What Are Your Financial Vices?

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financial vices

Since we’re placing a strong emphasis on financial literacy this month, I think it’s good to do a little self-checking and talk about financial vices.

You know what I mean: What’s the bad stuff you do that breaks your budget? Is it buying designer shoes? Chugging specialty beer? Playing online poker?

It’s okay; you can share your financial vices with us. We won’t judge you, because you know what? We all have vices.

My Financial Vices


1. Manicures. I have a swanky kit to do my own gel nails (the women will know what this is) but often times I like to go and have them done by someone else solely for the ease of it. It’s a small luxury.

2. Nice bags. I carry around enormous purses. The reason is that I bring a lot of stuff around with me, including my laptop. All my purses are big enough to fit my computer comfortably as well as an entire small country. These bags are all name brands, but that’s because I don’t buy cheap purses. I have some that have lasted 5+ years without any issues. It’s quality over quantity!

3. International travel. I truly love getting out and seeing the world. I’ve been fortunate to see many places through various opportunities, and I hope to continue to seek out new experiences as the years go by.

So, maybe it’s ignorant of me to say, but I feel like it’s okay to have a few financial vices. No one is perfect, and we all have things that we like to splurge on from time to time.

I think the problem comes in when financial vices take over your life or when you fall out of balance in terms of your budget to accommodate them. Also, things like gambling, drinking, and shopping can quickly transform from “a little here and a little there” to full blown addictions that can set your finances and your health back for decades.

Here are some ways to make sure you stay financially savvy all while maintaining a balance.

1. Put the vice in your budget. By having a fun money account, a shopping budget, or a wine budget, you are acknowledging the splurge but setting a limit on it. (Editor’s note – I could not agree more with this. Make it part of your budget so you know how much you’re spending on it and still have fun!)

2. Try not to let others influence you. If you have a friend who loves to shop ’till she drops, try to limit your time spent with her at the mall. Once you hit your max for your shopping budget, you should stop swiping the credit card no matter how much fun a Saturday afternoon stroll through the mall sounds.

3. Give yourself a break. No one is perfect all the time. If you slip up, forgive yourself, but make sure you don’t make the mistake two months in a row. Financially literacy is all about learning along the way and the concept of “try, try again” applies. No one gets it right the first time, and even some of the most experienced personal finance experts slip up from time to time.


So, now that I’ve shared all of my secret splurges, I want to hear from you. What are your financial vices, and how much do you spend on them each month?

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Catherine Alford is the go to personal finance expert for parents who want to better their finances and take on a more active financial role in their families.


  • Clarisse @ Make Money Your Way says:

    I’m a big fan of going to a salon and spa, I love treating myself, having a good full body massage and taking care of my hair. I DIY my nails, getting designs from the internet and also I have my own nail art kit design.

  • Mrs. Pop @ Planting Our Pennies says:

    For Mr PoP, it’s definitely coffee and fancy beer, and for me it’s probably everything we spend on me going to two different gyms. Oooh, and high quality technology that just works. (We spend too much time fighting with IT at work to want to do it at home.) Sure they’re all excessive and we theoretically could do without all of them, but the fact is we really enjoy them and they vastly improve the quality of our lives without sacrificing goals. So why do away with them?

  • Michael Solari says:

    haha I’m with Mrs. Pop on the beer. I love trying new micro brews when my wife and I go out to eat. Having beer definitely ups the bill but it’s a nice treat especially since we don’t do it so often. We love to travel and have a budget for that too!

  • Kasey @ Debt Perception says:

    I don’t know if I’d call them vices but I like to treat myself to a facial or massage once or twice a year. I’d love to get them more often but I refrain. I also like to find new clothes but I’m picky about what I buy. I like second-hand and won’t buy anything brand new unless it fits like a glove. My real and greatest vice is real furniture. We bought a nice couch last year but we hadn’t quite saved up all the money to get it, still paying that down. I’d love to have a kitchen table, a microwave cart or kitchen island, an entryway table and some non-plastic or non-particle board shelves, dressers, and coffee table. I’m itching to splurge on something so I’m trying my hardest to find something used, but it’s hard when you just have a car, which most of that stuff won’t fit in to.

  • DC @ Young Adult Money says:

    In one of the blog posts you wrote for Young Adult Money you advised people to get rid of their TVs. Ironically TV, cable in particular, is one of my vices! I like watching college football and basketball, and unfortunately it’s almost solely on cable. How do I deal with it? Still trying to figure that one out…for now I’m subscribed to cable!

  • Holly@ClubThrifty says:

    My vices are eating out occasionally and good food at the grocery store. I am also willing to buy *some* things that make my home nicer, like dรฉcor.

  • Laurie @thefrugalfarmer says:

    I’ve been extremely good about not having any vices since we began our debt free journey, but my two biggies, that will likely make a reappearance after the debt is gone, are going to the salon (what girl doesn’t LOVE to be pampered?) and eating out at nice restaurants.

    • Cat Alford (@BudgetBlonde) says:

      Also two things I love. I always feel so nice when I go to the salon but yeah I haven’t done much of anything like that in forever!

  • Shannon @ Financially Blonde says:

    I am definitely a big mani/pedi person, but like you suggest, I have made it a part of my budget because it is something I truly like to have and I had to cut out other vices (like shoe shopping) to be able to “indulge” in the mani/pedis; and I am fine with that because I don’t miss the shoes as much as I would miss the mani/pedis. I definitely make sure that clients budget for “fun” otherwise you just get burnt out with all work and no reward.

    • Cat Alford (@BudgetBlonde) says:

      Yeah it’s really nice to have mani/pedis. I fear I won’t be able to have one for a while though because I can’t get out of my house with these kids lol

  • Dee @ Color Me Frugal says:

    Mr. CMF and I like to have a fancy date night once in a while where we go out and get a couple’s massage. That’s probably our biggest vice, and we totally love it so it’s not going anywhere anytime soon! We just budget it into expenses.

  • Tonya@Budget and the Beach says:

    My biggest vice is probably food. I don’t buy what’s on sale or meal plan around there, I buy what I want when I want, which does affect the budget sometimes. I just can’t see myself eating a lot of rice and pasta because it’s a lot cheaper than what I buy. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Cat Alford (@BudgetBlonde) says:

      Oh that is nice to just go and buy whatever. I bet my husband wishes he could do that lol.

  • Kathy says:

    We go out to eat dinner once a week and that is in the budget. We also have a budget category for books and periodical subscriptions. And when we get groceries, although we do use some coupons and shop sales, we never really deny ourselves anything we want.

  • Kathy says:

    Oh, forgot about my handbag vice. Glad you mentioned it. I do like designer handbags and while I’ve never spent over $500 for one, I do like my Coach bags. I save up for them and use cash. And while they are expensive, I have one bag that I got 20 years ago. I always get their classic designs, never the trendy ones, and since Coach will refurbish them, they last for years.

  • E.M. says:

    I like the positive attitude about vices! It’s something I should probably work on. Like Laurie, I’ve cut down on mostly everything while I pay back my student loans. We do go out to eat once in a while, and take weekend trips to my parents’ house (about a full tank of gas). Family and quality time together are worth it.

  • Raquel@Practical Cents says:

    I think for me it’s cable tv. We enjoy watching movies on HBO Go and most of our favorite shows are on cable so for now that is why we pay for it. I’m thinking about getting rid of it once our contract is up but I’m not sure it’s the best move as we truly enjoy it. We’ll see what deal I can get.

  • Shannon @ The Heavy Purse says:

    Love this, Cat. Yes, we all do have financial vices and it’s just a matter of being aware of them and budgeting for those that mean the most to us. I like purses too (probably kind of obvious given the name of my blog) and agree with quality over quantity, although my husband might argue that I have both. ๐Ÿ™‚ Travel is something my whole family loves so we spend a lot of time deciding where we want to go together and what we will do. It makes it much easier to save for the trip and the girls understand why we can’t say “yes” to everything they want. They know we’re saving for more important things than a doll or toy.

  • Derek @ MoneyAhoy says:

    I’ll represent the nerd population here – computer games and video cards! I have to fight back the urge to upgrade to the fastest gaming rig every 6 months.

  • Elizabeth says:

    Call me a geek, but I LOVE splurging on good books….even though I rarely have time to read them. Ironic, I make time to buy them, but not to read them. Oh, and I have a shoe obsession that I get in trouble for ALL the time!

  • Jason B says:

    My one vice is travel. I love going different places. I am working two jobs, selling things on Ebay and other side hustles to make sure that I can ravel while paying off my debt.

  • Kim says:

    I like to take vacations, but I don’t really think that’s a vice. I would say my daily fountain Diet Pepsi would be considered a vice because it has no nutritional value, but I sure do enjoy it, and I spend about $20 a month for caffeine.

    • Cat Alford (@BudgetBlonde) says:

      lol I sure do enjoy a Dr. Pepper from time to time. There are worse vices to have I’m sure!

  • Mackenzie says:

    Manicures are my vice, too! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Kalen @ MoneyMiniBlog says:

    Mine is cigars. I used to ignore it with my budget, but now I budget for it. It’s an occasional habit, so I only spend about $15/month, but it’s still worth budgeting.

    I agree with what you said, put them in your budget! It can create a black hole in your budget if you say you quit smoking, drink, etc., but you still do it, and don’t include it in your budget Be honest and include it.

  • KK @ Student Debt Survivor says:

    My vices are probably craft beer (which I buy at the grocery store, so it comes out of my grocery budget), yarn (I’m a knitter) and target shopping (the store…how I can go in there and consistently spend $100 on stuff I didn’t plan to buy, I’ll never know)

  • Jordan Hanson says:

    My financial vice was sneakers and until I put those expenses in my budget I kept over spending on them! I first depleted my savings and then had to scrap together money in order to buy the sneakers. Looking back, I could not have made a worse mistake but it is definitely something I have learned from. Now sneakers are in my budget and it forces me to decide which ones I truly want and would be willing to spend 180-250 dollars on. Since adding sneakers to my budget I have been able decrease the numbers of pairs I buy from almost one a month to about 5 or 6 a year.

  • debt debs says:

    For me it’s cable TV and a pedicure twice a year, oh and hair highlights 2-3 times per year, oh and wine once in a while or maybe every weekend. But that’s all. A girls gotta look pretty and stay hydrated doesn’t she? Plus she needs cable to be able to watch The Little Couple.

  • The Phroogal Jason says:

    Definitely travel for me. I love to travel and plan on continuing to do so.

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