Saving for a big purchase

I love the jeans I'm wearing. I actually wear them almost four days a week. Chances are that if you see me, I'm wearing these jeans. They're my only pair. When I bought them, I very gladly put down my $200 cash and left the store with a smile. The jeans I had before them cost the same, and I wore them until they got holes in them, and then I got those patched up, and then the patches got holes in them and the hem came out and I decided to move on.

A lot of personal finance advice I read says that $200 is entirely too much to spend on jeans, no matter their longevity. The problem here is that I love these jeans. I feel confident in them. It sounds weird to me, but having jeans that fit this well have become a value of mine. The jeans aren't the point though. Chances are, we all have something we buy that maybe costs more than it should, or at least more than it could, be it wine, fitness, clothing, makeup, electronics, or pure-bred cats. My goal is to spend on the things I care about, and ferociously save on the things I don't.

I practice the art of conscious spending.

Your Values Should Dictate Your Spending

We can't have it all. With my jeans, I spend on the pants and then save on the shoes I wear with them. My shoes aren't important to me. They probably should be, but try as I might to read studies about proper arch support, I can't get myself to make it a value. If I were to spend on the jeans, then spend on the shoes to go with them, then the belt to match, I frankly wouldn't have enough money for a shirt.

With travel, it'd be great to stay in a luxury hotel, eat at fancy restaurants and take cabs everywhere. But for most of us, that would make travel inaccessible. If I ever splurge on more comfortable accommodation, I'll make sure to walk everywhere and get cheap street food to eat at the park.

My point is this: Figure out your values. Spend on those, skimp on the others. For me, this meant charting my spending. By seeing where my money was going, I could more properly cut out what I didn't care about and funnel the funds into what I did, or more probably, into savings.

Here's an untrue example of where my $500 in discretionary spending went one month:

I look at this list and have three things come into mind first:

  • I love Chairman Meow, and so his wild caught Alaskan cat food is non-negotiable.
  • I do hear the people sing and tend to cry through all of Act I.
  • I still can't believe how effective acupuncture is at reducing stiffness in my back.

Outside of those three, I realize I usually don't have a very good time when I go to concerts with my friends and these Levis come on way too high on my waist. To align more with my values, I should keep the cat food, Les Mis, and needles, and enjoy a night at home reading a library book (Victor Hugo!) in my amazing new jeans.

Saving Up

If the desire to buy a more expensive item is strong enough, I should be able to save for it. If my desire wanes from day to day, or I realize that I'd be happy with something cheaper, I don't buy the product.

I'm really looking forward to a trip I hope to take to Istanbul next year. If Istanbul didn't come up at least once a week in conversations for me, it would probably cease to be a savings goal. If I don't change behavior and put more money toward it, it isn't going to happen.

To change behavior, I set up smaller goals and advertise to myself. I have this picture on my desk now and gaze lovingly at it every time I transfer funds into my Istanbul savings account. The week before I make a transfer, I go to the library and get out a book (hopefully with lots of pictures) about the city and read away. Not only will I have more appreciation and knowledge of various landmarks once I get there, but it helps keep Istanbul exciting, fresh, and sexy for me, not that it needs much help.

A few months from now, if my monthly savings goal continues to be met, I'll buy the plane tickets and know some more awesome facts, like back when the city was part of the Ottoman Empire, Istanbul had 1400 public toilets all over town. Europe at the time had yet to build a single palace.

Merit-Based Rewards

With some of my larger purchases, I make myself earn them in a less financial sense. I want to make sure something is a value of mine before I spend the money on it. Here's what I'm talking about:

  • For a big trip, justify spending the money by having a tangible language goal. Tell yourself that after a year of weekly French classes, you'll finally allow yourself to spend the money on eating a baguette under the Eiffel Tower.
  • Interested in taking barre classes? Commit to using the DVD two or three times a week for the next two months. If you can get that done, it's become a value and money can follow.
  • Want that expensive new makeup? Use up everything in the bathroom first instead of adding to the pile of half-used containers.
  • Looking forward to your favorite band coming to town? Learn the riff of your favorite song on guitar, especially if you've never played before.

Pick a goal that makes sense and stick to it. If the purchase isn't inspiring you to save and better yourself, then it probably isn't a value.

Frugality isn't always about finding the cheapest option, but rather bringing as much consciousness to your spending as possible. You can lose the guilt, increase the pleasure, and accomplish something new.

What's your more pricey item? How do you make sure your spending is a conscious effort on it?

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getagrip
getagrip
7 years ago

While I fully agree that prioritizing things is important, you have to be careful this attitude isn’t being used as an excuse as to why you can’t save or meet other financial goals. It’s too easy to say that you “have” to do everything on your list, so you can’t cut anything out because they are all your priorities. As a previous article stated, sometimes our luxuries feel like needs and it isn’t until you cut them out that you can tell the difference. If you are in financial straights, then the cat eats the equivalant of rice and beans… Read more »

Joe @ Retire By 40
Joe @ Retire By 40
7 years ago
Reply to  getagrip

I agree with prioritizing, but you really can’t find a pair of jeans that you like for less than $200? I guess if you can pay for it then it’s no big deal. I’ll assume you already have a big emergency account and maxed out on your retirement contribution before spending on all these luxuries.

William @ Drop Dead Money
William @ Drop Dead Money
7 years ago

I put my next travel destination on my laptop’s wallpaper, so each time I fire it up, I get re-reminded. I love the “4 day jeans.” I have those, too, only mine come from Wal-mart. I have a dietician friend who always used to say “make your calories count” i.e. don’t overeat on things that aren’t that important to you. Likewise, I agree with you on keeping the splurging to things that are important to us. Which explains my Bose headphones and not-so-cheap camera. Each time I get a guilty pang about those, I just look down to my Wallyworld… Read more »

Lance @ Money Life and More
Lance @ Money Life and More
7 years ago

I guess the priciest item that I really have in my budget would be eating out. I don’t feel I need to justify it because I keep my spending in check and can afford it. I think this is more of a problem if you have multiple priorities you are struggling for. I definitely think targeted savings accounts are a great way to reach your goal though! Have fun in Istanbul!

Andy
Andy
7 years ago

My fiance and I set up a joint account a little while ago that we put about 10% of our gross income in. This goes towards eating out, doing things together, and travel. I absolutely could be using those dollars on paying down my debt or contributing to my retirement fund, but I’m already contributing a combined 60% of my net income towards those things so I don’t feel terribly guilty about it. This fund keeps us from fighting about whose paying for what or if we should or shouldn’t do something as well as allows us to travel and… Read more »

Jacq
Jacq
7 years ago

Financial independence is or was my highest value. Back when I had to learn how to spend consciously, purchases got measured in “is this worth a future day?”

The problem is that you can convince yourself to cut too much out that way (little pleasures along the way like dinner with friends or new furniture). Now I just have a monthly budget that gets spent however it gets spent and save everything else.

Elizabeth
Elizabeth
7 years ago

I like the point about committing to something BEFORE you make a purchase. I think a lot of us buy things thinking they will change our habits — like buying home gym equipment when we haven’t already made a commitment to exercise 3 times a week. But I have to ask the OP: you’ll pay $150/month for acupuncture for your back, but not buy shoes with decent arch support? Supportive shoes aren’t a cure all, but alignment isn’t something we should ignore. It can affect our health now, but years of strain on the knees, hips and back can take… Read more »

Katie
Katie
7 years ago
Reply to  Elizabeth

I don’t think he spends that on acupuncture; he said it was an “untrue example” of a month’s discretionary spending.

Elizabeth
Elizabeth
7 years ago
Reply to  Katie

D’oh! Serves me right for not reading closely 😉 I take that back.

Maybe a better comparison would be spending $200 on jeans but not willing to spend $100 for decent arch support if he was suffering back problems? (Which I’m not sure he does)

Don’t get me wrong, those $200 jeans are a great deal when you consider cost per use, but if someone was experiencing back problems it might be worthwhile making room in the budget for decent arch support.

Jane
Jane
7 years ago

“If I were to spend on the jeans, then spend on the shoes to go with them, then the belt to match, I frankly wouldn’t have enough money for a shirt.” Clothes don’t matter to me at all, but I think this is a healthy way to look at personal finance. For almost everyone, even rich people, money is a finite resource. Having the nice jeans means you probably need to think long and hard about splurging on the accessories. The danger comes when someone says, how can I pair that cheap belt with such nice jeans? Of course, I… Read more »

Michael
Michael
7 years ago
Reply to  Jane

Given the choice between the good belt and the good pants, I’d chose the good belt.

After going through about a belt a year, and having them fray and crack, I asked for a solid (non-bonded) leather belt for Christmas. Two years later and it’s still going strong – hardly even a curve in it.

I wear it with everything except my Sunday suit.

partgypsy
partgypsy
7 years ago
Reply to  Jane

Actually high-low design esthetic seen all over the place, embrace it! For our bathroom remodel we splurged on the flooring and the countertop. After looking at endless (from more to less expensive) light fixtures we realized practically the only fixture we agreed on, was the retro $12 light fixture we already had (that as a bonus fits compact flourescents versus needing expensive niche bulbs). So we tracked those down and installed those instead.

Chase
Chase
7 years ago

I would save and get the belt shirt and shoes to match also, but I am kind of vain…

For me, as long as I pay into 401k, the Roth, the employee stock purchase plan, rent, bills, my targeted savings accts for a house down payment, new car, new computer, and travel; then the rest can be spent completely guilt free!

bon
bon
7 years ago

Great post Tim!

I have recently decided to splurge on a new office chair. I work from home so sit at my desk easily 8-10 hours / day. My chair has been broken for 2 years and I’ve had enough. My husband has had so many back problems, I’ve decided it is worth it to finally splurge on something nice and ergonomic.

Melissa M
Melissa M
7 years ago
Reply to  bon

What kind of chair are you going to get? I need one toe.

Babs
Babs
7 years ago
Reply to  Melissa M

Herman Miller chairs are great but pricey. Try finding a place that sells used office furniture.

drea
drea
7 years ago
Reply to  bon

switch to a standing desk with a chair as an option and an antifatigue mat to stand on. I’ve been doing it for years and it keeps me awake and productive and slowly burning calories all day!

TB at BlueCollarWorkman
TB at BlueCollarWorkman
7 years ago

I read a lot of financial bloggers saying that people shoudl buy coffee at home and not spend the $3 everyday to buy those mochafrappacappawhatevers.But if a mochafrappacappawhatever is important to you, then go ahead! Cut expenses somewhere else where you don’t care. For me, I spend a lot of money on my work boots. REALLY important for a blue collar guy, I even pay to have a cobbler fix them when they go bad. This is a great post to point out that one size does not fit all in personal finance!

Holly@ClubThrifty.com
7 years ago

Our priciest items would be our vacations and we save and plan for them all year.

Any other time I feel the need to buy something expensive I try to wait a few days. Usually that makes the feeling of having to have something go away.

Sheryl
Sheryl
7 years ago

I definitely have some costly and superfluous luxuries. When I find a luxury purchase I really want I tend to first research whether I can get something similar of good quality for a lower price first, and then if I can’t find an acceptable budget replacement for the luxury item I squirrel away money from my weekly discrecionary budget until I’ve saved for it. After a year of saving and research it’s hard to feel guilty about spending my money on these things. Best part? I’ve never regretted a splurge that I’ve saved for like this. Of course, if it… Read more »

Zeynep
Zeynep
7 years ago

Hi Tim,
Great article! I try to do this as well, e.g. grass-fed beef is non-negotiable but I buy store brand for all cleaning supplies, flour, pasta, etc.
In terms of Istanbul, I’m Turkish and even I didn’t know about the toilets. That is a funny statistic! If you are planning to come to Istanbul in the near future, let us know, my sister and I run a rental property located in Taksim, in the heart of Istanbul with really good rates compared to hotels: http://www.vrbo.com/410088

Alan | Life's Too Good
Alan | Life's Too Good
7 years ago

Hey Tim,

great post.

If you focus on the things you really need, then you can probably afford to spend on what’s important to you.

I see far more people poor because they waste money on what they don’t really need than because they spend too much money on what they do.

Just my 2 cents (terrible pun intended)…

CW
CW
7 years ago

I like the article. I used to think that Frugality was about getting lowest cost possible, but I also do conscious spending and have target savings for pricey purchases.

I still think that $200 for a pair jean is way too expensive, even when worn on a daily basis.

Will
Will
7 years ago

“and these Levis come on way too high on my waste.”

Waist not, want not!

krantcents
krantcents
7 years ago

My philosophy is i rather have less, but quality items. I would never spend $200 for jeans, but I might try to get them at discount. Shoes are far more important to me. I will spend $4-500 on shoes, but I only have a few pair. I keep them forever and they are very comfortable.

Lee
Lee
7 years ago

Great article! I scuba dive and constantly hear my friends saying “how can you afford such an expensive hobby?” as they are shopping on their iPad and downloading on their new phone. I love to dive so that’s what I spend my conscious spending money on. I don’t own much in the way of technology, my car is 7 years old (and still runs great), and I don’t go out much. However, when I’m on vacation I will dive 4 tanks a day for a solid week and not think twice. No matter what it is that you love… pricey… Read more »

Jason Clayton | frugal habits
Jason Clayton | frugal habits
7 years ago

Completely agree with this philosophy. I choose to spend my money on traveling. (I like to travel like a millionaire)

I couldn’t see myself spending this much on jeans as mine are worn out from playing with my kids on the family room floor. (my last pair I purchased were 70% off at Target for $7.48)

Melissa M
Melissa M
7 years ago

I hear the people sing, too!! I must respectfully disagree about spending $100 on Les Mis tickets. TOTALLY. WORTH. IT.

And I must say, this blog has helped me tremendously in shifting my spending habits and priorities. Thank you!

Stephen
Stephen
7 years ago

I want to save up for a new snow plow for my pickup truck. It must not be a huge priority though as I keep putting other purchases in front of it.

Kathleen @ Frugal Portland
Kathleen @ Frugal Portland
7 years ago

Frugality isn’t about finding the cheapest option — I agree wholeheartedly.

Sam
Sam
7 years ago

$200 jeans sound, actually, very cheap based on the number of wears. I try to, with clothes and shoes, calculate the per wears when I buy. I might wear a $200 pair of black work slacks once a week for two or three years. 52 weeks in a year, that is .78 a wear over three years. For me, its better to buy high quality, classics that may cost more, but will last longer and I’ll wear more often.

Jen
Jen
7 years ago
Reply to  Sam

I agree that cost per use is a critical piece of information. I used to buy $5 pairs of sunglasses every month, wear them a few times, and then lose or break them. For my 21st birthday I spent $200 on quality designer sunglasses that I absolutely loved, and have worn them pretty much every day since then. Now, almost 5 years later, the cost per wear is about half of that of the cheap ones and they are still in pretty good condition.

Carla
Carla
7 years ago
Reply to  Jen

Same here. I purchased a used pair of designer sunglasses for $30 on eBay, (the regular price was $200+) four years ago and they are still as beautiful as the day they came in the mail. This was after purchasing cheap $10 glasses every couple of months too.

Brenton
Brenton
7 years ago

“When I bought them, I very gladly put down my $200 cash and left the store with a smile. ”

Im sorry, but paying $200 for something that cost the store $0.05 and was made in a sweatshop in cambodia seems really stupid… Im sure there are plenty of pants that fit just fine that cost a fraction of that amount. There is no justification for spending 1/10th of your monthly salary on a single pair of jeans. Most likely, you bought those jeans for the brand name, and not because they are comfortable.

Stephen
Stephen
7 years ago
Reply to  Brenton

There are a number of denim companies in the US that make full thickness Selvage denim right here in the US and are sown here right in the US in custom sizes. These jeans last many times longer than made in china denim.

EMH
EMH
7 years ago
Reply to  Brenton

True Religion, Citizens for Humanity, Earnest Sewn and 7 for All Mankind will all cost between $100-$200 or more and are made in the USA. Not every style is Made in the USA so check the label. I spend a lot on denim but I wear it every day. I love my Citizens and will easily part with the $200 or more for a quality pair of jeans made in the United States. My husband loves Todd Shelton jeans and shirts and they are also made in the USA but cost more than anything you will get at Target. Again,… Read more »

Crystal
Crystal
7 years ago

We’re all about prioritization. Right now, our top priorities as usual are the set bills and utilities we have to pay. All money after that is pretty much being put towards our new house. It was pretty easy to figure out that we wanted our forever house more than the little stuff we were spending on every month or the big vacation this year. The trick will be to pay all of our new bills and prioritize our spending with what’s left from then on…

El Nerdo
El Nerdo
7 years ago

For me, the #1 spending priority (within my 30% wants budget) is good food. No, I won’t go into debt for it again (hi, Whole Foods!), but eating nice meals 365 days a year has the biggest impact in my life than any other spending, once my basic needs have been met. And while I’d love to travel more, or splurge on other things, I can’t see myself on daily bread and water rations so I can get a Shawshank redemption 3 weeks out of each year. I’m into simple pleasures, and I have limited patience, so I’m all about… Read more »

KSR
KSR
7 years ago
Reply to  El Nerdo

I CAN’T WAIT to read your future post on this. I hope you will be submitting it… soon?

Jacq
Jacq
7 years ago
Reply to  El Nerdo

But El Nerdo – good food is really more about how much time you want to spend than how much money you want to spend!

(I’m talking to YOU risotto!)

El Nerdo
El Nerdo
7 years ago
Reply to  El Nerdo

@ KSR – I submitted my first article this past weekend. Not sure when it will come out but it’s just an introduction, of sorts… or perhaps a mad plan. No recipes included, I’m afraid! @ Jacq – ha ha yeah, sometimes. But since I cook 3 meals a day I really have to think of fast ways: –an omelette takes less than a minute in the pan. i use nice eggs. -drizzling honey over good ricotta and topping it with a couple of ripe figs is a matter of moments. same thing with ricotta/raspberries/sugar (awesome raspberries right now) -brewing… Read more »

Honey Smith
Honey Smith
7 years ago

My daily spending priority, like El Nerdo’s, is also good food. Fortunately I’ve reached the point as a cook where most of what I make is considerably better than what I can find in most restaurants (being a vegetarian is a factor here). Going out to eat is usually more expensive, takes longer, and isn’t as good. I am saving for a new laptop. I had a desktop for my daily user at home, and it died (won’t even turn on at this point) and have been using a desktop Jake bought from his old work for $100 as a… Read more »

Holly@ClubThrifty
7 years ago
Reply to  Honey Smith

We just bought a laptop this weekend with credit card rewards. Free money!

I hadn’t computer shopped for a while so was surprised to see how affordable they are now. We bought a Dell laptop (very basic) and it was only $377. It isn’t fancy but will do the trick.

You should have enough in no time.

SLCCOM
SLCCOM
7 years ago
Reply to  Honey Smith

I heard a computer expert say on the radio that Windows 7 machines are incredibly inexpensive now, since so many people are waiting for Windows 8 to come out this fall.

Cortney
Cortney
7 years ago

Our spending (after rent) is on food. We skip a lot of other things so that we can eat fresh produce and support local farms.

I hope you go through with your trip to Istanbul. I was there two years ago and loved it. The people are nice, the food is excellent, and there’s so much to do. We did a lot of the touristy stuff, but we also took the ferry ride up the Bosphorus, which I’d recommend. You get to see the city from a different perspective and it gives your feet a nice break.

amber
amber
7 years ago

My priority is my dog. His care takes an obscene % of my total spending, but he is happy and healthy, and so much fun. To pay for it I lived without a car for the last 7 years (though circumstances merited that I buy one recently). Now to pay for BOTH car and dog I am cutting back on gifts (I too am guilty of the generous-giver syndrome), air travel (easy to do when you have a dog), and eating out spending (just not worth it). So far so good, but I definitely need to keep on top of… Read more »

Tyler Karaszewski
Tyler Karaszewski
7 years ago

I think I’m going to buy a BMW next year. I mentioned the idea to my wife, who sort of rolled her eyes, until I suggested we go take delivery of the car in Germany, and do a European road trip in it for a few weeks before having the car shipped back here. Adding a European vacation to the BMW made it a lot more appealing to her, and BMW actually gives you a discount on your car if you pick it up at the factory in Munich. That’s my current big savings goal, I’ve got about a year… Read more »

Allison
Allison
7 years ago

Plus you get to drive the car around the factory test track. I know someone who did exactly what you’re planning and loved it!

partgypsy
partgypsy
7 years ago

Wouldn’t the shipping negate any cost savings? I mean do it if you want, but it’s hard to see this as “saving” money.

Tyler Karaszewski
Tyler Karaszewski
7 years ago
Reply to  partgypsy

Shipping is included with delivery, it doesn’t cost extra to ship the car back. Clearly this is not “saving money” compared to staying home and not getting a BMW, but it should be cheaper than buying a BMW in the US, then flying to Europe separately and renting a car to tour Europe in. But saving money isn’t really the point of picking up a new BMW in Europe, anyway.

KSR
KSR
7 years ago

I can sooooo get behind this goal of yours Tyler. But, I’d never do it. Bums me out that I just couldn’t do it–but there’s just no way I’d pay for a NEW beamer. They run just as well at 10 years old as they do on day one (w/ proper care)so…nope. Not for me. But I would tour the German factory in a heart beat and I’d love to hear your story if you do it. (Mine was made in South Carolina. I don’t want to tour the plant in S.C.)

Jacq
Jacq
7 years ago

Reader story on this adventure / purchase please!

Barb
Barb
7 years ago

We have friend swho did that witha volvo and were VERY happy they did so.

Anne
Anne
7 years ago

I love reading everybody’s priorities. My husband and I think we’re incredibly frugal as we lunch at Costco on their $1.50 hot dog/drink combo. We do this frequently and adore the people watching.

After we’re through patting each other on the back we rush over to our travel agent and pick out another major bucket list trip.

We’re retired and love our lives.

Carla
Carla
7 years ago

This post is a good reminder for me to keep what’s important to me in mind. I love clothes, but I don’t have a full closet (partly by choice) so I make sure all purchases are worth while. For example in the past, I spent more money on cheap clothes and they almost always start to look old after two months of use, especially if I wear it frequently from not having a lot of clothes in the first place. I had a clothing budget but I was still try to milk as much from it as possible. Instead of… Read more »

Bella
Bella
7 years ago
Reply to  Carla

I shopped at Nordstrom’s once. It was so nice – it’s probably a really good thing the closest one is 50mi away or I would spend A LOT more money on clothes.

Carla
Carla
7 years ago
Reply to  Bella

I agree. The keyword is, “clearance”. 🙂 I do shop at the Rack a lot and after some digging you can find some great things there.

Julie
Julie
7 years ago

Just out of curiosity, what makes $200 jeans better than $75 jeans? I bought jeans at the Gap, then had them altered to fit me perfectly, and the whole thing cost $100, the most I have ever spent on jeans. (On the other hand, I once spent $3,000 on a purebred puppy…)

John S
John S
7 years ago

Great article! A common misconception is that living frugally means doing things cheaply. I think that it actually frees you to make wise decisions with your money. It’s not about how much it costs, but if it wise for you to buy it. If you want $200 jeans, then that’s ok if all of your other obligations are met. I personally like to save money for travel and vacations. I am willing to not spend as much on some things so I can travel more.

Jason
Jason
7 years ago

I didn’t think I’d be the first to ask, but what what kind of jeans are they?

margot
margot
7 years ago

I commend you for buying our cat high-quality food. This should be a priority for everyone who has an animal. I’d cut out any of my luxury/discretionary purchases to be able to provide good food and healthcare for my pet.

Lee
Lee
7 years ago
Reply to  margot

Agreed. I only buy pet food made in the USA. I spend more but really, I’d rather pay the money than have my dog in kidney failure from the Chinese dog treats that are poison.

BTW, my dog was $25 at the pound so his food was more expensive than he was. Best pet ever!

Janice
Janice
7 years ago

good for you! we all have our guilty pleasures, and the point is at least yours is a CONSCIOUS one. And what is the big deal about spending $200 on your only pair of jeans and getting them repaired to make them last for years? Sounds like frugality to me. I have things like that too. Some I splurged on, some I was lucky enough to get a deal on. But I have them forever, they’re classic, I keep them repaired and feel fan-tas-tic every time I wear them. Wish everything in my closet was like this, but I’m getting… Read more »

Edward
Edward
7 years ago

Love your articles, but sometimes the logic is comletely crazy. Making “deals” with yourself is good–I do that often while saving or setting goals.

Errr.. Sorry to tell you but building a public toilet is pretty easy when it’s just a hole in the ground with two places to put your feet on either side. Maybe as part of your merit-based rewards you should practice squatting without making a mess? …And if you don’t know what I’m talking about, Google image search “turkish toilet”. :/

A-L
A-L
7 years ago

Traveling is our biggest splurge. Right now I’m in the midst of planning a trip to Tanzania (all the money’s already in the bank). We figure that if we’ve been wanting something for years, and end up saving enough to do it, then it’s definitely a priority. Because of a recent job transfer, though, my pay is actually going down about 15% because I won’t be able to get overtime. So for the foreseeable future we’re going to have choose travel or home renovations, but are unlikely to be able to do both unless there’s a substantial change on the… Read more »

FinanceGeek
FinanceGeek
7 years ago

While I think conscious spending is an excellent approach to guilt-free spending, we must also mindful of lifestyle inflation in these targeted areas. Sure, you budget for something you love, but does that mean you shouldn’t still try to get the best valve? You budgeted for the $200 jeans. You have decided they are worth that much to you, but if you could get them $100 with minimal effort, would you? And in the case of expensive hobbies, how much is “enough”? I recently started mountain climbing. While it is possible to do it relatively inexpensively, the start up costs… Read more »

Lee
Lee
7 years ago
Reply to  FinanceGeek

Interesting thought on the gear for your hobby. I scuba dive and ran into the same issue… you can get lots of really expensive gear, or you can get cheap gear. It’s difficult to tell what is the good value for your money. The way I made my decisions on what to buy new/used or cheap/expensive was based on how likely it was that the device would save my life or kill me. I have no problem shelling out much more money for brand new, safe, tested equipment when my life depends on it. That said, I did buy a… Read more »

FinanceGeek
FinanceGeek
7 years ago
Reply to  Lee

I agree. I’m not going to use a used rope or safety equipment without the ability to verify the integrity. But there is other safety equipment that is really expensive new, but if I could pick up second hand I totally would. An avy beacon and personal locator beacon comes to mind. You hope to never need it, but if you do it was totally worth the $500. Another area I am okay spending money is for quality gear. I go out in the hills almost every weekend all year long so my clothing gets used and abused. Spending hours… Read more »

stellamarina
stellamarina
7 years ago
Reply to  FinanceGeek

The stuff Edmund Hillary carried up Everest was very basic.

Lee
Lee
7 years ago
Reply to  stellamarina

Yes, and probably not from the clearance rack at Walmart or from some guy’s basement that sat in standing water for 10 years. Fancy stuff isn’t needed, safe stuff is.

FinanceGeek
FinanceGeek
7 years ago
Reply to  stellamarina

Sure. The badass climbers back in the early days had very primative gear. Spending the time and mileage getting into shape and honing technique is going to do you a lot better than spending thousands of dollars to shave ounces or pounds from your gear.

That being said, I’m not going to climb with a hemp rope and crampons made from nails sticking out of my boots. 🙂 I’m also not Fred Beckey or Sir Hillary.

Erica
Erica
7 years ago

Makeup is a big one for me. I buy the pricier department store brands, yet all of my makeup (full face + tools) fits into one bag that’s about the size of a large wallet. People may say, “What, $25 for a lipstick!” But I own two (one red, one pink) that I was able to try on in the department store to find the absolute perfect shade, whereas so many women end up with a bunch of unworn $5-10 drugstore shades that turned out to be a bust. Also, there is a noticeable difference when it comes to quality… Read more »

Carla
Carla
7 years ago
Reply to  Erica

I agree. Drugstore makeup is not made for women of color no matter what the commercials say (I end up looking like a fool). I just have budget for my makeup purchases. Makeup budget is different from hair which is different from skin care. I have some items that I’ve had for years and still wear to this day. With the exception of mascara, which you have to replace every three months to cut down the risk of infection, I just stick to higher end brands I know and take advantage of store points & rewards. Budget and saving is… Read more »

drea
drea
7 years ago

This post is perfect. Absolutely agree and have developed this method myself over time. My value-driven indulgence is ‘clean’ foods, especially clean meats when we go grocery shopping. Our grocery budget is probably 3x that of any other average American young married couple but it is a deep-seated value of mine to support those who are trying to do food well and in turn it is an investment in ourselves, our health and our happiness at eating delicious food!

BD
BD
7 years ago

I don’t understand why you just didn’t get the $200 jeans when they were on sale. For example, Dillard’s is always having killer sales on high end clothing. Latest example (that I happened to see the last time I was in a mall): $120 BCBGeneration jeans on sale for $40. You can “have it all” when you shop on sale. I bet you could have found an expensive, well-made pair of fabulous jeans on sale (perhaps even your exact brand), then bought an expensive pair of shoes on sale, and perhaps even a shirt, all for what it cost for… Read more »

cls
cls
7 years ago
Reply to  BD

When you are looking for something specific it’s not always possible to get it on sale.

I spend a similar amount of money on jeans for similar reasons. I would love to get the same fit and quality for less, but I can’t and by the time things go on sale stores are almost *always* out of my size.

I’m not even brand-loyal to my jeans. The last pair was from some company I’d never heard of because the current style by the company that made my previous jeans just didn’t fit properly.

Erica
Erica
7 years ago
Reply to  cls

True dat. I am a size 8-10 (first to sell out) but 5’11” (hello highwaters). I grew up as an exclusive Ross/TJMaxx gal but three full trips into the fitting room to find one thing gets old now that I have more life responsibilities and less time on my hands. Now I just save up for a few nice things that fit correctly.

SLCCOM
SLCCOM
7 years ago
Reply to  Erica

Erica, the Woman Within has nice long pants in assorted sizes that I really like. They go up to a 34 inch inseam, occasionally 35. And the sale things are great. They even have them in a plus size, thank goodness!

Kristin Wong
Kristin Wong
7 years ago

Love this line: “Frugality isn’t always about finding the cheapest option, but rather bringing as much consciousness to your spending as possible.” I recently “splurged” on a new mattress. I boiled it down to two options (both in my budget), and of course, my natural inclination was to go for the cheaper one. But since I’m spending a great deal of my time on this thing, the “frugal” thing to do wasn’t to buy the cheaper one but to buy the one that had the most value to me. It was a struggle to close my eyes, ignore the price… Read more »

Debt Free Teen
Debt Free Teen
7 years ago

I choose to buy quality camera equipment because I use my camera so much. I usually just buy plan t-shirts and I always have a good quality watch and shoes. Everything else is negotiable!
Chase

Frances
Frances
7 years ago

Advertising to yourself as a way of keeping on track…perfect. Why didn’t I think of that?

Cherleen @ My Personal Finance Journey
Cherleen @ My Personal Finance Journey
7 years ago

Since I was in high school, I really do not splurge much on clothes, shoes, and accessories. But I do spend on electronic gadgets, software, and training to improve myself further, which I need for my job.

AMW
AMW
7 years ago

At this point in my life all the splurges go to my kids. $220/month for dance lessons keeps my teen out jail and is hopefully prepping her for the career she wants later (dance instructor). I pay for my other child to occasionally travel with me for work (and be my assistant)so she can experience new places. Only a couple more years and I can start splurging on myself!

Timothy Mobley
Timothy Mobley
7 years ago

This is an excellent post. I absolutely agree that if one doesn’t allow themselves on indulge once in a while, frugal living and saving would be unbearable chores.. The best is to be able to find intangible things that make us happy. Then, it would be a win-win. How realistic that is, it’s a different story 🙂

Bridget
Bridget
7 years ago

Oh I love this post, all of those are wonderful suggestions.

Taking German classes for 3 months before I left on my vacation enriched the experience so much — if only because it added to the anticipation. I love spending money on experiences!

Sean Friend
Sean Friend
7 years ago

This was a great article! I talk about this all the time with people. I have 2 friends that I’m very frugal with and we don’t bemoan the price but the value of opportunities.

That’s kept us from over-spending and wasting while also experiencing a ton of new things. Bargains just increase the overall value!

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