It’s tempting to let the indulgent side of my imagination go free while I continue to self-isolate. I do my best to put a damper on such daydreaming because I’m trying to strengthen the minimalist side of my personality.
One of my old bosses once said something like, “If you begin to cave to the urge to splurge, that will be your new normal.” That seems to be the case with most of us. If we’re fortunate enough to obtain salary increases, we tend to up the spending ante each time. Add to our normal inflationary tendency some clever advertising pitches, the result is a personal culture of ever-increasing desire.
I remembered that boss’s reminder because I recently “upgraded” my snack food from peanuts to mixed nuts. That doesn’t seem like a big deal at first glance. However, the price of store brand mixed nuts is nearly double that of the price of store brand peanuts.
It’s not a case of whether or not a can of mixed nuts will tip my budget towards bankruptcy; it’s the question of whether or not I can justify the upgrade. Will relaxing vigilance in the snack foods department lead down the slippery slope of self-indulgence in other areas? With that in mind, I decided to alternate the purchase of mixed nuts and peanuts on an every other week basis. Doing this gives the perception that buying mixed nuts remains a splurge purchase. They are more special this way.
I think it’s healthy to carefully monitor instant gratification. This is a form of self-discipline that encourages mindfulness about other areas of one’s lifestyle. It helps to keep tabs on feelings of entitlement. Practicing mindful consumption of splurges makes it easier to endure temporary financial setbacks. If one couples reticence to impulse purchase luxuries with placing the money usually spent frequently on luxuries into a savings plan, this will allow the eventual purchase of something very nice.
This is well-known, common, ages-old advice. When we make the effort to save up for a special item or experience, we are more likely to appreciate the reward.
“Nell looks at the label and comes to. ‘Oh, I’d never wear it. I like to buy things on a cost-per-wear basis. This dress would probably work out at like…thirty pounds a wear. No. I couldn’t.’
‘You don’t ever do something just because it makes you feel good?’ The assistant shrugs. ‘Mademoiselle, you need to spend more time in Paris.'”–Jojo Moyes, Paris for One
There’s nothing wrong with obtaining something especially nice for oneself or loved ones. When done mindfully, indulgences help us show appreciation and gratitude. If the splurge is not overdone, it can let the loved one or yourself feel special for awhile. We like to splurge a little for someone’s birthday or as a reward for reaching milestones.
Another benefit of being careful about splurges is that there will be less “buyers remorse”. I have more than a few shirts that have been relegated to the back of the closet because they don’t look good on me. More often than I’m willing to confess, I’ve bought sweaters that I’ve only worn once or twice. I come across such garments and feel obliged to wear them because they seemed special at the time of purchase; but now don’t fit my lifestyle. Those shirts and sweaters eventually end up in the donations pile for charity. More mindful planning for luxury garments would result in owning a sweater that is very nice and better fits my lifestyle.
It’s perfectly fine to occasionally splurge. However it’s easy to allow the splurging to get out of hand. If not careful, we can forget the reason for the indulgences–that is treating ourselves as rewards for accomplishments and reaching milestones.
That said, I’ll indulge in a cup of coffee after posting this little article to the Web.