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Guilt Free Splurging

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Is it ever okay to splurge, even when you're trying to stick to a budget? The answer might surprise you! Here are six occasions it might be okay to splurge and how to make the most of it....without feeling an ounce of guilt! Guilt-Free Splurging | When it's Okay to Spend a Little More | Smart Money | How to Splurge Without Feeling Guilty


Repeat after me: “Sometimes it’s okay to splurge…”

I know, I know, many of us are working hard to save money, get out of debt, or even just pay the bills. Splurging feels “bad”—like something we should feel guilty about, right?

But shouldn’t we occasionally be able to experience the payouts and joys from our hard work? Life is short, and while yes, too much splurging can lead to debt and other financial problems, sometimes we all deserve to indulge a little!

It’s no secret we need to live within our means. Taking on more debt for a frilly vacation or a new outfit probably isn’t wise, nor is it advisable, especially when trying to tackle debt. When we don’t have the money in our budgets to do something (or when buying something means swiping a credit card), we may need to postpone it, find an alternative, or wait until a time when we can afford it more easily.

However, there are a few times in life when it’s okay to splurge a little—and when these opportunities come along, if we can, we should make the most of them. We can use these opportunities to strengthen our family bonds, to make wise purchasing decisions, and to create lifelong memories.


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The most important part? Knowing when to splurge…and when to save.

Life is short, so we have to make the most of it! When these opportunities arise, when you can, carpe diem, seize the day, and make your splurge count!

A mini souvenir airplane, suitcase sunglasses on top of a passport, plane ticket and map.

1. When a Once-in-a-Lifetime Opportunity Arises

Once in a while, a unique opportunity presents itself. We get the chance to do something really adventurous, like travel abroad or go on a one-of-a-kind weekend retreat with girlfriends. If we don’t take these chances, we might deeply regret not going.

The thing is, many opportunities that come up aren’t once-in-a-lifetime chances. You might feel a sense of urgency because of a great airline deal or the chance to get cheap tickets to something you always wanted to see or do. First, ask yourself if this is truly a once-in-a-lifetime chance (few things are), or if a similar opportunity might present itself when you’re more financially sound.

We can also help determine if the experience is worth the expense by asking ourselves if there’s a way we can somehow earn extra money or forgo some less-exciting opportunities so we can better afford it. For example, maybe you want to see a theater production or concert that’s coming to town. Can you and your family give up going out to dinner or sacrifice spending on date nights for a month or two to offset the cost? Is there something you could sell, a few extra jobs you take on, or another way you could earn some money to pay for a trip or activity?

This is a good litmus test to see if the activity is something that’s really worth working for. If it’s something that’s truly an amazing opportunity, we’re usually willing to put in a little extra elbow grease to get us there.

2. When it’s to Protect Your Family

Splurging on a fence for your yard, extra safety for your car (better tires and breaks, for example), or safety equipment for your kids is almost always a necessity. In fact, when safety is concerned, spending money is hardly a splurge.

That said, sometimes it can be hard to resist the urge to put off spending when safety is concerned. Let’s face it, new tires aren’t very exciting or fun (at least in my opinion). It’s easy to procrastinate safety items in your budget, especially when things are tight.

One of the best ways to make room for safety equipment is to look at ways it’s saving you in the long run. For example, installing new smoke detectors, locks and other safety precautions can actually decrease the premium on your homeowner’s insurance. Taking a class on defensive driving (some are offered through insurance companies or your local DMV) can help save you money on auto insurance.

When it comes to sports equipment like helmets, and child safety items like car seats, contact your local police department. Oftentimes they have discounts on equipment to protect children. Your child’s school may also be able to assist you with padding and helmets for sports, especially if it’s needed to be part of a school club or team.

Before you spend: When you’re deciding if it’s really ok to splurge on anything related to family safety, it’s important to sincerely ask yourself if you truly NEED the item or service to protect your family. We’re all capable of making (sometimes really convincing!) excuses when we really want something. So be sure you truly need it, instead of merely wanting it.

A woman gets her blood pressure checked by a doctor.

3. On Preventative Care

Very few people in the world love going to the dentist, getting a checkup, or spending “extra” money on preventative care. However, “splurging” on your self-care and preventative medicine for your kids can help you save lots of money, sickness and heartache in the long run.

Dental care is a key factor in preventing certain major health issues, including heart problems. Your mouth is the gateway to the rest of your body, so keeping your teeth clean and healthy helps ensure the rest of you stays healthy as well.

Get regular checkups and schedule annual visits to the doctor, as recommended. So many minor situations can be taken care of easily in their early stages, but become so much more difficult to treat later on. Take note of anything unusual like changes in your hair, skin, mood, energy levels, and digestion and report it to your doc.

These little “preventative steps” will help you identify anything of concern and address it right away. Similarly, running bloodwork, checking your blood pressure, and running other tests can help your doctor notice any changes before they’re a problem. Insurance companies often offer discounts and rewards for taking preventative steps, because they know these measures help stave off more costly procedures down the road.

Again, be sure you’re not using this as an excuse to splurge on things like teeth whitening (unless it’s directly related to your profession), anything purely cosmetic or unnecessary, or anything that doesn’t truly fall under preventative healthcare.

4. On High-Quality Cookware

Another area where you can splurge a little? Kitchenware, especially if you cook at home often! Now, of course it can be tempting to buy every little item in William’s Sonoma or Sur La Table, and cookware can add up quickly and get expensive…so be very reasonable and do your research beforehand. Most items can be purchased online or at discount stores like Wal-Mart or Target.

When it comes to cookware, investing in some nicer pots and pans can make a huge difference. Things cook more evenly and you’ll have less wasted/burned food. There’s no risk of chipped Teflon making its way into your food, so you won’t find you have to buy a new set of pans every year or two.

You don’t have to buy high-end cookware, but even mid-level sets of pots and pans can last much longer than cheap cookware, so they’re a great investment, especially if you like to cook and eat at home. Invest in a slow cooker and other small appliances if you use them regularly.

Most cooks don’t need (or even like) “one trick ponies” like avocado slicers or egg poachers, so I’m not saying you should splurge to stock your kitchen with these types of items. They only clog up your kitchen and complicate your cooking. For many cooks, a nice set of pots and pans, bakeware, a chef knife, and a few other key items will keep you happily cooking for your family.

A woman contemplating which washer/dryer appliance to purchase.

5. When You Need Appliances & Large Furniture

Again, this is a case where top-of-the-line isn’t necessary, but splurging on quality can be the difference between a five-year investment and a twenty-five-year investment.

Look at Consumer Reports or read reviews online before you make a major purchase on something like a dishwasher, washer, or even a mattress. Doing your research and splurging on a reliable, quality item will prevent you from spending money on a lemon. Always save the warranty and register your product in case you need repairs later on. Check the store warranty and guarantee against the manufacturer’s warranty. Sometimes the terms and conditions differ and you don’t want to think you’re covered only to find out you aren’t.

When you look at furniture from the past, you’ll notice that chairs, couches and tables had great “bones.” They were built to last with quality wood, and extra care was taken on the frame and design. This is why so many antique pieces from the 50s or 60s are still around, but pieces from the 80s and 90s have largely disappeared. They just don’t make them like they used to.

When buying furniture, look at the manufacturing and craftsmanship. Purchase reliable brands and splurge a little if it’s a piece you’re going to want to keep in your home for years. (And if you don’t absolutely need a fancy new fridge, again, keep yourself and your spending in check and honest.)

6. On Classic Clothing & Coats

With the plethora of cheap clothing available at discount stores like Wal-Mart, it can be hard to justify paying anything more than a few dollars for any item of clothing. However, this is again, a time when we can look at “vintage” items and learn something.

When you look at a vintage coat or dress, you might notice the quality of the stitches, the fabric (usually wool, cotton or a natural fiber), and the attention to detail. Old clothing was built to last in a way today’s fast fashion just isn’t.

If you’re looking for ways to build your core wardrobe and you want to buy classic pieces (like black dress pants, a blazer, or a pencil skirt), you may want to go ahead and splurge on a nicer quality item. Spending a little extra on a piece you’ll wear for years is well worth the investment.

Not every item of clothing needs to be an “investment” item, however. Trendy things, accessories, and accent items can be found on discount and used to add personality and flair to your fashion. When it comes to coats, boots and athletic shoes, investing in a quality item is well worth it, especially if you’ll be getting a lot of use out of it or wearing it almost every day.

If you’re hoping to splurge but stay on a budget, look at clothing on consignment or at second-hand stores, like threadUP, where you can often find high-quality name-brand items at deep discounts. Search for classic pieces you can wear over and over and use as wardrobe staples.

Rather than splurging on a dress you’ll wear to an event or one-time party, try sites like Rent the Runway or put out an A.P.B. to your friends on Facebook. We often spend money on “fancy clothes” we wear once or twice, and then skimp when it comes to the items we wear every day. In reality, it makes more sense to splurge on those items that get a lot of use, and save where you can on party-clothes.

Sometimes we all need to treat ourselves to a little splurge. When the occasion arises, indulge and make the most of it. Don’t beat yourself up about it—enjoy it! Make well-informed choices and do your research before you spend, then go out and get or do something you’ll love!

Make a great memory with your family, wear a gorgeous coat you’re excited to put on every day, or buy an appliance you know will be headache-free in the future. Spend a little extra on caring for your health and safety and keeping up the household items you use the most. Splurge wisely and enjoy it!

Is it ever okay to splurge, even when you're trying to stick to a budget? The answer might surprise you! Here are six occasions it might be okay to splurge and how to make the most of it....without feeling an ounce of guilt! Guilt-Free Splurging | When it's Okay to Spend a Little More | Smart Money | How to Splurge Without Feeling Guilty



  1. February 27 at 09:38AM

    I have an account separate from my emergency fund that I keep to take advantage of opportunities that come up such as those once-in-a-lifetime events. This makes it truly guilt-free splurges because I know it won’t set me back to jump on these opportunities! I tend to feel guilty otherwise about spending a lot of money on almost anything, so it’s a great solution for me.

    • That’s a great idea! I like the thought of having some wiggle room on things that might be a necessity but aren’t really an emergency.

  2. February 27 at 05:00PM

    I think of a splurge as something that isn’t a practical long term investment like good cookware. It’s a treat that you give yourself so that you don’t feel too deprived about delaying (or denying) gratification to yourself as you work towards a carefully thought out, long term goal. Keep the amount to less than $20 a month and spend it on something that you really love but don’t need. For me, it would be fancy buttons from Etsy or a vintage broach from eBay. Some might just want a take-out coffee once a week.

  3. February 27 at 11:19PM

    I always forget about thredUP….thanks for reminding me. I have to agree with splurging on good shoes, it makes all the difference in the world! And you bring up good points about safety and once in a lifetime opportunities. So often I find myself saying “It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity” when in reality it really isn’t.

  4. February 28 at 07:19AM

    I could have had a splurge recently but reconsidered once I realized that I did not need to spend a cent. I just changed my mindset

  5. February 28 at 11:31PM

    Gotta go get one of my kids their helmet now (because:safety)! And I will definitely check with my local police department about discounts – thanks for the tip.

  6. March 1 at 07:11AM

    I allow myself to splurge on long-term purchases which are being planned and I know are needed. I would also added books and educational items to the list.

  7. Linda
    March 8 at 09:38PM

    Just before it got married, my parents found this great deal on a set of copper bottom Revere Ware cookware. 40 years later they still look as good as when they were new! My silverware pattern was expensive but I loved it and recently I had to replace a few pieces . The old and the new look just the same after 40 years! If it is something that you are expecting to last a long time, then it is worth the splurge.

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