Splurging Isn’t Always ‘Extravagant’

posted by Andrea | 08/23/2012

I talk a lot about saving money, budgeting, and frugal living — mainly because those are topics I’m passionate about. Plus, there’s just so much to say!

However, one topic I don’t talk a lot about is SPLURGING. As far as I can remember, I’ve only written two posts about splurging — you can read those posts here and here.

For the most part, I would not consider Dave and I to be big “splurgers”. We save much more than we spend, and we can almost always talk ourselves out of buying something — especially if it isn’t really necessary.

I certainly don’t think our frugal nature is a bad thing; however, I don’t think that occasional splurging (especially small splurges) is a bad thing either. In fact, I think splurging is a healthy habit everyone should do from time to time!   

My computer’s dictionary defines “splurging” as: an act of spending money freely or extravagantly.

And while I do agree that often-times, splurging can get out of control, I also believe that splurging doesn’t have to be extravagant… or even always viewed as such a negative thing. I feel that splurging is simply a way to occasionally treat yourself to something that might not really be necessary.

For example:

Dave and I will occasionally “splurge” on fruit smoothies from McDonald’s, shakes from Arby’s, or concreet mixers from Culver’s (only when I have BOGO coupons… but it’s still a splurge!)

I also recently purchased a cute wristlet from Amazon.com. It cost me $36 — which is more than I would normally pay for something like that, but I used some of my Amazon.com credit so it was essentially free. Sure, I could have used the Amazon.com credit for groceries or diapers, but this little splurge was WAY more fun!

When we were looking for appliances for our kitchen, I REALLY wanted to splurge on a “dual-fuel” 5-burner range with a double oven. However, they are normally $3000-$5000 and that is NOT in our budget! You can imagine how excited I was to find the exact range at a local scratch n’ dent store for 1/3 the price (and no visible scratches!) It still cost a bit more than a traditional glass-top, 4-burner electric unit, but it is exactly what I wanted and I think that splurge will be well worth it in the years to come.

I could go on and on with examples from my own life — but I think you get the picture!

None of these splurges are totally out-of-control (at least not in my opinion), but they are all enough of a splurge to get excited about. Seriously, you should have seen how excited I was when the wristlet arrived in the mail. And if you want to see Dave’s eyes light up, just mention a Culver’s mixer!

No, I’m not encouraging you to go buy a new car or a whole new wardrobe, but I would encourage occasional small splurges just so you don’t get worn down in your frugal journey.

In my opinion, splurging isn’t necessarily a negative thing… and it certainly doesn’t have to be extravagant to still be fun! 

Oh, and one more thing to remember — when it comes to saving, spending, and splurging — we all have different choices and opinions as to what we save and splurge on. I know Dave and I have been “mocked” by friends and family for being so cheap… but then criticized when we finally do decide to spend money (like on a new kitchen we’ve been saving for!)

Money and frugality is just such a hot-topic today that it’s nearly impossible NOT to feel some sort of judgement when you save, spend, or splurge. Just try not to let it bother you!

What are your thoughts on splurging? Do you have any favorite “mini splurges”?

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23 comments

  1. Kaui @ Thrifty Military Mommy

    08/23/2012

    Oh, I totally agree. Splurging for us is usually an accessory for the house or an extra date we didn’t budget for (which I think is always acceptable ;)). We never EVER splurge on large purchases such as a trip or appliance. Those are always planned and budgeted for well in advance.

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  2. Jen

    08/23/2012

    Absolutely! When you live life on a careful budget (as we do, because we have dreams that are bigger than weekly manicures or nightly restaurant meals), you have to make sure you build in room for things that just make you happy. Sometimes that’s a physical item; other times, it might be an experience. It looks different for everyone, but the principle is the same—we all need to play sometimes!

    We do a cash budget and my husband and I each get $10 per week in “mad money”. I use mine for things like enjoying a Starbucks coffee while I grocery shop without the kids (it feels like a vacation, I swear!) or I set it aside for a few weeks and get myself a pedicure a few times per year.

    And like you once posted, there are some things that, to us, are worth spending good money on. I did a blog post about it once, too, but one of the things for us is nice sheets. We both find value in sleeping on really nice sheets, so for us, that’s a worthy splurge.

    Like I said—it looks different for everyone, but I’m glad you brought this up. With frugality becoming such a “trend” lately, it’s important not to burn out. Sometimes we all need a reminder of that.

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  3. Sue

    08/23/2012

    We are like you guys.. we try.. to put something away every paycheck and we watch our spending.. we carry lunches every day.. Do no eat out with out a coupon or gift card..
    Once and I am great while do something without a discount.. but not often.

    But I have to ask you something Andrea…. Do you and Dave ever get “comments” from friends and family… about when you save for something and then do it.. and they are like “Oh you guys are “money bags ” ?? I just got a comment from someone in my family this morning about it.. we are going on a Once in a life time trip to Disney next month and I have been saving since our youngest finshed pre school. over a year ago to pay for this trip.. My husband has found deals on line.. we have picked up things for the trip over the last year and have put them aside.. ( free laundry soap samples to take with us.. ETC) So we are paying for this trip with cash.
    How does it not annoy you when comments like this are made.. and it is like Hey we have what we have cause we have been saving forever for it?

    sue in NJ

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    Andrea Reply:

    Yes Sue — in fact, I wrote an entire post about that right here!! I’m sure you’ll be able to relate!

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    Sue Reply:

    I missed this posting .. thanks for letting me see it!!

    and I love this line ” honestly, I don’t think we should have to answer to anyone… especially not people who don’t know our specific financial situation.”

    thanks Andrea

    Sue in NJ

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  4. Melissa

    08/23/2012

    Yes, I too do the occassional mini splurge and even the occassional major splurge (as long as we’ve saved for it). Currently I’m trying to pay down my student loans so I’ve taken a break on clothing shopping for months so I can put extra payments on the loans. About a week ago I was in the 99 Cents only store and found an adorable top in my size that was a designer name but was slightly (very slightly) imperfect. I decided to give my self the green light on this little purchase even though I’m not buying clothes right now. Can you believe I actually got a negative comment about that purchase from someone who knows I’m trying to pay down the loans and taking a clothing shopping break? Yes, my 99 cent purchase insighted a snarky comment, but I’m trying to take it in stride. We all have to try to live the best way for ourselves. I agree that the occassional splurge helps keep you focused on a frugal journey and isn’t necessarily a negative thing.

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  5. Patty@homemakersdaily.com

    08/23/2012

    What people forget is that if you’re frugal in some areas, you don’t have to be in others. It’s all about what’s important to you and what your goals are.

    I know lots of people who are like that. Frugal about some things but not about others. I think that’s the way it should be!

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  6. Alana @ Domestic Bliss Diaries

    08/23/2012

    Yes! Yes! Yes! I’m like you in that I can talk myself out of buying anything, but every now and then I say, “You know what… I work hard to save and abide by a budget. This magazine/lunch out/new top won’t break the bank and it’ll make me happy”.

    I would like to add something: if you’re not a saver by nature (raising my hand here), then you may benefit from a weekly or monthly “allowance”; money that you can spend on anything you want… no strings attached!

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  7. Jeanine

    08/23/2012

    I’ve splurged on many things in my life, many of them regrettable, but our (my husband and I) most wonderful and extravagant splurge was our adopted daughter from Vietnam. She brings us joy, laughter, and delight every single day! Sure, we could have bought a nice car instead or any number of other things, but the investment we made in our little girl has paid off in spades, and someday, we hope to have grandchildren with those beautiful eyes…

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  8. thecleverspender

    08/23/2012

    When we go on vacations (which is not often) we splurge on restaurants. One thing I personally refuse to do (not that there is anything wrong with it) is bring a crock-pot on vacation. I know it’s a great money saving tip, but since we don’t vacation too often, it’s one thing I will not do.

    Some people think we splurged on moving to the town we live in. When they hear where it is, they have a funny reaction. What we did was buy a major gut job fixer upper. We did most of the work ourselves. My car is 10 years old. My husband’s car is 5 years old. I cut coupons and shop at Goodwill when I am looking for items to decorate my home. I don’t go for mani-pedis unless I have a gift card. I use the library instead of buying books.

    It’s all about choices. Sure, I could drive a new car and shop at Pottery Barn. But I choose not to because I want to live in our town where the public schools are amazing.

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  9. Natalia

    08/23/2012

    I am getting a massage today!
    And no, I’m not feeling guilty about it. I’ve worked way too much lately, did not take a vacation in a long, long time, volunteering during week-ends, I’ve been (still am) under a lot of stress with too many projects going on at the same, my body is worn out… So, my husband & I both think this is a good birthday gift to myself!
    It will be my very first massage ever (well, not counting my sister’s or my husband’s attempts)…
    Yes, I am splurging, but it’s going to come out of our “personal care” budget, where we’ve been pretty frugal so far! :)

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  10. Jessica @ Budget For Health

    08/23/2012

    We currently live in a one-bedroom apartment so thankfully we don’t splurge on big things because we don’t have room for anything else! We occasionally splurge on ice cream because Dave & I have a sweet tooth. Dave dropped $40 on a baseball hat after he got a promotion at work as a gift to himself.

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  11. Demaroge

    08/23/2012

    @Sue ~

    Depending upon the relationship….I would probably say something like, “And, how much debt do YOU have?” or “Did you save up and pay cash for your last vacation?” or “I am so proud to have a wonderful husband who is such a value-shopper and works so hard so we can go to XXX.”

    Seriously?!? As long as my bills are paid it really is MY business what I do with the rest of it….as I am the one who must live with the consequences!

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    Sue Reply:

    Oh I agree with you ! My father always said ” you are the one that signs the checks! ”

    It is just hard sometimes when you feel ” proud, or happy with yourself” that you accomplished this goal and people are like Oh miss money bags !.. It is the old grasshopper and the Ant.
    I just wanted to know if anyone else had this.. thanks for letting me know I am not the only one.
    sue in NJ

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  12. Demaroge

    08/23/2012

    I like to splurge on pedicures! I can barely even see my toes let alone reach them! SO, for me it is a perfect splurge. I haven’t gone much this year because we moved in January and I am sure you all know how it can be.

    We will go out for ice cream to our favorite every once in awhile.

    I buy most of my craft items on clearance, in used lots on ebay/craigslist, ask for donations or buy at thrift stores. My current favorite is silk men’s ties. Wow…I sure can make a lot of nice items out of them! My goal is to sell my crafts and I hope I do well.

    We are working our way out of “stupid debt” right now. We are doing a pretty good job of it….and if I can sell my crafts then I will be helping reduce debt and gain some space in my craft room, too! ;)

    We do things in a mix. My hubby is not thrifty and learned to “use” debt from his FOO. I am the opposite. And, let me tell you, that is a good thing! We would be buried in debt forever if we were both spenders/debtters!

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  13. Jen

    08/23/2012

    Whenever I want a pedicure I buy a new nail polish. I only spend around $3, and I do the pedicure myself.

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  14. Debbie

    08/24/2012

    I was never taught about money as a child. My parents are amazing and always watched their money. I also went to Christian Privet School. However, I never learned about credit cards ect.
    I am now grown married and paying off debt from our young married life. I am also teaching my teens about money and debt! (The hard way) I love this site! It keeps being frugle fresh! lol
    I even have my teen daughter read it so she will know others out in this world are SMART with their money. I love that everyone agrees about mini splurges and doing so in the right maner.
    God Bless SOL and keep up the great work. p.s. I even show my husband some post at times ;)

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    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Debbie, I’m honord that you’re sharing my blog with your daughter and husband! And kuddos to you for teaching your children NOW how to be responsible stewards of their resources.
    They might not think much of it now, but I guarantee they’ll thank you later!

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  15. rebecca

    08/26/2012

    Extravagance is such a relative term. I do think the act of doing something extravagant is good for the soul. So the trick is to be extravagant without busting the budget. In my opinion, if you can be “extravagant” for, say, six bucks, that is a beautiful thing!

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  16. Amy

    08/26/2012

    We “splurge” on things like coconut milk coffee creamer, almond milk, good spouted grain bread, Barney Butter (the best almond butter ever!!!!!)….just to name a few. We call these splurges because there are obviously cheaper versions of these things, but we want to have these healthier versions instead because we feel like it’s an “investment” in our health.

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  17. Sue

    08/28/2012

    yea but the nice stove.. i do not think of that as a splurge.. You cook a lot.. and I would rather buy something of quality.. than junk that will wear out..

    and Like Jen said above about the sheets. if that is your thing.. then go for it..

    Sue in NJ

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  18. kalynbrooke

    08/28/2012

    What’s the point of saving money if you can’t spend it on things you love? That’s how I roll!

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  19. Jodi

    10/26/2012

    I occasionally will splurge on something nice whether it’s a good pair of jeans or a something for the house. Instead of buying cheap things all the time, I rather spend money on something nice. I find that when I pay a little bit more for something nice, I end up keeping it for a really long time. In the past, I would buy cheap things and they would end up broken, tossed or given to goodwill. Now, I’m so cautious with what I buy. Instead of buying a pair of crummy $21 pair of jeans that will stretch out on me, I will buy a pair of $43 jeans that are made in the US and won’t stretch out on me. I believe that it’s okay to splurge on nice things, especially if your trying to live a simpler lifestyle. I find myself buying less things now because I don’t buy junk. My husband and I just got married. Therefore, were trying to save money. I believe that buy long lasting things will help us save money. Instead of buying junk furniture, we bought a few peaces that we knew we’d have for a really long time. We decided to splurge on a new bedroom set. It was a good investment for sure!! :)

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