One way to celebrate National Splurge Day.

th-1Yet another holiday invented to make you spend money! Just what we need, right? But I’m sorta-kinda okay with National Splurge Day, as long as the splurges are done frugally.

In fact, I think you should splurge on something today – but that you should do so in as cost-effective a way as possible, and with an eye toward postponing future splurges.

Does that mean you can never have nice things? Not at all. In fact, what it means is that you can likely get those nice things faster – but only if you’re willing to grow up, wise up and stop ignoring future goals in favor of fun-right-now stuff.

You can buy yourself a manicure each week, or you can learn to do your own nails and put an extra $100 or so a month into retirement. Bonus points if you do this while you’re young, when compound interest is your bestest buddy.

You can have a beer with your pals after work every night, or you can cut it back to one or two nights out of five and then put the difference toward student loans.

You and spouse/partner can eat in restaurants/pick up takeout four or five times a week, or you can make cooking at home a fun project and dinners out a Friday-night treat. While chopping onions or stirring the sauce, keep in mind how much faster the “down payment on a home of our own” is growing.

Walking my talk

I’ve been avoiding a lot of extras myself lately, with an eye toward two upcoming trips:

  • Phoenix and Austin at the end of July (mostly on business, but a little visiting and tourism as well)
  • New Orleans in September, to attend (and speak at) the Financial Blogger Conference

Thus I’ve been talking myself down when I want food outside the home or some other treat:  Sure, you COULD have this if you really want it. But every dollar you spend now is a dollar that won’t go toward, say, buying iced tea in Austin or beignets in the Big Easy.

Happy to say that it mostly worked. And the one time it didn’t? The treat didn’t taste as good, somehow. Later I realized it was because I’d bought it in a spirit of defiance, which is pretty funny when you think about it.

Basically: Me telling me, “You’re not the boss of me!” Which is unfortunately true sometimes.

But will I splurge today?

Yet I haven’t given up fun entirely. Tonight DF and I are attending the Metropolitan Opera’s HD broadcast of “Rigoletto.” The tickets aren’t cheap; I think they’re $20 each. (Splurge!)

However, I can count on one hand the number of times he and I attend films together. He’s not a fan, so I see most films with my midnight-movie pal Linda B. or my niece and her two boys.

This somewhat-pricey treat meets the criteria above:

  • It’s as frugal as possible because I’m paying with discounted gift cards.
  • It’s being done with an eye toward future goals, i.e., to enjoy those trips while still meeting daily expenses plus retirement saving.

Movies are about to change for me anyway. Linda and I both have decided to back off on the midnight screenings for now, to save a little money. Instead we’ll be seeing films on Tuesdays, when tickets are $5.25 all day. (Why does that still sound like a lot?)

We’ve also decided not to have any more movie snacks for a while. As much as I love this theater’s kettle corn – I think the “salt and sugar” they make it with is actually crack – going without for a while will help me in my current weight-loss goal as well as conserve those discounted gift cards.

I’ll be taking my $3-refill cup along (it’s a long-ish opera) so DF and I will have something to sip. Will we get popcorn with the weekly Cinemark coupon? Not sure yet. But if I decide to do it, I won’t feel guilty. It’s National Splurge Day.

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  1. Tina in NJ

    Enjoy the opera. Which one is it?

    • Donna Freedman

      It’s “Rigoletto,” set in…wait for it….Las Vegas.
      Just took my nephews out for a McFlurry (again, using a discounted gift card). I told them that this opera has a song named after me: “La donna e mobile.” 😉

  2. I splurged frugally this past weekend… I found the most beautiful and perfect fitting dress for $23. Marked down from $150. It will be perfect for formal night on our upcoming Alaska cruise (which doesn’t sound frugal, but is being paid for by my parents).

    I will wear shoes and a purse that I already have, and have picked out a lace shawl from my “in progress” knitting pile.

    I’m extremely pleased.

  3. Marcia

    Have a wonderful time at the opera Donna! 🙂

  4. Holly S

    Having been retired for 2 years now & having gotten a bit of an inheritance after my Dad passed I have decided to ‘allow’ myself a 1x/month home dinner treat – ie something I do NOT buy because the cost/serving is HIGH.

    This month it was beef filet.
    I’m thinking shrimp for July.

  5. Wow…I never thought $6.25 would be considered a bargain for a movie. BUT DW just went to the movies with her girl friends….and when I asked her how much it was for the movie…she replied…”you don’t want to know”….I feel faint…

  6. I indulged in a strange sort of splurge for Splurge Day. I took a day off work and went to my (trusted) chiropractor! I’d had a year of getting jolted around a bit – got rear-ended (a minor thing), fell once, picked up my squirming grandson – and my back was getting tight. Feel great! Would recommend a day of real healing to anyone with a bit of extra money to spend. Maybe a chiropractor isn’t for everyone. Deep tissue massage? Vein treatment? Long-delayed dental work? New glasses?

    • Donna Freedman

      Massage. Definitely massage.
      Another splurge could be taking the money you might have spent on a short-term pleasure and using it for filling up the freezer, getting the car tuned up, making an extra car payment, beefing up the emergency fund or putting it into a Roth IRA.
      Or spend it all on Reese’s Cups and lottery tickets. Just don’t make that a habit.
      Glad your back is feeling better.

    • I believe a splurge to take care of your body is one of the best “investments” you can make. So many people “spend” their health to gain wealth and then try to buy their health back once they have wealth!!

      • Donna Freedman

        Agreed. A splurge every now and then keeps you from falling off the wagon, spending-wise.
        And that “splurge” might even be free — for example, leaving your kids with a relative or friend for a couple of hours and spending that time napping, taking a long hot bath or reading a new library book.

        • My dictionary tells me that a splurge is an “extravagant indulgence”. I cannot stretch that to include an extra boost in my IRA. It has to be immediate. And what could be more pleasurably indulgent than the release from pain? With the added boost that this is a permanent benefit? That this will improve the quality of my life from now on? I’m reminded of a quote I read a long time ago – “Reward. def. Something you get. For doing something you wouldn’t ordinarily do. If it wasn’t for the reward.” A splurge is like that. Massage qualifies! (If it has to be free, and sometimes it does, a long hot bath also qualifies – but only if you never have time for one – the extravagance is the “wasted” time…) A splurge intensifies the pleasure of the moment. A splurge makes us feel rich. Go for the massage!

          • Donna Freedman

            My comment was not intended as a criticism; sorry if it came across that way. I budget for one massage a month, although it sometimes works out to fewer due to scheduling issues.
            But to me, putting some money into the EF or retirement counts as a splurge if it’s extra/unanticipated money. It makes me feel happy and safe.
            To each his own. What a dull world it would be if everyone did the same stuff.
            Thanks for reading, and for leaving a comment.

  7. Have fun, Donna! We won’t be splurging today or anytime this week since we are saving for two big splurges – a road trip from July 14-18 in New Orleans with friends and a cruise with the same friends Aug 3-10. We’ve been cutting back pretty successfully over the last month so that these two trips won’t hurt our goals much at all.

    • Donna Freedman

      That’s the same kind of outcome I’m seeking: making those trips without noticing any pain.
      Will you also be in New Orleans in September, for FinCon?

  8. “Me to me: ‘you’re not the boss of me.’ ”

    Absolutely priceless!!! 😀

    I have a real weakness for pretty clothes for my 5 year old granddaughter. I raised two sons, had a stepson and then two grandsons. For decades I looked longingly at the adorable clothes in the little girls’ section of the store.

    But NOW, there is a girl in the family!!! Today I had a $5 credit for Kohl’s and I just wandered innocently through the little girls summer clothing area. The next thing I know my eyes had glazed over, my brain had completely stalled and I was standing at the check out counter with two new outfits for her.

    I was feeling a touch guilty until I read your blog about it being National Splurge Day.

    Rationalization might be my middle name.

    • Donna Freedman

      Reminds me of that line from “The Big Chill” when Jeff Goldblum’s character says that rationalization is more important than sex. Another one says come on, nothing is more important than sex. “Oh yeah? You ever gone a week without a rationalization?”
      Thanks for reading, and enjoy those kids’ clothes. It’s like dressing dollbabies.

  9. I like the balance of this article. Often when I want to splurge it is on a meal out because I want the break from the kitchen, but I often find that it isn’t as enjoyable as I had anticipated. Is that because the cost takes all of the fun out of it? Have fun tonight!

    • Donna Freedman

      I think the cost can make a difference. Sometimes you sit there thinking, “We just spent the equivalent of a week’s grocery budget on food that was just mediocre. What a waste.”
      Sometimes, though, I don’t mind spending more. There’s a barbecue joint near here that’s pretty pricey but we can’t get meat that good or smoke it as well. I treated DF to dinner there on one of those really gorgeous evenings, and we will likely eat there again later this summer. But will we eat at a chain restaurant or even a local restaurant whose fare is stunningly average? Nope. We’d rather have the money.

  10. I miss opera– I can’t even remember to turn on the weekend radio broadcasts!

  11. Janice

    I splurge quite often, but then I save quite often also (coupons, used to be one like extreme, not any more). I just had a huge garage sale, and I price cheap to sell and sell I did ($600 sale, yes!!), but that stuff sits around and just takes up space, it was once something I got because it was “cute” or “free” or “cheap” and it just sits there doing nothing. I have calmed down on “wasting” money by buying “cute” things, but my biggest splurge is my child. I spend a lot on my daughter because she’s a girly girl and loves to dress up and have nice clothes. She believes in getting a good deal also, like a “New with tags” dress from Deb’s, for only $7 at Plato’s Closet. What a deal!! I found factory outlets and found a shirt at Banana Republic for $6 and matching flip flops at The Gap outlet for only $4….what steals to me!!! I am not in debt, have been before, and not ever going back to those old days!! But love little splurges, meals out once a week probably with my daughter, and little clothing splurges here and there!! We found Charming Charlies yesterday too….now this could be trouble!! lol!!

  12. Kandace

    I’ve been to the Met Opera broadcasts, and yes the tickets are expensive (but certainly than the cost of seeing it live). The performances are outstanding and the behind-the-scenes takes make the event more engagine. Many of the audience members that attend the same screening as I dress up as well. And of course we applaud and shout “bravo” and “brava” at the screen…..

    Worth the occasional splurge.

    • Donna Freedman

      Yep, it certainly was. I love the behind-the-scenes stuff too. The greatest amusement came from the subtitles’ 1950s-style translations, e.g., “What a doll!” or “Your movie-star looks.” Fun stuff!


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