Today I have a guest post from Mrs. Picky Pincher who runs a blog about frugality without sacrificing the good life. Something I’m a huge fan of. If you haven’t checked it out yet head on over there for some great articles, frugal tips, and recipes. Yes, recipes! Her post today is about “when should you Treat Yo’ Self”. Spawned by Parks and Rec the “Treat Yo’ Self” Day came about when Tom and Donna celebrate one day a year to “Treat Their Selves” and essentially splurge on all the stuff they don’t buy the rest of the year. While picking one day a year to splurge on yourself may be the best idea ever, Mrs. Picky Pincher has some great ideas on how to be able to “Treat Yo’ Self” and not just limit yourself to only one day a year. Take it away Mrs. Picky Pincher!
There’s nothing like the feeling of a new shirt on your back, the freshness of a hip haircut, or the taste of a decadent slab of triple chocolate fudge cake.
While I’m known for treating myself (and maybe a little too often…), the treat yo’ self attitude can be dangerous when you’ve committed to a frugal lifestyle. For me, it was REALLY hard to determine when I was making prudent financial decisions by avoiding something pleasurable or when I was depriving myself.
I think the line between an unnecessary treat and a good, occasional treat is different for everyone, but I’ve found a few ways to draw a line in the sand between “casual frugal treat” and “treat yo’ self hedonism.”
Here are a few times when it’s all right to treat yo’ self!
You have a budget for it
I used to treat myself aaaaall the time. I had a new piece of jewelry every week. I wore the latest fashions. Hell, I bought hair extensions that I didn’t even use!
And that’s how I spent $1,000 on Amazon crap, my friends.
It’s easier to have treats (and not feel the financial pain of them) when you have a budget.
When I was a fledgling adult I factored in a $20 treat yo’ self budget every month. I kept this amount small because I was barely scraping by at the time. I think it’s important to factor in little goodies here and there so you don’t feel deprived. Even though I only gave myself a $20 budget for fun money, I was still able to go to the movies, grab a chocolate bar, or pick up a new scarf each month.
By setting a budget for treats and keeping it small, I was able to rein in my spending.
More than anything, though, it’s important to learn how to treat yourself without spending a lot of money. Frugal living is all about enjoying life’s little momentsand being content with what you have, not going on a Gucci shopping spree.
Factor in a few small, fun things you enjoy that won’t break the bank—which means you can do them more often!
You know the difference between wants and needs
There was a time when I couldn’t distinguish between needing a new pair of shoes and wanting a new pair of shoes.
If you asked me at the time, I would have vehemently said I needed the shoes to live!
While I’ve reined that in quite a lot, it can still be a challenge to know when you need something or just want something.
For example, we recently bought a food processor. We made plenty of explanations for needing a food processor, like being able to chop things more efficiently or preparing dinner more quickly. Plus food processors were just neato!
But the bottom line is that we didn’t need a freakin’ food processor. We just had a gift card and we wanted a food processor!
It’s all about kicking the excuses and explanations and justifications to the curb.
To be honest, we very rarely need a particular item to survive. If you take the approach of “Do I need this to live?” suddenly most purchases become meaningless. While I’m not saying you should stop buying fun things, it’s important to realize they add too much clutter our lives while making our wallets lighter.
You establish a waiting period
When I was learning money discipline, I had to establish a waiting period before I bought anything unnecessary. If I wanted to buy a new handbag, I would simply walk away. That didn’t mean I didn’t get the handbag; it just meant I had to think it over at least a day first.
Because it gave me time to cool off and think about the item from a long term perspective. It broke me out of the “gimme gimme” mindset that I revert to the second I see a cute pair of shoes. What value would I get from this item in five years? Is my money more important than this item?
Usually I never went back to buy the purse. I realized that my money was more powerful when it was put to use paying off debt, building my meager savings account, or contributing to my Roth IRA.
Waiting periods ensure that you don’t make the mistake of an impulse buy while acknowledging that well thought-out treats are okay every now and then.
The Bottom Line
While I love lavishing myself with fun things, the reality is that we don’t need to treat ourselves most of the time. We don’t “deserve” anything for getting through the day as functional adults—that assumption got me into Debt City.
We live in a treat yo’ self culture that encourages spending and excess. Be different. Be completely weird. Create a few barriers to the convenience of treating yourself and appreciate what you already have. That will make treats all the sweeter!
Thanks for the tips and the guest post, Mrs. Picky Pincher! Do you “Treat Yo’ Self?” Do you have any rules to keep it reigned in? Or do you act like me and realize you’ve overspent again when your credit card statement shows up? I’d love to hear about it!