Research any personal finance topic online, and you’ll find a trove of well-worn best practices: build a budget, pay off debt, save for retirement. What you won’t find? Articles on how to have more fun with your money—without throwing your whole financial plan off track.
We all deserve to occasionally splurge on the things that make us happy, whether it’s a fun vacation, the latest gadget or a wardrobe upgrade. But if you don’t plan for it, that online impulse buy or spur-of-the-moment spa day can wreak serious havoc on your budget and other financial goals.
With the new year approaching, it’s a good time for all of us to reflect on our money strategies. On top of those “must-dos” like saving for retirement and paying off debt, we should also think about how we can (responsibly) treat ourselves every once in a while, too. Below are four ways to splurge in a healthy, guilt-free way in 2017 and beyond.
Love to Splurge? Here’s How to Do It Guilt-Free in 2017
Do a Money Audit
In order to spend smarter, we first have to make sure our spending is in line with our core values, but of course there are bills and expenses to take care of each month, but what about the money that’s left over? Are you spending your spare cash on things that really make you happy?
This is where a money audit comes in handy. By tracking your expenses for a month, you’ll be able to see exactly where each dollar goes—and what you find may surprise you. For example, if you discover you’re spending more than you’d like on eating out and food delivery, cut that “budget” in half, and commit to cooking at home more often and allocate the leftover amount toward saving for the things that actually bring you joy.
Plug Any Money Leaks
During your money audit you may come across expenses you didn’t even know were happening, such as a subscription you failed to cancel or a gym membership that, honestly, you don’t use. Cancel those subscriptions and route the money toward saving for your next splurge.
What if you could save for your next splurge without even noticing the money is gone? New apps like Qapital take the pain out of saving by syncing with your checking account and regularly moving very small amounts of money to a separate savings account. You can use the app to create various savings goals and allocate what you’ve saved to each goal.
Rather than move your money into a generic savings account—which is all too easy to drain the next time you’re feeling cash poor—the app encourages you to create specific savings goals and add photos to help you visualize the outcome. Which means you can save for the big, boring-but-necessary stuff (like an emergency savings fund), as well as the small, fun splurges (like a weekend getaway).
Build in Rewards for Good Behavior
Perhaps you’re working toward something in your personal life – a weight loss goal, work milestone, or simply trying to keep your house cleaner each week. To stay accountable to your goal, set up a dollar amount to reward yourself for the good behavior.
Maybe you give yourself $10 every time you clean the house (hey, it’s cheaper than paying the cleaning lady) or gift yourself a one-time cash bonus for hitting your weight loss goal. Allocating money for these milestones is a great way to build up your “splurge” account.
The urge to splurge doesn’t have to be a bad thing, and making a just-for-fun purchase doesn’t have to be detrimental to your financial picture if you plan for it in advance. While that may take a bit of the whimsy out of it, the only way to truly enjoy something guilt-free is to pay for it in full. Fortunately, with new technologies this is now easier and more seamless than ever.