Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Things the are worth the splurge

I may actually be a pauper (not knowing the technical definition of pauper), but that doesn't mean I'm willing to live like one. I'm not talking about living beyond my means or living on credit, but readjusting my priorities and making the most of the good things that I can budget for. Little splurges, when planned for, are the best way to stay sane. Because you've planned and can afford them, there's no guilt. There's also a feeling of accomplishment that comes from being responsibly reckless; and by living within your means every other day, you actually do deserve to splash out every now and then.

A fancy meal every six months or so
Providence (where I live) does this wonderful thing every year called restaurant week--though now it's actually two weeks. What that entails is pre fixe menus at dozens of restaurants all over the city. For $29.99 you get an appetizer, entree and dessert in a fancy restaurant you would otherwise never afford. All the menus are posted online beforehand, so if you're a vegetarian (like me) you can see what sounds good, and what gives you the most/best food for the money. Since I eat out pretty infrequently, but don't want to just be that poor girl who never gets to have any fun, this is exactly what I need. Also, this is food I would never allow myself otherwise. I would rather eat gourmet food prepared by chefs once a year than go to TGI Fridays once a month.

Yes, I don't shut up about how much I love to travel, but as I've mentioned before, travel is the thing I save for. It is the thing that makes living frugally and giving up other stuff that I might enjoy worth it. Plus, when planning to travel and when actually doing it, I keep my budget in mind, and get deals... more on that later.

Well-made clothes
I hate to shop, it's a chore, so when I buy something I don't want to have to buy it over and over again. A lot of people save money doing thrift store shopping, and I commend them, but I just cannot do it. It's too much effort, and too hateful to me. Plus I hate trying things on, and you can rarely return stuff. Yes, this sounds whiny, but it's just not for me. Instead, I buy classic pieces that I intend to wear for years. I buy clothes I can layer, usually in solid and neutral colors that are well-made and will last. I try not to buy more than I need by keeping an inventory of what I already have, and then I just wear the stuff out. Yes, it's a little more up front that going thrift store shopping, or buying everything at Forever 21, but it saves in the long run--time and money.

Name-brand foods
You can trim your food budget significantly by switching to generic or store brands and often the items are of comparable quality. Sometimes they are not, and I certainly don't feel guilty buying the name brand if I've tried both and prefer it. I would rather eat food that I like rather than save $.50. I can find that savings somewhere else, if it's a significant amount. The brand of hummus that bf and I prefer is usually the most expensive and goes on sale less often (bastards!), but it's really, really good and eating it makes me happy. Hence, fancy hummus for me. In exchange for my fancy hummus, I buy the cheap cream cheese (which tastes no different), the store-brand milk and generic instant oatmeal. Crisis averted.

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