Ask the Readers: What Do You Splurge On?

By Ashley Jacobs on 1 February 2011 (Updated 8 February 2011) 130 comments
Photo: acute_tomato

Editor's Note: Congratulations to Matt, 1bets1, and Lisa Van Hierden for winning this week's contest!

Last week we wanted to know all about your biggest budget items. While many of us have budgets we try to follow precisely, we all have our guilty pleasures that may cause us to splurge.

What do you splurge on? Do you spend more than you should on eating out, shoes, or the latest tech gadgets? What can you do to reduce the amount of money you spend on your guilty pleasures?

Share your splurging confessions with us 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.

Enter 1 of 3 Ways:

  • Post your answer in the comments below, or
  • Go to our Facebook page, "Like" us, then "Like" the update mentioning this giveaway (you can comment, as well — but you don't have to for entry), 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.

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, February 7th at 11:59 pm PST. Winners will be announced after February 7th on the original post and via Twitter. Winners will also be contacted via email, Facebook, and Twitter Direct Message.
  • You can enter all three drawings — once by leaving a comment, once by liking our Facebook update, and once by tweeting.
  • You must be 18 and US resident to enter. Void where prohibited.

Good Luck!

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Guest's picture
Morgan

Music. But I work in the music industry, so somehow I justify it that way!

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RebeccaKate

I "splurge" on alternative health therapies - just finished a 12-week course of structural integration treatment and now going back to my monthly massages. These treatments do so much more than relieve back pain and are well worth the splurge for the increase in my quality of life :)

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Matt

Books.

Books, books, books. Budgeting would be FAR easier if I wasn't such a bibliophile. You can guess what I would do with that Amazon gift card. I would add to my 1150 book collection.

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Christie

I splurge on soap from Bath And Body Works. Of course, I haven't had to buy any in over a year and won't for several more years since I used gift cards and an awesome sale to buy 18 bottles for a grand total of $5. :)

Other than that, we splurge on good cheeses, sparkling juice (we don't drink alcohol, so that is our "fun" drink), and good quality food. We don't eat out much, maybe once every 2 months or so, but we eat really well at home!

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Kim

Experiences...such as vacation. When I travel to someplace that I know I won't visit again I will splurge on a special dinner or a unique experience. For example when we vacationed in Key West our family went on an all day Adventure Trip that included Jet Skiiing, Parasailing, Snorkeling, Trampoline on the Ocean and Sunset Cruise. It was a blast and memories I will have forever with my husband and two teenage children.

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Leah

Travel. We have a budget line for our expenses that generally runs 15-20k a year. It's our main hobby and major vice. We like to stay at luxury hotels but try to get the best deals by going at off-peak times, using a high-end (no fee to us) travel agent.

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JCP

Food!

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Kelly Smith

I splurge on really expensive makeup and beauty products. I know they are so much more but i have been using them for years and have tried to live without them and just cant manage. I use tiny amounts and spatula the last remaining bits out of containers. To help with these splurges i always aske for them for christmas and birthday presents. My mom always says she feels ridiculous buying me moisturizer for my birthday but i tell her i love it, use it all and REALLY appreciate it.

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Rachel R

I tend to splurge on clothing, shoes, and handbags.

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Guest

I always tend to splurge on camping and hiking equipment. Specifically on a good pair of hiking boots and sandals every few years. I justify this cost because I generally go hiking and camping 2-3 times per month, so I get a lot of use out of my purchases.

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Selene Montgomery

Our largest splurge is eating out, but we do cut back on other things to handle this. I also try to order items that are lower priced on the menu, and we use coupons and deals when we can.

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Sarah V

I splurge on Chocolate. So yummy and so tasty. I love the Vosges brand, expensive but worth it!!

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Nick

This is an easy one for me...I like my electronics. My fiancee and I have two computers that cost me $1000-$1200 each to build, even though we easily could have "settled" on one (shared) in the $600ish range that would have been adequate for our uses at only a minor inconvenience.

I purchased components for a home theater totaling approximately $1500, but can never turn it up to what I consider a good movie volume/balance due to the neighbors that share a wall. Luckily, we're only renting and plan to buy a single-family house within the next two years...

I've got a brand loyalty thing too...for example, my computer monitors and TV's will always be Samsung, which carries quite a premium over even other name-brands like Toshiba or Sony.

As for reducing the amount spent on such splurges, for the most part I do this anyway. I tend to be a generation behind on a lot of electronics (except video game consoles, but I always wait for the first price drop). I don't buy a new $500 video card for my computers when I build them. I buy the one that came out 6 months ago, is almost as good, costs $175, and often times includes some recent computer game for free.

Guest's picture
HighOrderGuiltComplex

Mexican food and Mocca java chillers from Sonic

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Rien

coffee and books. (especially now that I have a kindle.. it's just too easy!)

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Keri Ritenour

High-tech gadgets! I love technology and spend way too much money on it! It is my addiction.

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AlliBran

Winter gear - I don't like freezing my toes off!

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Susan D.

Books, which can get a bit spendy since most of the books I want to read are not in the library. And music CDs (I like having the artwork and printed information and the shiny discs in the cases! No MP3s, thank you!). And high-end skincare products. And artworks on paper, especially good etchings.

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Bre

I splurge on the latest tech gadgets. Bought an iPad after getting a netbook as a birthday gift 6 months earlier. Haven't regretted it since I used Best Buy's no-interest payment plan. BTW, love this blog! (first time posting)

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Erika

Before we had kids, our big splurge was going to the movies pretty often. A year ago we splurged on a Hawaii vacation.

Guest's picture

My weakness is Sonic vanilla Cokes. Often. It's like crack, I swear.

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Sheryl

Yarn.... beautiful soft yarn... for my knitting projects.

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Angela

Professional hair coloring. For me it's totally worth it to have my hair look as natural as possible and not gunk up the bathroom.

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amberwitch

Books! I used to go to the library, but these days I order books online instead.

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kristina wittchen

I splurge on quality coffee.

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Kate

eating out is definitely where i tend to splurge the most. or really food in general. but it's something i really enjoy and i tend to be pretty frugal in other ways so i let myself do it

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Jerry

My favorite Italian restaurant has a quarterly wine dinner - 6 courses, 6 wines.

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Mandy

Water. I can't stand the taste of our city's water, which leads to me not drinking very much water throughout the day. So, we have 3 gallon plastic jugs that we fill with RO water from a "water store" for $0.25 a gallon. I factor it into our grocery budget, and now I drink plenty of water - which now that I am pregnant is especially important!

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Kristin

Oganic food.

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Parlox

We splurge on eating out. With both of us working full time and me also being in grad school full time, some days I don't have the energy to cook! Eating out is my "easy way out" and though it could certainly help my budget to cut back, we haven't brought ourselves to do it yet. I've started using more restaurant.com coupons and such to take some of the cost down, but it's still the largest splurge in our monthly budget. Hopefully I can win an amazon gift card to help offset some textbook purchases! :)

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Emily

I splurge on shoes. Guilty pleasure.

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Angela

I definitely splurge on food. Between organic groceries and eating out it can add up. I am willing to pay a mark-up for convenience sometimes!

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Annie

A rural resident, my splurges are satellite radio and a subscription to netflix. Radio stations are scarce out here and so is variety in movie rentals.

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Alicia C.

I splurge on two things on a consistent basis.
1) Coffee - I just can't stand to drink nasty coffee and I NEED my coffee!
2) Diapers - I've tried all different brands, from very cheap to over-the-top expensive. We found that one brand (one of the higher priced ones that rarely give out coupons!) is the best bet. Really, though, when you look at the price of changing a diaper every 45 minutes and doing laundry due to frequent leaks vs. changing every 1 1/2 to THREE hours and very rarely having leaks, it kind of evens out.

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Shoshana

Underwear!!! There's nothing worse that bad underwear reminding you every moment of every day how cheap you are.

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Sarah

Travel for sure

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Rachee

Yarn and coffee. I crochet and have way more yarn then I will probably ever use! I also enjoy coffee. I try to make it for myself at home but there is nothing like a fresh roasted cup of coffee.
Sigh!
-r

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Eric

I splurge on junk food, sadly.

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mkibrick

Wine and exercise. We love drinking wine, and I figure we should enjoy it before we start trying to get pregnant. We signed up for Taekwondo which cost $35 each, plus a uniform, plus my husbands gym membership.

Guest's picture
Guest

I can't help myself: in summer we here in western Oregon are so very lucky to have abundant farmers markets and a more pleasant way to while away a sunny lunch hour cruising the produce and flower stalls simply could not be found. My guilty and expensive pleasure is heirloom tomatos and I've become quite detailed in my search for the perfect heirloom tomato - which varieties are best at which stage of the growing season, which market stall offers the most perfectly ripened tomatos and when, the careful pairings of other delicious fresh foods with said assorted varieties - yes. I am, sadly, even worse than the truffle folks. So much so that I've recently decided there probably needs to be a good twelve-step program for heirloom tomato addiction. I admit I save extra loose change over the fall, winter and spring to "spring on" heirloom tomatos. Is this compulsion? I believe so. Am I going to restrain myself? Oh, no. Not in this lifetime!

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Nicole

I try not to splurge on anything, but I recently bought a house and I often find myself going overboard on my DIY projects.

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Kristy OT

For us, it's good food. Grass-fed beef. Artisan cheese. Organic produce. Exotic spices. That kind of thing.

Ashley Jacobs's picture

Great article! Thanks for sharing with us!

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Nicholas

I tend to splurge on my lunch each day. It is easier for me to buy lunch each day rather than trying to bring it in my small lunch bag. I am going to try to cut down on that cost by purchasing a larger lunch bag. I also splurged on my new car that I purchased recently.

Guest's picture
Robin

Good coffee beans and teas from Peets.

Toys and clothes for my 10 month old son :)

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Betty

If I'm celebrating something, sometimes I buy pricey food items at the store. I'll buy a good balsamic vinegar, good cheese, crackers, etc.

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Sheryl

Yarn... good quality soft yarn for knitting projects.

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jen

I actually splurge on shoes--comfortable shoes.

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Dana

Food - fast food to be exact. I like the convenience of it!! A few times a week won't hurt the budget too much.

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Emily

We splurge on experiencing "new" / "exotic" foods, such as fresh produce that we've never tried before (or want to re-try, such as our recent purchase of dragon fruit), or spices, or pre-cooked item. I know the new thing to do is to buy locally, but who can resist goods from other countries??

Guest's picture
amy

Books for my new Kindle! Getting tired of being #89 on the waiting list at the library!

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Tyler

Tea. Vancouver (Richmond) has the best tea outside of China and I spend too much on the good stuff. Cliff tea, tieguanyin, etc...Vancouver is the only place in North America to get really good tea. And since I don't live there, I have to phone in and try to muddle my way through orders with the friendliest guy ever and his wife that doesn't speak English well at all. And me, knowing even less Cantonese.

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Stephanie C.

Travel, travel, travel. The world is my oyster!

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Sweta

I try to splurge on experiences rather than things.

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indio

In the Wintertime, my favorite indulgence is a long, super hot, bubble bath. I like to watch the snowflakes falling down outside, while inside I'm dreaming of Summer warmth and soaking up the summer scents of lavender.

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Redace

Things I will use everyday/routinely. Especially things that can be bought once .. expensively and enjoyed for a long time. Beds,cars,shoes.

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Guest

Quality food. Our food bill is astronomical as we make almost everything from scratch. Sometimes we go a little crazy and out of the way just to secure quality food. Unfortunately these days the better quality, the higher the price. Looking at it from another perspective I think we could spend less on our food if we made some compromises in areas we could live with like bread.

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Kaleb

Months of discipline followed by a budget buster like new laptop, 3 day vacation (last minute), or a trip to home depot. We combat these budget busters by saving more each month so when we do "accidentally" go over we have the cash to stay in the green.

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Maria S

Nice clothes.

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Therese

I have to get good shoes, because cheap ones invariably hurt my feet!

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shoregirlmd

I love my morning coffee, so I occasionally splurge on a gourmet brand.
Most of the time it's when the store has a sale but it still is a treat to me.

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Lynda

i splurge on eating out and anything snowboard-related...

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Shazia

I splurge on tea!! I love the buying new and exotic teas, and I try to offset this by buying in bulk or during specials.

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Ed

Food & travel, but mostly food, especially stuff that's supposed to be more exotic.

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Sandra

Chocolate, specifically Green and Black Almond Toffee chocolate. Then I put it into the fridge and eat it a dozen times, in my head, before a beautiful day or crises or sharing time bids me pull it out and unwrap the prize. Delayed gratification is way better than instant gratification!
When it's not chocolate, it's books and/or magazines.

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Lisa V

I splurge on Coach purses and wallets. There is just something about them that I cannot resist. I do purchase them from the factory outlet so I save some money that way. I will not purchase them for full price. I have even scored several really nice new to me ones off of craigslist for 90% off retail prices. I also splurge on the cat food I buy - Weruva in the can. The best place to purchase this is on Amazon and it ships to my house for free. I love my furballs and want them around as long as possible.

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Joel

Books--but they're an investment, y'see! :-)

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Raina

I typically don't splurge, but I do sometimes wait several months between clothes shopping and then spend a good amount. I'd say my true, consistent "splurge" is my tanning salon membership. I joined a couple years ago when they were offering a special, and I've been paying about $20/month membership ever since.

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Guest

Shoes - ones that are easy on my feet. I have some serious foot issues and comfort is priority.

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peggy

Vacation. I am the type who takes one vacation every 2-3 years so I try to make them worthwhile/memorable.

Guest's picture
Carson

Recently I've concluded that I'm guilty of splurging on travel, as I was going through old photographs from my travels within the past 6 years. My savings are probably dried up and malnourished because whenever I set aside a good solid emergency fund, going someplace suddenly becomes of utmost urgency. No suggested remedy for this problem is acceptable to me :)

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Jessica G.

I have two things: a local restaurant I eat at once a week. I love going there, but it definitely adds up. I try to keep the cost of my meal down though, and make room for it in my budget. They also have me work for them every once in a while, and instead of a check they give me store credit, which works great for both of us. My other big budget buster is cable TV. I have digital cable with a Tivo, and often have to fight back the urge to add more premium channels. I do spend a lot of time half watching the TV (I'm usually do something else while it's on), and I would have a seriously hard time giving it up.

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Mariel Martinez

Bingo, and sometimes ANIME (Manga) and stuff from graphic designers such as notebooks, etc. I like them, and I like a guy who works in the casino, so, I enjoy it, and sometimes I get the money back and even more...

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Debbie R

Books! I'm a historian so I can justify the expense, sometimes. But I also try to mitigate the pain by shopping at Goodwill and visiting the library on a weekly basis.

Guest's picture

Spa visits. It's not so much a splurge as a medical necessity, but I always make sure to leave room in the budget for a weekly massage.

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Gin

Perfume oils are my splurge. I'm addicted.

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Mary

Shoes for two toddlers. I always buy them Stride Rites, I consider myself frugal for all other aspects of my life except this one. I have tried to purchase cheaper brands from Target and such but they just don't wear the same.

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Patrick

Food in general, whether it's produce which has gone up in price, snack food, eating out a little too often, or vending machine junk food, food is probably my worst splurge.

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Kim

I have to say my biggest splurge is books. It's hard for me to go into a bookstore without buying one. Since we're now trying to watch our budget, I'll try to find new titles I'm interested in and see if they're at my library. It's hard, but it's also difficult to see how much I've spent on new books over the years.

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Marie

My splurge is outdoor equipment (camping, climbing, outdoorwear). Walking into some of those stores is like being in a candy isle. To reduce the amount I spend, I am planning on taking an inventory and unless something is really really worn out, doesn't fit at all or there is a huge upgrade, I won't buy something new or similar. Also opting for store clothing brands, like REI's, instead of the name brand.

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Phil

I really don't splurge on much of anything, always have an eye on the value of things. The one area that could be seen as a splurge is experiences. I will go out to eat with friends, or take a weekender, despite being perfectly entertained at home, and having plenty of food to eat there. Even when I do this, I trim the fat where I can. My travels are often backpacking/camping, saving major dollars on hotels. I'm a big fan of packing some food, to cut down on the expense of eating out when traveling. My backpacking experience allows me to pretty capable of cooking on the fly. When I take a night out with friends, I tend to order the food and drink specials, more often then not. So, the thing I splurge the most on is experience, but even that does not have to break the bank.

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Diane

A few things, but nothing really expensive... salon nail polish (which I apply myself), quality walking shoes (not for style, for function), quality facial products, and flowers for my garden... that's about it.

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Guest

I splurge on a good haircut. Even though I'm budgeting, I realize that paying more for a good haircut is better than trying to go to a 'Cuts R Us' type of chain and hoping for a decent cut. When you look good, you feel good!

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Raina

I'd forgotten about hair. I could definitely call it a "splurge" that I get my roots done every 3 months and highlights every six months. Fortunately, it only averages out to a little more than $20/month.

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Taz

Traveling, thats my biggest splurge, me and my girl are in a long distance relationship, and we have to fly bcuz we're over 800 miles apart so of course even when I'm almost broke we have to splurge on tickets!

Guest's picture
KelR1

Food! I'm a total foodie. I love eating and trying new things. And travel when possible. I refuse to stay in cheap motels/hostels/whatever. I like to stay in pretty nice hotels and eat at fine restaurants when I'm traveling.

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Sara N

I splurge on farm-fresh dairy and meats delivered to my door. Expensive mattress was also worth every penny. Skimp on books (library instead), CD's (use pandora), travel (have already traveled extensively), cell phone (no data plan) to allocate that money elsewhere.

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kathy w

I tend to splurge on clothes for my hubby and children. I tend to get carried away win I buy for them.

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Jen

Taxi cabs, which really equal convenience. I live in New York City, which has great public transportation, but you definitely have to plan ahead and allow TIME for it, i.e. walk to the subway, wait for the subway, subway stops between stations for no apparent reason, get off subway and walk to your destination; it takes forever! I am often running late, so that means if I want to arrive anywhere at a reasonable hour, I have to get a taxi. Yellow cabs, I love you, but oh do you cost the big bucks!

Guest's picture
Anna

ART, ART and more ART! :-)

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Vegas Kate

Outdoor gear! I budget with Mint.com, and right now it is screaming at me that I have exceeded my already generous budget for "Sporting Goods." My work requires back-country hiking and camping, so I burn through boots and justify a lot of purchases (tents, backpacks, stoves) with the fact that I will use them for work every week as well as for fun. I train to race triathlons too, so that's gear for swimming, cycling, and running. Eeek! I have an REI rewards credit card, so it's nice to get the reward-points back at the end of the year, but also slightly horrifying to see how much I've spent. On the other hand, I hardly spend any money on make-up, jewelry, or dressed up clothing.

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Jennifer

A really great preschool for my kids. When I went back to work I knew that childcare would eat up most of my pay check but I wanted to go back anyway because I love my career and eventually the kids will be in school full time and I didn't want to have to worry about looking for a job after being off work for 8 years or so.
I could have gone with an in-home or other less expensive alternative, but I really wanted my kids to get a classroom like experience to prepare them socially and academically for school. Their school has field trips, professionals who visit to discuss their careers and continually works on things like numbers, letters, reading and writing. It eats up about 80% of my paycheck but I think it is worth it to see my children thrive.

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Joshua

I splurge on buying the healthiest organic foods instead of just the cheapest. I figure I owe it to my body!

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hollywood

I splurge on fresh food, crusty Italian bread and hair conditioner.

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Alex

I splurge on athletic shoes. It is important to have the right gear for some sports though.

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CG

Flamenco and ballet dance classes and pointe shoes. I "justify" it as exercise, but since I'm over 45 I only perform on stage once or twice a year, so it's not as if I'm a professional. I wear out 3-4 pair of pointe shoes a year, and at $50-$60 per pair, they're pricey, but since I don't get blisters it's worth it to get the ones that fit me so well!

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Kathy

Experiences! Material items fade, but memories last forever! White water rafting, trips to Mexico, Greece, Italy, seeing a bear in the Smokey Mountains...

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JW

Some may call it splurging, but I think how you spend your money shows what is important to you. So we "splurge" on high quality products so we don't have to replace them- like really nice pots and pans because we love to cook!

Guest's picture
Debra

What ever I can afford that will make my mother smile, or laugh out loud.
Love to surprise her.
I have wildly curly hair, need someone good to cut it, so I spend/splurge there.
I love a good deal, a good deal to much at the thrift store.
I figure it's second hand (cheap) I can have it, and boy have it I do.
No wonder I liked the comment I heard the other day,
"Make saving more fun the spending"?
Now every time I want something I don't need, I remember that saying.
Helps me.
But then, every 5 years I blow it all on a good adventure, like 3 months travel to see all the southern beaches in the US. Then living six months in a motor home traveling.
Thanks for the chance to confess it all.