I once dated a guy who only ate food that was “healthy.” This was disappointing for me because my favorite food is fried chicken. 3-piece Popeye’s with 2 sides and a biscuit – yum! I love desserts. I love ramen. I love food! I’ve never counted calories and I hate dieting.
Judging from what I just wrote, you would expect me to overweight and pretty gross. Well, maybe the latter but not the former. How do I do this? Well it’s because I’ve learned to treat myself, and splurge without guilt.
How to Splurge Without Guilt
What I’ve listed above are all aberrations to my diet. 90% of my meals are home cooked and reasonably healthy. I also practice intermittent fasting so I have a very calorie-restricted diet. I bike, climb, run, and swim regularly.
The secret to treating yourself without guilt is to make splurges abnormal and savings normal.
This means you get the fun of the splurge without gaining weight, going into debt, or suffering the typical consequences of treating yourself.
How to Splurge WITH Guilt
I think most people in America eat some sort of quasi-healthy dish most of the time and then they splurge. A quasi-healthy dish is like a store-bought salad or “organic” processed food, but as the Internet is quick to point out, these items aren’t necessarily healthy.
The problem then is that you feel all of the restriction but get none of the benefits. A splurge may be what tips you from 95% to 105%, but don’t forget it’s the everyday lifestyle that got you to 95%.
People may see me eating unhealthily in one instance and think, “she must have really good genes.” But they’re seeing a snapshot. They have no idea what the whole story is.
You Only See Others’ Cheat Days – Not Their Everyday
It’s the same with spending money. Every year, I have one big $100 order at Sephora. That’s crazy money. And I think if someone had seen me do this (I mean I did it online, but let’s say I bought it in a store), one might think “she’s a spendthrift.”
But you have no idea what the other 364 days of the year look like.
I can spend whatever I like now during my year off because I spent my entire adult life living below my means. I have organized my life so I don’t have to worry about the little things because I took care of the big things.
There are three lessons to learn here.
Lesson 1: You Don’t Need Perfect Self-Control
First, don’t hate on people who seem to get away with whatever they eat or buy, thinking they were blessed from birth. I mean, maybe they were, but you don’t know that (and jealousy won’t help you anyway).
Maybe they’ve planned other things in their life so that this is a possibility. Maybe this is their rest day from the gym. Maybe this is their vacation. Don’t let it discourage you.
Lesson 2: Give Yourself Some Wiggle Room
If you want to splurge guilt-free, or even if you don’t, figure out how to live a baseline lifestyle that allows for some wiggle room. Remember that what you do everyday is far more important than what you do once in a while.
Of course, I’m more of a fast and famine kind of person. Others are more into moderation. But if you are interested in moderation, you still need to live a lifestyle with some wiggle room. If you are right at the limit every time, you can never prepare for the unexpected – either good or bad. You never have any extra to take advantage of unexpected good opportunities or to save you from unexpected bad luck.
It’s as easy to overspend on cheap stuff as expensive stuff. You can get fat on cheap mindless snacks you don’t even like.
Lesson 3: Splurge On What You Love
Third, think about what you really want to spend your money on.
There’s nothing wrong with splurging. Our Puritan backgrounds make us think there is a problem with splurging. And part of that makes sense because people who splurge too much will suffer negative consequences.
With our Puritan guilt, people may still splurge, but they will always feel badly about it. And there’s nothing worse than a splurge that you can’t enjoy. And you’ll just feel worse about the splurge if your everyday habits are pushing you to the brink as is.
You won’t fully enjoy the fancy vacation if you’re worrying about all the other small to medium vacations weighing on your credit card. You won’t fully enjoy a decadent meal if your current diet is already making you gain weight and become lethargic.
Remember though the rare splurge is not going to make or break you. There’s no reason to feel guilty if you’re meeting your goals, not overindulging, and if you’re spending on what you love.
The Current Moment
It seems stupid to talk about luxury now when so many people are suffering economically. But just because we are used to hunkering down and scrimping, doesn’t mean that splurging is completely off the table. If you save a bit more for a few weeks, feel free to use those savings to treat yourself to something special.
Do not feel bad about giving yourself something a little bit indulgent when you worked for those resources. We could all use a little extra care these days. It doesn’t matter if what you give yourself is not what others consider special or indulgent. It also doesn’t matter if others think it’s gratuitous or a waste. Sometimes you have to take care of yourselves and block out the other voices.
Conclusion – How to Splurge Without Guilt
When you have everything in order, the splurge just tastes amazing, because you aren’t having it with a side of guilt. And when you can have the splurge and move ahead in your goals, what could be better?
How do you afford your splurges?