Budget, Self-Care

Why You Should Treat Yourself on a Budget

I’m not a high-maintenance person. I never used to treat myself.

My former roommate can attest to this. She would probably bob her head like a snake and point her finger in your face with a, “Let me tell ya somethin’ about Rinker…”

I was the cheapskate chick who never treated herself to anything nice.

I’m not a crazy couponer and I don’t re-use coffee filters (because I only drink French Press, yo. And K-Cups because I’m human and need coffee at work…). But this one time, I definitely stood in the second-hand store for 30 minutes trying to decide whether to splurge on a $25 pair of designer jeans.

Because I had problems.

One can argue this is a matter of opinion–did I go overboard on the frugality or was I just being uber responsible? We may never know. I couldn’t even blame the jeans incident on being dirt-poor like I was years ago. During the jeans incident, I finally had a well-paying job!

But I bought the jeans. Even though old habits die hard.

Since then, I’ve definitely honed my spending skills in that I’ve become more selective and learned to moderate rather than severely limit myself for no reason.

Whether you’re struggling to save or struggling to loosen the purse string, the point is–you need to treat yourself once in awhile for your own sanity.

Why You Should Treat Yourself on a Budget

Budgeting means taking care of yourself.

Sticking to a budget decreases stress caused by finances. However, financial well-being includes treating yourself every once in awhile.

For real.

Balance is key. Just like you need to account for living expenses, savings, and debt payoff in your budget, you also need to account for your mental health. Even if you’re the biggest Scrooge on the planet, I bet you still like to have fun.

I’m not saying you should go out and purchase something completely outrageous that destroys your budget. Just thinking about that gives me hives… My husband can tell when I think a purchase is too much because I get “squirrelly” and we need an additional two days to discuss it before I calm down.

I may save aggressively and cringe at non-sale items, but I’ve come a long way in the past few years, my friends. And let me tell you–my mental health has improved substantially since making an effort to budget a little bit for MYSELF.

Whether it’s a fancy coffee on Friday or date night every couple of weeks, you NEED to pick something fun to treat yourself. Let’s be honest–if you’re trying to reign in your finances, it’s probably not a good idea to buy the entire bar shots of Patron or go on a Target spree twice a week, but there’s room in EVERY budget for something fun (no matter how small).

The story of my fingernails…

Confession: I still have trouble spending more than $10 on a shirt. However, now I don’t go more than three weeks without getting my nails done.

It all started when I was five years old and started biting my nails. I spent the rest of my childhood, adolescence, and early adulthood biting my nails and picking at my cuticles. I was pretty terrible to my hands. It also looked pretty terrible because, depending on the day, it looked like I got my fingertips caught in a garbage disposal. Ew. Plus, my mom was convinced I was going to give myself a staph infection due to the lacerations all over my fingers. Then…

Four years ago, in an effort to save money while on an exploited-grad-student-shoe-string-budget, I did my own nails. And by “doing my own nails”, I don’t mean I buffed and polished them myself (mere child’s play!). I did my own acrylic nails.

I love acrylic nails because they’re more blunt than real fingernails. This prevents me from picking at my cuticles. I got the idea to do them myself from my best friend, who’s done her own acrylics for years. She’s also clearly WAY more talented than I am. They didn’t look awful, but I stopped doing them after a couple of months because it takes some major skill and I just didn’t have the patience.

That summer, the power went out one evening during a storm as I was painting acrylic over my nails and I felt the fear of a thousand nightmares. It came back on approximately ten minutes later, but lawwwwd…

The process can also be cumbersome if you’re not experienced. Use too much acrylic and it dries, you’ll have to sand that bitch down to look normal again. Alternatively, use too little and your nail will break easily. This is why I just stopped doing them myself and, now, I pay a trained professional to do it for me. I also tip well because I know it takes skill!

This is my regular indulgence. But I budget for it!

Why is treating yourself important?

For one thing, depriving yourself of everything gets old. Everyone likes to have fun, whether it’s going out and doing something or purchasing something fun.

The best part is that treating yourself does NOT have to deviate from budgeting!

Regardless of where you are in life, finding ways to treat yourself while staying within budget can significantly increase your mental health and motivation to stay on track.

Why do you work? Sure, you need to cover living expenses, but as they say–humans aren’t meant to just pay bills and die.

Even if you love your professional or academic life, shit gets stressful. Treating yourself every once in awhile prevents professional burnout. Treating yourself also staves off grad student strife.

I’ve lived that life of deprivation where the thought of purchasing a bottle of Two Buck Chuck at Trader Joe’s seemed irresponsible. And they were bad times! The kicker was that there was NO reason I should have felt that way. Two Buck Chuck plus tax was not going to break the bank. Seriously, we’re talking about as much change as was probably strewn on my car floorboards at the time.

How do you treat yourself?

Friday or Saturday night drinks? Brunch? A new pair (or new second-hand pair, in my case) of shoes? New music? Seriously, it’s almost summertime and I know y’all love jamming with your car windows down. I myself recently binged on some Amazon Music that might’ve included an assortment of Tech N9ne, Skrillex, and Carrie Underwood…

As I said, it doesn’t matter how strict your budget is, there is ALWAYS room for treating yourself. This concept applies to those with limited funds because treating yourself doesn’t have to break the bank. It’s the little things…

As a point of reference, we generally keep around 5% of our paycheck out as a discretionary spending pool. This allows us to have some flexibility and enjoy small luxuries while adhering to our budget. Whatever is left over by the next paycheck goes straight into savings, creating a win-win scenario!

What everyday things or activities make you happy?

If you NEVER spend any money on yourself, you’ll be in financial misery.

So take a look at your budget–are you budgeting for your well-being? Evaluate your mental health and decide whether you need to start treating yourself every once in awhile. How can you adjust your budget to accommodate for yourself?

The key to treating yourself is moderation and responsibility. You can still save like a boss and knock out debt while also investing in your emotional well-being!

Do you make a habit of treating yourself periodically? How do you treat yourself? How do you prioritize and adjust your budget accordingly?

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