How to be a Smart Splurger

Spending Diet update! You can track how my own savings are progressing here.

Time to come clean…

For all the money advice I’ve been dictating to you guys, all the pep talks and enthusiasm I show, I’m actually a pretty poor role model. When it comes to discipline and resisting temptation… I could use some work.  In fact, sometimes, I can be pretty damn irresponsible about my money.

Sometimes my slip-ups are totally avoidable. Like buying lunch at work because I was too lazy to make a sandwich that morning. I usually regret this stuff immediately (sometimes I regret spending that money BEFORE I spend it…which probably says something terrible about my self control).

Other splurges are more justifiable for real or imagined reasons: the cute dress I bought for that hot date, the discount wine tour tickets, a last minute flight out to San Francisco to help my friend celebrate her birthday. These expenditures are few and far between, but seemed absolutely essential at the time.

Worth. It.

When I count up all the things I’ve unnecessarily wasted money on in the past two years, I’m fairly certain I could have surpassed my savings goal by a healthy amount. But I refuse to beat myself up for it. I think that in a lot of ways, serious saving is comparable to dieting. You have to feed your impulses once in awhile or you are just going to binge later. That plane ticket was like a gooey piece of chocolate cake that prevented me from attacking the whole fridge in the middle of the night.

I think we all have to splurge sometimes, if only for our mental health.  The key than is to manage your splurges in a healthy way, so that the only thing growing fat is your bank account.

A few tips I’ve picked up:

  • Prioritize– we all have certain things that are just really important to us- no matter the cost. Maybe it’s getting an expensive haircut, or seeing live music. For me it’s doing fun things with my friends, and the occasional weekend trip. I need those things to stay sane, so I allow myself to spend a little extra money even as I stash most of my paycheck away.
  • Look for deals– if you’re going to spend money, at least try to cut that price tag down by looking for a discount. Thanks to the Internet deals are shockingly easy to find.
  • Be honest– that’s really the key here. It’s important to be realistic with yourself and with your budget. How much can you happily live on? How important is what you’re saving for?  What are your limits? For example I had to quit online shopping cold turkey because I do not know when to stop.  It’s okay to let yourself spend a little extra once in awhile, but you still want to keep your eye on the prize.

This post is not permission to start running your wallet like a crazy person, spending to your heart’s content. The point is that you need to be honest with yourself about your needs. You do have to make sacrifices to get where you want to go, but ultimately life is about living, and living well if you can manage it.

What smart splurges do you make?

32 thoughts on “How to be a Smart Splurger”

  1. You really have to know how much money you have and how much you regularly spend. When I started tracking my expenses I was surprised I spent too much on coffee and random buys from the bookstore.

    I now have a priority every month on expenses aka splurge. For example for April I am allowed to splurge on one pair of shoes only. It challenges my scouting skills for a good buy 🙂

  2. Great post- I completely agree, being honest with yourself is the best way to determine how you should be spending your money. If you don’t need a lot to be happy, then cheap living is the way to go. But for me, I try to live frugally during the week so that I can go to the occasional concert, nice dinner out in SF or a weekend getaway up to the wine country. Whenever I’m going to do something fun with friends, I don’t hold back because like you, I believe life is about living, and living well if you can!

    1. Glad you agree! It’s the events with friends that I can never resist. Life is short, I want to have fun with the people I love!

  3. I don’t feel too bad about the short-term splurges that make me happy in the here and now (because no matter how much I want to save for a longer-term goal, none of us knows how long we’re going to live, and for that reason, you need to have a balance between happy now and happy later), it’s the boring but necessary expenses, like car repair bills or doctor’s bills, that really irritate me.

  4. Good post! Of course one must live, but as we teach our daughter, time is wealth and don’t be one who wastes money. Smart folks live well under their means, especially in todays economy ( and buy low and sell high). 😉

    We are living proof that frugal living can mean traveling the world indefinitely and living large while doing it.

  5. As with dieting, we need to give in for a while to prevent a saturation period. Our goal becomes boring when we are too strict so as to deny ourselves of the rewards that we need once in a while.

    It is always important to consider the worth of our goals. What will become of a fat bank account if it has no noble purpose to be used for. 🙂

  6. Selling your old stuff (if you can) is a great way to justify a spending urge. I sold some furniture and a few other odds and ends on Craigslist and made some fun bucks! Didn’t feel as guilty as I would have after and I got rid of some clutter!

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