Being frugal has lots of benefits. It can help us save up money for emergencies and retirement. When we lose a source of income, it can help us survive until it is replaced. And it allows us to get more for our money. The biggest drawback is that sometimes it’s not very much fun.
Even though we know we don’t need it, it can be disheartening to see that stylish jacket or great laptop that we’ve been dreaming about and know it’s not practical to buy it. We may feel deprived when we see friends and co-workers going out to dinner at fancy restaurants and buying the things they want. Yet in the interest of frugality, we resist the urge to emulate them.
But when frugality becomes a drag, it can lead to poor morale. And that can lead to impulsive spending on small items as a way to make us feel better. Those small items add up, putting a strain on the budget. Wouldn’t it make more sense to splurge every once in a while?
Hardcore frugalists cringe at the thought of splurging, but there’s nothing wrong with it as long as we do so within our means. That means instead of spending money that is intended for bill paying or using a credit card, we pay for the splurge with our discretionary income. This way we avoid putting ourselves in a bind and prevent budget burnout.
Splurges come in many shapes and sizes. Those who love fashion might splurge on that unique designer dress in the boutique window. Families with young children might splurge on a trip to an amusement park. Gamers might splurge on that new gaming system that everyone has been raving about. As long as it’s something you will truly enjoy and springing for it won’t adversely affect your finances, there’s nothing wrong with it.
That’s not to say that we should make a habit of splurging. If we do, we miss the opportunity to put money to wiser use. Instead of buying a new pair of shoes every month, even if you can afford to do so, make it every four to six months. Put the money you save into your emergency fund, toward the kids’ college education or in a retirement fund.
Oversplurging will also make each splurge less meaningful. It is thrilling to get something that you want, but when you buy everything you fancy, the thrill fades away. And when it comes to material things, you probably won’t use half of what you buy. Instead of throwing money away on something that will end up in the back of the closet, save it up for something more practical.
When we diet, it’s hard to stick with it because we feel deprived. An occasional splurge can help keep us on track, as long as it’s done in moderation. The same is true when it comes to money. By giving in to our desires on occasion without going overboard, we can feel better about being frugal and keep up the good work.