When people think of a budget, they sometimes think of extreme financial sacrifice with no room for any excess spending. But it is possible to splurge without blowing your budget.
For a little while, extreme budgeting might work for you. But this type of budgeting isn’t always sustainable. A budget can be like a diet. If it’s too restrictive, you’re bound to cheat – or worse – abandon it altogether.
But is it possible to responsibly budget and allow for an occasional splurge? Absolutely!
Read on for tips for how to splurge without blowing your budget.
1. Create a splurge list
First, make a list of all the items or experiences you’re eyeing that seem too expensive for your budget.
Is there a camera you’d love to have for your next vacation? Maybe concert tickets for when your favorite artist comes to town? Or an amazing piece of furniture for your living room?
No matter what your splurges are – add them all to the list! This will be your “splurge list.”
I use a Pinterest secret board to track my splurge list. It helps me visualize my future purchases and motivates me to stick to my financial plan to purchase the items. I also find Google’s Keep app helpful for tracking my splurge list (and all my other lists!).
2. Prioritize your splurges
You likely won’t be able to buy all your splurge items at the same time. So you’ll need to prioritize which items you’d like to purchase first.
Prioritization can help you decide whether you truly want an item. If an item is regularly shuffled to the bottom of your priority list, this may be a sign that you don’t really want the item and it can come off your list.
I periodically revisit my Pinterest “splurge list” board to see if there’s anything I don’t want anymore. Because these are bigger-ticket purchases, I want to make sure it’s something that’s important to me before I commit to buying it. Items that stay on the list for an extended period of time make my priority purchase list.
3. Calculate the per month cost
Because your splurge items are likely higher dollar items, you might not have the budget to purchase the item immediately. Instead, you can set aside a little each month until you’ve saved enough to make the purchase.
To help you decide how much to set aside each month, first determine how much your splurge item will cost. Then determine when you’d like to make the purchase.
For example, say you want to purchase a nice camera in time for your next big family vacation. The camera costs $1000 and the vacation is 10 months from now.
That means that you should set aside $100 each month ($1000 divided by 10 months) from now until your family vacation. At the end of 10 months, you’ll have $1000 set aside to make the purchase.
4. Look for ways to adjust your existing budget
Next, look for ways to adjust your existing budget to set aside the monthly amount for your splurge item.
In our example of the camera, we need to find $100 for 10 months to set aside for the camera.
Because you’re setting aside money for a set period of time (10 months in this example), are there certain expenses you can go without during that period? Some examples might be your budgets for clothing, going out to eat, or entertainment. Could you reduce or even eliminate some of the expenses for these budgets for 10 months so you have $100 extra to set aside for your splurge item?
Alternatively, are there ways you can save with your current spending? Here are some quick ways to save money:
- Sign up for rewards programs for your favorite lunch spots. Many places offer free or discounted meals as you accumulate points.
- Make use of your library card. If you’re devoted to your eReader like me, take advantage of your library’s free eBooks. Even if they don’t have an eBook you want, see if your library will purchase it. I’ve asked my library to consider getting 3 different eBooks in the past year and my library purchased them all!
- Use online grocery shopping. I find it easier to stick to a budget and avoid impulse purchases if I buy my groceries online. In months when I’m trying to spend less on groceries, online grocery shopping helps me to identify the cheaper items so I can save a little extra. Read more about online grocery shopping here.
- Cancel subscriptions and memberships. Do you have magazine subscriptions for magazines you never read? Or an monthly gym membership that you never use? Maybe someday you’ll read those magazines or go to that gym – but maybe you can also cancel those memberships temporarily if those things don’t fit into your life right now. All the money you save will lessen the guilt from cancelling!
- Try Bing as your search engine. You accumulate points by simply doing your regular Internet searches. You can use the points on things like movie rentals. Instead of purchasing a movie to rent or own, you can use your points to watch the movie for free.
5. Find ways to increase your income
If your budget is already tight and won’t allow for any adjustments, see if there are ways to increase your income.
One easy way to increase your income is to use survey sites like American Consumer Opinion and Swagbucks. Both are reputable companies that will pay you to take surveys about various products or services. I find this a great way to make extra money each month. The surveys can be interesting and I can usually find at least 30 minutes a day to take a survey (especially if it’s earning me extra money!).
Budgeting is important – but so is treating yourself on occasion! I hope these tips help you to splurge without blowing your budget. Enjoy!