Poll: How Do You Splurge on a Budget?

By , SparkPeople Blogger
I'll just come out and say it: I'm cheap. If I can go without something, I will. If it's not a "necessity," then I don't need it, which means I don't buy it. I repair and mend broken appliances and holey socks. I use coupons and wait weeks for items to go on sale. I drive a 15-year-old car that gets me from place to place and that's about it. I don't own a Smartphone—or a phone that can even send a picture message. When I do go out to eat (a rare occasion), I usually order my food to-go just to save on tax and tip! Some people may view my penny-pinching ways as problematic, but I think frugal living is a virtue. After all, during hard economic times, living within a budget is a real challenge for many people.

I admit though: Living on the cheap can get old…fast. If you're not going on vacations, buying expensive clothes or toys, or spending much on entertainment, life can get boring. But only if you let it. Cheap as I may be, I realized recently that I do splurge on myself in little ways that add big pleasure to my everyday life. This led me to wonder: How do you splurge on a budget?

There are a couple ways that I treat myself without going overboard:
  1. I splurge on an upscale salon shampoo.
    I don't spend much on haircuts and I've never been to a spa, but one thing I always splurge on is shampoo. It's something I use every day, and I really enjoy the scent and the results that a high-quality shampoo can provide. It's like turning my shower into a spa at home! I buy Aveda's Shampure shampoo, which costs about $30 for a large bottle. Spending that much may sound insane to some people, but I only buy two bottles per year, which is about $60 for a whole year of daily pleasure. Plus, I regularly receive compliments on how good my hair smells! It's a simple thing, but I wouldn't give it up just to save a few bucks.
  2. I splurge on dessert.
    If I am going to opt for dessert or an extra treat, I don't waste my time with cheap candy or sweets. I choose the good stuff! When you're spending more, you usually are getting better quality and flavor, which means you're more likely to slow down and savor it. Another plus with this option is that you usually get less food for the money, which is a boon to anyone trying to manage their weight. Sure, you could get a 1-pound bag of Twizzlers for $2 (I know this from experience), but that's way more than I need to be eating! I'd rather spend $4 on a super delicious bar of dark chocolate. It may only contain 3 servings instead of 15, but I usually spread them out and enjoy them more!
Let's not forget about all the simple pleasures in life that are free and enjoyable—if you take the time to appreciate them. Things like playing with my dog, relishing in a good book (free from the library, of course), playing a fun board game with good friends, sleeping in on a Saturday, seeing the first sprigs of green pop up from the ground after a long winter—these are the things that make everyday life so special!

Now tell me: How do you indulge on a budget? What are some of your cheap and simple pleasures?

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See if your cosmetologist friend can get you the high priced salon hair products at a significant discount?? Many cosmetologists have "membership only" access to the wholesale beauty products stores and can go pick up the same salon brands you buy at a much cheaper price (most of them are buying to resell in their own shops to their clients). It depends on the store - some stores will let the cosmetologist bring their "friend" in - we usually have our discussion out in the car before we arrive, and she'll have my list, and she usually pays with cash or with her credit card and then later on, in the car or elsewhere, I'll reimburse for the cost (gotta keep it discreet.). Aveda products are not sold (usually) in the same wholesale beauty places though - so for that, my friend, during the few years she was working in an Aveda salon, would pick up stuff using her employee discount and then I'd reimburse her. There again, it just depends on the salon and how flexible they are. Some really get uptight about buying it at their wholesale cost from their supplier. Report
Somehow I've had the idea that if you work at Sparkpeople you make a lot of money and live high on the hog. I love the fact that you sound just as frugal/cheap as me :) I learned very young that happiness wasn't dependent on a lot of money, and I live that way to this day.

Like some of the other members here, I splurge at the hairdresser's for a cut and colour every couple of months. I've done my own a few times and the results were not good. A friend of mine whose hair I always admire has hers done at the local community college. My rent is going up, so I'll be trying them out!

My other splurge is on coffee out with friends. I get special sugarless flavouring, and don't even finish my coffee because I'm a slow drinker, but that's secondary. I go at least once a week and it pays great dividends in sanity and healthy relationships.

I find a nice but cheap massage place through yelp & treat myself to a massage once a month. Also, if there is a massage therapy school near you, you may be able to get a cheap massage through the school. Report
I "splurge" every few months and buy myself a new top that is usually on clearance at Macy's. I've come to realize that it is important for me to look good while losing weight, it makes me feel better. Once in a while, I will pick up a Dove's dark chocolate bar and eat one piece a week, if it melts in my mouth - it lasts longer! Report
I splurge (on the cheap) and recycle at the same time. Taking my unloved clothes and shoes to resale. And bringing back 1 high end item. Report
I splurge with time, not money by doing something I like. Report
I splurge on food - the really good stuff. Chilean sea bass - asparagus - berries even when not in season...and on and on! Report
Fresh fruit Report
Magazines!! I love them, I think it is an addiction. I have so many subscriptions. I love going to the mailbox on the days that I think that one might be here. Sad but my $10 Misc Budget normally goes to purchasing magazines. Report
I like to splurge on a pedicure. It is something that needs to be done and nice to have someone else do it once in a while. This week I am spending time with my Grandson Jake who is 7 years old. It is such a blessing to play and laugh with a child. I think it does you more good that lots of other splurges. ...and it is something I don't get to do often....so as with other splurges, that makes it very special to me. Report
My favorite splurge is with my time, my only alone time during the day. - On the front porch watching the sunset and just listening to the sounds of nature, watching the ducks and birds. It is so peaceful and relaxing taking in God's Majesty. Report
I grill steak a few times a month, and when I do I make it a filet mignon. And I usually pair it with asparagus, grilled red peppers, and goat cheese. The meal is more expensive than my usual groceries, but it sure makes for a delicious meal. Speaking of which ... I still have to plan tonight's dinner. Hmmmm! Report
There is a place in my local mall where I can get a 15 minute massage for $10. I usually give a $5 tip and it makes me feel so much better. It makes a huge difference to me. I try to make it a couple of times each month! Report
What little extra I have every month I'm getting my little garden going. Plant's, seeds, soil. It give's me something to really look forward too. Report
We splurge on a golf membership at our local golf course. It's a small 9-hole course, so not as expensive as some of the country club courses. My husband and I both love to golf, so this gives us some quality time together, great exercise, and if we're short on money one week, we don't have to worry....we can still go golfing because the season is already paid for. Report
It's EASY!! Bits of real meat diced up in the Ra-men, and some green Tea, eaten with the best Ha-Shi, (or Cha Ka Ra), that you have. Report
i dont think you're being cheap I think its a virtue. I splurged on test equipment but I bought most online for LESS than I could get them locally so I guess its sort of a win-win situation. Report
I'm a firm believer that I should buy only what I need, and very llittle that I just want. But some ways that I can splurge is getting my hair cut & other beauty treatments at the local beauty college; use the library more than buying new books; but look at the books at the Goodwill store; eat what I buy & don't let it spoil or go to waste; look for nice things that I maybe couldn't afford to buy that are "like new" but pre-owned; trade books & magazines with friends. And don't forget, the best things in life are free, as I reflected as I drove to work this morning & surveyed the beautiful Spring trrees & blossoms! Report
Nail polish. It's much cheaper to do your own, plus it saves time and I can change the color every few days if I want, instead of trying to make my expensive manicure last. Nobody knows I do them myself, everyone thinks they're done professionally! Report
I splurge by buying even discounted or popularly priced (euphemism for "cheap", I guess) yoga classes; books and DVDs at the now-defunct Borders with their rewards coupons; beauty products; used DVDs from the Blockbuster fast-fading retail chain; even the lowest rung Netflix membership is a splurge; and buying magazines ...
Yahh, I'm in debt and these are things solvent people with money lying around take for granted .... lol Report
I get my hair colored professionally (my big splurge) but it is at a discounted price even there. To compensate, I'm the queen of couponing, rebating, and discounting sales. I also use the library system for books, magazines, DVDs, CDs. My Nook purchases are only from gift cards (my stock answer when asked what present I want for an occasion). If I can repair or keep something going by doing it myself, I won't pay to have it done (except for my hair). Report
My biggest splurge in a while was my phone ... but will pay for itself in the long run! Otherwise ... I am an artist/craftsman at heart but in the hustle and bustle of life and making ends meet ... I left some of that behind. At the end of january, I took a trip to Tucson to A) meet up w/ a HS friend I hadn't seen since 1969 & B)to go to the GEM SHOW w/ her. WOW!!! It awakened the artistic soul ... and I splurged on many beads,etc to start making jewelry for gifts for friends & family AS WELL AS for PROFIT!! Hopefully it pans out (I've spent over $600 on supplies)!!! BUT the best part is that I am once again creating and when I'm working on that ... I forget about time and food!! Might be a 3-fold deal - hyacinths for the soul, possible "side" business & a way to diet ( I tend to eat out of boredom at times). Report
I splurge on one pedicure a month from June through September. I will splurge every 3 months or so on books from Barnes & Noble (I can spend hours in a bookstore). I definitely splurge on new running shoes every 3-6 months, depending on how they hold up (feet are important - gotta keep them happy!). I also splurge on a decent haircut-and-color every six weeks. I would say this is probably my biggest splurge. Report
Biggest splurge ever was my vacation to Disney. Had not been on vacation in 10 years! Well worth it. Report
Love the Groupon.com keep looking for a local deal - and save it for when you need it . Just purchased a 1/2 price facial - Can't wait! Report
I just splurged on my local Zoo membership...Got 15 mths for the price of 12, plus lots of extra bonuses for signing up early. This way......I can go whenever I want....get in lots of walking & enjoy the animals!!! I can't wait for my cards to get here! Report
Pedicures are my splurge of choice Report
My income is limited and my husband owns his own business so his income constantly fluctuates. I've learned to take care of most of the household stuff on my income alone. As we have cut back on more and more things, there are some things I won't compromise:
1. Gym membership: $50/month for 3 people. Open 24/7 and they have a pool which is the only place I can exercise right now.
2. Dog food: we have four dogs and pay $90 roughly every 2 weeks for their food. My brother keeps suggesting we switch to cheaper food. I tell him it would like him eating McDonald's all the time or having healthy foods.
3. Make-up: I use clinique because I'm allergic to most of the other stuff.
Splurge by playing BOARD games or Reading a book-- time for just FUN... or sometimes a special dessert, and try to make sure it fits into week's calories if not the exact day's. Report
today I splurged my time. Spent alot of time on Sparks. Report
As a single-income household, we don't have much splurge room, but when I do get a chance to I wont pass up on a manicure and pedicure, a pair of shoes, or an evening at the theater. Report
My husband and I are both frugal. If not for us always having been the types to live below our means, THESE hard economic times would be affecting us a lot more drastically than they are. Don't get me wrong, things ARE tough; but, I have friends whose mortgage payments would keep me up at night. We plan and budget for family vacations (quality family time away from the rest of the world) --- that's our "guilty pleasure!!!!" Report
I splurge on some food items, like a clearance and previously on sale steak. This week I splurged on Blue Bell ice cream that they are going to start selling in the stores here, and a goat cheese (Drunken Goat) that I had tasted. My other splurges are on my anmals, treats for the dogs and care for my horse. The animals take up every cent of my money. Report
I enjoyed reading this and made me think to boot! Report
I splurged this week on something I've been thinking of getting for years - a treadmill! SP was my inspiration. I've never really exercised much and I'm shocked I can do this! Thank You. Report
Warm weather is coming I just know it is . . one day. (lol) I splurge on pedicures; my neighborhood Walmart has a nail salon in it that offers pedicures for $25 Mon-Weds. I usually go once a month during warm weather. In addition, I splurge on shampoo & conditioner as well . . . one has to look good. I use Carol's Daughter and it's kinda pricey for the complete line, $55.00 (shampoo/conditioner/daily hair lotion), but the products usually last about 2-3 months which really isn't all that bad. I also don't like to scrimp on creams/moisturizers for my face. A tub of Clinique's turnaround cream or moisture surge may run $36, but it'll last 4-6 months b/c a little bit goes a long way. When money is tight though, Garnier's skincare line works just as well and I can usually find coupons for it in the Sunday paper or online :-) Report
I can't believe I am finally going to post on a daily blog!
You sound SO much like me in this frugality thing! Frugality is nice/essential sometimes, but you can carry it too far. Make sure you aren't being frugal for the sake of being frugal! Life is to be enjoyed!
On to the splurges! I splurge on food and vitamins. After all, I truly "consume" these -- they are never wasted. I splurge at the thrift store. There are brand-new (!) things there and things that force you to pick them up and wonder and exercise your brain to figure out what they are or if you can use them and generally the prices are wonderful (last year, I gave all my friends new Prada purses because the thrift store didn't know what they had and badly underpriced them at $7 each and I bought them all and I have NO idea why a thrift store would have new Prada purses, but I wasn't going to waste the opportunity!).
But my best splurge EVER was to go to the park on a spring morning JUST after they had mowed. I took off my shoes and lay down in the grass on my back and watched the clouds go by and smelled the grass as the sun warmed my body. I relaxed totally and just drifted with the clouds. Time didn't matter. That was 5-6 years ago? The memory still sustains me... Report
I splurge on organic food and good quality shoes and purses, but I brown bag my lunch, dont smoke and dont visit chain based coffee shops, if I go to a coffee shop its a neighborhood one. I also splurge on meals at good restaurants, again I stay away from chains and do go out to eat often (once or twice a month). Report
I love books and they can be expensive. I buy books at library sales or second hand stores for little to nothing. The books get passed around until everybody reads them and then I donate them back to charity shops or the library for resale. Everybody wins! Report
I like Jeres26 like the Victoria lotions and some are really strong, but I also like to just take a very small dab of them, mix them with a cheaper non-frangrant lotion to make them last longer, and the fragrance is dressed down a bit more that way as well.

I will use a tea bag twice, and I pick up every coin I see on the ground, but before I put it in my pocket or purse, I ask God to continue to Bless me with the gifts I need.

I brown bag lunch every day, I cook at home most days of the week, scanning my cookbooks, SP, and other sites for good lite recipes, I make my list off these recipes and that is all I buy, (although my DH does like his treats, I do buy things he likes that I don't)

These things are working, I am starting to see a big difference in my bills, I am starting to get caught up a bit and even paying those staggering dr bills we got after DH open heart surgery!
I love victoria secret lotion but it is too strong for me, so I use with a cheap brand of lotion. It last a long time and I get to enjoy the fragrance all the time. Report
Flowers for my flower beds in the spring, time to read year round, travel to Schenectady, NY to see my daughter each summer, fresh fruits and vegetables. I hate shopping so will sometimes buy something I need just because it fits instead of spending hours hunting for something cheaper. I don't buy many clothes though and don't shop at expensive stores. I always check out the sales racks first, but avoid going to too many places. Report
I splurge on chocolate and desserts (once in a while). Also, I reward myself for a pair of earrings I was saving for. Next, will be a puzzle for my home. Report
Great blog! I splurge on some cheese that costs more than most. For most everything else in the store, I will get the bargain price, but when it comes to cheese, there is only one brand I will buy. Report
I really don't like to shop, so that cuts put impulse buying and "I love it and have to have it" items. I splurge on technology. My intermediate goal rewards are all tech items like an Eye Fi card for my camera and software packages. My next goal reward is an iPad. Report
Love your blog....and shampoo suggestion. We do the same...coupon cutting, library "shopping" for books and movies, use clothe instead of plastic (saves on having to haul them somewhere after we're done, and good on the landfill), etc.

I splurge on gum and body soap. I know, it's crazy. It's the little things that excite me. Report
I love a pedicare! Report
I know frugality! I managed to raise four teenagers on $1000/mo. for several years alone. Can you say "beans and rice?" One thing I'd encourage any of your try is Making Things For Yourself. Bookshelves? Why not? Tear apart a free pallet from a warehouse 'throw-away' pile, and knock it back together in the shape you want (the back alleys of carpet stores are Terrific resources for building materials being thrown away.) Once you try it, you'll be amazed what you can accomplish. And the local library has books on woodworking with beginner's projects to tell you how to do it. Report
Nice blog! I am with you on the high quality shampoo. I think it makes a difference.

I also splurge on good coffee, organic produce and other products, and occasionally, nice clothes. I'd rather spend a little bit more on quality clothes that feel soft, fit well, and will last longer -- than have more clothes.

But I am totally down with the public library, used bookstores, Goodwill, public transportation, and making do with things until they really need to be replaced.

But I am not afraid to splurge within my means. Report
I splurge on running shoes and some organic produce. Report
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