When Splurging Was the CORRECT Thing To Do

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The following guest post was written by me in February of this year for Life and My Finances as part of a “Yakezie blog swap” where members of the Yakezie Personal Finance Blogging Network pair up and exchange guest postings on a common topic. The topic of this blog swap was to discuss a time that you were happy that you splurged on a purchase. I wanted to post it here as well so that you all would have a copy! Enjoy!

When Splurging Was the CORRECT Thing To Do

After seeing the topic for this blog swap and enthusiastically signing up, I soon realized that it would not be very easy for me to select a topic about which to write. “Why is this?” You might be asking. “It’s probably because this guy is just another one of those tightwad personal finance blogger types.” 
Well, I guess in a way, that would be correct. Through analyzing my past spending patterns and planning out my finances in advance, I’ve luckily been able to (in recent years) curb most of the spontaneous spending that would qualify as “splurging.”
TheFreeDictionary.com defines splurging as “an expensive indulgence; a spree.” In looking at my past, I was able to come up with two instances that would qualify as splurging. Except, in these instances, I was VERY glad that I did splurge! Read on to find out more.
Splurge # 1 – Spring Break Trip to Cancun – 2005

The 2004-2005 year period was my freshmen year of my undergraduate studies at the University of Arkansas. 
Freshmen year was a great time in life. The Freshmen level classes were easy (or maybe easier would be a better word because I probably thought that they were hard at the time I was taking them), Facebook was just catching on, living in the Honor’s College dormitory was fun because I was able to meet a lot of new people, and best of all, it was interesting to watch all of the kids that had been sheltered in high school go crazy and make mistakes. In addition, I was 19 years old, and was still able to go to a party on Friday night, sleep for 3 hours, and wake up to go ride my bike for 5 hours (eating Cliff bars for breakfast on the way to the cycling meet-up spot).
Another very memorable experience from Freshmen year of college was Spring Break! For this special occasion, a group of approximately 6 of my friends from high school and college embarked on a week long trip to Cancun, Mexico. Remember, this was before the recent storms destroyed the beaches down there, so it was still quite nice! It also worked out well that the legal drinking age in Mexico is 18 years old.
Naturally, we wanted to pull out all of the stops for this trip to make it a memorable one. We stayed in a beach front, all-inclusive resort very near all of the bars and clubs in downtown Cancun. And, furthermore, we got the all-access VIP party package to make sure we enjoyed the nightlife. 
All together, the trip and airfare would end up costing about $1,500. While this was a lot of money (especially for a college student who didn’t have any savings from a full time job), and definitely set me back from my savings goals for the year, I would not trade the memories gained from the trip for anything. 
It was money well spent indeed! This experience also helped me realize several important concepts that I can still apply in my daily life. See below for more details.
Financial Lessons Learned From Splurge # 1
  • Buying drinks at a bar or restaurant is a rip-off. It’s better to drink before you go out.
  • Be cautious of “extras” that a travel company or hotel offers to tack on to your package once you arrive at your destination. These can add up quickly!

Splurge # 2 – Hiking and Backpacking Gear – 2010

Being a hiking, backpacking, trail running, and all-around camping enthusiastic, it is fitting that one of my few financial flaws is being enticed to spend money on high-tech hiking/backpacking gear. Enter the scene of Splurge # 2. 
This splurge was more recent (just last year in 2010). I was wrapping up my last few months living in the suburbs of Philadelphia before moving to graduate school and was getting slightly fed up with the lack of mountainous outdoor activities in the area.
So, to make certain that I was properly geared up for backpacking once I moved to my new location for graduate school, I bought the following items in a 6 month period:
  • Leki treking poles – $200
  • Lightweight tent – $125
  • Baltoro 70 Backpack – $280
  • Prolite air mattress – $100
  • Camping stove – $35
  • Water filter – $100

Clearly, this is a significant investment of money in backpacking gear.

However, I was glad that I made the purchases because 1) I had done a significant amount of hiking and knew that backpacking was something I wanted to take up more seriously, 2) my cash flow while working at a full time engineering job would be more than my income in graduate school (which has turned out to be 67% lower than my f/t job income by the way), and 3) getting more involved with hiking would be directly in line with my Purposed Focused Financial Plan and my life values.

Financial Lessons Learned From Splurge # 2

  • Large purchases are OK, as long as they are planned out in advance
  • Purchases made to support your core life values are very useful.
In conclusion, I was ultimately able to learn a lot from my two splurging experiences. I think that the key message that pervades all of this is financial planning. We all need to make sure that our current spending and savings habits line up with the broad goals we are trying to reach. 
Personally, I try to assess my current financial position once per month to make sure I am on track and/or make adjustments. Then, once per year, I do a detailed “soul-searching” level analysis of my life values and reassess my financial goals.

How about you all? How often do you splurge on purchases? Are you more often glad that you did, or do you wish you could undo your actions? 

Share your experiences by commenting below!

    ***Photo courtesy of http://www.stationstops.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2008/07/fotolia_8215027_xs.jpg


    1. Sometimes splurging is needed to give yourself a respite from the monotony of frugality. I will also add that splurging on top of the line products is often better than buying the cheap “deals.” They last longer and are often better quality! Giving yourself a treat here and there gives you something to look forward to while rewarding you for your diligence!

      • Well said Jon – A good example of this is cheap sunglasses…haha…I bought one pair of Oakley sunglasses to bike ride in back in 2003, and they are still holding up, despite severe wear! However, for driving and running, I buy cheap gas station glasses, which break every 6 months or so. You wonder which option is really cheaper long term….
        My recent post Home Insurance For First-Time Buyers

    2. Miss Moneypenniless says:

      Sometimes frugalism and spending less aren't one and the same. In your second splurge, I'm guessing you got your hands on some good quality hiking and backpacking gear that's going to stand the test of time. Far better than opting for the shoddy cheaper alternatives that might fail on you when you're half way up that mountain!

      I went away after my finals at university on an inter-railing trip around Europe. Financially crippling, I don't regret it at all! Lots, lots, lots of fun!

      • I bet that trip was nice! After I finished my time at undergraduate college, I went and studied abroad in Spain. It probably was more expensive than just taking a trip somewhere within the United States, but long term, I think that taking one high quality vacation that leaves you with lasting impressions can be cheaper than a lot of frivolous vacations.
        My recent post Home Insurance For First-Time Buyers

    3. Sometimes a splurge is what you need to keep sane in my mind. That little reward and feel good moment where you can recharge and refresh. Not only is good to give yourself this break it is also good for your motivation. When you know you have a reward at the end you are much more motivated to stick with your plan.
      My recent post How to Buy an Eco-Friendly Home If You Can’t Afford to Build One

      • That's a good point Miss T – Do you find that it's best to give yourself smaller, frequent rewards or less frequent, larger rewards?
        My recent post Home Insurance For First-Time Buyers

    4. Well, there' s nothing wrong with splurging sometimes..and SOMETIMES could mean once a year ..if you deserve it and IF you a have what it takes to splurge..simple.

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