Tips For Enjoying The Little Treats You Love Without Blowing Your Whole Budget

It's no secret that things are pretty rough out there financially. We're now paying back student loans we thought were gone for good, and prices are increasing on everything from food to rent. Many of us are cutting back on some extras that we used to love and buy without thinking. Where we might once have gone out for a fancy cup of coffee, we're now making it at home, and that splurge purchase has to be rethought several times before we decide to commit to spending the money.


With that said, there are ways to still enjoy the little indulgences we love without breaking the bank. We've got a bunch of tips for you to help you treat yourself without breaking the bank with impulse purchases. There are many ways to adjust your spending or make substitutions that can let you feel like nothing has changed, even though you'll be spending less. 

Setting a limit for your indulgences

The first tip is one that sounds like a no-brainer, but many of us don't do it for the most part. It's all about setting spending limits for yourself. It's very easy to look at one $20 purchase and not think about how they add up over the week or the month. Having a "fun money" limit, whether it's $20 for the week or $100, can make a big difference. Even if you can come up with a ballpark figure for what your bills are going to run you, you'll get a better idea of what you actually have available for indulgences. 


Along those lines, give yourself a few minutes to contemplate an impulse purchase by considering how many hours you'll have to work to pay for the item. Think about that before you run out and get the latest product being hawked on TikTok. We're not saying this to make you feel guilty when you do buy something that isn't a necessity — we all have to treat ourselves sometimes. It's really about being conscious of what you're spending and what you're spending it on

Have a cooling off period for purchases

This is a tip that we really love, which is a cooling-off period for your purchases. No, you don't have to freeze your credit card in a block of ice. That's pretty useless at a time when most of our card numbers are stored on our computers. One way to keep from impulse buying online is to sign out of websites you frequently purchase from. We've all woken up after a night of drinking to charges from a late-night buying spree we don't remember.


Signing out isn't going to stop you from buying something, but it might make you take an extra moment to think about what you're doing. Delete the app from your phone, so you have to actually go to the website. Another way to pause is to delete your credit card information from these sites, so you have to get up, get your card, and type in the number yourself. Anything that gives you another step is helpful. If you do need what you're buying, this won't stop you. It will just give you another moment to contemplate why you're getting it in the first place. 

Try some DIY luxury

Another way to save is to figure out what you love, and see if there is a cheaper way to get it. Everyone mentions how expensive coffee is and how much cheaper it is to make it at home. Boring, right? It doesn't have to be. You can crush ice from your fridge (it gets out frustration very nicely) or buy a tasty flavored syrup from a big box store and use it to make a mocha frap. You can even get a pretty cheap milk frother to make it extra fancy. 


That's just one example. Instead of meeting friends at a restaurant and chipping in for an expensive meal, have a rotating dinner at each others' places, pot-luck style. Cook together to make it even more fun if you have the room. A night at the movie theater can be $40 for two people, but watching something on a streaming service is a cheaper option. Are you regularly seeking a spiritual advisor? Instead, what about your friends chipping in for tarot cards and learning to read them for each other? Get a multipack of facial masks/some fun nail colors, and have a spa night where you slice up cucumbers and strawberries in a water pitcher. Boom! DIY spa water.

Lots of malls and parks do community movie nights in the summer with a big projection screen. Some restaurants have a paint and drink night each week where they supply brushes, paint, and canvases, and you just buy a couple of glasses of wine. And speaking of wine, see if any of your local liquor stores have tastings so you can see which less expensive ones taste good. That way, you're not shelling out the dough just for the pretty label. 


Buy small and actually use what you get

The baskets of travel-sized items at Ulta or Sephora are there to make us impulse buy. Sometimes that's not a bad thing. A smaller cosmetic item is actually a great idea — with the caveat that you have to commit to using that item or it was a waste of money. Use the skin care consistently so you can see if the full-sized version is something that's worth splurging on. Try a little bottle of foundation so you can see if you like how it wears, so you're out $8 instead of $50. 


In fact, if we're talking about beauty products, take a look at the trial/travel-sized ones before you scan the store. If you find a, say, foundation you like, look at the color and go check the tester to see if it suits your skin. Better yet, ask one of the Sephora staff members to color-match you and give you a sample to try at home before you spend anything. (Also, many drugstore cosmetics are very similar to the ones you get at a fancier shop where you're paying for packaging. Cool Mom Picks suggests getting your trendier cosmetic items this way.)

One way we often get to try things is with a gift with purchase, but many times, these are colors that aren't selling or ones they're pushing for the season rather than ones you'd actually use. Plus, they usually set the gift purchase minimum price, so you spend more than you already would have. What you need to do is look at what they have in there before you purchase. You can also look at multipacks of something like lipgloss and split them with friends who might like the colors you aren't into. 


Practice letting go of guilt but have checks and balances

Finally, as we mentioned at the beginning, beating yourself up and feeling guilty for letting yourself indulge a bit isn't helpful. You are allowed to do nice things for yourself, and if you needed a sign from the universe about that, this is it. You just need to do it in moderation and with consideration for your budget. What some of us feel guilty about in the first place is the "mindless" part of "mindless spending." Being a little more conscious of each splurge and stopping to consider what we're doing can make a big difference.


This is not to say that if you don't need the item you're considering, it's a bad purchase. There is room for indulgences. No, you may not actually require that third book about the history of the Roman Empire from Barnes & Noble, but if that's the thing that is going to make you happy during a terrible week, then get it. Just be conscious of the fact that you bought one indulgent thing and maybe skip the $15 cocktail at the bar and get a glass of $6 chardonnay or sparkling water with lime instead.