After a year of lockdowns and restrictions, almost everyone is ready to ditch and ditch the pandemic cobwebs. But treating yourself should not be limited to once a year. Let’s take a look at why the occasional squander is such an important part of an effective budget — and how to protect yourself from overspending when you binge.
Why is showing off important?
People on strict diets often allow themselves to cheat meals, usually once a week, when they can eat anything they want. For a day, they don’t worry about carbs, calories, or grams of sugar.
Showing off is a similar concept. Whether you’re dieting or setting a budget, allowing yourself to indulge at times can help you avoid burnout. If you can add a day of financial therapy here and there, you won’t feel like your budget is always the enemy.
Plan your splurge
It’s fun to be spontaneous, but when it comes to treating yourself, it’s best to plan ahead. The best kind of waste is the one you won’t regret after a day. Instead of buying the first thing you see, start collecting a list of great ideas.
Use the goals feature in mint applicationor a notes folder on your phone or a wish list function on Amazon. You can also keep an actual wish list in your wallet to use when shopping in person.
Anytime you want something that isn’t in your life donation, add it to the list. When you’re finally ready to splurge, go back to the list. This ensures that you will truly cherish what you buy and will benefit greatly from it.
Make it meaningful
Whenever possible, splurge on an experience or memory, such as a day trip with your partner or an evening at a karaoke bar with friends. Research has shown that People are happier spending money on events than on material things.
This largely depends on what interests you the most. If you love interior design, buying a new rug for your apartment can mean more than just a weekend outing.
Create bragging rules
Although profligacy is important, you must follow a few basic rules. Never use a credit card or loan to fund an indulgence. The extravagance should be something you can tolerate, not something that requires getting into debt.
If you want to splurge, check your budget first to make sure you can afford it. If you can’t, find ways to make more money like selling something you own or starting a side hustle.
Some people find it helpful to have simple rules governing wasteful habits. For example, set aside 10% of each windfall for a splurge. Windfalls can include tax refunds, bonuses from work, rebates, and Christmas checks from Grandma.
Setting the rules will ensure that you don’t overdo it, which can be especially helpful if you’re also trying to pay off debt or save for a down payment.
If you work overtime, are self-employed, or have a second job, you can set aside half of those earnings for fun and the other half for long-term savings.
Always stick to the rules you create, even when you tend to break them. They will help you strike a balance between wasting and saving.
Avoid wasting too often
When we feel stressed, tired, or anxious, retail therapy seems like an easy answer. But beware of using moral license to justify repeated profligacy. Ethical licensing is the concept that you deserve to do something bad if you have previously done something good.
For example, if you work until 9 p.m. every night, you may decide that it’s okay to buy a $200 wallet. But working hard doesn’t necessarily mean you can afford $200.
Remember, flaunting is like candy. If you eat candy as a fun treat, you may get a little sugary, but you won’t gain any weight. If you eat dessert three times a day, you will probably see a drastic change in your health.
If you fall off the wagon, be kind to yourself. Remember that one shopping trip does not cancel all your good habits. Offer grace to yourself just as you would a friend. Review your budget and see what changes you can make to correct the error, such as cutting back on orders or other reward purchases for a few weeks.
Separate your favorite things
If you feel like you’re treating yourself too much, there’s no need to go somewhere cold for a reset. Keep the rewards the same, but try to space them apart. For example, instead of getting a manicure every two weeks, order it once a month.
Prioritize your ostentation. Make a list of all your non-essential expenses and sort them from What brings you the most joy To what brings you less joy. Ask yourself how sad it would be if you had to get rid of or reduce each account. This will help you see what makes bragging truly happier.
Don’t bring a friend with you
It may seem counterintuitive, but having a friend with you won’t help your bragging. They may encourage you to buy more and go over your budget. Plus, if you see them shopping with no regrets, you may start to wonder why you put the budget at all.
Shopping alone gives you more time to think and think about whether you really want something. If you still want to go with a friend, choose someone who is not afraid to call you. Tell them ahead of time your budget and ask them to help you stay on track.
Zina Kumuk is a freelance writer specializing in personal finance. A former reporter, she has covered murder trials, the Final Four, and everything in between. Featured in Lifehacker, DailyWorth and Time. Read about how she paid off $28,000 of student loans in three years at Conscious Coins.