goes to debt repayment, alas.

  90. Stephen says 15 March 2011 at 07:43

    In 2007 I splurged on a brand new BMW motorcycle to travel on. It cost more than I have ever paid for a car but I love it. That has since been paid off. These days I am usually splurging on things for my house. New hard wood floors, granite counter tops in my master bath. Things like that. I am doing all the work myself and pay cash for everything as I go.

  91. LauraElle says 15 March 2011 at 07:44

    I’m a regular GRS reader, and sometime commenter, who has saved up and scrimped to buy material things.

    We pinched pennies and went without to afford our flat screen, PS3 and computer [which is hooked up to the flat screen]. Now we are free of cable bills and only watch what we want, without commercials. [Of course, cutting the cable and land line saved an easy $125/month.] We pay $13/month for Netflix- streaming and two DVDs and $65 for broadband.

    And for about five years, we also went without dining out, lattes, ect. so we could buy a new car with cash. And last March, we met that goal: we bought a brand spanking new 2010 Scion xB with cash. I’ve always wanted to walk onto a car lot and buy a brand new car for cash. I thought about something higher end but really fell in love with the xB’s interior: roomy, comfortable and safe. It was also the one of the few cars we looked at that passed the Carl Test. My husband, Carl, is 6’1″. He would sit in the back seat, and if the front seat got too close when pushed back, we wouldn’t even test drive it.

    I haven’t read the comments yet, but I did want to pipe about a GRS reader saving up for material things.

  92. Chimi says 15 March 2011 at 07:45

    Hi. I’m 58, early retiree, 1+ yr in Buenos Aires.
    My “scrimpings”: Smallish apartment, local-only med insurance, no car (use buses/subway), webfone instead of trips to USA.
    My “splurges”: Big TV (locally bought for 2x USA prices), Malbec wine ($6), Spanish tutoring ($13/hr), whole-bean arabica coffee, trips within S.America

  93. kdice says 15 March 2011 at 07:46

    We’re just like Kevin (#18). My husband and I and our dog live in a 2200 sf, 4 bed/2.5 bath house. More house than we need. It’s on a pond. We are very frugal in pretty much every area and this is our splurge.

    I have been thinking about this idea of experience versus things lately as well. One thing I think is in favor of things is they can sometimes make EVERY DAY a little better for you. While you have the experience of travel for a week or two and have memories, etc., every day I sit out on my back patio and watch the geese and ducks on the pond and it significantly increases my daily happiness. I think the same could be true of a TV or other “stuff.”

  94. Scott says 15 March 2011 at 07:48

    I have been an avid reader of this blog for years and while there has always been a few fluff pieces that were enjoyable, there were always balanced with thoughtful articles that helped me to make better decision with my money in regards to credit reduction, saving, and investing. But it seem like the original purpose of this blog has changed from get rich slowly to spend slowly. Yes, the one to many articles on how to live and travel abroad I think has contributed to this. Not everyone can be a nomadic blogger. I thank you for your help these last few years, but the content of this blog no logger apply to my interests, which is getting rich slowly.

  95. Suzanne says 15 March 2011 at 07:52

    Research has shown that, in general, Experiences make people happier than Stuff. Also, one of the problems we have in this society that holds us back from our goals is that many of us buy into the hype that we always need more and better Stuff.

    Therefore, the vilification of Stuff does have a basis in reality, but it doesn’t hurt to question our assumptions from time to time in order to make sure that they’re valid.

  96. Cheryl Miller says 15 March 2011 at 07:53

    I enjoyed your post and agree that people can spend money on whatever is meaningful to them. Jeez, that’s a no-brainer. I spend a lot of money on books, training, my dog, and my new look 🙂 As frugal as I am, I find myself screeching on the brakes to turn into a dress shop I haven’t visited. BTW this is all new to me after losing 24 pounds. So our values change when we change and it’s nobody’s business but our own.

  97. Andy says 15 March 2011 at 07:56

    Also, live music is my splurge. Sometimes I’ll build weekend getaways based on a live show. For example, my wife and I live in Boston and we’re going up to Portland Maine later this month to see Jeff Tweedy solo at the State Theater. I can not wait. I love Portland. It’s a great city and my wife has not spent too much time there. Plus, it’s a nice way to celebrate the fact that Winter is Over!!

  98. Sarah says 15 March 2011 at 07:58

    My fiance and I splurge on computers/games. Between the two of us we have 3 desktops, 1 laptop, and 1 netbook. I’m getting another laptop in the near future.

    That probably sounds horribly wasteful to some people. However, one of the desktops, the laptop, and the netbook are all about 3 years old and from when we were in college. We both play lots of video games, so it was important for us to each have a high-end desktop. The netbook was serving as my only laptop for awhile, so I’m getting a new laptop, and while I’m at it I’m getting a good one that will last me another 3-4 years with any luck. It’s more than some people need, but getting that new laptop will bring me more happiness than anything else I can think of for $1000. We’re just not the go-out-and-do-things types.

  99. erica says 15 March 2011 at 07:59

    My spouse and I splurge on education and housing. He has, and I am in the process of obtaining, a master’s degrees from a private university. In addition, we own our home in NYC and, once my degree is completed, will be saving up for an apartment with a terrace.

  100. mary b says 15 March 2011 at 08:01

    Our work choices, DH making less doing what he loves, and me primarily staying home and working PT, force us to be very frugal, so we do not have much to splurge on, but most extra cash flow goes to things for our boys, like sports registrations, fees and camps. The things that make them happy!
    Other splurges for us (but maybe routine spending for others) would be cable TV and the smartphones we each use for business.

    Haven’t been on a big vacation in 5 yrs, but have managed to squeeze in a couple weekend trips in that time.

    So for us being able to do what we love and be with our children more is our real splurge.

  101. Jo@simplybeingmum says 15 March 2011 at 08:04

    As someone whose main priority is experiences over stuff and Travel over TV I am quite happy to keep reading stories about those who scrimp to travel – because I can relate! I’d argue that the Guy who is buying the BOAT is buying experience not stuff (the boat is simply the vehicle or in this case the vessel to have the experience). Keep ’em coming GRS! Jo

  102. Pierre Lourens says 15 March 2011 at 08:08

    Most of my discretionary income goes toward experiences: food, travel, going out on the weekends. I also save for technology because things like my DSLR camera allow me to be creative.

  103. Tyler Karaszewski says 15 March 2011 at 08:10

    Just to be clear, I have no problem with travel, and I don’t mind reading about it, sometimes. Just last year I spent three weeks in the greek islands, that could definitely be called a splurge (the trip cost about ten grand). It’s just that there’s been so much about it lately, it was starting to get tired. It seems to have become the de facto “good thing” that the online personal finance community is allowed to spend on. Others in this category are charity, expensive organic food, and “culture” which seems to include things like museums and plays but I have yet to see include disneyland or a pro football game. I was just looking for variety.

    And I’m not cranky, I’m contrarian. “Difficult” would also be acceptable.

    What do I splurge on? In the past few years, I’ve splurged on (ironically) travel, sailing and sailboats, surfboards (I think I have 8 or 9 now), bicycles, cameras. When I was younger it was computers. Now I’m attempting to spend half a million dollars on a house. That probably counts as a splurge. I also buy Calvin Klein underwear at $22/pair, which some people probably find insane. There are all sorts of things we can splurge on, from fancy underwear for a few extra dollars, to a ten thousand dollar sailing vacation in Greece. In general none are really more “right” than the others, and it’d be fun to read about some things that aren’t in that list I put in the first paragraph of this post.

    I remember sometime last year, walking into a local surf shop to drop off a board for repairs and seeing this absolutely beautiful handcrafted board sitting on the rack, a complete retro 60’s board just looking amazing in red and white resin tint. I thought it was easily a $1000 board, but it was listed at something like $850 and I just couldn’t pass it up. I bought it on the spot (with cash, not credit) in a complete impulse purchase. I’m not usually into these retro boards, but once in a while they’re a lot of fun to take out in small waves. So far I’ve probably only surfed it half a dozen times, but I don’t regret buying it at all. That was a splurge, but I’m ok with it.

  104. LC says 15 March 2011 at 08:11

    Cranky Rant: Comments to with this “holier than thou” justification undertone really bug me: “I’d rather save and retire earlier, and those people spending X on Y can work until their 70.” Consider it from the other side: not everyone WANTS to retire. Some people are doing things that they love and want to keep doing them until they physically or mentally can’t do them any more. Those people are living retirement *every single day*… it’s not work for them. I would love to be one or those people sooner or later.

    Perhaps, if more of us were able to or tried to find ways to make money doing our hobbies or other things we love, retirement wouldn’t be some far off thing for which we toiled away… it would be lived everyday. Maybe that’s not realistic… my head must be in the clouds…

  105. The Other Brian says 15 March 2011 at 08:14

    First off, I want to apologize to Donna as my reply yesterday came across as a little snarky. I thoroughly enjoyed her article as it is evident that travel means a lot to her and it is worth the sacrifices she makes. Kudos to her and to others for their values-based spending. I also agree with Bill’s comment from yesterday that reading about people’s Stuff isn’t as exciting because the story basically ends once the Stuff is acquired.

    As for me, my wife and I choose our children. My wife is a SAHM; fortunately for us, that is a choice we were able to make. Sure, we could have a lot more Stuff and more (and different) Experiences if she were working but that isn’t the priority for us right now.

    With all that being said, I am currently trying to decide if I want to buy a new Toyota Tacoma or a used 4runner (with cash, of course).

  106. SKiTz says 15 March 2011 at 08:15

    Definitely stuff! I’m all about gadgets and technology so I always have the new TV, game console, smartphone, laptop, etc, etc, etc.

    I’m blessed enough that many of my experiences are taken care of for free. I went to Haiti last year and all my expenses were paid by my church. This year my job is sending me to San Fran and I’m taking my wife with me, and my church is sending me to Disney World for a worship conference. There’s also a possibility that I’ll be going to Israel next year for free!

    Ya gotta love it!

  107. Frugal Frau says 15 March 2011 at 08:15

    I did just buy a surfboard! It is the most fun and best exercise EVER! I had to cut back on quilting and wine to cover this.

  108. Vanessa says 15 March 2011 at 08:19

    After 100 comments I’ll be contrarian and say I have no splurges. I can’t think of anything I cut back on to afford something else, at least not anything that isn’t practical or necessary.

  109. Erika says 15 March 2011 at 08:23

    Well, you’ve got a million comments already but to chime in:

    1) I splurged on our house & a few select things in it. Like a custom couch that fits exactly in our living room. I won’t even say how much it cost because I’m embarrassed, but I guess I shouldn’t be because it was a decision I made with much thought and I still feel happy every single time I sit on or look at that couch.

    2)As another said, my time. I work part-time, and could make more money working full-time, but am consciously choosing to forgo that income. I am not against looking for ways to increase my income, but am pretty firm about limiting the time I am going to spend “working” so I can be w/my family while my kids are young. Not everyone has this option, so I am very appreciative that I can do this.

  110. Nicole says 15 March 2011 at 08:26

    Things I didn’t need to know category. Tyler K for the win. “I also buy Calvin Klein underwear at $22/pair, which some people probably find insane.”

    Must post it again to share my pain in case other readers missed it the first time around.

  111. Jenn says 15 March 2011 at 08:27

    My splurges this month – $100 to a local family whose house burned down and $500 to a fundraiser for an acquaintance’s child’s medical expenses (poor little boy needs like 20 surgeries). I have rarely splurged on giving outside of family, but I have to say these choices have provided me many more ‘warm fuzzies’ than any recent travel or stuff purchases I can think of. I can see a habit forming.

    Hubby will buy an iPad 2. For him, this will bring many “engrossing fuzzies” as he plays with the new tech.

    It’s all good. We’re just looking for different kinds of fuzzies.

  112. Sara says 15 March 2011 at 08:35

    Experiences like going out to eat with my man – we LOVE eating out to the point that we have a monthly budget for it (but I still consider it splurging because it’s not a low amount!), and I also like to shop for clothes & kitchen goods. And yes, all of these things make me happy on some level (eating out = quality time with my man, shopping for clothes are usually for work which make me feel confident, and kitchen goods because I cook like crazy!). I only sometimes feel guilty if I purchased STUFF that ends up breaking or being low quality, and then I just feel guilty in the sense that I was hoping to get a good deal but it ended up being a waste because it broke.

  113. Des says 15 March 2011 at 08:35

    “Well, Donna’s willing to pay $9 for half a dozen cupcakes. Is that frugal? Of course it is! Donna can afford it, and it makes her happy.”

    Huh? That isn’t frugal. It might be a good choice for her circumstances, but it isn’t frugal. You strip words of their value when you assign your own meaning to them.

  114. Kandace says 15 March 2011 at 08:35

    I occasionally buy cheese that is $20 a pound or a really good dark chocolate bar at $7. Like most people, we save by driving a 14 year old car, don’t have cable, use the library. We also travel every couple of years, sock money away into retirement, and I’m working on getting the mortgage paid off in two years.

    A couple of years ago we bought a vacation home (condo). While I only get there every six weeks or so, the pleasure I get each time I walk through the door is immense. Certainly I could live without out it, but I’m glad that right now I don’t need to.

  115. Joe @ Not Your Average Joe says 15 March 2011 at 08:38

    Our 17 year old TV just died yesterday. Guess what I’ll be spending money on very shortly? Not travel!!

  116. J.D. says 15 March 2011 at 08:48

    Okay, I’ll yield to the “$9 for 6 cupcakes is not frugal” crowd. I guess I wouldn’t call that frugal, either. But it’s a reasonable expense for someone who can afford it. I’ve made an edit to the post to remove the word “frugal”.

  117. Tyler Karaszewski says 15 March 2011 at 08:57

    People love to say “oh my god, too much information!” (and similar things) following other people’s statements that in truth, don’t actually bother or offend them one bit. I don’t get it. People are so conditioned to act a certain way that they’ll feign offense when there is none for no other effect than to try and make someone else feel bad. Try being a man in a pink shirt or a fat girl in a bathing suit for the same effect. Nobody is actually bothered by either of these things, but they’ll sure let you know that they want you to think they are.

    And yeah, you didn’t *need* to know, but you don’t *need* to know much of anything in any of these comments.

  118. Nicole says 15 March 2011 at 08:58

    @116 JD

    Frugality isn’t an absolute term. It’s a compared to what term.

    Compared to $9 worth of ho-hos, it’s frugal, because ho-hos are poor quality and won’t give nearly the satisfaction (ho-ho lovers may disagree).

    Compared to spending full price on the cupcakes without the coupon, it’s frugal. She’s getting the full cupcake experience at a greatly reduced price.

    Compared to eating out at a fancy restaurant, it’s frugal. She’s getting a luxury experience for $9 instead of $50 (or $25 if she made the frugal lunch choice instead of dinner).

    Compared to not buying any junk food and eating plain rolled oats instead, no, it’s not frugal.

    You can’t just say, “Spending $9 on cupcakes is not frugal” or “Spending $9 on cupcakes is frugal.” Compared to what makes that distinction.

  119. Tyler Karaszewski says 15 March 2011 at 08:58

    How much are cupcakes supposed to cost? I honestly have no idea. $1.50 each doesn’t sound like a lot to me. I spent $2.45 on coffee yesterday and that seemed normal, and certainly more work must go into a cupcake.

  120. Amy F says 15 March 2011 at 08:59

    We just received a windfall and it will likely go half to retirement and half to home improvements.

  121. Kelly says 15 March 2011 at 09:03

    Most people who are frugal and savers don’t tend to put that precious savings into Stuff that does not appreciate in value. They know that in two years that Range Rover will look used and the sensation that comes with something New will be long gone.

    Most people want Stuff for the excitement of it, and the excitement that comes with stuff is much more fleeting than the excitement that comes with Experiences, since experiences also come with memories, lessons learned, new skills and sometimes new friendships.

  122. Kate says 15 March 2011 at 09:03

    My mainstay is cable tv. I grew up without television and really hated being so out of touch, so I promised myself I’d never be without it if possible.

    When I started paying down my debt, I kept it as well (even though it is/was vilified and I kept reading I’d fail if I didn’t cancel it) and still paid off my $25,000 debt in 18 months.

  123. Nicole says 15 March 2011 at 09:03

    @117 TK, nope, you’re wrong. You have actually granted my mind pain today. You brought back very unpleasant flashbacks to a coed bathroom situation in college. Combining that with memories of pictures on your blog… actual pain. I also do not want to know if you wear speedos, I am going to assume not.

    You only know what is going on in your mind with your feelings, not other’s. Just because you don’t mind imagining/seeing folks in clothing that leaves little to the imagination, that doesn’t mean everyone has the same tolerance that you do. Heck, these differences in reactions are even provable by hooking folks up to electrodes or in MRI machines. Not everybody is insensitive.

    –Nicole, who may not be perpetually cranky, but is often known to be grumpy. And lectures a lot.

  124. jg says 15 March 2011 at 09:05

    In grad school, when almost everyone I knew had roommates, I lived alone. Admittedly, it was a small, 1-bedroom apartment, but I could have saved $200-$300/month by sharing a large 2-bedroom apartment. Instead, I scrimped and saved on about everything so that I could afford to live alone on a grad student stipend. It was worth every penny.

    (I still live alone, but since I’m approaching 30 and have a “real job,” it’s not generally considered a splurge. I suppose the fact that I moved to an apartment 50% larger than my old one is the current splurge…although I’m only paying ~$75 more/month for it. Also worth every penny – now. It obviously wasn’t when I was on the grad student stipend.)

  125. Tyler Karaszewski says 15 March 2011 at 09:14

    If the notion that people purchase underwear plunges you into the depths of despair, I think you’re a lost cause. I might as well tell you that you make me depressed because you’re a woman and a woman broke my heart once and oh god, now I’ll lie around in bed for weeks because I was reminded of a woman by someone on the internet.

  126. Leah says 15 March 2011 at 09:15

    some “big” splurges I like when I can:

    – brie, blue cheese, extra sharp cheddar, and other nice cheese varieties. mmm.

    – getting my legs and underarms waxed. Sheer happiness. Okay, not during the waxing, but I definitely think it’s worth it. I don’t get this much because $60 is a bit steep for me (half leg + underarm)

    – kayaking and anything kayaking related. I’m a ridic fan of kayaking. I don’t do it enough. I do own a kayak, but it’s just a one person one, and I need my boyfriend to help me get it on and off the car. We’re looking for a kayak for him so that we can go together.

    – baking supplies, because I love to bake.

    oh, and to the person who said “living alone on a grad student budget”: YES. I spend $450 a month, or roughly half of my grad student stipend, to live by myself. Worth every penny to never have to deal with roommates and their mess. I study so much better at home (no internet at home) than anywhere else, and not having a roommate is essential to quiet studying.

  127. Diane says 15 March 2011 at 09:22

    A good hair cut & dye job! Plants for the garden. And excellent vet care for my 4 cats. If one of them needs blood work, or an ultrasound, or surgery, I’ve saved money to pay for it. Pretty much anything that I don’t need is a splurge for me.

  128. Nicole says 15 March 2011 at 09:24

    @123 TK– Hyperbole. Ironic.

  129. GJ says 15 March 2011 at 09:27

    It’s been awhile since I’ve commented, but this post did get me thinking about the splurges my husband and I make. It is very interesting to read through the comments and see the wide range of what qualifies as a splurge.

    Our last apartment, which we had while my husband was still a student, was a dark hole of a place – we literally didn’t receive any direct sunlight during the day due to layout and surrounding trees! In Seattle, there isn’t that much sun to be had in the first place! When we moved, we found an apartment complex located on a hillside. While we had set up an appointment to see one at the bottom of the hill, we also visited one halfway up. The 9′ window in the living room overlooking the entire Cascade range, Bellevue skyline and Lake Washington made me weak at the knees. We both decided that this otherwise identical unit was worth the extra $50 a month in rent for the view and ability to have sunlight in every room. This splurge has made a HUGE difference in our moods and happiness and I love curling up in my chair and watching the sun rise in the morning.

    Oh, and if I can save enough using coupons on our groceries ($275/month budget), we splurge and have a burrito from Chipotle.

  130. Pirate Jo says 15 March 2011 at 09:29

    Time off. And the less money I spend during my time off, the more time off I can take. For the price of an overseas plane ticket I can spend an entire month not having to work. Guess which one I choose.

  131. Tyler Karaszewski says 15 March 2011 at 09:34

    @Nicole: It’s hard to tell what you mean when you say something else. Sarcasm is difficult to convey via blog comment.

  132. Rebecca says 15 March 2011 at 09:41

    Right now when I have extra money, I save up for things in my house. I’m a stay at home mom and I want my home to look pretty when I am in it all day. I save a lot buy buying most things second hand. I also spend our money on eating out. We love to get the “experience” of trying new food.

    Someday we will travel, when I don’t have tiny kids. But for now that is where our priorities are for the extra fun.

  133. Grace Mitchell says 15 March 2011 at 09:41

    I have small splurges, the kinds of things most frugal people hate. I spend on makeup, I go to movies at full-price times, I buy coffee whenever I feel like it. For me, those things absolutely improve quality of life.

  134. Nicole says 15 March 2011 at 09:43

    @131 TK. Sorry, wasn’t clear.. You were using hyperbole. It is ironic that you were using hyperbole to “prove a point” to say that I was using hyperbole.

    No, I was not using hyperbole. There is a big spectrum of pain. Knowing that you wear CK is somewhere above a papercut in the pain spectrum, but below smashing my thumb with a hammer. Does that make it more clear? Ick.

    p.s. Irony is also that our blog post today is about sex. For too much information…

  135. Courtney says 15 March 2011 at 09:45

    Like Vanessa @108, I had trouble applying this article to myself. I don’t really think of our budget as ‘I will cut back on X so I can splurge on Y.’ We each have personal allowances and a joint entertainment budget; we have a vacation fund (we like cruises and the Outer Banks). We also have cable TV and smartphones and new-ish cars and the rest of the typical accoutrements of upper-middle class life. But we also save 40% of our take-home pay. I guess our splurge will be a house in about 5 years (what we’re mostly saving for, outside of retirement) but I don’t really feel like we’ve ‘cut back’ on anything – I guess I’m just very grateful that we make significantly more than we care to spend right now.

  136. Pat S. says 15 March 2011 at 09:50

    Books, movies, and travel.

  137. Tyler Karaszewski says 15 March 2011 at 09:52

    The first page of your blog currently talks about both how sex is the greatest thing in the world, and also about gang rape (but not about how it’s great). You seem to generally not have a problem with mentioning things that may possibly bring up bad memories for some readers.

    Also, if wearing underwear is something that I have to be cautious about mentioning, then pretty much *everything* is something I need to be cautious about mentioning, which means I can either say anything at all or nothing. I can’t very well predict which things might cause offense to any of the tens of thousands of readers of this site, especially if they’re things that nearly everyone does nearly every day.

    edit: clarified stance on the moral greatness of gang rape.

  138. Lindsay says 15 March 2011 at 09:53

    I’m saving up for a younger looking face. 😀 Don’t judge!

    I’d also like to take surfing lessons. Currently splurging on salsa lessons with my husband. Hot!

  139. Matt V says 15 March 2011 at 09:54

    Question for everybody…does anyone here differentiate splurging on a one-time cost like a car, boat or tv and things you will pay monthly for like a smartphone or gym membership? I have no debt and keep my expenses to things that provide value for me. Thanks for any responses.

  140. elena says 15 March 2011 at 09:57

    I’m at a point where things are starting to break down, seemingly all at once and I’ve got a plateful of decisions to make about what I want/value. My house, my car, my career, and even myself to some degree need replacing/repairing/remodeling. I’m in my mid 40’s, older, paid for house purchased 12 years ago, 10 year old car, recently laid off and working only part time now. No surprises really, I’m just seeing a shift from spending splurge to necessity in categories like remodeling, self care, continuing ed,and fuel efficiency.

    I would say that for the last 5-8 years I’ve splurged on my nieces and nephews: college funds, clothing, summer camps, fun stuff.
    Relatives did this for me and I loved being able to continue the tradition.

  141. Joshua says 15 March 2011 at 10:01

    I saved a splurged on a Vitamix (blender/food processor). Other people look at me funny when they hear I have one, seeing as they can run around $600 for the model I wanted. But it’s totally worth it to me. I uses it at least once a day if not 2-3 times and it helps me save on my food bill. I wanted the top quality for my kitchen and was not afraid to save up for the best. (BTW, now my friends want one too)

  142. Kevin says 15 March 2011 at 10:04

    I’m sorry … I’m just flabberghasted that Nicole is offended to learn that Tyler wears underwear.

  143. kate says 15 March 2011 at 10:08

    I spend about $100/month or more on cheese. Worth every penny to me!

    J.D.’s response: That is a LOT of cheese.
  144. Nicole says 15 March 2011 at 10:08

    @135 Just to note… the way TK is phrasing that sentence makes it sound like we’re saying gang rape is the greatest thing in the world. Those are two very separate posts and the one on gang rape from Saturday is an indictment of the NYTimes’ horrible blame-the-victim coverage. We are shocked and horrified by gang rape and the way that rape victims are vilified in media coverage. It is a serious problem that deserves attention drawn to it, despite the discomfort such attention causes. Because without conscious attention, it is easy to buy into the implicit blame-the-victim coverage, as if it really is the victim’s fault. If they were overt about it, it wouldn’t be so necessary to fight. (Sort of like how Fred Phelps is doing a world of good for the Gay community by protesting at military funerals– we also link to that post on Saturday– overt is often less dangerous than subliminal.)

    Today’s post on (consensual adult) sex is more fun. And probably much less disconcerting than the idea of Tyler K in CK. Especially if you imagine Nicole and/or Maggie as attractive supermodels who enjoy both food and other activities. For all you know, we could be. (Actually if you click, you’ll probably feel let down because it really isn’t that racy, but we have an excellent post on credit cards from yesterday that might catch interest.)

    Now waiting for kombat Kevin to chime in about how I only post in order to advertise our blog. (Guilty as charged this time!) (in 3…2….1…)

    Update: @139 Point taken… it is a good thing that TK wears underwear.

  145. RS says 15 March 2011 at 10:08

    @39, love it!!
    I feel so vindicated by those of you who splurge on books. I love books, which seems to be unusual these days in the electonic era. They are my only collection and I can’t get enough!
    But, my true splurge is a housekeeper, just a couple of hours once or twice a month. I may not travel the world as often as some, but nothing beats not having to clean your own toilet.

  146. Cely says 15 March 2011 at 10:22

    My main categories are travel, eating out, fitness, and personal care (haircuts, massages, pedicures). Hmmm, writing this makes me feel a twinge of guilt. Sigh.

    I don’t buy a lot of stuff, bring my lunch every day, and keep my household costs low.

    A few weeks ago I went against my priorities and used most of my travel fund to help buy a new (used) car. This was because my 2003 car was starting to have transmission problems, and I didn’t want to keep worrying as I drove it. I also had a car fund but it was still pretty small. It was tough to funnel travel money towards stuff, but it’s given me a lot of peace of mind and I am highly motivated to build that travel account back up (more so than I would be for a car account).

  147. Tyler Karaszewski says 15 March 2011 at 10:26

    Seriously, me buying (or wearing) underwear is “disconcerting”, but you having sex is “fun” and supposed to conjure up images of attractive supermodels? That’s a damn high horse you’re sitting on. How’s the air, is it hard to breathe up there?

  148. Jennifer says 15 March 2011 at 10:28

    We scrimp and save in many areas so that my kids can participate in sports and other activities that are important to them. We have 4 kids and no one is over scheduled (each child does 1 thing or 1 thing plus scouts) but these things add up.

    My daughter is passionate about gymnastics and does it competitively. Many people could argue against the thousands of dollars we spend each year for her to do this, but that is what being frugal is about. These are the choices we have made for our family.

    I guess the reason why you never see posts on how people are frugal so they can purchase extravagant things, is because in the end, “stuff” is just not that important. Most people still value experiences over things.

  149. Stacy says 15 March 2011 at 10:30

    Stuff *IS* experience. If I buy a bike, I’m buying the experience of bike rides. If I buy a Range Rover, I’m buying the experience of off-road driving, or luxury cruising. If I buy a big-screen HDTV, I’m buying the sensory experience of watching my favorite show or sports team. Even if I’m buying a Picasso, I’m buying the experience of gazing at that piece of “stuff” hanging on my wall and feeling all the richer for it.

    I like to travel — I just travel in a way that doesn’t cost much money. For example, instead of flying to Paris, I drive to ancient Anasazi ruins and camp. Talk about experience! Talk about seeing something new (and old!) and exciting! I even experienced a foreign culture and language (Navajo, Yavapai, Apache) But it didn’t require thousands of dollars that I had to save up and scrimp to get.

  150. B. says 15 March 2011 at 10:30

    It seems to me that the anti-stuff sentiment on this site is really an anti-clutter sentiment. Clutter is bad, stuff that enahnces your life is good.

  151. akajb says 15 March 2011 at 10:30

    I guess my “splurge” is where I live. I’m a grad student, and I live in a 1-bedroom apartment that costs close to 50% of my take home. But, I’m not in debt, have a savings account, a small TFSA and a decent sized RRSP that I still contribute to every year. I love the view from my apartment, and often stand staring out the window when I need to think. I like watching how the the landscape changes throughout the seasons.

    I’m not much of a drinker or big on shopping. I buy clothes when I really need to replace things. I do look at sales, but I buy food I’ll eat over something that’s cheaper. I will spend money on books, but currently only have a few favorite authors so that’s not a lot of books per year. I use to buy a lot of dvd’s, but that’s slowed down a lot. I do re-read and re-watch what I own a lot, so I get a lot of value out of them.

    I also have three gym memberships – one to the university that’s part of my tuition, but I don’t like and don’t use, a YMCA where I actually go, and a climbing gym that I also get a lot of use out of.

    I figure as long as I can pay for all of my basics without needing help from others, and have enough savings to cover unexpected expenses, I’m good to go.

    I do look forward to making a decent salary and being able to save lots more.

  152. Lindsay says 15 March 2011 at 10:31

    I’d like to add that when I read that Tyler splurges on underpants, I actually thought that was kind mundane and had no desire to go see what he looks like to decide whether or not to be upset by his mentioning underpants. And I would never have looked for pics on his blog if Nicole hadn’t mentioned it. But now that I have, I would like to add my two cents: I do not mind picturing Tyler in his underpants.


  153. JL says 15 March 2011 at 10:32

    In my household, we splurge on chocolate and beer/wine. They’re relatively small splurges.

  154. Onysia Ogmari says 15 March 2011 at 10:32

    Travel destroys places. I have seen lovely local areas turned in to trash by tourism. So I do not automatically see it as a plus. When it turns a local economic into a tourist economy it is a new form of consumerism one that is funded by the American dollar. What do I spend my $ on? I saved for a big screen TV. Enjoy it. Waited til a high end caftan when on sale, bought it. Planning to put a statue in the garden as a reward for hitting this years saving goal. I also invest via microplace. I do believe in small c capitalism. And I do intend to travel to Italy again.

  155. Rachael says 15 March 2011 at 10:36

    It’s funny, I actually spent money on travel with I was younger because I felt like I “should” like it. My husband and I went to Italy and took some trips to the east and west coast (we’re mid-westerners). What we learned about ourselves was we’re not big travelers. Because of health issues that I have, it’s really a very stressful experience for us. The pictures are nice afterward, but I think we’ve done enough traveling for a while. So we’re saving to pay off our house and I hope to some day buy a cool old house with really good “bones” that I can work on and make beautiful and uniquely our own. That way being at home will be sort of like a vacation for us.

  156. friend says 15 March 2011 at 10:38

    I am neither cranky nor grumpy, usually, but I wish Nicole and Tyler K would spar via private message…

    and JD, it would be fun if you had a “like” or “recommend” button on the comments, like the New York Times does, and we could see which ideas rise to the top of the heap.

    My scrimp/splurge: ’89 Honda/excellent chocolate

  157. Coralee says 15 March 2011 at 10:41

    As much as I love GRS for all the practical financial info I have absorbed from it, I also love these kinds of posts and the dialouge they produce as well.
    Ultimately what these comments reveal is that it is all about the choices we make as individuals and one choice is not more valid than another and that is the bottom line.
    We have the freedom in North America to make our own choices about how to spend our money and I personally love that the ideas range from having your house cleaned to pets, blenders, travel and yes even underwear.
    Please do not judge one anothers choices, be respectful because when an individual is happy in their personal lives it comes through in even the tiniest personal interactions with others and it shows.
    As for confessing my own spending indulgences, last night was my birthday and my husband took me out to a Nouveau French restaurant in our city where we dropped $150 for the two of us on wine, appetizers, entrees and cheese for dessert. It goes without saying that this was expensive but memorable and it was our personal choice to spend our hard earned money that way.
    Now excuse me while I go plan my next vacation…

  158. Karen says 15 March 2011 at 10:42

    I occasionally splurge on jewelry. A few years ago I bought a watch I have always wanted, and since then it’s made me happy every single day to look at it. I’m now planning to purchase a ring which I expect will provide similar enjoyment.

    I don’t buy much for myself but when I do, I want it to be something I really love. For me, fine jewelry has the added benefit of being something I’d like to eventually pass on to my child or my nieces.

  159. mike says 15 March 2011 at 10:50

    I purchased a 2002 mercedes benz E320. I liked the car since it came out but couldn’t justify spending almost $50K for it. So recently I found one with low mileage and in good condition for $10K. It’s quite nice and I’m enjoying it for a while. I’ll probably sell and go back to cheaper cars (cheaper to maintain at least) in a few years. I guess this goes to delayed gratification. It’s also allowed me to see that at the end of the day this car doesn’t really make me happy (or sad). It’s nice, I’ve experienced it and now – not much worse off for owning it – I have satisfied that want. I doubt I’ll look at the latest Mercedes with the same desire.

  160. Tyler Karaszewski says 15 March 2011 at 10:51

    I understand how this would be annoying. Sorry. I don’t think GRS has “private messages”, though. Anyway, I’ll give it a rest.

  161. valerie says 15 March 2011 at 10:52

    this made me laugh a bit because my husband and i are actually saving for a range rover!!! he is in the auto industry and so driving a well built beautifully designed car is a high interest. there is no way he would’ve let me buy my 2002 nissan altima if we were together then. anyway we also need a four-wheel drive car because we ski/board often and go off road.

    like others have said we scrimp in other areas, like a hand-me-down tv from my parents, no cable, no dvr, only borrowed books, craigslist for gym eq/bikes/ appliances, etc.

    also we chose to buy a house that we could afford on one of our salaries, yet still enough space, good location, and large yard for our dogs!

    to each his own!

  162. Tiffany Millar-Piccirilli says 15 March 2011 at 11:04

    I recently started tracking this! My extra funds typically go to 1) Groceries- my husband and I eat tons of fresh fruit and veggies! 2) Savings- last year we went to Scandinavia and Germany, this year we have not yet figured out where we will go or what we will do with our savings 3) Eating out and drinking good craft beers! Before all is said and done I also contribute to a 401K but that is pretty much a precursor!

  163. Jacq says 15 March 2011 at 11:04

    I always thought programmable thermostats were for sissies. Also want to mention that it’s great to go work out at home first thing in the morning when the house is cold.

    OTOH, this could be because I like flannel and fuzzy PJ’s. Oops, could be TMI.

    Biggest splurge: $55k on the RV that doesn’t get used nearly enough. Stuff + experience I guess.
    When I bought my bed set up recently, I didn’t compare prices, didn’t shop around… And I love love love it as much as any trip I’ve taken. Sometimes I have to take a plunge and just buy things because my natural inclination is to delay / procrastinate for a looong time. Didn’t always used to be that way when I was more impulsive with money. There’s downsides to everything I guess.

  164. Cesar says 15 March 2011 at 11:04

    I want to and will buy a trip to Europe and a Lambo sometime in my lifetime. Currently there are no plans for either. My wife is finishing up nursing school. Once she does and all debts is paid off and savings are in order we’ll focus on those goals. I say spend on whatever you want just as long as your future is in order.

  165. Bogey@BackNineFinance says 15 March 2011 at 11:12

    @ #159 Tyler K.

    You sound exactly like the type of person I would love to interact with more on my blog. More of a non-conformist, and less of a sheep (at least when it comes to money).

    I don’t think anyone would say that spending money on travel is bad, but how much can you really say about it in a period of a couple months?

  166. Kevin says 15 March 2011 at 11:17


    Good on you for having goals, but if I may reveal a bit of a spoiler, you will never own a Lamborghini.

    The thing is, after you’ve paid off all that debt, dealt with all the other financial surprises life is going to throw at you (illnesses, layoffs, deaths in the family, etc.), and finally saved up enough money to buy a Lamborghini, you will not be able to part with the money. Knowing how hard you worked to get to that point, and knowing how valuable every last dollar is, you will choose to instead put that money into retirement savings, or paying off your house.

    Do not feel like a failure. You will not be the first young man to go through this exact same experience. If it makes you feel any better, many other men have dealt with this dilemma by instead visiting an exotic car rental store and renting their dream car for a day or two. It’s horribly expensive ($500 – $1000 / day), but it gets it out of your system, and hurts a lot less financially than enduring the taxes, fees, and depreciation hit of actually buying the car, just to drive it a little and then turn around and sell it at a huge loss.

  167. ali says 15 March 2011 at 11:21

    Actually the $9 for a dozen cupcakes was frugal!

    I remember this post because she had bought an entertainment book and there was a BOGO coupon for the cupcakes.

    Donna even said she felt a little guilty for buying the cupcakes because she could buy a lot of pinto beans or donate the money to charity and also because for so long she’d put her wants last or if she was going to indulge it had to be indugling for or with someone else.

    Anyway it’s an interesting post but I just wanted to say that even though Buy1Get1 cupcakes isn’t the most frugal thing it was still frugal.

  168. Colleen says 15 March 2011 at 11:25

    This is for Tyler who was wondering why no one wrote about attending a football game: Except it’s baseball. I love the Boston Red Sox. I was raised to love them. I have a dog named Fenway. My love for my team has manifested itself in both Stuff and Experiences. This year alone, I am traveling to Toronto to see the Sox take on the Blue Jays because I wanted to see them play in another park. We are doing the trip as frugally as possible, but it’s still an expense. Last weekend, I paid $450 for 4 tix on the Right Field Roof Deck at Fenway. Most would probably see that as a ridiculous amount of money to spend for a baseball game but you get $100 to spend on food and I’m taking my parents who also love the Red Sox and don’t go to many games. To me, it is completely worth it – to attend the game and to experience it with my parents. As to the “Stuff” part of my love, last year I paid $1000 to buy original seats that were ripped out of Fenway when they did upgrades to the ballpark. It was the most I had ever spent on a single item and I was sweating when I made the purchase. But I’m so happy I did. To own a piece of Red Sox history is something I cherish. I also own several other pieces of memorabilia. I know most people would think this is a waste but I’m happy with my purchases. I spent that money consciously on something I love and I’ve been careful in other areas of my life to afford them (I brown bag it, don’t own a car, don’t eat out a lot, and live in a small one bedroom apartment I share with my girlfriend). Anyways, I just wanted to share to show that at least one person out there is saving in other areas to experience sports.

  169. Carla says 15 March 2011 at 11:28

    For me its a car that I will trust will last me for at least 10 years and 150K miles. Its not a luxury car by any means, but its comfortable and stylish in my eyes. It is more of a need, but its also a splurge.

    Other splurges are not as pricey such as cosmetics, hair care products and clothes (though most clothing are purchased second hand and from discount retailers).

  170. El Nerdo says 15 March 2011 at 11:33

    I think it’s hilarious to picture people in their fart catchers, whether the cost $30 or they sell 6 for $1. Isn’t that a trick to overcome fear of public speaking? Anyway, to get back on topic:

    Sure, frugality is relative, but no “splurge” is ever frugal. Splurging, by definition, is indulgence and lack of moderation and ostentation and excess.

    I think a lot of the things I see listed here as “splurging” are nothing of the sort– decent living quarters, or a quality vehicle, or traveling for a meaningful experience are not some sort of materialistic orgy, at least not by 21st century standards. Air conditioning may have been splurging in 1940 but it’s quite pedestrian in 2011.

    And I agree with #113 Des– I think we’re using “frugality” too loosely, but also “splurging,” and we end up confusing both terms with conscious spending, whether it is $9 cupcakes or a BMW.

    The cupcakes may be conscious spending but are not frugal unless you’re replacing a more expensive thing, like a big birthday cake that would go to waste–otherwise it’s just tasty junk food; the BMW is not by default “splurging”, it might be just the reliable car you need to be safe on the road.

  171. Mom of five says 15 March 2011 at 11:33

    I want to respond to all the folks who say travel is better than stuff. Stuff can and does enable experiences all the time. The whole travel is always superior really strikes me as self centered elitism.

    Several years ago, we put on a large Great Room addition – bigger than our family needs. It has made our home a real gathering place. Every Christmas our extended family meets at our home. Memories have been created here. Not only holidays, but baby and wedding showers, significant birthdays, etc.

    Some folks in our family love to travel. God bless ’em. I hope they understand (as some here fail to) that their decision to spend their money on travel is not superior to creating a space where our whole extended family can meet. It’s just different.

    A big screen TV? We do have one. And sometimes people come over and watch the big games here. More happy memories. More fun times with friends and family.

  172. KC says 15 March 2011 at 11:50

    My vice is baseball – love it. I go to minor league games, major league games, spring training. I spend money on caps, shirts, etc. I still buy baseball cards on occasion and books, lots of books about baseball. I’d estimate I easily spend $5000k/year.

    I’ve always wanted a Mercedes. Not one of those cheap C class versions either. I want at least an E class, but preferably an S class. We’re talking $55-$80k here. The reason I haven’t bought one yet is I’d have to sacrifice baseball, tennis, and many other hobbies and past times I have. I’d also have to sacrifice family time. I’d have to supplement my income with something else to afford that car. That’s why I think a lot of people don’t save for such superfluous items, so to speak. Because once you realize how hard it is to save the money you realize you don’t want certain items and you might want other items more. Some people are still going to choose that Range Rover over Paris or working less. But many people realize the big ticket items may not be worth it. It’s really a personal decision.

  173. Jenne says 15 March 2011 at 12:02

    I’d like to see the programmable thermostat article. We live in a rental house without much insulation, and if we stay there another year, I’d like to buy a programmable thermostat and have it installed– but with gas heat I’m completely baffled what the process would be.
    Right now, my family is trying to learn to splurge less on little things so we can save up for bigger things: a trip to Europe to see the grandparents, a new box spring & mattress…
    But most of our luxury money goes to books, kid’s toys, and eating out.

  174. Tracy says 15 March 2011 at 12:07

    I splurge on giving myself free time and not doing things I hate. I have a housekeeping service come to the house twice a week. And I have my lawn taken care of in the summer.

    It’s the thing that would theoretically be easiest to cut out of my budget but it’s what gives me some of the greatest joy – I love coming home to a clean house, inside and out – but I absolutely hate cleaning.

  175. retirebyforty says 15 March 2011 at 12:22

    Yes, we splurge on international travel. We love going to countries we haven’t been before and seeing different cultures and sights. The plane tickets cost a lot of money, but it is worth it to us.

    Oh yeah, last year we splurged on a kitchen remodel. We knocked down a wall and cleaned it up a lot. We use it everyday so I think it’s an appropriate splurge.

  176. Chickybeth says 15 March 2011 at 12:22

    @Friend’s comment from above about adding a “like” button: PLEASE DON’T!

    Argh that drives me nuts because basically one insane person says something off the wall and people “like” the comment to give it better status and then that’s all you read. The hyperbolic spewings of crazy people are definitely not the reason I come to GRS (the opposite in fact).

  177. Marianne says 15 March 2011 at 12:23

    From the moment we met 38 years ago, my husband and I had the same dream for after retirement: buy an RV. Then 12 years ago we bought a Volkswagen camper van on impulse. We spent all our savings, and over those 12 years we spent a lot of money on travel and maintenance. We could afford it though. We live frugally, and we have a small house.

    Three years ago my husband lost his job. We decided that my salary would be enough. We still can pay for traveling, we won’t be able to replace the camper van though. That is not a problem. We have lived our dream, and we will remember the experiences we had for the rest of our lifes.

  178. Nate says 15 March 2011 at 12:32

    My wife and I are about a month away from being debt free. I just splurged on a couple massage Groupons for my wife and I! We also buy local high quality foods that we really enjoy. I am planning on buying about 3-4 pairs of tennis shoes in the next couple week — just because I enjoy wearing new tennis shoes (probably because I grew up poor and had to wear the same pair with holes in them for several years). My favorite splurge this year is going to be fun: my wife and I want to purchase a well running used car that we can give away to a stranger who is hustling to get out of debt. We want to toss this person the keys and never see them again! Don’t know how it’s going to work yet — but I’m sure it will be fun!!

    @Nicole I was sitting here reading these comments with several of my friends — you seriously were being very rude to @Tyler — we all agreed that we will never click into your blog because of it. Just thought you might want to know that, if even just from a business perspective. People don’t want to do business with rude/mean people.

  179. Cindy S says 15 March 2011 at 12:37

    #39: just last week I was wondering what use I could get off of that elastic band! Ended up throwing it away before kids could figure out something before me.

    JD: waiting anxiously for the programmable thermostats article. Have been thinking about getting one.

    After being out of workforce for two years (lay off) I have returned to work part time and now paying down some things we got a little behind on. But then I fully intend to get my housekeeper back. Must say having to give her up the last two years has been the worst part of not working for me. My house is not perfect, just with all our activities I find it hard to come up with time to clean it. Things may be in disarray but I like it clean.

  180. shashe says 15 March 2011 at 12:38

    After reading through all the comments, I have decided to open a shop with “Team Tyler” and “Team Nicole” t-shirts. I’m dead sure that I’ll be able to fund 100% of my splurging (on travel and items of quality & durability) from this new enterprise. 🙂

  181. amanda says 15 March 2011 at 12:53

    I splurge on travel, eating out and gifts for others. More experience oriented.

  182. John Sherry says 15 March 2011 at 12:55

    Dream spending – why not? We do dream business building and dream weddings and dream holidays and dream life creation. So it’s no problem for me – I’d buy a property in Barbados where I could take regular breaks in the sunshine isle where they slow it right down with the expression, ‘No pressure, no stress’. Happy to be there everytime. Waiting for my bank account to catch up but no harm writing the cheque in advance!!

  183. Gretchen says 15 March 2011 at 12:57

    The best stuff has experience overlap (my special food needing cat, is an expensive for instance).

    As noted upthread, along with travel there are a couple other “frugally acceptable” splurges and one of them is books.
    For that, I go to the library (which I’m a member of.)

  184. Panda says 15 March 2011 at 13:04

    I sort of want to go buy new underwear now….

  185. Kevin says 15 March 2011 at 13:18

    I’m sure this has been said, but I think there’s a false dichotomy between “experiences” and “stuff.”

    One should view durable goods as experiences that one simply enjoys on a regular basis. The television you buy provides experiences each night, and perhaps even more so when you have a Super Bowl party. The car you buy provides experiences whenever you drive it. You buy a book – stuff – but the value of the book is in the experience of reading it.

    The more appropriate question, then, may be to consider the frequency with which you will use the stuff you buy. Buying a $2,000 bike once and having it collect dust in your garage is wasteful. Buying a $2,000 bike you will ride each day is not. Same goes for expensive clothes, appliances, electronic gadgets.

  186. Nicole says 15 March 2011 at 13:33

    @180 Sashie– It sounds like it’s Team Tyler for the win. You’d better start selling Tyler K. pinups too!

    @178 Nate– Good thing we’re not monetized. Though our hits from this specific post are pretty high today, and probably not from my careful definition of “frugal.” I imagine that Tyler K isn’t too offended; I’m sure he is very comfortable with his appearance, pants on or off.

    If it makes you feel any better, I also don’t want to know what kind of underpants JD wears or Donna Freeman (sorry Donna!). Or teenagers with baggy pants or really anybody. Some things are better kept under, say, pants. Larry Platt agrees with me.

    But I understand that my opinion on this matter may be in the vocal minority. Heck, even Maggie might be dying to see Tyler K in his full CK splendor, who knows.

  187. Andrew says 15 March 2011 at 13:37

    Stuff for the dogs, fitness (gym and personal trainer), books and more books, and a housecleaning service. Pretty much everything else is bare-bones.

  188. PawPrint says 15 March 2011 at 13:43

    I like to remodel my house because I want to live in something that looks nice (to me) and is functional. I love flowers and great landscaping so I spend money on my yard. While I do enjoy some traveling, sometimes I feel judged for my travel habits having only been overseas once (last year). I really enjoyed the trip, but overseas flying is arduous and can be downright painful. I could spend more time in Hawaii, however.

  189. suzy says 15 March 2011 at 13:46

    Our big splurges are on paying other people to do our chores for us and on attempting to pay off our mortgage in 10 years instead of 30. We have little splurges too, but those are the biggest and most consistent. We enjoy travel, but not nearly as much as we enjoy our everyday lives, so we don’t do it often, and it tends to not be very adventurous (usually we travel to visit family). Most of our entertainment is free, we buy clothes once a year at most from Goodwill and outlet malls, and our jobs buy most of our tech gadgets for us. *shrug*

    It’d be fun to see some of these things you guys talk about in the travel posts, but for now, at least, I would MUCH rather spend that money on our cleaning service, yard service, eating out, and paying a guy to come over once a week to pick up the dog poop in the backyard. No African safari or Paris vacation would be worth that trade to me. 🙂

  190. KM says 15 March 2011 at 13:50

    I splurge on books for my kids ($500/year) and my garden which doesn’t even grow anything edible ($1500/year).

    I’m another person who’d never bother saving up for a resort or foreign vacation–I’ve already traveled a lot for work all over the world. Collecting “experiences” is fine for awhile, but life is really not about where you are or where you’ve traveled, it’s about who you are and the people you’re with the rest of the time.

  191. suyen says 15 March 2011 at 14:00

    Thanks for writing this, JD! I enjoyed Donna’s article since I hope to someday do what she’s currently doing. Meanwhile… these are the areas where my fiance and I splurge:

    *good food – we subscribe to CSA for a weekly delivery of organic produce. we love to eat out (not all the time but we do splurge). we love going to farmer’s markets and see what else is grown/produced locally. we also cook a lot at home.

    *vacations – we love to travel and in the past year, we’ve gone back to new york and went to portland! (we loved portland!)

    *education/personal growth – i’ve taken french classes at the local alliance francaise, sewing classes, beading classes, letterpress classes and my fiance is currently looking at art classes.

    *gadgets – this is for my fiance. every year, he budgets for a few gadgets to buy (this year, one of them is the ipad2). i, on the other hand, assumes ownership of whatever he recently replaced. 🙂

    *health – we sometimes get massages, therapy, acupuncture..

    it may seem like a lot, but we try to do everything as frugally as possible (except therapy)…

  192. Ailis says 15 March 2011 at 14:01

    What makes me laugh about this is I have a good friend who, after many years of frugality, driving a twenty-year-old van, etc…

    …bought himself his Range Rover last year. He loves it. Waxes rhapsodic on his blog, loves the handling in bad weather (New England, which has had a pretty dire winter this year), goes on weekend excursions to off-roading tracks and posts pictures of The Beast spattered with mud to the roof-rack…

    It’s something he values, something he’s saved for, and something he clearly derives huge pleasure from. More power to him!

  193. Heidi (at PocketChangeBook) says 15 March 2011 at 14:06

    Like SF-UK, I like the Stuff/Experiences “combo” items!! Books, and craft supplies. It is stuff, but it leads to hours of meaningful experiences!

  194. Susan says 15 March 2011 at 14:21

    Darn – not the first baseball splurger. Not even the first female baseball splurger! I’ve been a die-hard Twins fan for 32 years; I’ve shared season tickets with a guy for the last 9 years and I just wrote him a check for >$1,100 (saved up since last season) for tickets to 11 games this year. I guess the trade-off enabling me to have those funds available for such an “unnecessary” expense is the fact that I only spend a fraction of what my professional colleagues spend in a year on haircuts/color, clothing, cars, and other appearance-related items. I do like to travel, but when planning a trip my first inclination is to figure out how to work in a baseball game at a park I haven’t been to yet!

    @Tim Armstrong (#71) – “I don’t know, I’d certainly file a Range Rover under the category of conspicious, unnecessary, consumption. Regardless of JD’s unwillingness to determine others’ priorities for them, I think conspicious consumption goes rather against the grain of the blog. One of the nice things about the blog is that it is willing to push back against the prevalent culture where people judge you based on the car that you drive.”

    So, in order to push back against the prevalent culture where people judge you based on the care that you drive, one must judge people based on the care that they drive? Interesting…

  195. Tyler Karaszewski says 15 March 2011 at 14:24

    I’m actually half tempted to post a link to a picture of myself in my underwear on here after this whole discussion. Somehow I bet Nicole would click the link.

  196. Ellisa says 15 March 2011 at 14:44

    I’m a daily reader, but seldom commenter, and I just wanted to leave my two cents.

    My husband is an IT guy for work and fun, so his splurges are most definitely on computers and technology related items. Whether he is adding to his at home ‘geek-lab’ or buying the latest Ipad or what not, those are purchases that we plan for and can afford. His “stuff” makes him happy and helps him further his career at the same time, so I’m not going to begrudge him his purchases.

    I tend to splurge on kitchen supplies. I have a kitchen aid, Le Creuset cookware, a set of nice knives, a set of good pans, nice kitchen utensils, etc. I enjoy cooking for my family and for company, and these things have made the experience so much better. I also splurge on furniture. I will pay extra money to have sturdy, comfortable furniture instead of pieces that need to be replaced every couple of years.

    There is nothing inherently wrong with “stuff” as long as that stuff makes you truly happy. For example, we are not anti-stuff, but we HATE clutter. Our house is nice enough, but it is sparsely decorated because we don’t want a bunch of ‘pretties’ that will just sit collecting dust. We are not gamers, but we did buy a Wii and PS3 and are considering an Xbox 360 with Kinect because they make for entertaining and enjoyable family visits. Everyone can participate in or take turns playing these game consoles. Plus, with the game consoles, we don’t have to worry about toddlers destroying or choking on small game pieces. We don’t even touch the Wii or PS3 unless family is visiting, but the multiple visits we get each year make the systems more than worth it.

    I for one, am not a fan of traveling. We’ve been on a cruise before, and it was nice, but it wasn’t so awesome that we want to go again every year. When we do travel, if we aren’t visiting family out of state, then we stick to Myrtle Beach and Charleston, SC or Savannah, GA, all within about 2 hours of our home. This might be because we have a toddler and another baby on the way, but the idea of ‘seeing the world’ and backpacking and meeting new people and all that just doesn’t excite us. Our idea of a vacation is simply relaxing, enjoying each other’s company, and taking the day as it comes instead of planning the crap out of it. Plus, there is so much to do within a few hours of here that it seems silly to travel the world over just for the experience of it.

    And count us in with the group of people who just bought an expensive HDTV. And *gasp* after years without cable, we just got that too. We don’t watch a lot of tv at all, but my toddler and I are already enjoying the extra programming (children’s and cooking shows) available to us. My husband is working in the desert for several months, and it was worth it to us to have a nice tv and cable channels to help us pass the time at home without him.

  197. Des says 15 March 2011 at 14:44

    I’d click that link 😉

    Who *doesn’t* want to know what $22 underwear looks like. (Am I the only one who thinks that is a lot?)

  198. Nelson says 15 March 2011 at 14:57

    I spend about $50 per month on computer games. I also recently spent $80 plus saved up gift cards to get a Nook. I like it.

    Once I pay off my mortgage I plan to save up for a new car. Then perhaps travel. I am predicting the problem then will be time, not money.

  199. Ru says 15 March 2011 at 15:04

    Skincare- I’m a student but I use Clinique stuff on my face. When I was younger, I was happy to use £3 moisturiser on my face, the stuff I use now is £22 a tube but it makes me feel happy. Nice lingerie is the other thing, but I have a bit of an excuse because I do part time pin-up modelling! Also, feeling sexy in silk is good for my self esteem.

    At the moment I’m splurging on cheerleading- camp, special trainers, contact lenses, the list of fees go on and on.

  200. Cely says 15 March 2011 at 15:07

    1. I have a programmable thermostat and love it. I hate waking up to a cold house! Plus I leave it off by default on the weekends, so I have to consciously turn it on when I’m home (and chilly).
    2. I pay $18 for Cosabella underwear. I have $5 Gap underwear too, but the bulk of it is Cosabella. So add that to my “splurge” column. Team Tyler!

  201. marc says 15 March 2011 at 15:22

    Range Rover nirvana here!!! It’s an older model from the 1990’s, a Classic, and I am smitten with the way this truck drives, highway and off road. I’ve logged several hundred thousand miles. but now the maintenance and repairs are causing me to question how long I am willing to cut back in other areas of discretionary spending in order to keep her on the road.

    Housing and travel would be my other splurge areas.

  202. katherine says 15 March 2011 at 15:23

    I splurge on my pets. One dog, three cats. I’m single with no kids. The dog has a lot of health problems and medication is pretty expensive. The cats’ food is like $3.50 per pound and they eat a lot. Vet bills are crazy, but I really value and trust my vet – and he never takes advantage of me. Sometimes I wish I had nicer things, but then I realize even nice things wouldn’t make me happy without having the four legged kids around. People think I’m crazy for spending so much on them, but I don’t really even think of it as a “splurge” as much as an investment in the quality of their lives and mine.

  203. Crystal says 15 March 2011 at 15:27

    @Des #197, no, you aren’t the only one who thinks it’s a lot. $22 underwear should either be more comfortable than silk or make someone look like a god. 🙂

    Tyler, for what it’s worth, I do not care about the mention of underwear. You and Nicole can spar it out at my site anytime (she’s already a commenter and you two would combine for some funny days…).

    Nicole, the irony was not lost on me about your post today and your underwear complaint – I thought you were just kidding around but now I know that underwear is your line. LOL, that is a funny line…I am so glad I edit my posts alot or I’d be offending people all of the time…

  204. Nicky says 15 March 2011 at 15:36

    My last year of college I started seriously training for Triathlons. I got a massage every week for months. When I told this to the other similarly broke college students in the art department they all marveled at how I could afford it. My reply, “I don’t drink.” Ask most college students how much they spend on bar tabs in a week and you’d be surprised how many massages you could be getting.

  205. Tara C says 15 March 2011 at 16:03

    I splurge on books, perfume, and yes, fancy underwear! Don’t care about cars, home decoration, exotic travel or fine dining. My big splurge is saving up 2 years of living expenses so I can move to another country and have time/money to look for a new job. I’ve already bought a condo there (paid cash) and sold my car. Been saving 40% of my income for retirement too. Life is all about choices and what will make you truly happy – deciding not to spend on an impulse buy so I can save for what I’ve always wanted is where I’m at.

  206. Crystal says 15 March 2011 at 16:09

    @Nicky #202, if push came to shove, my husband would give up a BUNCH just to keep his Massage Envy membership. We don’t drink either (or have any daily habits…no coffee, daily soda, smoking, etc) so that does help.

  207. David says 15 March 2011 at 16:26

    I also splurge on THINGS – but I try to temper my passions to less-expesive-things

  208. cerb says 15 March 2011 at 16:27

    We have 3 acres and animals. 1 dog, 3 cats, 1 snake, 1 huge tortoise, 1 horse, and 9 dairy goats.

    They eat a lot.

  209. Hugh Mannity says 15 March 2011 at 16:35

    A 2006 Land Rover LR3. With almost all the options. This is both Stuff and Experience.

    About this time last year, my 2000 Dodge Grand Caravan was on her last legs. I did some internet research and didn’t find anything I wanted. Then on impulse, I decided to go down to the local Land Rover dealership to see if I could afford one. I drove and LR2, it was nice.

    But the LR3 was prettier. I didn’t even test drive it. Just bought it. I got a good deal on it, it’s low mileage, in excellent condition. It was still expensive though.

    Worth Every Penny. It’s a lovely ride on road, and off road is more fun than should be legal.

    And I’m here, telling you this because a friend of mine pointed me to this post because of the Range Rover reference.

    So — no trips to Europe for me. But there again: Been there. Done That. The trick is to live long and prosper. That way you can have both Experience and Stuff.

  210. olga says 15 March 2011 at 16:39

    Going to places to run races. Yeah, kinda travel and experiences, I guess. OK, I bought myself $60 jeans (on clearance from $150), and that was my splurge on clothes – they fit awesome too. I also take Bikram twice a week (in terms of paid health and fitness). Items – not really…better go ask my DH. He is more normal:)

  211. Michelle Davis says 15 March 2011 at 17:35

    I have never commented before but today I felt the need to do so. I love reading the articles about travel. Its what makes me turn the therostate down, wash in cold water, time my showers etc. I have a seven year old daughter and I want to be debt free so I can take her on trips about twice a year. I feel that it would be such a wonderful addition to her education. She and I talk about it a lot. It will take a few years, but Im so excited. Travel articles are wonderful for me.

  212. kate says 15 March 2011 at 17:47

    @ J.D.: Good cheese can be expensive. Other women receive flowers for Valentine’s day, my dear husband presented me with a block of fancy parmesan. Love that man!!

  213. reeder says 15 March 2011 at 18:10

    I find it interesting that some only associate “rich” with money. Yes, that’s an easily convertible term, but people can feel they’re rich based on “stuff” or “experiences”.

    This quote from Oscar Wilde has struck me as entirely appropriate for several years now “What is a cynic? A man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.
    o Lord Darlington, Act III”

    Money lets me DO things like buy experiences or stuff. Or even make more money which I’d say is still doing something with your money. As much as I like to see the balance go up (and trust me, I do), the Scrooge McDuck days of being able to swim in your bank account isn’t a practical option now. Think of the money you’d have to pay for security, for starters 😉

    I budget for books, crafts, smartphone data plan, tivo, and nice meals. These are things that I can easily afford in small quantities and I don’t necessarily count them as splurges. In the past, I have given up travel for fun “stuff” as I like gadgets. Even if I can afford pretty much whatever I want if I keep my scope modest, buying everything I want would be crazy talk. Budgets are there to help me grow wealth. Learning of ways to make money and save the money on the things I don’t care about definitely helps me have money to spend it on the things I do value.

    If I spend freely or extravagantly on something, it is probably gifts for others, extra books, gadgets and travel. Yup. Sometimes I blow through budget on those items a bit. And that’s why I have extra “fun” money that doesn’t go into my standard budget. Blowing my budget when I can afford it, from time to time, can make me feel wealthy, gleeful, and posh. Hey big spender!

  214. pebble says 15 March 2011 at 18:17

    i splurge on clothes and gifts for others. i try to keep myself on a tight budget and watch my monthly spending, but when it comes to sprucing up my wardrobe or going above and beyond for someone in need/celebrating something, i kinda just spend, and on more quality items than quantity as i’ve “aged”. it’s terrible, i know, but i’ve been coming out ahead for over 10 years now, so i guess it kinda works.

  215. CNM says 15 March 2011 at 19:01

    I definitely spend money on stuff. My husband and I are newlyweds and we have been saving money to buy things like furniture, a new bed, home improvements, and other things. “Stuff” is more important to me right now as opposed to travel. We recently got a larger bed after sleeping on a full size bed for years. Best money we ever spent.

  216. HH says 15 March 2011 at 19:36

    Hello, my name is Holly and I am a Yankee Candle addict. I have probably spent about $300 in the last oh 6 months or so on candles. But I love them. I often stop in the middle of my stressful day and wonder which scent I’ll burn when I get home. To me, really, my home is my big splurge. I do enjoy traveling but I enjoy being home even more. It’s my refuge. I hate to shop for clothes or shoes or anything like that, but shopping for new bedding or towels or decor? Oh baby! But ever since I’ve really started to control my finances better I’ve really cut way back on it. I now have a limit on how many sheets, towels, etc I’m “allowed” to have and can’t purchase another unless one is in such poor condition it has to be thrown out. I let myself have $40 of free spending money every week to use on dinners out, going to the movies or anything “fun” I want to buy, and $20 of last week’s money was candles! I actually don’t think I even spent the other $20.

  217. Megan says 15 March 2011 at 19:37

    Me? I’m saving up to buy nice furniture. Not absurdly overpriced designer furniture, but something I can look at that will make me smile (and might last longer than a year)

    Although today, for the first time I:
    a) dipped into my savings for something unscheduled, and
    b) contributed more than a tenner to a charity. American Red Cross, for Japan!

  218. LS says 15 March 2011 at 19:38

    Motorcycle…I’ve been saving for a Triumph Scrambler (and the associated safety gear). It has recently had a setback due to the unexpected cost of a new roof, but saving for the bike will make it that much better when I make the purchase. As I’ve looked at different bikes over the past year every dealer has been consistently surprised I’m going to pay cash. They just encourage and aren’t used to cash. I know everything is normally financed, but its just comical how surprised the dealers are when I tell them I’m a certain number of months off from making a purchase.

  219. Cat says 15 March 2011 at 19:56

    I splurge on.. Victorias Secret. I love their clothes and I have a solid online shopping addiction. I won’t get anything for months and months and then I’ll reward myself for doing well.

    But, recently all I’ve wanted was a new computer of some sort. Like an all-in-one wall mountable computer with a TV tuner!! That would be great!! That is going to be my next splurge. But I am going to save up for it because I just got out of credit card debt and I’d like to keep it that way.

  220. Vanessa says 15 March 2011 at 20:11

    @Holly #216

    If you love candles, definitely get an electric candle warmer. Yankee is expensive, and sometimes the wick burns out when there’s still a lot of wax left. A candle warmer helps get that last scent out of the wax. Shouldn’t cost anymore than $5 at a craft store like Michael’s.

    Also get a jar topper. It’s a metal ring that sits on top of the candle and reflects the heat back down so the candle burns more evenly. However, they only fit the largest jar candles with the glass lids, not the tumblers with the metal lids.

  221. saro says 15 March 2011 at 21:55

    I like the splurging on travel stories just because it seems more complicated. It just seems more difficult to figure out how much things cost abroad, what you’ll want to splurge on and what not.

    That said, it would be interesting to read about someone who regularly splurges on clothes, nails & etc. My friends who spend on that consider it a ‘necessity’ rather than a ‘splurge’, so I’d be interested in hearing what a fashionista with a budget approaches the subject.

  222. Carly Wilson says 15 March 2011 at 22:55

    Camera equipment and expensive movie tickes with popcorn, soda, icecream, whatever else overpriced I can shove in my gullet 😀

  223. TC says 16 March 2011 at 05:13

    My splurges are my pets and knitting supplies. As far as knitting supplies go, I’m still on the relatively low end of things (just the next step up from big box craft stores in terms of yarn quality). Just finished graduate school and got a “real” job making more than 3x as much, so to be honest everything feels like a splurge.

  224. Mel says 16 March 2011 at 05:47

    This year I splurged on something I had wanted to do for a long time. I put the family boat in a marina for the summer. My father has been unemployed/underemployed for a over a year. There was no way he could justify the expense of a marina and I can’t afford marina fees and buying my own boat so it worked out for both of us.

  225. Ash says 16 March 2011 at 06:40

    I save and scrape and drive a 10+ year old car so I can have a nice computer and monitor. I spend enough time looking at the thing that quality is important to me.

  226. AP says 16 March 2011 at 06:52

    Reading these posts is a bit depressing. How will we all ever Get Rich Slowly if we are all locked into the deprive/reward mentality?
    If I scrimp this to slurge on that I still end up at zero. I am here, I need some help out.

  227. Mariah says 16 March 2011 at 07:01

    I splurged last year on a beautiful new Boston studio upright piano. I could have gone the craigslist route to find a used one, but I’m not a beginner, and having the right tone and touch is important to me. Also, the sound of a piano matures over time, and although most people wouldn’t care, it was important to me that I’d be able to watch/listen as my piano “grows up” over time. I’m so, so, so unbelievably happy to be able to come home to my beautiful instrument, throw open a book of Chopin, Rachmaninov, Debussy, or Bach, and play. It’s by far the best purchase I’ve ever made.

  228. Dagny says 16 March 2011 at 07:34

    A quick aside regarding programmable thermostats – don’t be surprised if the electrical engineers come out of the woodwork… “Do what works for you” extends even to the appeal of blog posts!

  229. Dana says 16 March 2011 at 08:03

    I really loved this post! I run between saving and feeling guilty about indulgences. But there has always been a small voice in the back of my mind that says, “You’re doing well. Don’t overdo spending or saving–everything in moderation.” So my splurge is Starbucks Chai Tea. Everyday, sometimes twice per day. Could I knock it out? Yes, but I feel that my day would be a little less bright. I’m not going to justify it or defend it–I just like to go to Starbucks everyday and I can afford it. Making myself feel guilty doesn’t serve me, so I try to quiet that voice when it comes up. Also, I loved hearing about everybody else’s splurges. Different strokes for different folks.

  230. Trina says 16 March 2011 at 08:19

    We bought a very nice king size mattress and box springs about 5 years ago, and it was the best thing we ever bought. I love that bed!! We’ve come a long way since our first mattress 20 years ago, which was a hand-me-down double with springs that poked and big dips, too!

  231. MT says 16 March 2011 at 08:45

    What about when what you spend your money on DOES matter to other people?

    The item I’m thinking of in particular is an engagement ring. If you’ve told her you’re committed and know you want to marry her, is it fair to the future wife to put her off on asking the question because you “can’t afford” a ring – but still regularly purchase things like beer, video games, eating out regularly, etc?

  232. Tiff says 16 March 2011 at 10:30

    My big splurge is Saturday night bingo at my local volunteer firehouse! Which is kind of a combination of stuff (purchase of bingo cards) and experience(hanging out with friends and family waiting for just the right number to show in the monitor). Last year I hit the $1k jackpot 3 times and used the winnings to pay for me and the hubby to spend a week in Vegas. Now before anyone goes asking – no I didn’t subtract out the splurge money from the winnings. I would have spent it whether I won or not so for me its basically sunk cost and any winnings are put aside for the next time we want travel or buy something. Bonus round- the firehouse uses the proceeds to fund training of volunters and support families in need around our community.

  233. Jil says 16 March 2011 at 10:38

    Yes!! I am frugal to feed my shoe closet. I’m sure tons of people would disagree but I love my shoes and I get more enjoyment out of them on a daily basis than I could with anything else. (or at least until situations change again.)

  234. bethh says 16 March 2011 at 11:26

    Oh wow, so many great comments.

    I think it’s easier to brag about spending $3k on travel than it is to brag about spending the same on furniture. It’s just cooler to travel (imho), and let’s face it, talking about travel DOES come off as bragging at some level. I don’t think that’s just me saying it either.

    Also, I may have some regrets about x trip but those typically fade away and I can still talk about the trip without feeling pangs about some of the aspects of it. If I buy a tangible item and only use it a couple times a year, I may have pangs over it whenever I see the splurge item. It’s easier to forget & move on when the thing isn’t tangible.

    My splurges: knitting – did you know a handknit sweater will typically represent at least $120 in materials and perhaps 6-8 workweeks in terms of time spent?

    I would love love love to splurge on a cleaning person but haven’t yet justified it to myself.

  235. khadijah says 16 March 2011 at 11:53

    Here is why I think more people think of saving up for travel versus Big Flat Screen TV.

    Often times you travel on Cash.

    Traveling has long been a thing of the wealthy and privileged that only recently, regular people got to hack and enjoy. And we like that.

    Cars and electronics and apartments and Stuff have payment plans. Nobody gives out credit if you want to go to Cambodia.

    If you want to save up and buy a boat or a luxury SUV, go ahead. You still have the option to pay by credit.

  236. Lindsay says 16 March 2011 at 11:58

    @AP: It’s about balance. If you’re in the position of needing help getting out of debt, and/or starting your retirement or emergency savings, this probably seems like a bunch of useless talk about throwing money away.

    But if someone has reached the point where they are sufficiently out of debt, they have sufficient savings, and they have a sufficient percent of their income automatically diverted to savings — in short, if someone is financially comfortable — there are some things they’d occasionally like to splurge on even if it’s not the frugal choice. Most of us who read this blog are more frugal than those around us in most aspects of life.

    In my family, we live as if we are in a lower income group than we actually are. When we had very low income, that wasn’t possible to do. But over the years as income has increased (through improving education, switching jobs and asking for raises), we mostly still live the way we did on a much lower income. We share one 14-yr-old car. We use prepaid cell phones (and rarely). We don’t have cable tv. We bought a house in a blue collar neighborhood where the average income is lower than ours.

    Because of this we can stay out of debt, have a 6-month emergency fund, save a lot more than other people in our income bracket (28% of income), and – basically the cherry on top of the frugality cake – we can occasionally splurge on things we really want that are not exactly necessary! But we think very hard about those things first, do a lot of research before buying, and purchase those things as frugally as we can. 🙂

  237. bethh says 16 March 2011 at 11:58

    oh… I thought of a splurge. I have a custom-made bicycle, built solely for me by the lovely folks at Co-Motion in Eugene, Oregon, back in 2004.

    I’m not proud of the purchase because when I bought it, I had credit card debt and had just finished grad school and was going to have student loans coming due. I also had some money in the bank and decided that instead of a post-school trip, I’d buy a custom bike.

    So, not my best decision (though all of the debt was paid off within 5 years). And though I’ve done Cycle Oregon 3 times on my dreamy machine, I’m no longer an avid cyclist and in fact feel a bit sheepish about the word “custom” painted on the frame. But oh my bike is lovely. And it didn’t cost more than other high-end bikes (I think I got it for $1500 all told, partly because a bike mechanic friend did all the assembly for free, saving me several hundred dollars).

    I DO still ride at least once a week, but just my dinky 3-mile work commute. You can be sure I lock it, even in our bike cage at work!

  238. Jacq says 16 March 2011 at 12:14

    AP (#226) – I think the thing is that it isn’t “deprive / reward” when you’re consciously spending. Because the things you cut back on really aren’t that important to you but they are unconscious spending patterns that, when you stop doing it – really add up fast.

    Someone may brown bag their lunch instead of going out to eat every day, saving themselves $200 / month – of which they spend $100 of that going out for a really nice meal. Net is they’re still ahead. Or don’t have 40 shirts @ $20 apiece = $800, but have 5 that they really love for a total cost of $300.

    Those people are not deprived because they’re cutting out things they don’t even really want. They’re conscious spenders.

  239. Beth says 16 March 2011 at 12:41

    Splurge #1: Our 1400 sqft cottage in a planned community. Yes, I live in the Midwestern version of the Truman Show, but we love it here. I smile every time I drive into town. We could have bought twice the house for the same price less than five miles away, but for two people and two cats, this is perfect. We have no debt other than our mortgage, and we’re working on paying it off early.

    Splurge #2: Yarn and spinning wheels. I will pay $20 for handpainted sock yarn, because nothing beats custom-knit socks in the winter and I like supporting independent craftspeople.

    I paid $1,100 for my main spinning wheel. However, I saved my weekly fun allowance for over three years to buy it. My yarn and fiber stash came from that weekly allowance as well.

    I wouldn’t mind doing a little more traveling, but since 2005 we’ve had elderly pets who can’t be left at home alone. It’s a tradeoff we’re happy to make for the enjoyment we get from them.

  240. Jennifer says 16 March 2011 at 12:52

    I won’t compromise on my eating out on weekends… If I crave something I will have no qualms spending the money for it. However, it IS budgeted. I know it’s important enough for me that I have to set aside money for it.

    What do I give up? Well, for one, I don’t do any coloring for my hair (believe me, LOTS of women “require” highlights and hair coloring). Also do not do weekly mani/pedis (I do it monthly). Will also never buy retail prices… But hey that’s just me. This won’t work for everyone.

  241. Jennifer says 16 March 2011 at 13:05

    Oh… my biggest splurge is shopping at Wholefoods. There I said it!

  242. Donna Freedman says 16 March 2011 at 13:46

    @38 Jacq: That’s me, a conscious spender. Now that I’m home it’s back to FrugalWorld. First day, today:
    Oatmeal for breakfast, with some milk I froze before I left so it wouldn’t go bad
    Tomato soup (20 cents a can) and a bagel (12 cents) with cream cheese (free after rebate) for lunch
    Pinto beans in the slow cooker will eventually be chili for a bunch of suppers, made with scratch ‘n’ dent canned tomatoes plus loss-leader meat from the freezer
    The fruits enjoyed with those meals have been canned and dried, since I haven’t yet gone to the store for fresh stuff. Let’s hear it for the pantry!
    The next couple of weeks I’ll be hitting deadlines and organizing tax paperwork — and I also need to fund the last of the 2010 Roth and prepare to make my quarterly tax payments. In other words, even if I hadn’t just dropped money on a big trip I would still be in frugal lockdown for a little while. This will all be done for cash; incidentally, the airline ticket was paid for a couple of months ago.
    But that’s all OK with me. I *like* oatmeal and chili. If I want a little entertainment I have a library card plus a stack of free movie tickets that I got from My Coke Rewards. I also have a temporary Netflix subscription that I will be canceling as soon as I’ve been billed one time (I’m getting a $20 cash-back from Mr. Rebates for having signed up — in other words, they’re paying me $12.01 to watch movies for a month.)
    As you say, I’m not depriving myself — I’m passing on things I don’t really want (frequent meals out, a car, et al.) so that I can have the things I *do* want.
    I’m not insisting that other people live this way. Neither am I insinuating that travel vs. Stuff makes me somehow superior. I’m just doing what works for me.

  243. Eileen says 16 March 2011 at 13:59

    Almost every Wednesday afternoon I go to Potbelly across the street and get myself an Oreo shake. They put the Salerno mini-butter cookies on the straw and, since I always get Oreo, they put two mini Oreos on the lid as well.

    Yes, I don’t need this–the calories or the $3.08 every week–but tell me you don’t want one right now! It gives me so much pleasure, you can just see my smile filling up 14th Street NW.

  244. Traci says 16 March 2011 at 16:03

    Housing & my Children are my splurge, I coupon, bargain hunt, buy second hand, garden, meal plan, recycle, work full time, do surveys, don’t go out to eat, etc. just so I can afford a rental in a safe nice neighborhood where the public schools are top notch. I am a single mom and do everything I can so that my children can do sports, play music, grow up in a safe neighborhood. Ill splurge a little on myself when they are grown. Watching Netflix and having a savings is all the splurge I need for myself.

  245. Rishi says 16 March 2011 at 23:16

    We are average middle class Indians and a couple of years ago, I bought my dream car – a new Honda City with full cash (no loan). I was driving an 8 year old second-hand car till then and for three years I saved for my car. I love every time I get into the car for a drive. Last year we bought a new Sony VAIO Laptop and LED big screen TV again in full cash and this year I am taking my family to Singapore for a vacation. I know it will cost me a packet but I have saved diligently over the years for this. This will be our first foreign trip in 5 years and we are looking forward to a great time.

  246. Naomi says 17 March 2011 at 13:54

    I spent $850 on a custom-made pack. Best money I’ve ever spent. I’ve thought about buying another one to keep in reserve, just in case he ever stops making them.

  247. Marie says 17 March 2011 at 16:38

    My husband and I HATE to travel even to see family. But because we live near a major retirment area there are plenty of shows here.

    So we splurge on
    1. Speech Therapy for son not covered at all by insurance
    2. Preschool for Daughter
    3. After school science program and soccer for other son
    4. Tickets to Sesame Street Live, Disney on Ice, touring Broadway Co., Local Symphony, etc. We’d much rather “travel” here any day of the week.
    5. I’ve also started to buy books from the authors I love. Which amounts to about 4-5 new books a year.

  248. The Digerati Life says 17 March 2011 at 16:54

    I am a black and white spender. I only spend on stuff I need at a particular moment in time and I usually like putting my money towards assets and investments. Hence buying stuff for the house! I make the excuse that’s it at least, for the family’s comfort as well as for “curb appeal”! 🙂

  249. Golfing Girl says 18 March 2011 at 15:12

    1. golf–which is an experience
    2. golf clubs–which is stuff, but used for the experience of golf

  250. Shaun S says 18 March 2011 at 19:02

    I’m sure someone mentioned this already, but I think the distinction between Experience and Stuff is mostly a false one.
    Take the guy who bought a boat – he bought it so he could USE it; he can have a bunch of experiences with it. A big screen TV gets experienced daily (I’m watching March Madness on mine right now!)
    All that’s really being discussed is buying Big Experiences or Smaller but more frequent Experiences. Saying either is better than the other wouldn’t make much sense as it is a completely personal decision

  251. Edwin @ Save The Bills says 18 March 2011 at 23:08

    I splurge on Las Vegas vacations. It’s the only place where I don’t mind overpaying for food and drinks.

  252. Diane says 20 March 2011 at 00:09

    Wow J.D! 252 comments and counting, you really hit a nerve with this topic…
    Regarding the Tyler/Nicole convo: does anyone really believe (or care) that he actually plunks down $22 bucks each for his chonies? They may retail for that, but there’s not a fart’s chance in a wind tunnel that he pays retail. Not our happy-go-frugal Tyler! I think he’s pulling someone’s -um- leg.

  253. T.V. says 20 March 2011 at 18:57

    I spend my extra money in three major ways…

    #1 Organic Produce. I think health is the most important investment, and a little extra money upfront pays huge dividends down the road. Also, I think the extra cost is balanced out by being a vegetarian and not having to buy meat.

    #2 Travel. I love planning trips, staying at affordable little places with lots of character. We always eat cheap on our trips, never participate in costly tours, always use public transportation, etc.

    #3 Concerts. Some years we splurge and go to a 3-day music festival. Some years it’s a handful of individual concerts. But I am a music lover, and the live experience is well worth paying for.

  254. Monroe on a Budget / Paula Wethington says 22 March 2011 at 13:33

    Is this hobby a “splurge”? Maybe not since it’s not eating a lot of money out of my pocket right now.

    But I do collect Barbie dolls, and have acquired more than 100 dolls in the past 15 years.

    And yes I have written on my blog about how one can enjoy this hobby without a lot of cash : )

  255. Another Brian says 27 July 2012 at 09:12

    I have no debt and am currently meeting my savings goals to pay off the second mortgage before payments are due.

    But, I like to splurge on upgrading little things around the home. Like electronics and household items. Just so life is a bit more enjoyable at home. I don’t have cable as I don’t want to get sucked into Television, but I spend most of my time at home. So why not make it a better place to stay?

  256. Gigi says 27 July 2012 at 12:05

    Tattoos. I splurge on tattoos. For myself and my husband. Quality body art costs money. I also buy my husband baseball memorabilia. If we couldn’t afford it, it wouldn’t be purchased. We have no debt except our mortgage.

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