While saving money and investing is key to a great financial future, it also doesn’t mean you should never spend money on yourself.
After all, life is short and you should be able to enjoy the finer things in life from time to time.
This is what the concept of “treat yourself” is all about! It’s doing things or buying something that will boost your happiness and improve your overall mood.
Now, you might have also heard of “treat yourself” through the popular sitcom Parks and Recreation, where two of the characters have a day each year where they pamper themselves.
However, you also want to be careful that you aren’t treating yourself TOO much, where you are overspending and going into debt to satisfy some instant gratification.
Below you’ll learn more about the value of treating yourself, some affordable ways to spoil yourself, and setting a budget for spending.
What Does It Mean to “Treat Yourself?”
Treating yourself is about giving yourself the chance to enjoy small pleasures every now and then. These small “treats” are a good way to boost your mood, feel grateful and get you through a difficult day. Small pleasures are also a good way to improve your overall mental health and set aside some time for yourself.
The good news is that you can treat yourself without spending hundreds of dollars or taking a huge vacation every time.
Finding and enjoying small pleasures will help you make mental space in the daily grind of life and work.
Here are a few important reasons why you should treat yourself:
Burning out means running out of energy. And experiencing burn out usually happens when you’re working too much or too hard, and you end up despising your work and life situation.
Treating yourself will help you take a break and gain a new perspective on the path you’re heading for. Something as simple as taking a day off and doing something unrelated to work will help increase your energy levels.
You can use treats as a way to motivate you to reach a goal. For example, treating yourself to a nice hot bath and smoothie after a workout may motivate you to workout more often.
Taking time to treat yourself and look after yourself is a great way to boost your happiness.
We often forget that we are the ones who will get us from A to B, and we take our body and mind for granted. Treating yourself with a bit of self-compassion will help boost your overall happiness.
Treating yourself means you are making yourself a priority. You are putting yourself before other people that may demand your attention or energy.
Prioritizing yourself every now and then will help boost your self-esteem and give you the confidence to be in control and take better decisions.
Helps with depression:
If you are suffering from depression or other mental health issues, self-care and treating yourself is an essential part of healing.
Depression involves poisonous thoughts and self-torture; sometimes taking the time to be kind yourself can help alleviate these thoughts for a while.
How Much Should You Treat Yourself?
The answer to this question depends on how much you want to treat yourself and your overall priorities.
If you’re on a tight budget, then you’ll want to look for ways to treat yourself that won’t break the bank.
One good rule of thumb is the 50/30/20 rule: 50% of your income should go to fixed expenses, 20% to savings and retirement contributions and then 30% goes to wants and treats.
By using a percentage rather than a fixed amount, you’ll feel more in control and will be able to adapt to your income level.
Personally, I previously aimed to save 30% and use 20% for spending. But it’s up to you and what you feel comfortable with.
Here are some tips to incorporate “treat yourself” into your budget.
Know your necessity expenses
Start by adding up all your bills and fixed expenses. You can print out a bank statement or simply check from your phone.
Gather your monthly expenses into a spreadsheet or on a piece of paper and add them up: these are the expenses that you need to spend no matter what, such as rent or mortgage, utility bills and groceries.
Understand what income you bring each month
Once you’ve calculated your fixed expenses, you’ll then want to look at your total income. If you have several different income streams coming in every month, add them up to get your total.
If you contribute a certain amount to retirement accounts or savings, make sure you calculate your total after-tax and after-retirement contributions income.
Prioritize what you love to spend money on
Take 30% of that after-tax income and decide what you’d want to spend it on. It’s best to prioritize spending on items that give you joy, which usually means activities that you’ve been doing for a long time, such as cycling, hiking, skiing, etc.
If you are looking to buy material items, implement something like 30-day rule so you’re assured it’s not an impulse buy and you genuinely want it. Or at the minimum, sleep on it first to see if it still interests you the next day.
Aggressively cut back on things you can live without
If there’s an expense that doesn’t bring you that much joy and that you can live without, such as cable TV, then consider cutting it out.
Cutting out the expenses that you can live without frees up extra money to spend on things that you want to do and love doing.
Figure out the “why” for spending money on yourself
Understanding why you want to spend money on yourself will help you fix the long term problem. Is it because you despise your job? Is it because you’re trying to impress others?
If you’re spending in order to escape from an uncomfortable feeling then it’s important to be aware that treating yourself won’t fix the underlying problem. Be brutally honest with yourself and ask yourself why you want to spend money on yourself.
Best Ways to Treat Yourself
Yes, you can treat yourself without spending too much money! We’ve put together a few ways you can get started, some which will keep you from needing to drop a lot of cash.
1. Do a staycation
Instead of traveling halfway across the world on your next vacation, why not stay at home and explore the city you live in? You can still make it feel like a vacation, and learn a thing or two about your hometown!
2. Read a good book
When’s the last time you read your favorite book? Find it again and then cozy up for a few hours to read.
3. Sign-up for a monthly subscription box
These will vary in price, but for $50-$100 per month, you’ll get a new box of goodies right to your door. It could be food, clothes, books, etc. Whatever interests you, take a look online and see what is out there.
4. Take a fitness class
Yoga, kickboxing, cycling, etc. You don’t have to pay every month if you don’t want too, but maybe take a one off class to get some energy out, learn something new, and maybe find a new hobby.
5. Learn something new
Books are pretty cheap and can provide a wealth of knowledge. I learned about money management and investing through these personal finance books. I spent maybe $100 total, which has paid huge dividends for me.
Plus, there are tons of resources on the internet or even courses you can take that are not overly expensive. Think Udemy or Skillshare as examples.
6. Go to your favorite coffee shop
Although many financial gurus like to tout the cliche stop spending money on lattes, spend on it if you find comfort with that.
Naturally, set some boundaries so you aren’t spending every day, but maybe 1x a week or whatever cadence you feel comfortable with.
7. Buy some new clothing
If you like to buy clothes or get some comfort from this, a great way to treat yourself is to get some new clothing.
But instead of going to some expensive outlet, go to some thrift stores. There are lot of good quality clothes and brand names, for much more affordable prices.
8. Buy your favorite food
While dining out or ordering takeout everyday will start to hurt your wallet, it’s okay to dabble from time to time. If you have a good budget in place and can do this in moderation, it’s a great way to treat yourself.
I have a dedicated amount of cash I set aside for restaurants or takeout, that way I don’t feel guilty about spending some money and I get to enjoy some of my favorite foods.
9. Go hiking
If you live near the mountains, take a break and go explore. Even if you don’t have mountains nearby, there are plenty of trails and parks most likely right by you. It’s a great way to explore, get some good exercise, and free your mind of the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
10. Do body “self-care”
Give yourself a manicure or pedicure, moisturise your skin, shave or do whatever feels like a good way to take care of your body. You’ll feel refreshed and self-nourished.
11. Take a bath
Hot baths are a great way to hit the reset button. Add some salts and a bath bomb, put on some music and soak in a bath for a couple of hours.
The essentials you need for this are not very expensive, but you can relax without going to an expensive spa.
12. Go for a tech-free walk
Explore the city or streets you live in without taking any phones or earphones. Listen to the thoughts you’re having and make an effort to notice what’s going on around you (it can be incredibly calming).
13. Check out a museum
Many museums and art galleries are free. If you live in the city, check out the closest museum and stay there for a couple of hours. It can be relaxing and a cool way to experience some culture.
14. Go to the library
A quiet, book-filled library can be a very calming place to go read without having to spend money. Pick a book and stay for the entire afternoon.
15. Do a movie marathon
Want to catch up on your favorite series? Plan a movie marathon night. Get out your Netflix or Prime subscription and watch all your favorite movies while snuggled up in bed.
Yes, it’s okay to have a monthly subscription to a streaming service.
16. Get a massage on Groupon
If you find an affordable massage on Groupon, why not treat yourself and check it out? Typically massages can start to add up, but you can find discounts that make going once in awhile totally worth it.
17. Dine outside
Eating your lunch on a picnic outside can be relaxing and pleasant. Enjoy the sunshine and forget about work for a while.
18. Tune up your favorite songs
Put your favorite music on full blast and do a full out dancing session in your room. Nothing better than jamming to your favorite tunes.
19. Call an old friend
It’s easy to lose touch with some friends. Make an effort to call up an old friend and ask how they’re doing. They’ll appreciate it and you’ll be able to talk about the good old times.
Whether it’s giving yourself a morning to sleep in or simply an afternoon nap, sleeping is a great way to take your mind off things and relax.
21. Get creative
Make a scrapbook, whip out the paintbrushes or go out and take some photos. Working the creative side of the brain can be relaxing while still involving some sort of challenge.
22. Play a board game
Get some of your friends or family together and spend an evening playing board games!
23. Take a day off
Sometimes all we need is a day off. Take a vacation day from work and devote it to yourself, doing only things you want to do. You’ll have more energy to go to work the next day (and you’re still getting paid, pending your work).