Sometimes it’s okay to splurge: 10 splurges that won’t break the bank

I feel as if I've been a Scrooge here lately: “don't watch Super Bowl commercials”, “don't buy gadgets”, “bundle up to stay warm“, etc. While it's true that saving money requires sacrifices, I don't mean to make it sound like drudgery. Actually, I'm elated with my progress.

When I was working with Lauren Muney to create my wellness program, she emphasized that fitness should not be a chore. “Remember that you're working toward something positive, something long-term,” she said. “And allow yourself a treat once in a while.” She told me that as long as I stuck to my diet and fitness plan the rest of the time, I could allow myself a couple of “treat meals” during the week, meals during which I didn't worry whether I was following the plan to the letter. This has made a huge difference.

The same concept holds true for personal finance. I've written before that you shouldn't confuse frugality with depriving yourself. They're not the same thing. It's a good idea to allow yourself a reward now and then, to allow yourself to splurge.

In December I wrote about my financial goals. Since then I've had a number of major victories:

  • I built my non-emergency fund savings from $0 to $700. (Kris and I have $5,000 emergency fund that represents our only joint account.)
  • I paid down my home equity loan to $15,000 (which is $6,000 less than it was a year ago).
  • I reduced my comic book spending from $179 in December (or my average of $250/month in 2006) to $65 in January.
  • I slashed other miscellaneous discretionary spending.

I've made tremendous progress just one month. I even saved enough spare cash to indulge in an exorbitant treat. Kris and I joined two close friends for a meal at one of our favorite Portland restaurants, Paley's Place.

Paley's Place is not the sort of restaurant you enter expecting to pay less than $50. Or $100. Or $150. Kris and I spent $160 on our meal the other night and felt we escaped having spent less than we might have. (Last time we spent over $200.) But the expense was was worth it. The food is fantastic. As the restaurant's web site says:

Paley's Place offers Pacific Northwest regional cuisine, served in the warm and inviting setting of a Victorian home. Chef and owner, Vitaly Paley, creates seasonal menus from the bounty of the Northwest — fresh organic ingredients supplied by local farmers, growers and purveyors — with Southern French and Northern Italian influences.

Whatever. All I know is that the food is damn good. We paid $7 for french fries. You know what? They were worth it! It's difficult for the frugal side of me to justify such an expensive meal, no matter how well I've been doing lately. It's the equivalent of ten meals at other restaurants. But I ask myself: “Is the food really that much better?” The answer is “yes”. Kris put it best: “That's a once-every-five-years restaurant.”

We had a wonderful meal and great conversation with friends. I got my money's worth. It was a solid reminder that managing money is all about knowing when to save and knowing when to splurge.

Build Fun Money into Your Budget

Even if it's only $5 a month and you spend it on a cappuccino, building some fun money into your budget can keep you from getting frustrated and giving up on your goals. When I was starting my debt payoff journey, I let myself spend $20 a month on bagels. Just be sure that you're not spending more or more often than you can afford if you want to meet your other financial goals.

Allocate Some Windfall Money to a Splurge

An unexpected inheritance, a larger-than-foreseen tax refund, a gift from a loved one — whatever the source, a windfall can (and should!) be allocated toward your most imperative financial goal, whether that means paying off debt or beefing up your emergency fund.

However, if it feels frustrating to come into a lump sum of money and be completely responsible with all of it, maybe you want to establish a rule about extra money. My own rule of thumb is to give myself permission to spend a portion on something frivolous. For me, 10 percent of any amount below $1,000 and five percent of any amount greater than that feels like a good balance between fun and being responsible.

Celebrate When You Reach a Milestone

Your being laser-focused on a particular debt has paid off (haha, pun). Maybe it's a student loan, perhaps it's a credit card or even a car payment. Taking a moment to stop and smell your success is a key aspect of motivation and money.

Maybe you take a break for a month and allocate what you would have spent on something fun before reactivating your debt snowball. Even if you decide to reward yourself in a small way, taking the time to think about something other than money can feel like a reward all its own.

What Constitutes a Splurge?

For me, splurges fall into three main categories: they can be an experience, an item that lasts a long time, or paying others to do something that you hate to do. Another criterion for a splurge is that it's rare (not lifestyle inflation). This isn't to say you can't splurge on a monthly basis if you work fun money into your budget. However, you should always be aware that the item/event/experience in question is a want and not a need. Constant evaluation of your budget is key to making sure you're not overextending yourself.

5 Splurges $50 or Under

But if it's been awhile since you've treated yourself, it might be hard to decide what you should even splurge on! And if your tastes run more to the expensive side and your current splurge is relatively small potatoes, you may also be at a loss. Here are some ideas for splurges that won't break the bank.

Dinner and a movie. A tradition that never goes out of style. There are even theaters that play movies that have been out for awhile (sometimes even classic movies) that are less expensive than their current-blockbuster counterparts. If you're more of a homebody, takeout and a ordering movie on-demand may be more your style.

A mani/pedi. A manicure and pedicure will run you less than $50 at most nail salons and will make you feel pampered and relaxed. And they're not just for ladies! Fellas, consider giving it a try.

Perfume or cologne. What I like about this is that one bottle of perfume or cologne lasts a long time, so this is a splurge with some staying power. Every time you spritz yourself or get a compliment on how good you smell, you'll be reminded of your financial skills.

A scented candle. Like cologne, many scented candles last a long time, making them another splurge that serves as a constant reminder of your success in conquering a particular debt or meeting a financial goal. These come in more scents than you can possibly imagine, and choosing can be half the fun. So spend some time and pick something amazing!

A good book. While there is a place for cheap or free books, maybe there's a certain author or series that you know you'll read again and again. If that's the case, and you can't find it used, go ahead and buy it new. There's worse things to spend your money on than expanding your brain.

5 Splurges $100 or Under

When your budget can handle a little bigger splurge, these things can help you indulge in some free time or relaxation. And sometimes they can even feel like a mini-vacation!

Maid or landscaping service. This is one of my favorite splurges because it takes something I don't have much time for and don't enjoy and takes it off my plate completely. (Well, at least it's done for a couple of weeks anyway!)

A massage. Paying off debt is stressful. And even if you're in a good place financially, you probably carry more stress in your body than you think you do. I'm always surprised when I get a massage by how much stress I'm holding, and where in my body it's presenting itself. I always feel better afterward.

A facial. I've had friends recommend these for years and I was never interested. However, I recently tried one for the first time and I really enjoyed it! It was relaxing and my skin looked amazing afterwards. I'll say the same thing here that I did about mani/pedis — they're not just for ladies! In fact, since most guys don't wear makeup and most women do, arguably it might even make a bigger difference for men.

A piece of art. At this price point, we're probably not talking about anything huge or fancy, but a piece of art that you like and that inspires you will last forever. Heck, I've got some poster prints in semi-nice frames that I adore.

A video game. Assuming you've already got a game system, the right video game can provide some of the lowest-cost entertainment per hour than almost anything else around. My favorite game cost $65 and I've invested over 250 hours in my character. Fun!

What Do You Splurge On?

I write a lot about frugality, about saving for the future. But what about enjoying life today? My friend Matt recently asked, “Amid all the saving and sacrifices you make to keep your financial life in order, what is your one extravagance that you deem worth spending money on? I know with you it's that Filson clothing stuff, right? Maybe Apple products?”

He's right. I love both Filson and Apple. I don't often splurge on Filson — I'm just too cheap — but I always spend more for Apple computers because they're worth it to me. I don't really consider that a splurge, though, because it helps to increase my productivity. My food spending? Now, that is a splurge! Kris and I love fine food, and we're not afraid to pay for it. On our recent trip to San Francisco, I spent more on food than I spent on clothing during all of 2007.

But Matt wanted to know more. “I'd love to hear these personal finance bloggers who try and one-up each other on how hard they clip coupons or how much they devote to their 401k, I'd love to hear they get a massage every so often or bought a new fancy car and why they chose to spend their money on that one thing.”

Armed with Matt's suggestion, I approached some of my colleagues. Here are the things personal finance bloggers splurge on:

NCN from No Credit Needed wrote:

I like saving money but I don't mind splurging on a few things. Included among these are gymnastics lessons for my daughter. She's eight, and she is a competitive gymnast. Her training sessions are expensive but important to her. So, we gladly pay for them. I'm not sure that this is an extravagance, but it certainly isn't necessary.

FMF from Free Money Finance wrote:

Cycling is my one extravagance. I bought a new road bike last year for a few thousand dollars. Add in other purchases like a bike rack for my SUV, specialized bike clothes, hydration packs, nutritional bars, maintenance equipment and on and on — and it comes out to be a sizable amount. Then again, cycling keeps me in shape and has helped my cholesterol drop like a rock, so I'm sure it's actually saving me money in the long run. That's my story, at least, and I'm sticking to it.

Will from Wise Bread wrote:

I'm willing to pay a high premium to avoid LA traffic. I've never lived more than a ten-minute drive away from any of my jobs. This usually means paying an extra $300 a month for the convenience. But I think it is worth it because I get an extra two hours a day in my life. That works out to be $5 per hour — a price I'll gladly pay for spending more time on my blog (um, I mean my family).

Pinyo from Moolanomy wrote:

While my wife and I try to save as much money as possible, we tend to splurge on things that bring the family together and improve our quality of life. For instance, we like to eat out on the weekends and don't mind spending more money at a good restaurant. We also don't mind spending money on trips and vacations. Lastly, we like to spend more money on higher quality items if we know we will be using them for a long time.

Jim from Blueprint for Financial Prosperity wrote:

I'm all about spend as little as possible for “stuff” and the splurging on experiences. For example, I'll try to pay as little as possible for the computer I'll need (almost the opposite of J.D. and his Apple fetish), or haggle my way to the cheapest cell phone plan, but I'll go gangbusters when I'm on vacation. For example, on our honeymoon, we took a helicopter tour of Kauai, Hawaii that ran $240 a piece. While pricey, I value the experience of touring Kauai on a helicopter with my wife — and not feeling guilty over spending the money — more than accumulating “stuff.”

Plonkee from Plonkee Money wrote:

I'm not the most frugal person in the world, but I do tend to stick to a pretty middle of the road existence, not splashing out on much. My main extravagance is haircuts — I get my regular cut and blow dry in probably the nicest and most expensive salon in the city. Given the unexciting hairstyles I normally sport, I could probably spend about half the amount and get the same cut, but I trust my hairdresser, and I feel like I'm spending for quality. I also love pretending that I'm fashionable and sophisticated, and can afford the high life.

Trent from The Simple Dollar wrote:

I tend to splurge on anything Nintendo. I own a Wii and a DS and have a grand old time with both of them.

The GLBL Guy from Gather Little By Little wrote:

Dress shoes. I wear my dress shoes all day long, 5-6 days a week. I want shoes that are durable, comfortable and easy to maintain. I started wearing Doc Martens ten years ago, and I still have and wear that first pair. I'm willing to put out the extra money in the short-term to wear them in the long-term.

Nina from Queercents wrote:

My partner and I prefer to buy experiences rather than things. We'll spend money on a nice piece of fish and an above average bottle of Sauvignon Blanc. That's a typical Tuesday night for us. Most people concentrate their disposable dollars on things reserved for special occasions rather than on what we do or use everyday. Alexandra Stoddard writes of the 5-percent Rule. This translates into: “a tendency to save up for a few outstanding events each year — for a particular party, anniversary or birthday celebration, a vacation. Such events comprise at the most 5 percent of our living time, and the remaining 95 percent is often merely walked through in wistful anticipation of some later joy.” We pay attention to the smaller, day-to-day occurrences and are willing to splurge on these experiences.

Flexo from Consumerism Commentary wrote:

My biggest splurge, which I would consider to be a series of small splurges, is my habit to eat lunch with my coworkers out of the office. I do this because I don't like cooking for myself at home, the office's cafeteria is as expensive as going out (and I can get better food out of the office), and I prefer the company of my co-workers. I've tried brown-bagging it, but after many years, I can't get that to work for me.

SVB from The Digerati Life wrote:

I am a frugalist at heart and practice a lot of discipline and self-control when it comes to spending. I don't buy stuff very often and don't buy on impulse. However, I do have a few things I may splurge on without regrets. I usually don't hold back when I purchase things for my house that I think will beautify it or make it more comfortable to live in. In particular, I have a weakness for fabric and linen (e.g. pretty curtains and bed accessories), as well as garden plants. Not only do they add to my family's personal comfort and enjoyment but I also feel that they add to the value of our surroundings. I view curb appeal as an investment! Or it could just be my “nesting instinct” kicking in.

Cap from Stop Buying Crap wrote:

When I'm traveling or on vacation, I would splurge as if there's no depths to my bankroll. My internal calculator will turn off, and everything will suddenly become affordable in my eyes. Expensive dinner? No problem. Overpriced souvenirs that'll most likely collect dust soon after? Two please. The spend attitude, of course, quickly wears itself out after the vacation is over — especially when the bill arrives. Having said that, I generally won't revisit these places again, so the price of a fun experience for myself and loved ones is well worth the splurge.

Lily from The Honest Dollar wrote:

My boyfriend and I are fairly serious about saving. Being young and living in New York, we have a lot of opportunities for spending money, but we tend to be conservative in daily spending. Our main splurge is food. We save up to go to Michelin-rated restaurants. We drop the big bucks on organic chicken and beef because my boyfriend swears they taste better (I'm skeptical, but I humor him). We invest in quality cookware. After all, you are what you eat.

Mrs. Micah wrote:

When I asked my husband about my one splurge, he said exactly what I was thinking: “chocolate!” I buy a bag of Nestle semi-sweet chips every week and by the end it's all gone. If I want a little pick-me-up, I'll have a dozen chips straight. Or I'll mix them up with peanuts as a trail mix to stave off blood sugar drops. If it affected my weight I'd stop, but since it doesn't I count it as a regular grocery expense like rice and milk.

Jeremy from Gen X Finance wrote:

As Elaine described George in an episode of Seinfeld, I'm very careful with money. Most purchases are planned out well in advance, and I almost always buy something when it is on sale. The one exception is food. Now, I'm not talking about fancy restaurant food, but fresh food for cooking at home. I absolutely love to cook. So if I feel like cooking steak, I'll go buy steak. I'm talking NY Strip, Ribeye, etc. I'll buy 20 dollar a pound fresh sea scallops, imported cheese, or whatever is needed to create the meal I desire. To me, great food is one of the best things to experience in life, so it is worth every penny.

Nickel from Five Cent Nickel worte:

Over the past couple of years, our spending patterns have been increasingly shaped by a desire to create wonderful memories as opposed to accumulating more stuff. I think this is largely driven by the realization that our kids won't be young forever, and we need to enjoy this time in our life as much as possible. So our biggest splurges now run toward travel — either trips to see extended family, or family vacations.

I think that even the most frugal person has one or two indulgences she allows herself. And that's not wrong. In fact, it's good. It's these things that keep us going as we save for the future. What do you splurge on and why?

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Sarah
Sarah

As my husband once quipped, “all things in moderation–including moderation”. While we save almost 1/2 of our take-home pay and don’t go in for such alleged neccessities as cell phone plans (my pre-paid phone works just fine, and I wouldn’t even have that if not for my 30 mile commute), netflix, etc. we budget for–and enjoy shamelessly–our monthly pilgrimage to the neighborhood sushi bar. That regular dose of high-grade tuna keeps me strong when I’m seduced by an ipod or a stack of books at B&N.

Ed Mamula
Ed Mamula

Recently, I was following a nutrition plan that included the concept of “treat meals”, or as they called them “cheat meals”. In the context of a diet and exercise program, cheat meals are actually beneficial in that they confuse your body and prevent it from going into starvation (low metabolism) mode, which hinders futher weight loss. Blah blah blah, the important thing to note is that cheat meals must be confined to one meal…no cheat days or cheat weeks! The same is true in personal finance…allow yourself some “once every 5 years” type of extravagance, as long as it doesn’t… Read more »

The Financial Ladder
The Financial Ladder

Ha, Frugality in moderation…

Lauren Muney
Lauren Muney

I’m proud of you, JD — great lifestyle application of wellness to your life, not just for your food! The answer is to consider, “What is my value here, and what is ‘most beneficial’?” In terms of eating meals, our goal was to eat nutritiously but not ascetically. In terms of spending, the idea was not to cut out comics-collecting completely, but to decide the value of the hobby and then create the purchase-point within that hobby. ($65 for a month of comics may be 16 per month –seems satisfactory, non-obsessional). Remember one important detail: “going overboard” in any habit… Read more »

mike
mike

this article reminded me of a story my aunt told me long ago. Apparently there were these couple of old ladies that were found dead from hypothermia laying in bed with coats on and tons of blankets on top of them with empty cans of cat food nearby, which they were eating. It seems as they were trying to survive with no money. They startling thing was that they found millions in the house/bank that belonged to them. Now i am one to recommend saving, but hell as the saying goes, “you never see a bank truck following a hearse”,… Read more »

steven
steven

Yep, moderation is the key. Save money, pay your bills, stay fit, watch your credit, but don’t forget to also have fun. We only live once (unless you believe in reincarnation, but that’s for another blog) so take advantage of it.

Sam
Sam

I agree, plus when you only splurge once in a while you enjoy it more. Most people splurge every day in this country. Its really no longer a treat to eat out or to make a large purchase because most people eat out all the time and put large purchases on their credit cards. I find that I enjoy my splurges a lot more now that I have so few.

Exurban Jon
Exurban Jon

I’m a music fanatic with about 900 CDs. And I’ve been dying to get an iPod since they first arrived on the scene. One thing that kept me personally motivated on paying off my $52K of credit cards, student loans and car loans was this fact: The day I was out of debt, I could go to the Apple store and get the most expensive iPod available. One by one my friends, many deeper in debt than I, bought themselves iPods. A few mocked me for not just going and buying one. But finally last month we paid off that… Read more »

anonymous..
anonymous..

Feels good to splurge every once in a while huh JD? Whenever I feel like I’ve reached a short-term financial goal, I splurge too. I mean that’s the whole reason why we work hard in the first place, is so we can enjoy it! Food is my weakness too. I just spent $140 on my birthday dinner at a prime rib restaurant in SF (3 people). I paid $40 alone for my entree! It was well worth it though. This past month, I found out why it’s important to have an emergency fund. I had 3k worth in car repairs… Read more »

Canadian Dream
Canadian Dream

Perhaps this is just me, but I don’t splurge on anything. In my mind frugality is defined as not wasting money on this that are not important to you and spending money on those things that are important to you.

So if you love movies and want a big TV. Go ahead and save up for one. Just don’t forget about the overall picture to keep saving for retriement and paying off debt.

CD

nfnitloop
nfnitloop

Thanks. I needed that. I’ve been reading here for a few months and have been feeling guilty every time a new article comes up. I just splurged on a new Canon DSLR I’ve been pining over using our tax refund. We were going to apply it all to our dwindling credit balance. We should still be done by autumn, but we talked ourselves into splitting the refund for a splurge. My wife is much more practical than I am so she’s buying (practical) clothes and kitchen items, comparison shopping all the way. I blew it all on my one item… Read more »

Golbguru
Golbguru

JD, you are really making the most of your money. At $200+ a meal, you definitely rock ! (ok, that’s a bit too much for me, but I understand).
Money is meant to be spent (read – used wisely), not hoarded. Your happiness (or satisfaction or any other synonym) depends on how smartly you spend it.

Elissa
Elissa

I need to splurge. I think it very well may be a genetic thing, probably picked up from my dad. But if I don’t have SOMETHING exciting to buy at least once a month (doesn’t matter the cost), I’ll end up splurging every weekend. I once bought a $75 journal because I wanted AND I didn’t bother to look at the price tag until I’d had already paid and walked out of the store with it… I then felt too shameful to go back and return it after that. So I’ve turned my splurging habit into a well-calculated monthly event.… Read more »

marie
marie

what comics did you buy? what do you still buy? I love comics!

Quetzalcoatl
Quetzalcoatl

just because you did it doesn’t make it right.

DC Portland
DC Portland

The key is to have a healthy relationship with money. Clearly, some of the most frugal have a very twisted concept of money (and many of the posts here confirm that). Excessive spending for the sake of image and to feel better about oneself through material gain is an opposite sort of insanity. JD – you seem to have a very appropriate concept of money. It is a tool, completely under your control, to do with as you wish. And, more importantly, your wishes are grounded in a reality of what truly makes you feel happy. Splurge on!

Gaming the Credit System
Gaming the Credit System

I am definitely willing to splurge too. Maybe too much. I guess it’s a product of the lifestyle I inherited from my parents. I have season tickets to the opera (not the cheapest, but not the most expensive either) and we usually go out for a nice dinner ($60-$80 total, for 2 people) before or after the performance. Maybe twice a year (Valentine’s and/or birthdays) we’ll go to a really extravagant place that’s $50+ per entree.

sfmoneygal
sfmoneygal

wow, i’m amazed you spent so much eating out without feeling guilty. but you enjoyed the meal so that’s all that matters.

you write a great blog! it keeps me in check and monitoring my budget and spending.

Emily H.
Emily H.

I’ve come to realize that the ‘casual dining’ restaurants don’t really offer you much value over home cooking, except convenience. On the other hand, the times I’ve been out to genuinely good restaurants have been fantastic.

$150 sounds like a lot to spend on a meal, but if you just put away $15 from every restaurant meal you didn’t eat, you’d get there pretty quickly.

gmv
gmv

The thing about $150 meals is that you are (usually!!) getting much more than a 10 minute feeding of ordinary food. Go to Applebees if you want to feed yourself. Go for a $150 meal if you want to DINE the way dining is supposed to be done.

You’re getting a special quality of service from a highly trained waitstaff, the artistic creation of a chef, top quality ingredients and staff highly trained in the art of food, and loads of atmosphere. At least you’re supposed to be!

I’m all for fine dining as a splurge.

Lazy Man and Money
Lazy Man and Money

A couple of years ago, I went with my fiancee to The White Barn Inn in Maine. One of the local food critic TV shows gave it nearly a perfect 100 (I think it was a 98). It was the highest rated at the time. We spent about $250, but it was well worth it. Everything was wonderful and perfect. The “once-in-five-years” thing sounds about right to me.

Iris
Iris

What you’re really saying – all the time – is to spend mindfully. Be aware of obligations and commitments, and don’t spend without being aware of the overall effects.

The usual problem is the aggregate effects of not paying attention to what you are doing routinely.

tim
tim

I’m not a fan of the term “splurge”. It makes absolutely no sense. I think you can have a nice dinner out, a comic book collection, a fancy watch or car so long as you plan and budget for it. The purpose behind all this financial planning, is to accomodate spending in your life. A splurge is an unexpected cost that will come at the expense of something else. It doesn’t need to, though. There are wants and needs in your budget. Identify these “splurges” as wants and plan for them accordingly. The reward for all this frugal living (I… Read more »

John
John

Well said Canadian Dream…I keep trying to tell myself that frugality doesn’t mean depriving myself of what I love. I spend my money on a nice health club, a good gaming computer, and nice stuff to make my house nice…but I still always buy the second newest or out of season stuff.

Jen Schneider
Jen Schneider

I read this a few days ago, and it still has me thinking. We have about $15K in credit card/home equity debt(debt from stupid youth spending that we each brought into the relationship when we got married) and an $8K car loan. We have been paying about $1300 a month toward this debt, and plan to sell our house this spring for a 40-60K profit (this is a modest prediction–we’re accounting for the crappy market). We’ll move into a slightly more expensive house (but not much), so our mortgage payment is going to go up by $150-200 a month, and… Read more »

J.D.
J.D.

Jen, if it’s any consolation, I have been where you are now. It used to be that I couldn’t allow myself to splurge because doing so would spell trouble. In fact, there are still places I won’t allow myself to splurge. For example, I’ve been trying to control my spending on comics. Well, there were several *great* auctions on eBay yesterday, and I would dearly have loved to bid. BUT, I’ve done so well with my comic book spending lately that it would be a shame to fall off the wagon. What’s more, I know that if I had bought… Read more »

LivingAlmostLarge
LivingAlmostLarge

We make a very good income, but have just started to indulge ourselves. For DH’s birthday in December I got a GC for $100 to Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse. We had dinner for $75 more. That was an indulgence. I’m dying to go again. But more importantly as his Christmas present, I gave him $200 blow money for rinkside hockey tickets to his favorite hockey team. $150 ticket and another $50 for beer. I guess I should up it a bit more for dinner and stuff. I might add my DH makes 6 figures and rarely spends any money on anything… Read more »

Aaron
Aaron

Good choice of splurge. Paley’s Place is fantastic! (Of course, perhaps I’m biased, since the only time we went there was the first day of our honeymoon, before flying out of town…)

It’s definitely on our list to revisit!

tim
tim

all this gourmet food stuff had me out buying winter black truffles and wild mushrooms for a mushroom extravaganza….thanks alot JD. rewiring is correct, because you are trying to change your behavior. you do this by structuring your financial life and abiding by it. You abide by it, because you have goals that you have set out for yourself. This is why financial goals need to be realistic. If they are not, you will be more willing to see them as too daunting and fail at them and go back to your old ways. you measure goals by keeping track… Read more »

Writer's Coin
Writer's Coin

Travel. That’s an easy one. Nothing makes me feel like traveling does. The escapism, the adventure, going into the unknown–it’s all so much fun and so moving that I don’t pay too much attention to what I’m spending. This is the main reason why I’m cheap (yeah, I’m cheap) in most other facets of my life. Take away traveling and I’ll probably throw my money at a whole bunch of unnecessary stuff (for me at least).

Stephanie
Stephanie

I splurge on things for my kids. I pony up the dough for kindermusik classes for them (they are toddlers) and on name brand yogurt and mac and cheese. I do save money not buying name brand diapers though-store brand diapers work just fine. I also find it hard to resist when my son asks me SO politely if he can please have a toy car-especially since he has NEVER thrown a fit when I tell him “not today”. If a shopping trip takes an especially long time and he is being very patient and well behaved I don’t see… Read more »

David
David

Organic and otherwise healthy foods. But is it a splurge if I haven’t been to the doctor in five years?

I splurged on my iMac 3.5 years ago. And I bought a used PowerBook from 2000 as a writing machine and backup. They last in a workable manner for quite some time if maintained and updated.

I splurge on quality. I don’t mind paying extra now to get more time and quality on the back end.

Sam
Sam

I splurge on alcohol. I appreciate how iffy that sounds, but I’m not talking about going on a massive binge every weekend here. What I mean is that I’ll gladly shell out $100 for a really good bottle of bourbon, which will last months and be an experience more than a drink. Likewise if I’m going to put a dozen beers in my fridge I’ll probably get something imported which I really love, rather than just grab whatever brand is on offer in the supermarket that week. I have a bottle of vodka in my freezer that I’ve been nursing… Read more »

Carrie
Carrie

I splurge on good ingredients for my cooking. It really doesn’t cost that much more, especially since I don’t eat out much (I probably end up saving money in the end by cooking at home so much). The one “eating out” splurge I have is sushi once a month. I haven’t managed to make that at home with any success. My other splurge is fine, luxurious silk scarves. I wear one every day and it always makes me feel like a million bucks. I actually walk taller when I have these pieces of wearable art on. I pay cash for… Read more »

grimsaburger
grimsaburger

The things that feel like splurges are food and drink, more than anything else. We could go without wine with dinner most nights, and switch more to boxed and canned foods if we wanted to save money that badly, but having good food and drink goes a long way toward maintaining a high level of satisfaction with frugality in every other aspect of our lives. The things that look like splurges aren’t really: I’ve been to Ireland 3x for a total of 6 months in the last two years, but that was for dissertation research, and counts as necessary; also… Read more »

Frugal Bachelor
Frugal Bachelor

Moleskine Notebooks. I am cheapskate for everything but these, and I figure splurging on the cheapest possible ‘luxury item’ makes more sense than splurging on a new luxury car.

Patrick
Patrick

The most common denominator among pf bloggers seems to be food! I don’t think that’s my splurge though. My wife and I tend to be very frugal, but we like to spend money on travel and experiences. We took a Mediterranean cruise for our honeymoon last fall and must have spend around 7-8 grand. To be honest, I never bothered to figure out the exact amount we spent. We searched for deals on the cruise line and airline tickets and did well on those. But once we were there, we ate well and went on every excursion we could. This… Read more »

Hannah
Hannah

Without a doubt it’s clothes. I prefer to buy high-quality, relatively expensive clothes (no Prada or Gucci or anything like that, but a lot of Jacob and Guess) which last me a while and look a lot nicer than the generic, low quality stuff found in most places.

I’m not much of a food splurger though! When my fiancee and I went shopping once for chili I made him buy no-name beans because they were 75 cents cheaper… he teases me about it to this day!

My.cold.dead.hands
My.cold.dead.hands

I am the same as Cap, in that I spend on travel without a thought. When I am on vacation I’m like another person, the nicest hotel, the finest restaraunts, and if I want to spend $150 to go whale watching then so be it, I live in the midwest so when is the next time I get to do that? I do however budget for vacations (over budget)I know when I’m out and about I will do the whole thing in cash and I alot an obsene amount of money. I’m nothing like that in the rest of my… Read more »

Michelle
Michelle

We love travel, but we prefer “roughing it” so a trip itself isn’t the money-sucker. The culprit is my (expensive) hobby: landscape photography. The lenses and filters I bought for our last vacation cost more than the vacation itself…and it was a month long!

Dylan
Dylan

Sushi. If you have to ask why, I afraid you wouldn’t understand.

Schizohedron
Schizohedron

Daily-wear disposable contact lenses. I max out my 401(k), I fully fund my IRA, I throw a chunk of change in my emergency fund each month, I stick to a budget, and my spare-change milk bottle is a mighty tower of small-time thrift. With all the “big stuff” financial machinery humming along, I have no difficulty shelling out the dough to avoid wearing glasses and not burning time and patience each night cleaning extended-wear lenses. (Plus I can apply the cost against my §125 plan funds at work, allowing me to shelter more money from Uncle Sam.)

Michel Savoie
Michel Savoie

I agree with the food. Good quality food is important to me. The other thing I splurge on… An odd one: Gas. I drive around way more than I have to. I love driving.

Momma
Momma

I’m with the rest of the travelers. I will pinch every penny and clip a thousand coupons for the grocery store. I’ll meticulously budget every other portion of our lives, but I must must have the weekend in the mountains, the short trip to the beach, and the occasional trip “back home”. I love to travel and want to see the world. This afternoon, we’re heading to the North Georgia mountains… haven’t seen Wes in a week. It’s going to just be us and the kids. No cell phone coverage. No internet. Bring on the splurge!

Jeremy
Jeremy

Musical instruments and singing lessons.

Frugal Dad
Frugal Dad

Vacations. I like to enjoy a nice vacation with my family to the Smoky Mountains once a year. We created a sinking fund a couple years ago for the cabin rental and related expenses, and we cash flow food/gas, etc. It’s expensive, but we have made some great memories the last couple years and plan to make it an annual event. I offset the expense by paying cash instead of running up credit (which we did in year’s past). No sense bringing bills back home with me at the end of vacation!

Pinyo
Pinyo

@JD – Thank you for including me in this survey.

To answer this more precisely:

“I’d love to hear they get a massage every so often or bought a new fancy car and why they chose to spend their money on that one thing.”

I don’t spend money on massages while in the US due to the expense (I did once and regretted it). But when my wife and I visit Thailand, we get Thai massages almost daily. It cost about $20 per hour, and the work done is excellent.

traineeinvestor
traineeinvestor

My wife would give you a very long list of my vices. Fortunately, most of them do not cost much. The exceptions are a fettish for overpriced wine (which I occasionally pretend is an investment.

In terms of budgeting, I give myself a “no questions asked” fixed amount to splurge each year. My wife does likewise with a portion of her annual bonus.

Erin
Erin

My main splurges revolve around work. I purchased a new car about a year ago when I realized my job was my career and I would be here for quite some time. I spend 6 hours most days in my car on the road, and average 100-250 miles every work day, and I only live 3 miles from my office! I have never owned a new car, but rather have always paid cash for a cheaper reliable car. After driving a 2001 accent for a year, I came to realize the value and comfort, along with gas mileage, warrantly, free… Read more »

Anna N.
Anna N.

I’m not all that frugal yet – I’m trying to learn, though – but one thing I’ll probably always spend the extra money on is books. I don’t buy a lot of them (compared to what I COULD buy, anyway) but I prefer new books to used, in part because they’re in better shape but also because I like to support authors. I like hardback books because I reread books I enjoy over and over again, and paperbacks don’t hold up to that treatment. I buy books at B&N instead of ordering online from Amazon or something, which might be… Read more »

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