It’s “National Splurge Day!” People who normally live modestly are encouraged to relax their boundaries and indulge in things they normally forgo. Yes, it’s one of those arbitrary holidays that someone just made up, but it’s actually a good excuse to address the topic of splurging.
I know what you’re thinking. “What the heck, Mint? You’re the place I come to for help with saving money.”
Hear me out. During the last few years I have learned that building money into my budget for little (and occasionally big) indulgences is a healthy way of keeping myself on track with my saving. It’s one good way to battle “frugal fatigue” and prevent myself from making foolish purchases on the days I’m sick of worrying about every penny all the time.
The occasional splurge approach works not only with money, but with other things we deny ourselves. My favorite splurge is taking a couple extra hours in my day for a spa pedicure, and ending with a donut. That’s indulging in time, money, and calories all in one! But a splurge might look very different to you.
Maybe there is really no room in your budget for a splurge today, but you can start preparing by putting some money aside for one in the future. If you do have some wiggle room, here are some suggestions for responsible splurging.
Fix what’s broken
Do you hate your clanky, energy-inefficient refrigerator/washing machine/dishwasher? Do you keep saying to your spouse “We really need to replace our pathetic window screens/beat-up mailbox/chipped paint job?” Are you putting off that car repair that will eventually make the difference between having a working car and taking the bus? Pick even one of these and take care of it. You’ll feel a whole lot better.
Invest in yourself
Check out local deal offers like Groupon or Living Social for discounts on gyms, art studio events, or tuition for extended learning centers. While the cost might be a splurge, the new physical fitness, artistic ability, or knowledge you gain from these classes will stay with you and increase your quality of life.
Buy some time
A very busy friend of mine likes to say that “throwing money at a problem” isn’t always a bad idea. Have a TaskRabbit or virtual assistant take care of your errands or data entry and use the saved time to do something for yourself. Pay a babysitter and go out with friends or significant other, whom you never see because you’re working and taking care of other people. Save time on meal planning by paying someone else to do the thinking for you.
Start the process
Take a bite out of a bigger splurge by setting some money aside toward the vacation that will satisfy your wanderlust or recharge you. Or finally pursue that elective medical procedure that could make your life easier: laser eye surgery, physical therapy for your aching back, even braces. Do you have a health savings account sitting around with a balance because everyone in your family is healthy? First, count your lucky stars, and then look into using your balance toward a procedure. If it’s a Flexible Spending Account, you have to spend the money by year end or you lose it, so you might as well use it for good, right?
Buy some happiness
I know that going to the movies with my kids makes all of us happy, but I almost never do it because the cost can be $40 for three tickets alone! We only go to the movies a few times a year, but when we do, the experience is fun and special. I go all out: the kids can choose any snack and drink, and we try to get to the theater early so they get their pick of seats.
What makes you happy? I hope you find a way to splurge on yourself, if not today, then when it works for your finances. It’ll make budgeting that much more rewarding.
Kim Tracy Prince is a Los Angeles-based writer who has a husband and two little boys. She often dreams of splurging on a nap and a margarita, not necessarily in that order.