When to NOT to Splurge

By in Debt, Personal Finance, Saving | 12 comments

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“If I splurge on anything, it’s cologne. I love smelling good.” Zac Efron

This quote suggests that Zac Efron, the wealthy movie star sensation from High School Musical and many more projects, is so financially savvy that his one indulgence is cologne. If that’s his lone indulgence, then this guy is on a path of financial strength.

Personal disclosure: I have never met nor spoken to Zac Efron. (Although I wouldn’t turn down an invitation to meet him!)



I carefully plan my our family splurges:

  • El carino (my hubby) indulges in his hobby of collecting sports memorabilia.
  • I go out to work at a coffee shop once or twice a week and buy a coffee.
  • Special occasions find me at the COACH outlet for a nice bag.
  • Travel is planned and a big priority for our family. This week-end it’s a quick family get away to Atlantic City! (No gambling for us!)

I do not covet expensive jewelry, cars, fine dining (my birthday dinner was at Applebee’s this year). In fact, when el carino wants to tease me, he goads me with the offer to buy me jewelry (because he KNOWS I don’t value spending our money on expensive jewelry). In fact, I totally don’t get the women who want a huge diamond (bought on credit). Give me the cash any day to stick in the investment account.

Please don’t think this is a condemnation of cars, jewelry, or fine dining; it’s not. It is a recommendation to spend on those activities that YOU value, not what your neighbors, TV, or society tells you to value.


Do not splurge if these are your reasons:

  • I really really want it
  • I deserve it
  • I owe it to myself
  • I feel like getting it
  • Why not, you only live once
  • It will make me happy or important

These reasons to splurge are usually justifications to overspend; just thinly veiled self deceptions.

Look, if you can afford it, pay for it this month, and it’s in your budget, then why not.

But, if you just “WANT IT” but don’t have the cash to pay for it, even if you work hard….. you will regret the IMPULSE PURCHASE.

The August 2010 issue of Money magazine includes 7 Secrets of Super Savers. And although some of the strategies were a bit over the top, many included quite a few luxuries. Delay purchases over a certain amount was a sensible option. After all, the Elovitz family didn’t say “NO” to any purchase, but just to think about it and delay. Another family did not buy anything until they could pay for it in cash. No credit for them. Live below your means is a “no brainer;” but what about living on one spouse’s salary and banking the other?

On the flip side….it is IMPORTANT TO SPLURGE ONCE IN A WHILE. After all, if all you do in life is restrict yourself, you will feel deprived and be more likely to go on a spending binge.

How to make the decision to SPLURGE? Plan a splurge and consider your own personal splurging guidelines.


  1. Plan , the purchase, not an impulse buy.
  2. It is something we will enjoy for a while; either thinking about, watching, remembering, or using. Vacations and Broadway shows fit this category. For our splurge, el carino and I budget in trips to NYC to see Broadway Shows (frequently purchasing half price tickets).
  3. Never buy on credit.
  4. Consider whether it is worth the cost, TO US. On a recent trip to visit my parents, my mom offered to take us to a really fancy restaurant to celebrate my birthday. Even though my parents were treating, the cost of an extravagant restaurant is not worth the expense. I value eating out, in fact, I love to eat out…. But really upscale restaurants are not of value for me. I chose a nice seafood restaurant; healthy and tasty!!!
  5. Pays lasting dividends: Education!

Splurging is important! Who wants to live a life of total deprivation? Wealth in life is actually more important than wealth in money. Of course, the irony is that you need a certain amount of financial wealth in order to splurge without debt.  Although, a bubble bath is a great (cheap) splurge,  it isn’t the same as a trip to Puerto Rico! Choose your splurges to fit into your own budget!


Get a notebook and label it: “(your name) Personal Finance” and keep it by the computer. Use it to keep all of your personal finance goals, thoughts, activities, and plans.  

Write out a list of your personal SPLURGE GUIDELINES.

What do you splurge on? How do you plan for it?


 Check out what other personal finance bloggers are saying about Splurges.

Cool to be Frugal asks: Is it ok to Splurge when you are in Debt?

Well Heeled Blog wonders if Abnormal Penny Pinching Justifies Splurges?

Money Reasons discusses Losing Control to Lifestyle Inflation

Mea Culpa, I just Spent $1,450 at Apple said the Financial Samurai

Money Funk bemoans her Emotional Spending

Ramit Sethi at I Will Teach you to be Rich shares The Money Diaries of a 25 year old Single Mom who Writes Bad Checks

Image credit: Swamibu


  1. Everyone needs a good splurge once in a while, but those a great rules of when not to take the plunge.

    If there’s one thing I splurge on, it would have to be buying stuff for my girlfriend. She never asks and we both are pretty easy to please, but I can’t resist getting her flowers, taking her to a movie, or going out to dinner every once in a while.


    August 15, 2010

  2. Daniel, This is a “perfect” comment. You cannot go wrong “splurging” on your girlfriend. I expect it will lead to a wonderful relationship! Sounds like you are a great boyfriend :).


    August 15, 2010

  3. Splurging is like a pressure valve release. It helps relieve all that build up desire that could blow the lid off of everything if you don’t splurge once in a while!

    Financial Samurai

    August 15, 2010

  4. “Never buy on credit.”
    When it comes to pure consumption, I completely agree. I wouldn’t be too happy say, taking a vacation if I knew I wasn’t able to pay off the credit card before interest is due, so in those cases, I simply don’t go.

    It’s important to spend on the things you enjoy, while making sure it’s really for your enjoyment. True motivation and happiness comes from within and through the relationships we share with others, and the things that we buy are simply a reflection of that, and can even be simple things, like a bar of some really delicious chocolate, or a shared vacation with that special someone in an exotic location.


    August 16, 2010

  5. Occasional splurges are just fine, and it certainly seems practical to set some guidelines to avoid messing up the budget or your discipline. I like your discussion of making sure that the splurges truly have value. Similar to dieting, empty calories are regrettable (just like frivolous purchases). Kind Regards,

    Roshawn @ Watson Inc

    August 16, 2010

  6. @Financial Samurai, Kevin, & Shawn, I appreciate the continuation and reinforcement here. Splurges ARE important, as is restraint, it’s kind of like keeping the balance. Best regards to all, Barb


    August 16, 2010

  7. If I splurge, it is usually on vacation. I want to have as many fun experiences with my family as I can before they are all grown up. I am with you though, I am not about jewelry, fancy cars, etc. I really don’t splurge on myself at all except going out to lunch with friends. However, that is basically my social life.

    I think rewarding yourself for accomplishing a goal can be a good thing, although it may be considered ‘splurging’. If you attain a weight loss goal for instance, that may be worthy of splurging.

    Everyday Tips

    August 17, 2010

  8. I agree that an occasional splurge is called for; as long as one can afford it without going into debt! Luckily, there’s really not many physical items I desire (except my daily Starbucks coffee) and an occasional trip to visit family or go camping. I’m easy.

    Little House

    August 17, 2010

  9. Hi Little House- I don’t know if you realize it, but you just iterated the “secret to happiness.” Enjoy and appreciate what you have, and keep your material desires small, then your life will be filled with wealth.


    August 17, 2010

  10. Never buy on credit! Agreed!

    I also “splurge” occasionally.. I will admit that most of my purchases are planned, and I rarely go to stores unless I am hunting for one thing in particular. But on occasion I will buy some fruity drink somewhere, or a snack here and there (I’m hungry about ever 3 hours)… I agree with you though, It is OK to splurge (on little things occasionally)! 🙂


    August 17, 2010

  11. MFO, I’m smiling as I read your comment, (I’m hungry about every 3 hours too :))because I also categorize those occasional small snacks and drinks out as splurges, but in the overall scope of things, they really are “small.” Never buying on credit and buying stuff you can’t afford are the true items that will stall your wealth. Thank you for the visit.


    August 18, 2010

  12. Hi Jon, Ditto…. The fantasy lifestyle bought on credit ALWAYS results in disaster. It goes bad sooner or later. But of course, total deprivation is not the way to go either. Thanks for stopping by.


    August 22, 2010


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