How to Fight Budget Burnout With Smaller Indulgences


Discipline is not something that most of us always have. Maybe in some instances we do, but in others we fail tremendously. It’s all right to fail and to have to work on your discipline where certain things are concerned; that’s how we learn. Failures and mistakes make us a lot more intelligent in the long run, and that’s the best that we can hope for when we do things such as budget. I am not a natural budget-er. I have a friend who can budget the pants off anything, but I struggle. I want to spend, spend, spend. I want to give my kids everything in the world, and I want to buy all the things. But, I can’t – and I wouldn’t even if I could.

A budget is a good way to keep us in check financially, even if it does take tremendous effort and dedication. And for some of us, that is not even a remote exaggeration. It’s difficult for so many reasons. For me, budgeting is difficult because I feel that I’m always looking to do something small and significant. For me, it’s the little things that really make a huge difference. You see, I find that it’s the small things that break my budget. It’s the stop at Dunkin Donuts for the kids. The run to McDonalds on the way home from cheer practice for my daughter. It’s the stop at Publix for a sub during lunch that turns into a $100 shopping trip and I still have nothing at home to eat.

For me, I try to manage my budget by not spending frivolously at these places because they add up and because I kind of regret it every time; I didn’t need to get a bagel with 8 pounds of cream cheese, then I feel bloated and gross and it’s too late. That’s why learning to budget takes a lot of work. The second we feel that we are depriving ourselves of something, we begin to lose it. It’s the same concept as dieting. If you tell yourself you’re going to stop eating junk and then forbid yourself and deny yourself of all cravings, you’re going to overindulge one day and it’s going to be bad.

If you indulge on occasion – and in moderation – things are a bit different. It keeps you on track. It makes you feel as if you are doing good things for your budget, as well as your life. I don’t want you to burnout on your budgeting, so I thought we might discuss a few simple ways you can indulge and still stay on track. These small indulgences are going to curb your need to do something, but also keep you from going insane and breaking down.

Someone a lot more intelligent than me once said that it makes more sense to take care of yourself often instead of only once in a while. Makes sense to me.

Pick an indulgence

Here’s the deal; what you love to do or buy or whatever might be expensive, it might be cheap. It might not fit your budget. This might be a problem, so you might have to modify what it is you want to indulge in and how often. What do you love? What is it in life that makes you so happy you could just spontaneously combust? For me, it’s a long list of things. I love a fancy bottle of champagne, a new pair of shoes, a new lipstick, a date night with my husband, a fun activity with my kids, something pretty for my house and sometimes I really just love to sit down and read without interruption. I also love spa days.

For that reason, I’ll download a new book on my Kindle, take my kids the park or out for an afternoon date, plan a date with my husband or splurge on the champs.

Pick a budget

Now you have to pick a budget. Perhaps you cannot afford the $100 bottle of champagne with which to celebrate, but that’s all right. Perhaps you can indulge yourself in a nice $40 bottle and call it a day. Maybe you cannot afford a full day at the spa, but you can afford a decadent massage. Maybe you cannot afford a pair of Manolo Blahniks, but you can afford a pair of Tory Burch flip flops. Do what you have to do inside your budget, girl.

Pick a timeline

How often do you need to treat yourself to something to feel good and stay on track? If it’s weekly, perhaps you want to choose an indulgence that’s more cost-effective, like a weekly cocktail hour – one hour only – during happy hour with the ladies to unwind and feel a bit fancy. Dress up, enjoy; have fun and you’ll feel so much better about yourself.

Let yourself feel how good it is

Take the time to enjoy the moment. Do not allow yourself feel guilty about this indulgence. This is a cheat, and you are still on track. This means you have no reason to feel bad about anything you are doing. Be happy about what it is you are doing. Be happy with what you have. Enjoy your life and enjoy all that you have to be thankful for. Let yourself feel how good it is to indulge rather than focusing on how you could have saved that or how you wish you could have done more. Just enjoy it; I promise it’s going to feel good.

Be spontaneous at times

Sometimes you have to be spontaneous. Set aside a little budget for that, too. Perhaps you received a refund check for an overpayment of something. Put that in an account for a rainy day so that you can have a spontaneous splurge fund. This makes life just a bit more exciting since waiting to indulge on certain days just doesn’t work all the time. Be good to yourself, but be responsible while you’re doing it.

Photo by Chris Hondros/Getty Images


Leave a Reply