As a frugal person who sticks to a budget, contributes to my employer-matched retirement accounts and has an emergency fund, I find myself in the occasional position to think about whether to splurge on my wants with my “fun money” leftover in my budget. Since I overthink every purchase anyway, I thought I would share some of my neurotic tendencies when it comes to splurging on luxury items.
1. Is this an existing want?
First and foremost, I make sure that this is something I truly want. To help determine that question, I keep an updated and curated “wants” list on my phone. While my “needs” list includes practical day-to-day items like groceries and toiletries that need to be replenished, my wants list includes things like a nice coat or a new wallet. These are items that I don’t need per se, but would rather be a welcome addition or a luxury to have. Having a curated wants list means that I avoid fleeting impulse buys (case in point: flash sales where an item is heavily discounted and I’m influenced more by the low price than anything else). If I see something I want in a sale, but it does not already exist in my wants list, I don’t buy it.
Part of why a curated wants list works is because these items have passed a “wait test” to make it onto said list. The passage of time is the best way to filter fleeting wants. Much of the novelty and magpie tendencies (oooh shiny!) dissipate following the distance that comes with time. More rational thoughts take over, like whether this new bag is actually practical for work, or whether these boots will get enough wear to justify the price. Even revisiting your wants list from time to time will help you realize that you don’t even want half of the items anymore.
2. What feeling am I trying to achieve?
What people truly desire is a feeling and rarely a thing. I read this somewhere and thought it immensely profound. If I’m in the mood to splurge on a mani-pedi, I ask myself why. Since I can do my own nails at home for a fraction of the cost, I question my urge to splurge on a mani-pedi. More often than not, I realize that what I truly crave is the feeling of relaxation. I want to feel pampered and relaxed and to hang out with a close girlfriend or two. With that knowledge in mind, I find other ways to achieve the same feeling without the cost. For instance, I will go for a long walk in nature or do some yoga at home or meditate. I will call or meet up with my girlfriends and catch-up. Through these alternatives, I achieve the feeling I actually desire and more often than not, my original urge to splurge will have completely dissipated.
Another thing I actively avoid is falling prey to the mindset of Keeping up with the Joneses/Kardashians. Do I really want this item, or do I just want it because the Kardashians have it? (I really love the Kardashians.) The minimalism trend has caught on in the past few years, and for good reason. People are getting tired of the constant consumerism culture. Nowadays, advertising is subliminal — and everywhere. Facebook and Instagram are built for showing you the highlight reels of other peoples’ lives, and this can cause you to want things without actually wanting them. Sometimes a step back is necessary to regroup and think about what actually brings you joy. Practicing gratitude and mindfulness and taking periodic breaks from social media can help you figure out the excess in your life and recalibrate your wants.
3. Is this “the one”?
If a luxury item or experience passes my want and wait tests, and I’ve found that substitutes and/or mindset shifts in #2 don’t quite cut it, I go ahead and narrow down the options. I want to make sure that I get the best deal possible on the item I want (i.e. finding “the one”). Nowadays, the ubiquity of the internet means that you can find anything for cheaper if you are willing to put some effort into it. From ebates and Groupon to luxury resale websites and credit card rebates, there is a way to get anything you want for less and I make sure to use these tools to my advantage.
Finally, once I take the plunge, I fully savor the experience and enjoy it. By truly enjoying the purchase, I allow myself the pleasure of fulfilling my want. This way, I won’t be looking out for another hit of endorphins through another purchase anytime soon, and I truly appreciate and maximize the value of my current purchase.
Ally G. updates her beauty blog regularly with product reviews and recommendations. She spends an abnormal amount of time browsing cat memes on the internet and channels the rest of her creative energy in writing dystopian fiction available on Amazon.
Image via Unsplash