You know how important it is to save—but did you realize you should also splurge from time to time?
It may seem counterintuitive, but occasionally spending money on something that’s not strictly a necessity helps to keep you on track. After all, if you never indulge, you’ll begin to resent your budget. And rewarding yourself for meeting a goal (putting an extra $50 on your loans this month, not giving in to the temptation of those designer shoes, whatever it is that you’re trying to accomplish), helps reinforce the idea that your budget must work for you, rather than the other way around.
That said, your reward shouldn’t blow your monthly expenses out of the water, either. Try one of these tips for a smart splurge.
Splurge for Free
Even if money’s tight, you can find ways to treat yourself that will only cost you time. One of my favorite ways to indulge midway through the workday is to go home for lunch, where I can relax, nosh on last night’s leftovers, and make myself an espresso (on the machine that I got for free with credit card reward points!). It’s pretty much a free meal, plus a caffeine pick-me-up that’s just as good as (and cheaper than) what I could get at a café.
Here are some other ideas that won’t cost you any extra money:
Allow Yourself Small, Regular Indulgences
When I first graduated from college, I spent a year as an English Teaching Assistant in a public school in Spain. My monthly stipend was enough to live on—but just enough. It took careful prioritizing to keep from depleting more of my savings than I had anticipated, and I learned how to indulge where it mattered most to me. Here are some ideas:
Save Up for Bigger Splurges
For larger indulgences, I recommend setting up a separate savings account (besides your emergency fund) where you can stash away a certain amount each pay period or deposit your loose change as it accumulates. Once you have enough for your next big ticket purchase (the latest gadget, a weekend away, stylish new boots), you can buy it, guilt-free.
The point of a budget isn’t to show you where you should and shouldn’t be spending money—it’s to make sure your cash flow is aligned with your priorities. So, if you’re sticking to your goals, go ahead and reward yourself. No matter what your budget, if you get creative, you can find a way to splurge within your means.