Saving money is often an exercise in self-denial, but resisting temptation all the time isn’t what life’s about.
Splurging now and then won’t ruin your finances. In fact, it could boost your happiness and help you stay on track. As long as you spend sensibly, you can treat yourself without breaking the bank.
8 ways to reward yourself responsibly
1. Treat yourself to maintain good habits
Habits expert Gretchen Rubin is a big proponent of treating yourself in order to stay happy and maintain self-control. She writes in The Huffington Post, “When we give ourselves treats, we feel energized, cared for and contented, which boosts our self-command — and self-command helps us maintain our healthy habits.”
Instead of derailing your budget, finding occasional ways to treat yourself will boost your self-control. If you never reward yourself, then you could end up going off the rails. Extreme budgeting is like a crash diet: You may start out strong, but soon enough you’ll be eating every bag of junk food in sight.
2. Figure out what’s a treat for you
To splurge responsibly, consider how much joy a purchase will bring you. For one person, investing in an expensive winter coat is the game-changer they need to get through the cold winter. Someone else might get no enjoyment whatsoever from a pricey piece of clothing.
To prevent frivolous spending, make a list of items that are truly valuable to you. Consider what purpose a purchase will fill and how much lasting happiness it will bring you.
Maybe a small purchase, like a French press or essential oil diffuser, will significantly improve your daily life. By prioritizing personal value, you can make thoughtful choices about how to spend your money.
3. Avoid impulse shopping
Along similar lines, don’t waste your carefully saved money on impulse shopping. Stores are all too happy to wave tempting treats in front of your eyes when you check out at the register. Suddenly, you want something that you’d never even laid eyes on a few seconds earlier.
While impulse shopping feels like a way to reward yourself in the moment, your enjoyment won’t last long. Before splurging, wait a week to see if you really want to make the purchase. You may find that you’re no longer thinking about the impulse buy that briefly caught your eye.
4. Be an informed shopper
Before closing the deal on a big purchase, spend time researching price points and customer reviews. If you’re booking a vacation, for instance, track flight prices so you buy at the right time.
If you’re investing in a new piece of furniture, browse different outlets to get the lowest price. Read reviews to make sure you’re buying something of high quality that will last.
Finally, check out discount-tracking apps like Honey and Invisible Hand that will get you the best deal. Coupon-finding browser extensions scour thousands of websites to bring you the best deals.
5. Consider prioritizing experiences over things
Making memories will provide more long-term happiness. Even just anticipating a trip can make you feel good. And when you feel good, you’ll maintain healthy habits and continue toward your financial goals.
6. Take a friend along for the ride
Not only do experiences boost happiness, but giving to others also improves well-being. Material success doesn’t necessarily make us happy. In fact, studies have linked non-materialism with increased happiness levels.
While most of us aren’t going to relinquish all our material possessions, these studies do give us something to think about. Maybe instead of shopping alone, you could use your savings to invite a friend or family member to dinner.
You could also treat someone to an activity you’ve always wanted to try, like a paint night or horseback riding. Alternatively, consider donating to a charitable cause close to your heart. By acting altruistically, you could derive even greater value from your spending.
7. Invest in self-care or a new hobby
Another way to maximize the value of your spending is to invest in self-improvement. Perhaps you want to treat yourself with beauty products, enroll in an online course, or take up swing dancing. Whatever you choose, you’ll expand your horizons and grow as a person.
8. Let yourself off the hook
When we’re working toward financial goals, it’s easy to feel guilty about spending money. But sometimes we don’t need any other reason than wanting to enjoy ourselves.
In her bestseller Eat Pray Love, Elizabeth Gilbert writes about our “insecurity about whether we have earned our happiness.” Says Gilbert, “Planet Advertising in America orbits completely around the need to convince the uncertain consumer that yes, you have actually warranted a special treat.”
Financial self-control is important, but you don’t want to be so strict that you can’t enjoy life. If you’ve been hitting your money goals, then give yourself the green light to treat yourself. Finding ways to reward yourself from time to time is key to maintaining balance.
Be thoughtful about how you spend your money and think about what truly brings value to your life. By privileging happiness over impulse buys, you can both reward yourself and stick to your financial goals.
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