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That said, sometimes a splurge can give you a much-needed lift. If you plan rewards for yourself into your budget, they don’t need to derail you from your financial goals. Here is how to splurge without feeling guilty.
1. Keep your emotions in check
Marketers know that tapping into our emotions is a good way to trigger us to buy. By thinking about past situations where you made a splurge you regretted, you can identify the emotions that are most dangerous to your budget and keep yourself from reacting to them. Do you tend to treat yourself to expensive shopping sprees after an argument? Is it impossible to resist saying no when your youngest child asks you to buy a small toy while you’re shopping? Do you lose touch with rational thought when a colleague drives up in a new car — and find yourself heading to the showroom? We all have triggers, whether it is the urge for instant gratification or peer pressure.
Put some brakes in place, so the next time you find yourself in these trigger situations, you become aware of what is happening and can stop yourself from buying. For instance, if you find yourself with the urge to shop after a difficult conversation, leave your credit cards at home when you go to the mall and ask a salesperson to hold anything you want to buy until the next day. Those purchases may not seem as appealing once you leave the store. Avoid shopping with people in your life who tend to tempt you to buy. When you’re heading into situations where your resolve tends to be weak, invite a trusted friend or family member to join you and act as a reality check. You may feel differently about that brand new car you want to lease if you have to explain to your ultra-frugal brother why last year’s model isn’t good enough anymore.
2. Budget for extras
If you’ve ever been on a diet that was very restrictive, you know what inevitably happens. As you struggle with constant deprival, the desire for chocolate cake suddenly becomes overwhelming.
The same holds true with your money. If your budget is so strict that you allow yourself no money for extras, you may be more prone to “cheating” on it than if you gave yourself a little leeway.
In your household budget, decide each month about how much you will spend on splurges and include a line item for them. If you are married or have a family, remember to take into account the splurges that others in your household may want to make, as well. You may need to make some compromises. It’s easy to blow your household budget if you don’t communicate about these extra purchases.
3. Set up a “splurge fund”
The key to splurging without guilt? It’s setting aside the money for your splurges in advance. If you know you’ve saved $200 a month for fun extras, you can enjoy your purchases guilt-free.
Making a simple automatic deduction from your checking account into a sub-account is all it takes to build a “splurge fund.” If your bank account doesn’t offer sub-accounts, consider setting up a small statement savings account to stow away the money. Often these accounts have very low fees.
What you can do next
If you recognize your spending triggers and allow yourself (and budget for) the occasional indulgence, it's easier to fight the urge to splurge.