If you’ve read anything I’ve posted recently, or gotten sucked into even a tiny bit of the black hole that is my Twitter profile, you probably know that I’ve recently gone through a bad breakup. It wasn’t a pretty breakup, or the kind that leaves you stronger and happier after it is over. It was a shocking, painful ordeal that left me ugly-crying on the bathroom floor most nights, for the past few months trying to make sense of the whole dang thing. I have also been dealing heavily with the urge to spend any amount of money on something that might bring me some sort of comfort during this time. In the first days following the end of my relationship, I wrote about the post-breakup purchases I’ve made in the past that I ended up feeling deeply regretful of. This included dumb things, like hair dye and new outfits, and a few unnecessarily extravagant purchases, like a plane ticket to Europe — all of which I justified in the name of self-care. That post was written for one important reason: I have an incredible talent for shaming myself into being financially-responsible. I know myself well enough to know that in my darkest hour, I cannot always trust my own ability to hold myself accountable for making financially sound decisions; I need an entire online community to judge my slip-ups.
With that being said, I am close enough to my own money situation to know where I can actually afford to splurge, and when I should really hold off. This past month has been a time where I had to be extremely decisive when figuring which near-purchases were things I wanted/needed/could easily afford, and which ones were just poorly executed, halfhearted attempts at making myself feel better. I try to tighten up a little extra when I’m feeling down for any particular reason, because I know I’m most vulnerable to making actively terrible decisions when I’m hurting. However, these three purchases, although all equally and undeniably unnecessary, are three purchases I am standing by. They were all inexpensive enough that they didn’t throw a wrench in any of my savings goals, yet they all somehow felt special enough to actually make me feel better in a way that many self-care purchases never can.
1. A bottle of wine, a $4 organic chocolate bar, and an $8 salad Tuesday night with my best friend.
I’m sort of cringing at the thought of my friend and I spending nearly $10 each on a pre-made salad when I could have made enough salad for both of us for half the cost with store-bought ingredients, but we needed that quality best-friend bitch-session so desperately, and I truly believe that it wouldn’t have been as successful had we spent any of our precious time preparing food. For dessert, we shared an overpriced chocolate bar that was so delicious I nearly cried. Also, we both knew our brilliant idea of splitting a cheap, $15 bottle of wine on a Tuesday night was nothing more than a wildly unnecessary expense, but hell if that stopped us. It was all in the name of girl-talk, and I don’t regret a single cent, or a single calorie of our lovely evening together.
2. A mani-pedi with my mother that didn’t even last a week.
I am 100% one of those people who isn’t usually down to shell out any amount of money to get my nails done. I have a bunch of cute polishes I’ve collected over the years, and have a religious Sunday-evening ritual of removing last-week’s chipped polish and painting on a fresh color myself, for absolutely free. However, when my mother mentioned grabbing a pedicure in preparation for the upcoming warm weather, I jumped right on that, and even threw a mani into the mix. If I’m going to have a ~treat yo’self~ salon day, you better believe I’m going all-out. The manicure only lasted on my nails about four days before chipping off, but damn if they weren’t the greatest four days I’ve had since I got my heart broken. No matter how messed up I feel on the inside, perfectly polished nails always make me feel like I have my shit beautifully together. It was worth every penny of the $25, plus tip.
3. A graphic T-shirt that is serving as both an article of clothing and a source of life inspo.
Although I do believe in the power of investing in sturdy, timeless pieces for my ~adult~ wardrobe, I’m still in a place where I tend not to spend too much on any particular article of clothing unless it is really special, or something I’ll definitely wear for years to come. As someone who loves fashion and has a constantly-evolving style, it isn’t really practical (or fun) for me to adopt a mix-and-match wardrobe of investment pieces at this point in my life. When I stumbled upon a graphic tee that said “Kind Heart, Fierce Mind, Brave Spirit” recently, it spoke to me — but the $32 price tag (not very expensive, but more than I’d pay for most graphic tees) had me questioning if I’d be able to ever commit to making it mine. But on one particularly low evening, I was lying in bed thinking about anything I could possibly do to make myself feel better, and for some reason the first thing that appeared in my mind was this t-shirt. Something about the words, the beautiful hand-lettering, and the wonderful soul of the woman who made it inspired me in a way I’ve so desperately needed to be inspired. I felt like once I slipped into the shirt, maybe I would adopt the kind heart, fierce mind, and brave spirit myself. I ordered it on the spot and it soon arrived, beautifully packaged, and was every bit as wonderful as I hoped it would be. It didn’t exactly bring me immediate peace, like I hoped it magically would. It did, however, make me feel like peace was possible, and that’s good enough for me. And now, on particularly low nights, I put on the shirt and feel, at the very least, a teeny-tiny bit more kind, fierce, and brave. Totally worth $32.
While I do recognize the foolishness of reckless emotional spending, I also see value in putting money, when possible, towards something that does nothing more than simply making you feel happy. All of these purchases were unnecessary; I own t-shirts in excess, I had ingredients for a fine meal for both my friend and I at home, and I could have given myself a shoddy mani-pedi at home that lasted just as long as the one that cost over $30. But these purchases were worth more than they cost me, because they actually made me feel amazing. The problem with spending money recklessly and calling it self-care is that many self-care purchases don’t ever follow through with actually making you feel good. They are empty promises you make yourself believe when you need something to believe in, and then you end up paying for no payoff. But if things get really bad, and you find even the slightest bit of happiness in something, get it. It is justified. You can’t really put a price on the way-too-expensive organic chocolate bar that finally brought you some peace.
Mary is the summer Media Fellow at The Financial Diet. Send her your summer intern stories (your lessons, failures, triumphs and good advice) at firstname.lastname@example.org
Image via Pixabay