Even though Mr. DebtFreeJD and I are serious about paying down my loans, we aren’t living a life of monastic asceticism. In fact, we still spend money on absolutely frivolous items. For me, the key is deciding in advance what I’ll splurge on – and what I won’t – and sticking to that plan.
For example, most mornings Dog DebtFreeJD and I walk to a local coffee shop. I get a coffee ($1.35) and Dog DebtFreeJD gets a dog biscuit (free from an adoring sales clerk).
Most of the personal finance blogs I read would probably consider getting frequent take-out coffee to be widely extravagant, and a bad habit that should be broken as soon as possible (including the always excellent Mr. Money Mustache). Other people I know would think only spending a buck and change on coffee probably nets you some pretty awful coffee. But, at the end of the day, I’m the one who gets to have a nice chat every morning with the same sales clerk, and Dog DebtFreeJD receives many pets from the same person (in addition to the free dog cookie . . . or three). This is worth $9.35/week to me.
Likewise, last night Mr. DebtFreeJD and I went out with some friends to a local bar. Several beers were consumed, as was a decedent amount of fried food. I’d like to tell you that it worked out to a reasonable amount via some secret coupon we had or some great happy hour special. But I can’t – it was definitely pricey.
The big thing is that I try to treat these things as luxuries. We don’t go out to bars very often. I get take-out coffee most days, but I don’t get expensive coffee and I try not to buy lunch out or other snacks throughout the day. I totally admire the folks who can cut their frivolous spending to almost nothing (looking at you, Frugalwoods!) But, alas, that doesn’t work well for me. I like having my small luxuries – the key for me is deciding what they are, and then sticking to that plan!