When Is It Okay to Splurge?

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Frugal people often hate to splurge, thinking it's wasting money. Here are things I don't mind spending money on because it brings value to our family.

Frugality blogs are, for obvious reasons, always aimed at saving money. Endless tips, suggestions, and stories are offered up about how to pinch pennies here and scrimp money there. It’s easy to read what someone else is doing to save money or pay off debt and try to implement it immediately yourself.

What I’ve learned, though, is that it’s not always the best idea to scrimp everywhere. Sometimes it really does make sense to spend more money where it counts, such as on quality rather than quantity and on things that are important to you.

Here are three examples of when I think it’s okay to splurge a little.

Quality Food


When I left my job in finance a year and a half ago, I lost a pretty good salary, so I wanted to save money where I could. My first stop was our grocery bill. It was out of control because my husband did most of the grocery shopping while I was working full-time. That meant that we regularly ended up eating steaks and other expensive meats several times a week.

It wasn’t healthy or frugal, but I didn’t complain because I wasn’t the one doing the shopping. I worked on whittling down our food purchases to $80 per week for our family, and I was pretty happy about that until I started learning more about farming practices and where our food comes from.

It was then that I started favoring fresh, local, organic products and farmer’s markets more than the grocery stores, and with that came an increase in our grocery bill. My husband started to rave about all the healthy produce we were eating, and I really enjoyed talking to the farmers who produced the food that I purchased at the farmer’s market.

I quickly realized that sourcing food locally, supporting local farmers, and feeding my family healthier foods was much better than saving every dime I could on our food purchases. Quality food far outweighs the few extra dollars I spend every week to create healthy meals for my family.

Travel to New Places


There are many bloggers out there who write about how to take free, lavish vacations to all parts of the globe thanks to their awesome travel hacking skills, such as taking advantage of credit card points, and airline miles. I love that they can do that, but I’m not one of them.

I do, however, have no problem splurging on vacations. That’s not to say that we stay in 4 or 5 star resorts for every vacation (in fact, we never do), but travel is one area that I’m happy to spend money on because it affords us great memories and experiences as a family. I will absolutely pay good money to travel to a cool place that we’ve never experienced before, because it makes us happy and we enjoy those experiences together.

Experiences as Gifts


We have given up on buying each other gifts for Mother’s and Father’s day, birthdays, and anniversaries, as well as Hallmark holidays like Valentine’s Day. I hated the feeling of having to buy my husband a gift every few months, and I’m sure I gave him stuff he probably didn’t even want half the time.

Since we are trying to become minimalists and not be surrounded by stuff, the gift giving definitely had to go, so we started gifting each other experiences instead. Last year, we took our daughter on a short train ride for her birthday (her choice), and this year my husband wants to ride a steam engine on an all day trip for his birthday. In the past, we’ve gone to festivals, aquariums, museums, enjoyed a Led Zeppelin cover band in concert, and have a trip scheduled to see an air show next month.

Frugal people often hate to splurge, thinking it's wasting money. Here are things I don't mind spending money on because it brings value to our family.

It’s also very important to us to enjoy regular date nights downtown for just the two of us, even if we have to shell out some money to hire a babysitter and pay for an expensive meal to do it. It’s worth it to us. The quality time we get from these experiences is worth far more than any knick knack, and the memories will far outlive any toy we could buy for our daughter.

Sometimes it’s okay to choose not to be frugal as long as it’s purposeful spending on things that actually make you and your family happier and healthier.


What are some things that you splurge on that are worth it to you? When do you think it’s okay to forgo being frugal? How do you budget for splurges?

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Robin McDaniel

Robin is a freelance writer who chronicles her financial missteps and victories on her blog


  • I don’t necessarily see being frugal as not spending money. Instead, I see it on making dollars stretch further by buying more quality items/experiences. I see this as including quality foods/experiences, etc since good physical and mental health is important to living an enjoyable life.

  • Ramona says:

    We do not compromise on food / ingredients quality, since the health issues we could have out clearly burn all our savings. We also like to travel and provide our daughter with great experiences, so, while we do not spend like crazy for these, we do have them as priorities.

  • For us, quality food and medical care are two areas where we believe cheap now cost 10X more in the long-run.

    We dont buy organic or go to any crazy shops, we just don’t confuse $1 hamburger as being financially better than $10 of actuall food 🙂

    We are both healthy (with a 7 month old), but don’t ever want cost to be a factor in any of our treatment – esp with the baby. We just budget that all of us are going to hit our deductible. When we dont, it goes to the down payment for our next house

    • We don’t have a great place to buy organic around here, either, which is why I try to shop at farmers markets if I can. Sometimes they are organic, sometimes not, but it’s still better than buying that hamburger, like you say.

  • We are kindred spirits. I am also willing to splurge on quality food and experiences. I save everywhere else, so that’s not a big deal for my budget.

    • I am absolutely fine with splurging on certain things as long as it’s something that is important to me, like experiences with my daughter (although many of those can be free as well.)

      You guys are the rock stars when it comes to free vacations, and I’m sure that gives you tons of awesome memories and experiences with your kids.

  • We are big believers in spending on experiences. The kids won’t remember most of the toys they received as gifts, but they always talk about experiences. Great post, Robin.

    • It’s so true– they may not recall a doll that you bought them a few years ago at Christmas, but they’re going to remember if you took them to some cool, new place on their birthday.

  • Food/Health is definitely one of those areas for me. I don’t want to skimp on healthy food and pay medical bills down the line because I ate crappy. Travel is always good too, but I’m a little less hung ho on someone traveling when someone has a lot of debt, but I know that’s not always the popular thing to say. 🙂

  • I’m with you on food and experiences. I also splurge on fitness classes. I could do the same thing at home, but I work harder around other people. Being healthy and having memorable trips and activities is worth way more to me than material gifts.

  • I have trouble with splurging – it’s almost best if I don’t do it at all instead of trying to limit it or pick and choose. These are all pretty logical reasons to splurge though.

  • Michelle says:

    One thing we definitely splurge on is traveling. We just bought an RV so that is definitely a splurge as well! I love all of it though 🙂

  • People may find this odd, but I “splurge” on poker tournament buy-ins. Over time I *should* break even or even make money, so it’s an odd thing to call a splurge. There is a lot of variance, though, and I could go years without winning one, so I like to categorize it as a splurge. I always use side hustle money for it.

  • Dane Hinson says:

    Quality food is something that my family definitely spends on. There is nothing worth sacrificing your health. In the end, a healthier lifestyle will lead to less medical costs which will serve a frugal purpose in its own right.

  • Jason B says:

    The one thing that I semi splurge on is travel. It’s the one thing that I’ve chosen not to give up while I’m paying my debt off. When I travel I make sure I book flights and hotels a couple months in advance so that I will get the best deal.

  • Athena says:

    As much as I’ve cut back, these are items I still splurge on, especially after realizing I have so many food allergies and intolerances. I feel a lot better taking care of my health and being able to see new things. 🙂

  • That’s a great way of thinking… instead of being frugal per say, just be mindful. That usually leads to frugality, anyway. We humans don’t really need much stuff to live.

  • Mike @ Tip Yourself says:

    Absolutely! This is great Robin! Saving money and being in control of your budget is not about never spending money.

    As Will said above, just be mindful. Spend on what makes you truly happy & healthy. Life is meant to be lived.

  • We tend to splurge on our experiences but build them around inexpensive travel. Our last two vacations have been wherever we could find super cheap travel first and then finding experiences that we wanted at that destination. As our kids get older that will change, but it is really fun to explore somewhere we might not have chosen otherwise.

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