From lowering grocery bills with coupon clipping to eliminating cable to moving across the country to a less-expensive city, frugality and personal finance bloggers are happy to share every single way they’ve cut back on spending and reduced financial debt in their lives.
What we wondered, though, was if they would also share one or two specific things that they are willing to revisit their budget for every now and again, because, as Trent wrote earlier this year, not all splurges are wasteful splurges. (Some are very strategic. And some probably are worth curbing.) As Trent says, “A good, sound financial life isn’t about denying yourself all splurges and all pleasures. It’s about finding balance. It’s about knowing when to splurge and knowing when you’ll regret it.”
We spoke with seven frugal bloggers, Instagrammers, and YouTubers from all over the U.S. about what they OK for the splurge category of their tracking spreadsheets. Read on for their answers and then drop us a comment below on what you’re willing to shell out a little extra for, when, and why. (For the record, like Trent, I often splurge on books. I use all the free resources at my library as much as possible, but there’s still just nothing like a hard copy of a title I really want to dig into and revisit for years to come.)
Personal finance blogger Justin Weinger of So Over This, where he writes about moving beyond a life of debt (though intentionally while not living like a monk), says his big splurge is on vacations. “Experiences are worth so much more than ‘items.’ I prefer to upgrade to Delta Comfort or the Big Front Seat on Spirit, as I don’t particularly enjoy flying. Also, I will splurge for a larger room with more space and a view. With daily stress at work, I want to make sure I enjoy my time off as much as possible.”
Self-described debt-free goal crusher, wife, and work-at-home momboss Kim, of the popular three-times-a-week Free to Frugal YouTube videos, agrees with Justin. “I’m willing to splurge on a good rental car and decent hotel when traveling. I have a family and we don’t travel much, but when we do, we want to enjoy it and be comfortable,” she says.
Anchorage, Alaska-based personal finance journalist and author Donna Freedman, founder of Surviving and Thriving and a regular contributor here at The Simple Dollar, says she also splurges on travel — to see family. “I’m willing to splurge on visits to my father, who’s 83, and to my daughter in Phoenix, Arizona. It’s important to me to spend time with them, and, in my father’s case, I would rather go for a visit than a funeral,” she says.
Of course, Freedman adds that she does still approach these trips as frugally as she can. “A friend of mine works for an airline and gives me ‘buddy passes,’ which are good for up to 90 percent off airfare. Since I live in Alaska, it’s always expensive to fly; these buddy passes are greatly, greatly appreciated.”
Kristen Cross, aka The Frugal Girl — an East Coast blogger, DIYer, and mindful spender who lives “frugally and cheerfully” with her husband and four homeschooled children — also focuses on family and friends with her extra dollars.
“I’m willing to splurge on ‘things’ that foster important relationships in my life,” she says. “Though they’re not cheap, things like family vacations, trips to see friends, or a night out with friends all feel worth it to me because they facilitate something priceless: relationships.”
“Confidant spender” Leah Ingram, New Jersey-based author of 15 books — most recently The Complete Guide to Paying for College — has one particular item she’ll spend a bit extra on. “The one thing I’m willing to splurge on — and have splurged on — is good shoes,” Ingram says. “I have hard-to-fit feet and I do a lot of walking. I have two dogs that are used to getting three to four walks per day, so comfort and shoes that last are both very important to me. Also, when you have wide feet, it’s not easy to find shoes, so I’ve come to shop at Zappos and Nordstrom pretty exclusively. Expensive? Yes. But great customer service and great quality products that last.”
Lydia Senn, who has been sharing videos on saving money, getting out of debt, and simple living for more than a decade at the Lydia Senn YouTube Channel as well as blogging on the same topics at Frugal, Debt Free Life, lets her taste buds determine her splurge.
“The one thing I’m willing to spend money on is good coffee grounds,” Senn says. “I only drink coffee from home, unless I’m gifted a gift card, and I love good quality coffee. I’m willing to spend more on quality grounds to get a better cup — or three or four — from my home coffee maker. It’s still loads cheaper than a coffee shop but tastes so much better than cheap coffee brands.”
“FrugalKittens” Michelle and Daniel have been on a journey since 2016 to eliminate more than $200,000 in debt, and recently the 20-somethings moved from Los Angeles to Minnesota specifically to cut their costs. (To date, they’ve paid off nearly $100,000, a figure they update regularly on their Instagram account.) Their splurges, Michelle says, focus on one particular family member.
“We splurge on extracurricular activities for our daughter. We want her to grow confident and strong, and I personally believe that sports and programs like Scouts help facilitate those traits,” Michelle says. “We invest in one sport at a time for each season: softball, gymnastics, and snowboarding. Throughout the year she also gets to participate in Girl Scouts and we volunteer at a food bank weekly. These activities are all ones that interest her and make exercise fun. This would be our greatest splurge during our debt-free journey and I believe it’s important to allow kids to do activities like sports… as they help nurture confident and strong kids.”
Tell us, frugal readers: What are you willing to splurge on?