We Save So We Can Splurge

Ivy says:

My mom bought a new couch for her office recently. The day her couch came, her house was hit by lightning, frying most of her electronic equipment. I joked that the gods of finance sent that lightning bolt for buying something so expensive. She was not amused. I was.

But she said something I think we all can dig: We save in some areas so we can splurge in others. I like that, I really do. I think her 42 million Tiffany lamps are ridiculous, she thinks it’s ridiculous that I must hie myself to a beach at least twice a year so I can bury my feet in the sand and really feel alive. Unless you’re ridiculously wealthy, you can’t have everything you want. But you can save for what you need- even if your need seems dumb to someone else.

I know a guy who eats out for every single meal, yet slept on a futon mattress for 2 years until he could save enough for a nice mattress. In my mind, he could have eaten at home for 2 months and saved that money, but see, that’s the thing. He really enjoys going out to eat. Sleeping on a futon mattress was for him, less of a big deal than giving up going out to eat.

I see an awful lot of judgment on this here internets about what people choose to spend their money on. Awhile back I saw a post on a frugality community I read where someone was having (or trying to have, I don’t remember the exacts) a baby and wanted frugal baby tips. One of the commenters said something like, “Yeah, to save lots of money on having kids, DON’T HAVE THEM. Kids are expensive.” That led to a big argument on whether kids are worth the cost, etc. But the point is, who were they to judge?

That’s why I’m here asking you guys what your “stupid” splurge is. Maybe if we admit what our splurges are in a non-judgmental space, we can stop feeling guilty about our splurges and move on. And next time you’re getting some harassment about what your splurge is, direct them to this post.

I’ll start. I have a few splurges. I have the good cable. I have HBO and Starz and I have a DVR. That’s practically tightwad sacrilege, but I’ll qualify that with the fact that I own almost no DVDs and haven’t been to the movie theater in forever. Sure, I could watch most of this stuff online, but I like my cable.

And like I said up top, I have to get out to the beach at least twice a year. This wouldn’t be much of a splurge if I happened to live near the ocean, but I’m in Tennessee. I save money on that by having friends I can stay with for free, (Do you live near the ocean? Want to be my friend?) and I try to cut down on costs in several other ways. Look for a post on saving money while vacationing here soon.

Finally, I like to go out to eat. If having the good cable is tightwad sacrilege, then this is downright tightwad blasphemy. I’m surprised the financial gods didn’t hit my house while they were at it. Now, we don’t eat out nearly as much as my pal up there who slept on a futon mattress, but we do like to hit the ol’ Blue Coast Burrito every now and again.

Let me admit- when money gets tight, these splurges do stop, so don’t lay awake at night worrying if I’m able to eat because I have the good cable, okay? But I do budget for these luxuries, and I feel blessed that we are able to have them.

So, don’t let me hang out there in the wind, Home Eccers. What are your splurges?


  1. Tammy on June 25, 2008 at 3:35 pm

    My splurges are on good (natural) skincare and makeup and yarn. The skincare I can sort of justify because at least I’m not putting chemicals on my body, but the yarn has no excuse. I buy yarn because I like to knit–mostly for others but sometimes for myself. So really, I’m splurgin on others. 😉

  2. Mrs. H. on June 25, 2008 at 8:40 am

    This article was wonderful. I often feel guilty that I don’t save more than some of the women I see on these blogs.

    We try to live a frugal lifestyle so we can splurge when we want something big, like a new tv or a nice vacation.

    We homeschool and I bargain shop for books, but we pay a good chunk of change for the kids to take cool classes like Lego engineering at the local college, and for them to play sports and go to sports-related camps. We have five children.

    I bargain hunt for clothes, shoes, etc. and I make things myself, but dh and I are runners, and we’re about to spend some dough on good running shoes. It’s worth it to use to protect our feet.

    I shop the loss leaders at the grocery store, do the cvs and walgreens deals, and clip coupons. Dh hunts during the winter, and fills our freezer with meat. I cook from scratch almost every night, but we occasionally swing through a Taco Bell or get takeout pizza, to give me a break.

    Now, for our splurges. I love book and knitting, so I often purchase yarn and books, but I try to find the best deals on what I want. Dh collects guns, so that is an expensive hobby as well. We enjoy owning a nice ski boat (20 years old, but in great shape), and going to the river to ski, swim, and cook on the weekends. We just bought a very nice flat screen tv, and we are booking a cruise for January of next year. None of these things are necessities, but dh’s job is going well, there’s money in the bank, we’re contributing to his 401k, and we’ve spent the past 10 years keeping our belts as tight as possible so we could pay off vehicles and buy a house. We feel that a couple of splurges here and there won’t hurt us, and the opportunity to have a week alone to rekindle that old flame is worth the price of the cruise (I am shopping around for the best price, though!)

  3. Owlhaven on June 25, 2008 at 2:44 am

    You made some great points. I found you from frugalhacks.com and then blogged about this too!http://owlhaven.wordpress.com/2008/06/25/works-for-me-selective-frugality/

    Mary, mom to many

  4. […] I read Ivy’s entry, at Home Ec 101, on how we save so we can splurge on other things and felt a tiny bit better about my […]

  5. Amy on June 23, 2008 at 7:55 pm

    My splurge is definitely our cable television. We actually gave it up for a couple of months and it really stunk. I realized that I was feeling deprived and that cable television was a special thing for us that we really enjoyed in our family. I discontinued Netflix and added our cable back on yesterday. I thought we could do without…we could, but I don’t want to 🙂

  6. Angela on June 23, 2008 at 2:24 pm

    8mb internet is my big time splurge, the other is for products that work WAY better than the competition. I’m a hidden valley dressing girl, Kraft’s ranch is just nasty.

  7. ScrappyQuilter on June 22, 2008 at 10:28 am

    Really good perfume!

  8. Margo on June 21, 2008 at 7:28 pm

    Food, all the way. We like to eat (and drink!) well. We also like to support our local economy, so we don’t mind buying local stuff (but when it’s in season, it’s actually usually cheaper anyway).

  9. Brenda on June 21, 2008 at 12:28 am

    Lately, we really don’t splurge on things. But I don’t buy crummy food. It may be plain….but I like quality. I don’t consider it a luxury. Perhaps to some people it is! We do not have cable…I wouldn’t care if we were cut down to one channel. But I must have beautiful music to listen to. We also like to make music ourselves, & we read a good deal. To echo what others have said here, I love that we can all choose what is important fro each of us!

  10. Bramble on June 20, 2008 at 11:40 pm

    cable internet and eating out. Slow connection drives me insane, and I like the family time that a restaurant meal provides. My kids (and sometimes husband!)tend to graze if we’re at home to eat.

  11. tink on June 20, 2008 at 6:56 pm

    oh man…

    I forgot the linens.

    I adore my bed, my linens, my pillows….


  12. Paula in NH on June 20, 2008 at 3:41 pm

    We splurge on good food. I shop for meat at a local butcher. Fruits and veggies come from a local family farm market. Coffee is roasted to order and shipped to me every 8 weeks.

    Once or twice a year we go to a concert in Boston. We also go to the PGA Golf tournament in Boston on Labor Day weekend.

    I will splurge on bed linens. Nothing is better than being comfy when I’m sleeping.

    Vacations for us are relatively cheap since hubby travels so much for work we can generally take a vacation without having to pay for airfare or hotels.

  13. Heidi @ Carolina Dreamz on June 20, 2008 at 2:50 pm

    What a wonderful post with wonderful comments!

    My splurges are fairly simple, I think. I spent many years, with little ones, on military one income pay. I made everything from scratch and bought no conveniences. I used to get paid to provide these home-made pleasures to some of my neighbors, too.

    So I feel that my simple splurges may be everyday nothings to other people.

    I do wear mineral makeup. In February, I bought the Almay makeup for my eye color.. big splurge, but I bought all of it at Walmart and not where I’d rather splurge on HSN.

    I’m a serious good linen citizen. Thread count is part of the deal, for me, not price. I also only have two sets, though. Feel over-rides function/look, for me, today.

    Most of my splurges are on “natural” or “health food” type things.. organic milk, free range brown eggs, greek yogurt… In other words, WHOLE FOODS. (dictated, a lot, by allergies)

    I love sushi and don’t make it myself. I buy it in grocery type settings, though.

    I really feel that everything I do, at this stage in my life is a splurge to how I’ve lived before or how I was raised. I feel fortunate that I CAN live like this.

    I’m considering some new fluffy white towels, this week.

    I found most of my current everyday clothes, on clearance, from last season. I can’t justify $40 for a blouse when I can wait and pay $6. But, at the same time, I’m addicted to Onion Rings from Sonic. *giggle*

  14. jim voorhies on June 20, 2008 at 11:43 am

    ok, I forgot coffee – I buy NM Pinon Coffee and it’s worth it (or I am – not sure which) and Cherry Garcia. If there is heaven, it includes Cherry Garcia buckets.

  15. Badbadivy on June 20, 2008 at 10:42 am

    What an awesome conversation we’re having! To the makeup/pedicure/eyebrow wax splurgers- I am so with you. This is one of the things I’ve cut way down on since prices on everything have gone up lately, but when I get rich again (heh), I’ll probably go back to those splurges too. 😀

    BTW, Sharon, let’s be friends. 😉

  16. Jenn @ Frugal Upstate on June 20, 2008 at 9:20 am

    This is so totally our philosophy on life. I just want to live a good life and keep as much of my money as possible 🙂 So we save on the things that don’t matter to us as much so we can have the things that DO.

    So what do I spend money on?

    Vehicles (OK-that ones Yankee Bill’s-we have 3 cars, 2 antique cars, 3 motorcyles, a camper, a golf cart, a riding mower and YB is buying a real tractor today. He comes from a long line of guys who REALLY like motorized vehicles)

    Daycare & Babysitting (even though I’m a SAHM, during the school year the kiddos go to daycare/afterschool care 2 afternoons a week. This is for my sanity, and I’m lucky we can afford it. This would be the first thing to go if we had monetary difficulties. We also wind up hiring a teen babysitter fairly frequently so we can to to meetings, go out, etc etc)

    Our House (we went from totally paid off but small to big with lots of autmosphere and a mortgage. It’s been worth it to us)


    Mineral Makeup (everything else I buy budget)

    Going out to dinner etc when we really feel like it (which is once a month or so)

  17. Sandyjoys on June 20, 2008 at 8:16 am

    My monthly pedicure – pure indulgence but it makes me feel good. If money is tight, it is the first thing to go

  18. candice on June 20, 2008 at 8:11 am

    Personally, I don’t think any splurges are dumb. Its when things become excess that it can be ridiculous. Life should be about splurging!
    …as far as spending good money on a couch…you should. They last a long time!
    For me, I splurge on mani/pedi’s and eyebrow waxes!! I don’t spend money on baskets of make-up or get my hair cut, styled and highlighted every 8 weeks like most women I know. I also don’t stock up on clothing every paycheck…that’s when things get frivolous instead of splurging.

  19. Gillian on June 20, 2008 at 7:46 am

    Vacations, eating out, magazines, clothes.
    Sometimes to the detrement of my finances.
    Did I spell detrement right?

  20. Sharon on June 20, 2008 at 6:18 am

    Actually, I do live near the ocean. About ten minutes drive away from the beach. A long stretch of beach. Across the bay from an island. In the Tropics. In Australia.

    I am blessed, and I know it. Strangely, though, my last big splurge was to get away from the tropics and head to a place on the other side of the continent where they have seasons. I wanted to see trees with coloured leaves for a couple of weeks and feel cold enough to justify putting on a jacket. It was good for the soul.

    Generally, though, my splurges are for bits and pieces of things I almost never use. Items of furniture I rarely sit on. Exercise equipment that stays in my home while I go out for a run. Bits of technology I buy for my mother even though I know she’ll hide it in a drawer and pretend it doesn’t exist…

    I don’t do it often, thankfully, but I do it far too often.

    When it comes to the things I actually do use, for some reason I always go for the cheapest option. Go figure.

  21. Rebecca on June 19, 2008 at 11:43 pm

    Certain food items are splurged on around here. My husband loves a good fancy beer once in a while, so he buys something interesting. Most weeks he drinks inexpensive beers that he refers to as “swill,” but occasionally he’ll treat himself. Also he loves loves LOVES bleu cheese, so we get a nice chunk of it from Costco at every trip.

    My splurges are similar to many others who post. I do own a Coach purse, I’ve had it for 4 years and it’s still going strong. When it finally dies (it won’t anytime soon), I’ll not think twice about spending $200 again. Same with the Coach wallet.

    We also splurge on flowers and plants every year. We grow a lot of our own from seed, but many flats of flowers are purchased and I rarely hesitate at the cost. We get so much enjoyment from our backyard that it’s definitely worth it.

    I also buy good running shoes, from a running shop. I will never try to find my own shoes. It’s not worth it.

  22. Tina on June 19, 2008 at 9:13 pm

    Yea! We’re not the only ones who have the DVR option. I love that + Highspeed internet (but I have to have that for work) and could never go without. Right now the going out to eat has been cut out of the budget, but if things start getting better, that will be the other splurge. I enjoy the break from meal planning and cooking.

  23. Sarah Bray on June 19, 2008 at 8:55 pm

    Satellite t.v., though it’s not any more expensive than cable where we live. During football season, John gets NFL Ticket which drives me crazy and is super duper expensive, but his life would not be worth living otherwise (Drama king). 🙂 We go out to eat sometimes even though we REALLY shouldn’t.

    If we had more money, I know I’d be splurging on good quality clothing for me and John. Nolan and Lilah (our two kids) grow much too fast to get the good stuff, but we’ll wear our clothes until they fall apart. I would also love some really good quality cookware. Le Creuset? Do I hear you calling out my name? Maybe in ten years, honey. 🙂

    • caroline on March 29, 2010 at 6:04 pm

      i want to get married just so i can ask for Le Creuset as a wedding present.

  24. tink on June 19, 2008 at 7:01 pm

    Isn’t it great to live in a country where we can all make our own choices about what is important to us?

    I have a friend who is now a US citizen, however she was born and raised in the Soviet Republic – believe me when I say I can truly appreciate the many choices we have in this country.

    That being said, our big splurge?

    A 2005, Harley Davidson Anniversary Edition Fatboy.

    Hub’s is military, I saved his combat pay and BAH during his last deployment, bought it and handed him the keys on a yellow ribbon at his homecoming.

    Of course, when I bought it, I never dreamed I was buying our “economy car” but Hubs now commutes on it – so maybe it wasn’t such a splurge after all.

  25. Mom of 4 on June 19, 2008 at 5:59 pm

    Broadband internet access. I think it’d half kill me to go back to DSL again. LOL We’re so outside the bell curve on this one; we don’t even have basic cable TV.

  26. CharmingDriver on June 19, 2008 at 4:12 pm

    Hmmm I really had to think about this one because I am just not wired to spend; crawling out of massive debt once taught me almost TOO well how to live on the cheap.

    But thinking about it now, what I spend money on is really silly: makeup. That I rarely wear and abhor putting on but having the ”good stuff” just makes it…better? somehow? I dunno.

    And I like hair products that again cost waaaaaaaay too much and are rarely used but again, I just like having them? or maybe it’s just the thrill of buying them?

    I need a hobby, I think.

  27. Angela on June 19, 2008 at 3:48 pm

    Well…my splurges….my once a week Starbucks, it would be a different coffee place, but this is all we have, also cable, I could live with out, but husband could not, we were eating out a lot, but we bought a 1/4 cow and now grill out a lot and well there are many more, it just depends on what is going on in our lifes and what we feel important at any given moment.

  28. Amanda on June 19, 2008 at 3:13 pm

    This post reminds me of “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn”. The family is dirt poor; their dad is an alcoholic. But there is always coffee made, and they can have a cup any time, and they can pour it down the sink if they want. The mom’s sister gets made at her for being so wasteful; she says something to the effect, “Yes we’re poor, but if dumping coffee down the sink makes us FEEL rich, than it’s worth the expense.” Badly paraphrased, of course, but you get the idea.

    My splurge: toilet paper, definately. Ben and Jerry’s. And I did just spend $32 on the perfect lipgloss and lipstick combo.

  29. Nashville Photographer on June 19, 2008 at 2:19 pm

    Where do I begin? Well, my coffee habit bites me for sure. Throw in a few bar bills a week. Lunch out. Domain names. Camera gear and art supplies.

    It never ends. I gotta get a grip on my wallet.

    Hold on…I’m checking my cart out of Amazon right now…

  30. Austin Chu on June 19, 2008 at 2:04 pm

    Great post. I work for a company that manages and tracks gift cards, and I’ve been blogging about waves to save money on savvywallet.com. I don’t remember the last time I splurged. I try to save money everywhere. I even run my car off waste vegetable oil. I haven’t paid for gas since January. You can check out my ride on austinchu.wordpress.com. However, one thing that I find myself spending money on is buying surfboards and going on massive vacations. This august I’m going to argentina to snowboard.

  31. Vera on June 19, 2008 at 1:38 pm

    For me, yarn is a really big splurge. It’s much more expensive for me to hand knit socks than to buy them, but I get so much out of making them myself.

  32. Karen on June 19, 2008 at 1:36 pm

    books. I buy ’em brand new even though there are at least half a dozen libraries within a 30 minute walk of my apartment and a dozen used bookstores within a 15 minute walk.

  33. Mika on June 19, 2008 at 1:21 pm

    My #1 guilty splurge is fabric..I justify it by saying its for my business (which it is), but at the same time I LOVE being able to go and look at it and have a good variety to pick and choose from. It’s an illness really.

    Eating out is another one for me…we only go out once, sometimes twice a week, and usually at least one of those is breakfast (I make really crappy pancakes for some reason lol), so its not ungodly expensive, but still.

  34. Tiffany on June 19, 2008 at 1:20 pm

    We splurge on travel. Our families are on opposite sides of the country and we are in the middle, and we are committed to seeing them both. We also try to take one personal vacation each year.
    We also splurge on high speed internet, though in my own head that is a necessity! Finally, we splurge on technology, but we only buy one or two gadgets/year, and we do our homework very carefully before making a purchase.

  35. jazzhands on June 19, 2008 at 1:18 pm

    Coach purses–I’d rather spend $200 at the Coach Outlet every 12-18 months on a bag that I LOVE than buy several “disposable” purses that I get sick of after using for several weeks.

  36. AA on June 19, 2008 at 1:15 pm

    Books and dance classes. Technically, I could watch yoga DVD’s or take a walk to exercise, but I love ballet and tap so I splurge on classes. I rationalize that I’m saving on health care later on by remaining active though (: And, reading is supposed to be good for slowing down dementia!

  37. chocolatechic on June 19, 2008 at 1:10 pm

    I don’t generally splurge for anything.

    If I do, it would be a nice meal out. I also love Dove Dark chocolate, and I try to get myself 5 bars every 2 weeks.

    That would be my splurge.

  38. jim voorhies on June 19, 2008 at 1:03 pm

    landscape stone – I’m splurging on landscape stone. Just color me living the wild life!

    OK, and satelitte TV with the DIY channel. I’d like to splurge with a bathroom renovation but that takes more money.

  39. themomhalf on June 19, 2008 at 12:58 pm

    Books, I’ll give up eating out, new cloths, gas money for a book. — which will explain the 100+ cookbooks in the house, and the 1000 + other books, sad, very sad – lol!!

  40. Badbadivy on June 19, 2008 at 12:54 pm

    Amanda- the generic vs. name brand is a good question to ask for later. I’m with you, there are certain things I won’t buy generic, like ketchup.

  41. April@ SALT for the Spirit on June 19, 2008 at 12:51 pm

    We have a cleaning lady who comes once every two weeks. She is $10/ hour and is here two hours and is worth every penny. We don’t have cable so we can spend that money on her services. Otherwise, my floor would hardly ever get mopped and the couch would never be moved to vacuum. I know this about myself. It’s worth every single cent to our family!

  42. Megan on June 19, 2008 at 12:50 pm

    I will sacrifice eating out and buying new clothes, but I always end up splurging on electronics. Not anything insane, mind you, although I am planning on getting the new iPhone 3G. I figure I’ve waited an entire year since the first one came out, so I am getting this sucker the first day it’s available!

  43. Amanda Regan on June 19, 2008 at 12:50 pm

    I have a few things I have to have. There may be cheaper options out there but on the items below I just cannot go without or get the cheaper stuff.

    (1) My cable tv package. – Being stuck in the home 6 days a week I need the variety of programming the different packages I have gives me. I’ve tried cutting down but ended up missing my stories & Rachel Ray too much.

    (2) Certain foods have to be “brand name” the generic versions just aren’t the same. I have to buy branded butter, ketchup, cereal & bread & toilet paper. Some things just need to be good quality.

    (3) Broadband. I could get a cheaper broadband but it would be so slow & I would literally lose my patience with it. I like the speed of my current package & I like the extras my isp gives.
    Being an internet addict I couldn’t give this up.

  44. Christopher on June 19, 2008 at 12:46 pm

    My rent is expensive but I really love my location and the view. I also like to go out for karaoke, drinks, and dancing a lot. Other than that, I live pretty cheaply. Ask anyone who’s seen my clothes and shoes.

  45. Christian on June 19, 2008 at 12:43 pm

    I splurge on technology to create or view media. I also splurge on things that make the yard look like I have way more money than I do.

  46. newscoma on June 19, 2008 at 12:43 pm

    I like to splurge on eating out. I know I’m not supposed to do it but except for about five dishes that I do well, I hate cooking.
    I also splurge on import beer but I haven’t done that in awhile.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.