Treat yourself without breaking your budget

If you're trying to live within a budget - especially if you're trying to pay off debt or save up for a big purchase, it can feel like you're scrimping all the time.

If you've ever fallen off the diet wagon you know that depriving yourself of something for long enough can cause you to splurge. Like dieting, when you budget you need to find ways to treat yourself while still sticking to the rules - otherwise you'll splurge and ruin all your hard work.
The Get Rich Slowly blog has some good suggestions for how to avoid frugality burnout:

  • Cut yourself some slack. "If your budget is so tight that you feel deprived, you run the risk of giving up altogether. As long as your remain focused on you goal, it’s okay to take a break from time-to-time. Just don’t overdo it. (Buying a DVD is a good way to blow off steam; buying a new HDTV is not.)"
  • Treat it like a game. "This is one of my favorites. I find that it’s so much easier to practice frugality when I make a game of it." This was an awesome suggestion - here's a couple of tricks I use:  How much fruit and veg can I buy at the local farmer's market for $20? How many unnecessary purchases can I weed out of my shopping basket?

Another one that works for me is finding ways to replace buying with borrowing. The obvious example is borrowing books from the library rather than buying them. I used to love requesting new releases from the library - sometimes there would be a queue of people waiting for the book, but getting a card from the library telling me my loan had arrived really was just as exciting as getting a note from Amazon saying my book had arrived.

Got any tips for enjoying life on a budget? Please share in comments.


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