Published in: Banks | June 24, 2019

Financial Cheat Day: Treat Yourself Without Blowing Your Budget

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The occasional splurge doesn't have to ruin your budget. Here's how to treat yourself responsibly. 

Couple Getting a MassageImage source: Getty Images

When you're living on a budget, it can seem as though you never get to do anything fun with your cash. You don't want to live in a state of constant deprivation, so it's important to reward yourself with some little treats now and then. The key is to splurge responsibly and make sure you get the most value from your fun money.

This is easier said than done, but the tips below can help you to make the most of the treats you give yourself when you're trying to put most of your money toward big financial goals.

Set your splurge budget carefully -- and don't blow it

When you treat yourself as a reward for financial responsibility, the last thing you want to do is undo all that hard work by overspending. So make sure you budget for your splurge and know how much you can afford to spend without going into debt or having too little cash for your other financial goals.

Consider investing in experiences instead of items

As you decide what to do with your splurge money, consider using it to fund an experience you'll enjoy, rather than buying more stuff. Research has shown that investing in experiences can often bring more long-term happiness than investing in material possessions.

When you use your money to head to the beach, see a play, or go white water rafting, you get the joy of planning and anticipating the event, the experience itself, and the lifelong memories of it. Chances are, those memories will keep you happier long after the item you could've purchased started gathering dust on the shelf.

Keep a running list of things you want to buy when you have some fun money

If you are going to buy stuff, it helps to have an idea of what you want long before you actually get the cash in your hand. By keeping a wish list, you get the joy of anticipating buying the item and planning for it. You also can make sure you're using your money for something you've really wanted for a long time, rather than buying something in the spur of the moment.

Consider each purchase for at least 24 hours

Unless you're shopping off of a wish list you've had for a long time, don't rush into making a big purchase with your splurge money. You may feel happiness in the moment, but you may come to regret the purchase later if it doesn't bring you long-term satisfaction.

The 24-hour rule will give you time to consider whether you actually want the item you're thinking of buying. Plus you can use the time to shop around for the best price and the best model of whatever it is you're buying.

Use coupons and look for special deals to get the most bang for your buck

You want your splurge money to stretch as far as possible, so always take advantage of bargains on the items you hope to buy. You can search for coupons to print or promo codes to enter in online checkout. You can also seek out discounted gift cards for the place you plan to shop, or you can look for cash-back offers that will allow you to recoup some of the money you spend.

An occasional splurge doesn't have to break the bank

If you use these five tips when it comes to your financial splurges, you can relish spending money on things you enjoy -- without worrying about blowing your budget and setting back your efforts to hit major financial milestones. You're more likely to really enjoy the money you spend on yourself when you use the cash wisely.

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