Ask the Readers: When Is It Okay to Splurge?

By Ashley Jacobs on 11 October 2011 (Updated 18 October 2011) 90 comments
Photo: Bigstock

Editor's Note: Congratulations to jenn, R A CHAPMAN, and Jennifer W for winning this week's contest!

For the most part, if you are frugal you try to avoid splurging. Chances are you have a budget and you manage to stick to it. But from time to time, you may decide that it’s ok to splurge a little.

When is it ok to splurge? Are there certain occasions when it’s ok to spend a little extra? Or is splurging always a big no-no?

Tell us when you think it's ok to splurge and we'll enter you in a drawing to win a $20 Amazon Gift Card!

Win 1 of 3 $20 Amazon Gift Cards

We're doing three giveaways — one for random comments, one for random Facebook "Likes", and another one for random tweets.

Mandatory Entry: 

  • Post your answer in the comments below 

For extra entries (1 per action):

  • Go to our Facebook page, "Like" us, and leave a comment telling us you did, or
  • Tweet your answer. You have to be a follower of our @wisebread account. Include both "@wisebread" and "#WBAsk" in your tweet so we'll see it and count it. Leave a link to your tweet (click the timestamp for the individual URL) in a separate comment.

If you're inspired to write a whole blog post OR you have a photo on flickr to share, please link to it in the comments or tweet it.

Giveaway Rules:

  • Contest ends Monday, October 17th at 11:59 pm Pacific. Winners will be announced after October 17th on the original post. Winners will also be contacted via email.
  • You can enter all three drawings — once by leaving a comment, once by liking our Facebook update, and once by tweeting.
  • This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered, or associated with Facebook.
  • You must be 18 and US resident to enter. Void where prohibited.

Note: Due to recent changes in Facebook's promotions guidelines, we have restructured the entry format of our giveaways.

Good Luck!

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Guest's picture
Raina

Obviously it's different for everyone, but I personally splurge from time to time on clothes. I save so much that I figure it won't kill me to spend a few hundred every few months on building up a nice-looking wardrobe. In fact, it's kind of an investment in that the nicer-looking clothes will present a more professional appearance and help in career advancement. I also think it's ok to splurge on the holidays, especially buying gifts for others. I think allowing my frugality to affect myself is ok, but I'm not going to give loved ones "cheap" gifts.

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Selene Montgomery

If you're not using housing, grocery or insurance money, it's okay to splurge on very special occasions (like anniversaries), or to purchase a needed item that is available at a reduced price.

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Selene Montgomery

I LIke Wise Bread on Facebook as Selene Montgomery

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Selene Montgomery

I follow on Twitter and I tweeted the giveaway:

http://twitter.com/#!/smdrm/status/123739071997685760

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Lazygal

Years ago a friend taught me this rule: when you get an unexpected inflow (a bonus, tax return, gift money), put 3/4 of it away in savings and splurge with the remaining 1/4. That way you get the best of both worlds and don't feel either guilty (not saving) or ashamed (splurging). I've done it ever since!

Guest's picture
Christie

It's okay to splurge when you have the money saved up for said splurge beforehand! My favorite splurge is eating out at nice places, usually for lunch (Great food, less $$) and we save up or set aside money before we do so. The mental peace of knowing that the money is already there instead of the worry of where is it going to come from makes for an enjoyable time! (How can anyone enjoy themselves if they have to worry about how to pay for what they're enjoying?) Not me! I'd rather wait and have it paid for before I enjoy it. Patience is worth it. (That said, we're saving up for our next vacation--hoping to go in abut 12 - 14 months, and we've already been saving for a year! But it will be fun and a "no-worries" trip!)

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Maggie

I think it's ok to splurge if it is something that you'll use (on a regular basis), and is something you care about getting better quality on. For example: shoes for work. You could buy some cheapy shoes from Target which will last about 6 months-1 year before they start wearing out and looking bad OR you buy higher quality shoes that last longer, and look nicer over that longer period of time.

But if you don't care about how your shoes look, splurging on shoes is a bad idea.

Guest's picture
lostAnnfound

For me, it's okay to splurge with gift money. Just had a birthday and received some cash from family members and I am going to buy something just for me, although I have to admit my frugal/pay off debt/saving voice is telling me to not to do that.

Guest's picture
CosmosHuman

I splurge on footwear, as I am a diabetic and protecting my feet is job #1. My favorite and best wearing shoes are Merril footwear and Sanita clogs. I also wear name brand "running shoes". This is a no-brainer as wearing poor quality shoes can really have horrible and life ending concequences.

Guest's picture
Jennifer

For me, splurging is always a no-no. I simply can't afford it. I have to follow my budget down to the dollar or I won't be able to make ends meet.

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Jared

I have a few reasons to splurge:

1. Twice a year (if you haven't been buying much for yourself the whole time)
2. When you get that third pay-check in 1 month (for bi-weekly pay)
3. When you first get that raise (to celebrate)
4. When you know you'll get a lot of use out of it and it's been a while since you got yourself something nice
5. When it's a genuine hobby

Guest's picture
Sweta

It's okay to splurge occasionally if you have the money to pay for it in cash.

Guest's picture
Keith

i setup a splurge fund. put aside a little bit of extra money each week and use that on fun things. that way you aren't eating into your day to day funds.

liked on facebook!

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Julie

I splurge sometimes on gifts for others.

Guest's picture
Marisa

Honestly, I sometimes make a good ol' fashioned pros & cons list for whatever I'm about to buy. Concerning things like junk food, usually impulse buys are more of a craving than actual hunger so generally I'll try to wait until I get home to eat.

Sometimes after exercise I'll splurge though :)

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Marisa

I also "Like" Wise Bread on Facebook.

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Jason Evans

When all the bills are paid and you have worked hard and a little extra cash left over!

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Angela

It's OKAY to splurge when you are splurging on your debt snowball!! Also, when it is your mom, and you have put a "splurge" line item in your budget.

Guest's picture

Of course it's okay to splurge. It's okay to splurge when it really IS a splurge - you can't have a daily treat and act like it's no big deal. But a monthly fancy coffee drink or something like that, something that you really savor and enjoy, is only going to help you keep on track, not derail you. If it's derailing you, it's not a splurge, it's a budget problem.

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angie brown

I think it's okay to splurge if you've taken care of your obligations first, it is your birthday or anniversary, and you have thought about some avenue to accomodate the splurge, like using coupons, a special sale, bartering, etc. Maybe that is a splurge - with modifications!

Guest's picture
OhioWldFlr

I just splurged on new shoes. But these are well made shoes that are comfortable, I will have for a long time and wear like iron! This morning I dropped off my old pair (same manufacturer) at a shoe repair place to have the heels replaced...I love them that much.

Guest's picture
Gail

It is OK to splurge on a grandchild who has had a really bad week. This is what grandma's are all about :)

Guest's picture
Carson M.

I think it's ok to splurge when you know that what you're splurging on might offer you some serious value beyond the cost of the purchase(s). I'm a firm advocate for purchasing quality cookware, tools, etc. because cheap stuff might need replacement several times, eventually adding up to the same cost you would have paid for something a little more expensive but of much higher reliability and quality.

I also think it's important to splurge on yourself every once in a while (within the confines of an established budget), because let's face it...it can be difficult to be frugal when you can't spend a little extra every now and again to make yourself HAPPY for being frugal. So if you're the type to save money by shopping at thrift stores for clothing, and you do it consistently all year round, then you shouldn't feel bad for buying a high quality, high end suit or dress for an upcoming special occasion. You've worked hard, you should treat yourself :)

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k

I tend to splurge on something special for myself when I'm extremely stressed out--I use it as a goal to get to the end of a hard project or an especially hard day. Of course, my version of splurging is maybe spending $4 on a latte instead of making coffee at home, as opposed to buying a big screen TV. Sometimes that's all I need to feel like I'm pampering myself!

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Bryan

You splurge when you have the disposable income to do so. Buying stuff you really don't need with money you really should be paying bills off with or saving for an emergency is a bad idea. It amazes me how many people spend this way, though. And we wonder why the economy is in the mess it's in. Too many people live WAY beyond their means. And it's the responsible ones having to make up the difference.

Guest's picture

My splurge this year was a much-needed trip to visit friends. I've been through a broken foot and a divorce and I needed to get the heckoutta Dodge and spend time with people who make me laugh and feel good. Money well spent!

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I tweeted!

https://twitter.com/#!/IFartFairyDust/status/123790125493784576

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I already Like you on facebook :)

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Bryan

Tweeted on Twitter.

http://twitter.com/#!/bjcoover/status/123789819645140992

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Alex

Splurging is okay when you have already identified and eliminated debt, created a budget, and planned for the splurges.

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angie brown

I like Wise Bread on facebook!

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Jennifer Dantuma

I usually don't indulge in splurging but there have been a couple of times we did it as a family and I look back at those times with great memories. Once was for our 25th wedding anniversary. We celebrated with our children at Cedar Point. We stayed in their historic hotel, ate all of our meals there, enjoyed the rides, and relaxed on the beach and in the hot tubs at the end of the day. It was wonderful! The other time again involved our whole family. Our oldest son graduated from the Air Force for his basic training. We flew down to Texas as a family and enjoyed the Alamo and the other free things there, went to some sporting events our son was allowed to attend, ate out at his favorite restaurants, and went shopping in the mall. It was our last vacation for our whole family to this day since our son is overseas. It was worth every penny.

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Keri Ritenour

I think it depends on your budget. After everything else is paid, if there is some left over, then you can splurge! For instance, birthdays or to reward yourself for achieving a goal.

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Keri Ritenour

I "liked" Wisebread on FB.

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Keri Ritenour

Tweeted via @KeriRitenour. http://bit.ly/oXPoIq

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Leah

Splurge when the longevity and quality of the product reduces the total cost of ownership.

For example, I bought a really great leather purse that I loved when I got my first job and paid about $200 for it. I've now used it every day for over two years and will likely be able to use it long into the future. I used to buy a cheaper $30-40 purse every season as the one before it wore out.

I've saved myself at least $150 by now and I'll likely save hundreds more as I continue to use it! And I still love the look to this day :)

Guest's picture
Garon

For the most part, I think it's not ok. The exception is on vacations when you're doing things you don't normally get to do. Although, you could make the arguement that a vacation is a splurge...

Guest's picture
Lisa

I seldom splurge. On the occasions when I do, it's usually on a small item. It's okay to splurge when you can afford it.

Guest's picture
JJ

If I have money left over at the end of the month after meeting all of my obligations (including deposits into savings, retirement, etc.) then I will treat myself to a nice bottle of wine to share with a friend.

Guest's picture
Stefany

I think it's ok to splurge on something that you use on a regular basis where quality matters (such as appliances, footwear, etc.)

Guest's picture
MegW

I typically splurge on gifts - in that I spend more per item than I would ever spend on myself. However, I consider that premeditated splurging, since I save in order to do so.

Also, "splurge" starts to look very foreign when you read it too many times.

Splurge.

Guest's picture

I splurge on gifts

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I like you on facebook

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http://twitter.com/#!/ReneeAChapman/status/123838231673454596

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Kristy OT

I figure it's okay when you've got money in the budget for it, and your savings are on target. Also--and I guess this is just me--I hate the word "splurge." It sounds dirty. I would never want to do something that could be described by that word.

Guest's picture
jenn

I try to only splurge if it is a very special occasion. I enjoy saving for the things that I need and get more gratification from saving up for something than splurging a bonus immediately.

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Kandace

When you reach a financial goal you've been working on, or feel burnt out by being frugal all the time. You need to be able to reward yourself from time to time.

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Kandace

Like on facebook

Guest's picture
Maegen

We splurge on things that create memories-like a recent trip to Disneyland.

Of course, we did pay for that in cash and used coupons!

We also get really nice cheese every once in a while.

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Jerry

I splurge on once-in-a-lifetime meals. Last month we went to Alinea and had an unforgettable experience, even though it cost $300pp.

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Rebekah

I think it's okay to splurge when it's something you'll remember for a long time (or use for a long time.)

Guest's picture
Therese

when it's a great deal on something you have wanted for a long time and you can afford it without going into debt

Guest's picture
Olivia

We plan our splurges, as we budget everything else. Even when things were horribly tight we made space for small indulgences.

Every anniversary we do something special. Maybe go out for a really nice dessert at a fancy place or dinner at a more moderate one. We have no problem using coupons or special offers or survey gift cards.

We take a combo work play vacation every summer at a beach. Many meals are "home cooked" and a place to stay is part of the deal. All year long we put change into a jar. Come vacation we divide the contents among our family members to blow anyway we want. Like play mini golf or get ice cream out. The kids love it. All of us plan how we're going to use our blowing money, which only adds to the anticipation.

After reading the comments I feel badly for the person who mentioned she doesn't have any wiggle room. Hoping things improve for her soon.

Guest's picture
BRB

You have to occasionally splurge otherwise you'll explode! I try to limit it to times when it is a really unique item and I know that I'll regret now buying it.

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Sasha W

If I am good and stick to my budget, and especially when I am saving for something big and have kept on track then I will splurge on a nice dessert or a few cocktails with dinner. You have to reward yourself for a job well done or you will not want to continue doing it, it is something to look forward to but it should be occasional, like maybe once/month or once every 2 months.

Guest's picture
Dee Dee

Yes indeed, if you have saved up the money first and it does not become a routine.

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Sasha W

I am already a fan on Facebook, hope that counts (and I hope I win, I could really use it). Good luck everyone!!

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debbie

It is okay to splurge when doing so saves money in the long run or when it makes a positive difference in someone's life.

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NJJ

Everyone's budget is different but I like to splurge from time to time when all the bills are paid and I'm meeting my savings goals! :)

Guest's picture
Monica

It's ok to splurge (within reason) on memories. Such as trips to go see family and such.

Guest's picture
mere

Like a number of others, we splurge on vacation--and we ALWAYS save for it. This year, it was our honeymoon to Mexico at an all-inclusive, and in the last few years our vacations have been to Europe, Israel, and Vegas (two years in a row, we loved it so much!). I consider vacations a splurge because we go once a year and we feel free to spend the money we've saved without any guilt. Every other day of the year we live frugally, meticulously budgeting every dollar we have so that when we're on vacation, we feel as if we can live it up and enjoy ourselves. And for the last 4 years, we've actually returned home well under budget :-).

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mere

Like you guys in FB! thanks!

Guest's picture

I think it's ok to splurge once in a while. For example, on your birthday or to celebrate an accomplishment. Splurging is nice but only when you can afford to do so.
You have to be realistic about your budget at the same time. My last post "Living Within Your Means: Thou Shalt Not Covet" @ StrivingforSimple.com. Splurge Carefully People!

Guest's picture
Elizabeth S.

I "like" (LOVE) your Facebook page!

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Elizabeth S.

I think that quality overtakes being frugal sometimes, as in medical and dental care. I once used a cheaper dentist and am now paying more to have things she did fixed, but in saying that I still always ask if they have any specials.
I have also found that cheaply made clothes wear out and break fast, so I get better quality, with coupons of course.
Lastly when my husband comes home from deployment we are taking the kids to Disney, and although I am scoping out specials and discounts, we will splurge and have fun!
Great question!

Guest's picture
Brandon

I'd say it's okay to splurge on birthday/anniversarys and other special occasions. These events don't happen too often and to me are meant to be memorable. Of course when I say splurge, I don't mean spend all your money until your credit card is declined. Be smart with what you buy and enjoy a little extra for yourself, loved ones, family, and friends.

Guest's picture
Guest

I think that a little splurging once or twice a month can be a good thing as long as it's something that brings the greatest pleasure and enjoyment to a person and they can pay for it without borrowing.

The art of splurging is to not do it too often so that it stays a "treat".

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Betty

Sometimes I splurge on vacations. It feels like a little reward for working all year.

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Betty

I responded on Twitter. http://twitter.com/#!/1bets1/status/124170481225048064

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Betty

I liked you and your post on Facebook.

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Robin

When I'm buying something for my son :)

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KelR1

It's OK to splurge on a little thing if you already have enough to cover your bills for the month and some e-fund savings. It's OK to splurge on something bigger if you have a bigger savings cushion and you genuinely need/want it in an it-will-improve-my-life sort of way.

Guest's picture

I try not to splurge at all. There's not room in our family budget for and splurgin becomes a slippery slope with me. When I start spending, I have a hard time reining myself back in. So instead, I write down the things I'm coveting and later use that list when someone asks what to get me for my birthday.

Guest's picture
Diana

It's okay to splurge on things you will get a lot of enjoyment and use out of every single day, like a sofa or stove.

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Rebecca B. A. R.

The time to splurge is when the initial extra cost will be outweighed by the later savings.

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kristina

On your birthday.

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Gina

I think it's important to splurge - to treat yourself to something that's "just for you" is part of the self-care that I think we must all practice. You can't stick to a diet if you never allow yourself a piece of chocolate; the same applies to budgeting. Splurges don't have to involve large sums to be effective. My last "splurge"? I spent $20 on an exhibition catalog during a recent art museum visit. The book is lovely in itself, but will also help me remember the enjoyment of visiting that place and that's a priceless memory!

Guest's picture
Melody

There are only two ways that I am willing to splurge. 1) When buying for someone else especially if that "someone else" is someone who doesn't have a lot to begin with. Food drives, toy drives, needy families I know, etc. put the biggest dents in my wallet and my husband is even worse than I am. But that's perfect with me. The great thing is when I have found myself in need there was always someone to show up that said "Hey remember the time when I needed this and you helped me out? Well, now's my turn to give you a leg up." And number 2) Book sales are my weakness. When there are books piled up for $.50-$2 I just have to go through each one buying every book I think will be good for a family member, homeschooling my kids, giving to anyone I think a certain book reminds me of, or pleasure reading at night as a family.

Guest's picture
Tomomes

I think it's ok to splurge on the following as long as your budget is in check:

- Medical expenses
- Vacations: as long as they are infrequent
- Hanging out with friends
- Treat for yourself if you managed to save enough
- Shoes: higher quality ones last much longer

Guest's picture
Michelle

It is okay and good to splurge now and then on special occasions (birthdays, anniversarys, etc) as long as you have extra money to do that and you aren't blowing your budget and/or going in debt. Planned splurges work well in that you feel like you are getting something above and beyond but without the guilt of blowing your budget.

Guest's picture
Amelia

It's Ok to splurge when you have the money to cover it and it doesn't interfere with your long term goals!

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Lynda

If it's soMething u care about or something that's like an investment I think it's ok

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Lynda

I like wise bread On fb

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Angie W

There are two things that I splurge on-- shoes and jeans. I wear jeans daily and need both to be comfy and last a long time, so to me, it's better to spend a little bit more on them. I do budget for them though.

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Angie W

I like you on Facebook

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Carmen

I think you need to make a little wiggle room in your budget for splurges, otherwise you can end up resenting the budget. Kind of like going on a diet and not allowing any "bad" foods until one day you break and eat an entire cheesecake or bag of chips. I usually let myself splurge once every month or two - but I still set a limit.

Guest's picture
Ernest S.

I tend to splurge whenever I have family and friends visiting from far away. I guess I feel like I need to entertain them, and I use less discretion when spending.

I am generally very frugal in my normal life, so I think of it as my way of getting "excessive spending" out of my system. If anything, I would rather spend money on my friends and family to build memories rather than on items and products.

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Ernest S.

"Liked" on Facebook!

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TrishB

Splurging probably means different things to different people. For me it's spending a small amount of money on something non-practical, just for fun or entertainment or something I want but don't need. It's nice to have a little treat from time to time.

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matt

I think that it is ok to splurge on special occasions. Such as a loved ones birthday, valentines day, christmas etc. They only happen once a year and you need to splurge every once and a while. Your life would be no fun if you didn't have fun every once in a while. I always go big for my wifes birthday presents. Last year I took her on a trip to Vegas for a week.