Splurging Is OK

I had to go to a theme park today. When I say I “had to go,” I mean that my son and I received two free passes to go to the park so that his football team could celebrate its season and participate in the filming of a commercial. We had a great time and it will always be a special memory for us.

Although our passes were free (a $150 value), I had to pay for parking ($12), lunch ($23), and a couple of sodas ($5), so my free passes still ended up costing me about $40. Normally, I hate to pay for parking and hate to spend theme park prices for food and drink. Today, I did not care, and it was not because I had “saved” so much money by not paying for admission. It was because we had such a wonderful day that I wanted to make sure I did not ruin the day by being overly “responsible.”

Sometimes, we have to accept that it is OK to spend money. Sometimes, we have to accept that it is OK to be a little frivolous with money. Other times, we need to accept that we have no choice other than to spend money because we are given no alternative.

At today’s event, I could not get into the park if I did not pay for parking and I obviously could not expect my son to go without lunch during the eight hours we were there. Further, I did not want to go without lunch and would have been very unhappy if I had not eaten. Later in the day, my son and I were thirsty so I willingly (ok, there was a bit of dismay) shelled out $2.50 per bottle for bottled water. It did not matter, the day was wonderful and we were enjoying ourselves.

While anyone taking the time to read this article will likely agree that it is important to be responsible with our money, I hope that we all also realize that our money is not going to do us any good if we die with all of it left unspent. Whether you are spending $40 or $400 on a day trip, or you are spending $500 or $5000 dollars on a vacation, when you spend your money on recreation, spend it without regret or remorse. To do otherwise is to throw your money away on an experience that should be fun but which is made less so by your desire not to spend – and that is a waste!
With fun in mind, here are a few expenses that you should not regret when circumstances require them:

Eat and Drink When You Are Hungry: We have written a lot about saving money by not eating out and by avoiding high priced coffees and other beverages. Yes, it is cheaper to eat at home or to bring a beverage and snack with you when you are going out. But you cannot plan for everything and sometimes you may be away from the bounty of your own pantry but still want something to eat or drink. Buy it. Enjoy it. Move on. Don’t make the expenditure a complete waste by being angry about the cost and not enjoying what you have purchased!

Sometimes You Have to Pay to Park Your Car: There are some venues that require you to pay to park and there is nothing you can do about it. In Orlando, for example, if you visit Disney’s Hollywood Studios, you have to pay a parking fee to get in the gates. At Seaworld, by comparison, you only have to pay if you are seeking preferred parking. It makes no sense to pay for parking at SeaWorld but all the sense in the world to pay at Disney. Just do your research before you go someplace new and know in advance whether there is an alternative to paying for parking. If there is no alternative and you want to enjoy the experience, don’t agonize over the parking fee. Pay the fee. Move on.

Not Every Souvenir is a Waste of Money: If you have a great experience, whether you are an adult or a child, it is only natural to want a tangible reminder of the event. Gift shops and souvenir shops have a lot of overpriced items but if you look, you can find nice mementos for under $5 and shirts and sweatshirts which, although often over priced, will give you years of use. You obviously never want to buy junk and you need to look for souvenirs that will not immediately be forgotten in the back of a closet, but if you see something that you really want . . . . Buy it. Enjoy it. Move on.

Sometimes You Miss the Matinee: When we go to the movies, we try to go to a matinee so that we can save money. Sometimes we can’t make it to the matinee so we pay the higher ticket price. Whether you are trying to get matinee seating or an early bird special at a restaurant, sometimes your plans won’t work out. If that happens, don’t further ruin your day or evening, go to the movie or go to dinner. The difference in cost will not be that great and you will still be able to enjoy your planned activity. Even if the extra cost leaves a sting, you can try to save the money by cutting something else from your budget later in the week. Just but the movie tickets (or dinner or whatever). Enjoy the experience. Move on.

What do you think? Where are you happy to spend money, even though you could easily avoid spending it? Are you a sports fan who always feels the call of the stadium, even though the hot dogs will be over priced and the beer even more so? Are you a fan of the theater, saving your money so that you can experience shows on Broadway or performed by touring companies? Perhaps you are buying more music than you really need to buy, but you love your collection enough that you do not care? Whatever it is that drives you to spend without remorse, let us know!

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16 Responses to Splurging Is OK

  1. Miranda says:

    Splurging on occasion is fun. But you still have to do it within your means. When my husband and I visit his family in New York, and we go to see a Yankees game, I take $60 to splurge on food. For me, that’s part of the fun of the experience. If you never splurge a little, what’s the point of the money? Just to sit there for use later, when you can no longer enjoy it?

  2. Myrna Garren says:

    I allow myself to splurge within my means once in a while. If I didn’t I would spend more or go off the budget because I felt deprived. Saving money is important but there has to be a balance.

  3. Monkey Mama says:

    The thing about splurging is that what you should splurge on is highly individual. But yeah, I have way too many way extreme frugal friends who would never splurge on anything. So it’s a good reminder, for sure.

  4. Broken Arrow says:

    I think every budget should have some kind of “fun money” and that’s the money you can use to splurge on.

    That way, you can have fun and yet not break the budget.

  5. getfo says:

    If I ever go to a place, where I have to stay a whole day, I make sure, I bring a bottle of drink, and some snack like crackers or even sandwiches. Or at least I make sure, there is a fast food place nearby that has a $1 items, but I still bring my own drink.

    It’s ok to splurge $5 or $10, but no way I would splurge $60 for something that I can’t even use the next day or next week.

  6. tom says:

    Budgeting money’s like dieting–if you deny yourself all the time, you end up oversplurging/overeating down the line. Be strict and responsible, sure, but leave a little room for a day a movie and some popcorn.

  7. Ann says:

    So long as you’re not going into debt or skipping paying “necessary” bills, splurging occasionally is fine… and the memories are definitely worth it!

    For years, I remembered going to Seaworld as a very little girl, not because the memories were so clear (I was REALLY little!) but because my parents bought me a stuffed animal whale. His name was Sammy and, when I played with him, I could almost remember parts of the show that he was in. What I remembered was doing something fun with my family and that sea creatures were beautiful and fantastic…. hmmm. Wonder whether that’s part of the reason why to this day I’m fascinated with marine critters? I don’t have Sammy any more but I do still have Smokey the Bear, who I tend to associate with a visit to Pike’s Peak at a similarly young age and I remember the duck boats at Wisconsin Dells and driving to visit my grandparents in Orlando, picking oranges fresh from the tree, chameleons and baskets of orchids hanging from tree limbs. 🙂 Visiting family half a continent away took a lot of time and expense in the 50’s and was really special.

    Splurging occasionally is a great opportunity to create and share memories with family, which I think is important. Yes, I remember being read to, going to my brother’s little league games, stopping on the way back from a Neiman Masrcus shopping spree to pick wild concord grapes and making jam, eating warm tomatoes fresh from the vine with my mom and sitting on the front porch waiting for my dad to come home, but some of the trips are what bring back special smiles and even laughter.

    On a day-to-day basis, though I generally wait for a movie to come out on dvd, there are some that you just HAVE to go to the theater and see on the big screen! There are some books and authors that have to be closer than the library, so they reside on my bookshelves. Some tools that you may not use frequently are so handy when you do use them that it’s worth it to save up and buy them to have in your workshop/garden shed.

    Depending on what’s going on in my life, splurging can be anything from visiting a fabulous bakery and picking up a special dessert to buying a special tool to planning a trip to a stone supplier in Canada so I can personally pick out stone for my inventory to planning a trip to Scotland to visit a friend of mine. I won’t do it, if I can’t afford to pay cash for it, but it’s definitely worth the splurge!

  8. Emily says:

    Ditto from me also – set goals for budgeting and set goals for enjoying. We don’t live as close to the last dollar in our pockets anymore because life happens. Or someone calls with a fun idea and we been through some drought times so we say yes – let’s get together and have fun and memories. Balance is key. Good ideas.

  9. Victor says:

    Excellently written article by someone who understands the concept of self control. They are in control of their finances and are able to accept the times when they need to spend more than normal. Life is not static and being able to adapt and maintain control of the situation (ie. spending money), is a mark of maturity.

    As some would say: They were frugal; not cheap.

  10. Beth says:

    I also agree that a family can have fun without “breaking the bank” by being creative – maybe you splurge on a good meal at the event or spend the money at something to take home with you or a cool photo – whatever makes the experience memorable. Our kids know we are cognizant about costs and I think they appreciate our approach. At their ages, the time we spend together is “priceless” to them – no matter what we spend.

  11. Diane says:

    Sometimes you really should go with making the memories – especially with your kids, and it can cost a bit.

    You had the free tickets – that was great. Once you decide to go, you may as well make the day a great one – $40 is not a high price to pay for that, if its a special event.

    I agree that there’s no way to enjoy a day like that when you’re both hungry & thirsty – that would spoil a wonderful opportunity for a great day together.

    Special events with my kids are a high priority for me, and that’s not always free or cheap.Sometimes it really IS okay to spend money, be frivolous and enjoy yourself!

  12. Matthew says:

    I suppose this story illustrates the need for balance and brings home that at the end of the day, what we are really trying to do is be financially responsible.

  13. Michelle says:

    Very good article … I think sometimes people recklessly splurge out of guilt. I see it in my own family sometimes – they don’t have a lot of time to spend with family members, so they substitute that with gifts. I’m aware of this and hope to avoid this when I have my own kids.

  14. Persephone says:

    I splurge on books(within my means, of course!).

  15. Dave Barend says:

    I have just printed this post and taped it to my fridge with a picture of a flat screen TV. I hope my wife gets the message. Odds are she’ll replace the picture of the TV with a brochure for StoryLand.

    Great blog.

  16. spicoli says:

    If I am spending my money on something I really want, I do not think I am wasting it. I do not want to be buried with all of my money so I don’t think that spending is foolish, as long as I think about it first.

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