Why You Should Allow Yourself Splurges

by Xin Lu on 14 February 2013 7 comments
Photo: apes_abroad

Do you feel guilty when you spend money? Do you sacrifice things you enjoy in order to save as much as possible? If you are well on your way to reaching your savings goals, then you are seemingly in control of your budget and finances...or are your finances in control of you? An occasional splurge is not necessarily a bad thing. Here's why. (See also: 21 Frugal Ways to Reward Yourself Right Now)

Positive Reinforcement

When you are already cutting down debt and meeting your savings goals, you should give yourself some positive reinforcement. Being responsible with your money should be fun, too. When you let yourself have that massage or video game you wanted, you may become even more motivated to earn and save more. If saving money becomes hard labor for you, then you are probably less happy than you might otherwise be, but that does not have to be how you live.

Break Your Routine

Most of us have a daily routine that is fairly set in stone and that can sometimes make life quite monotonous. When you allow yourself to spend a little money on something that you normally wouldn't, your life might just get more interesting for that day. I have found that the non-routine days are usually more memorable, and having those memories is definitely worth the money spent.

Some Splurges Have Long-Term Benefits

Some splurges can benefit your life for the long-term. For example, I have found that some more expensive brands of handbags and shoes simply last longer than the cheap ones under $15. Other examples of splurges with long-term benefits include an upgraded mattress or better window blinds. There are many things that you could splurge on and use for years to come.

Price and Availability Are Never Constant

A few years ago my husband and I took a trip to China, and it cost around $900 per person. Now a similar trip costs $1,600 to $2,000 per person due to the rapid inflation of everything in China.

It is hard to predict how fast the prices of things you want will go up, so sometimes it is actually cheaper to enjoy what you want today. Worse, the product you want can completely go out of stock when you wait too long, and that defeats the purpose of saving and enjoying the fruits of your labor.

Ultimately, the money you make is meant to be spent. As long as you are not falling deeper into debt and hurting your savings goals, it is completely OK to enjoy your paydays and treat yourself a bit. I think everyone should have a "fun fund" to spend without guilt. I love to splurge on good food and short-term trips because I think having those experiences makes my paycheck more real than just a number in a savings passbook.

Have you splurged recently? How did you feel about it?

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Guest's picture

Couldn't agree more! Treating yourself to something makes it even more motivating for me to as I try to reach my goals. After carefully watching my expenses, it helps to just get out of the routine and get myself something nice. Usually, a new pair of shoes does the trick! :)

Guest's picture
Nick

If you're going to splurge as a reward, you should make a percentage of what you have paid down to make sure you just didn't ruin all the progress you made. For example you could set a 15% goal. If you just paid down $1,000 of debt, allow yourself to splurge $150 on something. Try to make the splurge something that will last too to get some use out of it. A spendy night out with friends which only lasts....one night, OR buy some new clothes that you can wear several times.

Guest's picture
KTB

I like the shoes and handbags example, namely because I have definitely found it to be true. I buy a new handbag roughly once every five years. I'm about to purchase a leather Coach bag (no logos--the all leather kind) because they're well made, and a friend is an associate who can give me a great deal. I anticipate that the bag will last at least five years, and since it's something I carry daily, I have zero issue "splurging" on the higher cost bag rather than going through half a dozen cheaper ones in the same time frame.

Guest's picture

It is good motivation when you finally allow yourself something you've wanted after holding off for a long time- delayed gratification. And buying yourself a nice pair of shoes or a bag that will last you a while will probably save you money in the long run rather than having a number of them break on you forcing you to buy more than 2 or 3.

Guest's picture

Some good points raised here. As to buying quality items, I definitely subscribe to the "buy it nice or buy it twice" theory. A good quality item can ultimately be more cost effective because you'll be able to use it for so much longer. However, as a bankruptcy lawyer, one problem I see in some cases is the family who starts a splurge and has a tough time stopping. I would recommend paying cash when you splurge. You'll get the positive rewards mentioned above while still staying in touch with the reality of just how much you're spending.

Guest's picture

I certainly like the quality vs. quantity argument. Going with the point of managing your money to save for new shoes, or a bag, etc. this will also help you teach yourself to manage your finances in the long run. It comes down to prioritizing our needs vs. our wants. We may want a donut or coffee every day but we also need to pay our hydro bill on time, in full. I think splurging is great, when we think ahead, plan, and execute that plan to make our budget work.

Guest's picture

Some people are 100% or nothing type people where splurging isn't even in their vocabulary and that is fine. But I am not like this. If I try to go 100% or nothing, I end up rebelling and being worse off. This holds true for eating healthy and my finances. I need cheat meals and splurges every so often to keep me on track.