We all have our vices when it comes to impulse buys and little luxuries. For me it’s a manicure and a good cup of coffee. For you it may be an expensive dinner out or the latest tech gadgets. Whatever your downfall when it comes to spending know that you are not alone and every now and then it’s okay.
Let’s face it life happens even when you are trying to dig your way out of debt. By completely depriving yourself of all luxury you may actually be hurting your progress. Every now and then treat yourself or give in to the vice-some freedom can help to keep you on track.
The caveat? Every now and then is NOT everyday- Keep your indulgences in check or at least a line item in your budget.
Budgeting for luxuries
You know creating a budget and following it is the first step to financial success and a bright financial future. Without a roadmap its hard to know where you are going and how long it will take you to get there.
Start with your needs – food, mortgage or rent, car payments, insurance, utilities and other monthly bills. Once you determine how much money, if any, is left at the end of each month or paycheck, you can then give yourself a few dollars for those much needed occasional indulgences.
Put those luxuries into perspective
What’s a luxury to you? Is it something that’s never within reach because of the price tag? If so, it may be time to redefine what a luxury or indulgence means to you.
While some people don’t consider it a luxury unless it’s the best of the best – a four-star hotel, the newest technological gadget, or high-end designer sunglasses – it’s important to put things into perspective.
Little luxuries don’t have to cost a lot; there are a lot of ways to make them happen on the cheap. Consider the following:
"Daily deal" promotions -- Are you a member of Groupon, Living Social, Eversave, or other group discount subscriptions? Growing in popularity every day, they send daily emails to their fan base with a “deal of the day.” Often these promotions offer substantial savings of 50 percent or more off goods and services, such as spa and hair treatments, restaurants and hotels, kid’s clothing stores, and more. Not only can you buy the day’s deal at a significant discount, you may also find hidden treasures right in your own neighborhood. So if you’re not already a subscriber, check them out and start saving today.
Freebies for kids -- Be on the lookout for great deals for your kids. You can save a bundle eating out at restaurants where kids eat free or finding hotel deals that provide free breakfast and entertainment for your family. In addition, you can plan a number of family activities that are absolutely free – do something outdoors, play in the park, and visit free museums. The deals are out there, it’s just a matter of finding them.
Make budgeting a family affair -- Enlist the help of your family when creating and sticking to your monthly budget. It’s a great idea to get kids in on the action and teach them at a young age to spend wisely. Give them a budget and have them plan the trip. It’ll not only help you save time and stick to your budget, but it’ll help your children understand the cost of entertainment, the value of a dollar, and how to prioritize wants vs. needs. And who knows – they might even have fun doing it!
Regardless of how and when you decide to enjoy your luxury, remember that needs and wants both have a role in your life. Pre-planning can go a long way in maintaining a healthy financial lifestyle. Allow yourself to spend once in a while, as long as you’ve saved for it.
What are your luxuries? How do you budget for them?
Suzanne Cramer is a certified credit counselor and a Social Media Specialist for CareOne Debt Relief Services. Suzanne writes for Divorce, Debt and Finances and Major Life Challenges. Follow Suzanneon Twitter @where she shares her insights as a single-divorced mom with tips and tricks to keep your finances in check.