At heart, I am a frugal person. In my old life, I bordered on ascetic in many areas. I routinely denied myself pleasure for perceived future happiness. That imagined future never happened and those carefully saved pennies were stolen from me. I have learned the value of indulgence. The following are things that I have found are worth the price for me.
Note: This is a deeply personal list. I am not making judgements against those who find pleasures in areas where I do not. We all have to find what contributes to our own happiness.
Coffee: Most of my coffee is consumed at home on the cheap, but I do not hesitate to enjoy a good cup once a week or so at a coffee shop. The $4 is more than worth it for the atmosphere and service. I developed this habit the year that I lived with my friend who has a baby. I grew to relish those moments in a coffee shop, by myself but alone. I still find them to be almost magical places where I can get away and connect with those around me all at the same time.
Botanical Garden Membership: This has been $60 very well spent. I find peace and restoration in the gardens and with a membership already paid for, I do not hesitate to visit on a frequent basis. In my old life, I used to have a garden. In my new life, I pay to visit a communal one.
Massage: Massage serves two functions for me; it is therapy for my aching muscles and ligaments from all the abuse I put them through and it calming and relaxing as I surrender to touch. In the early months of the divorce, I committed myself to monthly massages to help me heal and to sooth my anxiety. Now, I use them more for myofascial release to help with my running. Either way, it is money well spent.
Running Shoes: I only made the mistake once of buying cheap running shoes. I paid for it for months with plantar fasciitis. Now, I purchase new shoes (I am a Mizuno Waverider fan) every 400-500 miles. I still look for a bargain, though; I buy a couple pairs at once of the old style when the new one is released.
Lip Gloss: I am addicted. I have tubes in every room of the house, in my desk at work, in every backpack and running pack, and multiples in my purse. I splurge on two types: Burt’s Bees and Bath and Body Works. I usually buy the latter once a year. It always feels a bit silly walking out of the store with $30 in lip balm. But I love it:)
Housecleaner: This has been a big splurge for me. In my old life, I never had one, nor did I have the need for one. My ex and I were very compatible when it came to living together and the care of a home. We literally never had to have a discussion about who would do what chore; it just happened. Things are a bit different in my new life. My boyfriend is awesome, but not always the best at keeping up with the house. In order to save the relationship, we decided it would be best to have some help in the cleaning department. I don’t like spending the money, but it is worthwhile so that I do not feel overwhelmed keeping up with all of it.
Produce: I like to eat as healthy as possible. I get frustrated when the weekly coupons are never for broccoli, but I buy it anyway. I often will spend as much at the farmer’s market as I do at the grocery. I try to shop seasonally and use sales whenever possible, but I refuse to avoid the produce section even though the chips are cheaper.
Yoga Classes and Gym Memberships: In my old life, we had a home gym because it was cheaper to outfit the house with equipment once than to pay for two gym memberships for any length of time. It worked fine, but I have grown to love the options and social side of the gym. I now have a small home gym (kettlebells, heavy bag, pull-up bar), but mainly use the commercial facility. I even went through a period last year where I had two gym memberships: one near work and one near home. It felt so indulgent! I have paired it down to a single gym, but I also buy classes at a separate yoga studio. I never feel like this is a wasted expense.
Occasional Gluten Free Pastries: I don’t eat sweets much, but when I do, I am happy to pay $4 for a gluten free cupcake. I think the price helps to mark it as something special. Something to be enjoyed only on an occasional basis.
Gas or Plane Tickets to an Adventure or to See Family: This is one I have really embraced in my new life. My single biggest expense last year outside of basic living expenses was airfare. I mainly focused on family last year, and it was worth every penny.
There are many areas where I have not noticed a correlation between price and happiness. For these things, I refuse to spend much money. Things I get on the cheap:
Books: I love to read. I always have. On childhood road trips, my parents would map the route by used book stores so that I could replenish my stocks. Now, I get the majority of my material free through the library or on my Kindle. I only pay for books that the library does not carry and that are truly worth it.
Music: My favorite way to obtain cheap (and legal!) music is through Amazon. I buy used CDs for $.99 plus $2.98 shipping and handling. I can handle $3 for an entire album’s worth of music.
Clothes: I try to find a balance between quality (read lifespan) and price. I usually go the the outlet mall once or twice a year, armed with coupons, and purchase any needed work clothing. My workout gear mainly comes from Marshall’s, where it is a fraction of the cost of a sporting goods store, yet I can still get the function I need (cotton? no thanks!). I prefer consignment shops for my casual clothing, as I can get cute stuff for a few bucks a piece. In reality, much of my clothing is old, but by staying the same size and buying basic pieces, I can still wear it.
Haircuts: I have never been one to appreciate the difference between a “quality” haircut and a budget friendly one, and I worked at a fancy salon for several months. It’s Great Clips all the way for me!
Pedicures: Others swear by these. So, last year, at the suggestion of a friend, I gave one a try. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t worth $20. Especially since running wore the polish off in just a few short days. I’ll stick to slapping on a coat of paint myself and putting the money elsewhere.
Wine: I love to go to wine tastings and I can certainly appreciate the difference of quality. However, when it comes down to my normal life, I am simply not awed enough by the difference to spend the extra money. I’m not embarrassed to say, you will find “Two Buck Chuck” in my home:)
What is on your lists? What things are valuable to you?