Living on a budget can feel like you’re on a diet. You’re cutting out things you love, adhering to strict rules, and you feel like you’re cheating when you do something that doesn’t match the plan. Although some people are driven by the challenge alone; allowing yourself to do things you enjoy can actually keep you on track to meet your goals.
When you decide what to consider a “treat,” it will be important to consider how much it might stretch your budget. When adhering to a diet, there’s a big difference between eating one mini-muffin versus half a cheesecake. Similarly, when sticking to your budget, there’s a difference between splurging to buy a specialty coffee drink versus buying that new smartwatch. Consider what “treats” are most important to you and separate them by how expensive they are. This allows you to spring for the less expensive treats a little more often and leave the more expensive things for a special occasion.
Saving to spend
If you accept the fact that you’re going to spend money on some of the “treats” listed above, the best way to accommodate this is to open a separate savings account for your treat money. Put a small amount of your paychecks into this account each time you’re paid and use this as the money to treat yo’ self! It’s more fun to put money aside knowing that you’re going to spend it specifically on things you enjoy while also keeping you within your budget.
It’s a lifestyle
Building some treats into your plan, whether a budget or diet, is not about cheating. “Cheating” implies that you should feel bad about doing something you enjoy. Budgeting is most effective when you recognize it as a lifestyle shift instead of a temporary goal. Accepting that it is okay to treat yourself to something special will make it easier to continue budgeting over time and can help you achieve your long-term goals. It will also make those treats that much more exceptional.