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6 Luxuries In My Budget

by Kay Lynn

Thai Massage at Rama Day Spa Frankfurt

When drafting your zero-based budget (you have one, right?) you most likely included discretionary items.  These are the things you could cut out if push came to shove. 

I know my budget isn’t as lean and mean as possible but believe including these extras, some might call them luxuries, help me follow the plan.

Pedicure

During the open-toe shoe months (April through November  in California), spa pedicures are a mainstay in my budget. I figure it’s the price of being able to wear sandals to work.

Visits are stretched out to every six weeks and I patronize a shop where the rate is $21 plus tip.  There are often coupons in the pennysaver but I like going the work of this shop and stopped trying new ones.

Massage

My posture on the computer is horrible resulting in neck and back pain at times.  Massaging out the kinks and knots becomes a necessity at times but I try to nip it in the bud before then.

By taking advantage of daily deals (such as Groupon) it’s possible to save a significant amount of money.  A hour long deep tissue massage probably averages about $75  but a recent daily deal resulted in me getting three massages for a total of $29.  I tip on the regular price each visit.

Smart Phone

Cell phones are a necessity for Mr. Boomer and I because we don’t have a land line at home.  However, the Droid is pure luxury. 

It’s $30 a month that I don’t have to spend although it does save me time.  How?  I’m able to catch up on my reader queue and emails from just about anywhere.  It turns waiting  (at the doctor’s office, etc.) into productive time.

Convenience Foods

Cooking is sometimes the last thing I want to do after a long day in the office or after a business trip.  By including convenience foods in our menu planning we’re able to eat at home more often and not spend money dining out. 

For example picking up a roasted chicken and prepared mashed potatoes at Costco means all we have to do is add a vegetable and we have a delicious, healthy meal with leftovers for less than $4 a person.

Lattes

Every Sunday I get a latte at Starbucks.  This is a reward for staying on track during the week by drinking home-brewed coffee and eating home-made lunches. 

This $4 a week expense keeps me from feeling deprived because I know there’s a prize every seven days and ultimately saves much more money.  If I ate lunch out each workday at $8 a pop that would be 10 times more money.

Travel

This is the largest discretionary item in our budget.  Many people wouldn’t even consider spending money on vacation or travel while paying down debt.  I think some sort of vacation is necessary at least once a year for several reasons.

One is that people need a chance to recharge and change their scenery.  How boring is it to never get a week away from work or your home?  I’ve never heard of people near the end of their life regretting that they traveled or vacationed too much.  We’ve all heard of the reverse.

Having said that, we have changed our vacation plans to save money.  When airfare to Hawaii practically doubled from San Diego this year we changed our vacation plans to a cruise that originated from here.

———-$$$$$———-

I hope you include at least one luxury in your budget.  What is your discretionary item and why?

photo credit: thomaswanhoff

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{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

Jersey Mom July 19, 2010 at 6:44 am

Ah ~ that would have to be good food & travel/entertainment/family activities.

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Bucksome July 19, 2010 at 12:24 pm

Jersey Mom, yes I think some sort of entertainment needs to be included. We usually don’t spend the budgeted amount but occasionally do something special.

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kt- lifedividend July 19, 2010 at 9:14 am

i dont have luxuries in my budget because things are a little tight and all but since things are soon looking up, my luxuries will be a macbook pro(the latest), regular eating out and more out of the country traveling. Let’s see what God has in store for me

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Bucksome July 19, 2010 at 12:25 pm

KT, my son loves the macbook pro, but I’ve never used an Apple product. Good luck on your upcoming changes.

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Jesse July 19, 2010 at 9:42 am

My wife and I splurge on dining out at a nice place each week. Nice to us cost us about 20$ a visit WITH enough leftovers for a few more meals. We have a few places we frequent because of the huge portions and fair prices, plus we know just how to order there and when to go (kids eat free day).

The other thing we spend on is travel. We save up each year and spend a few hundred dollars to visit my family in California, eat at all our old places and go to Disney Land. This time usually comes around Winter as here in Utah, Winters are brutal and I need the thaw we get during our Cali visit or I’d go nuts. :) Gotta have that sun!

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Bucksome July 19, 2010 at 12:26 pm

Jesse, Disneyland is less than 100 miles away and I never go. Maybe when my grandson gets older we’ll make the trek again.

I’m glad to hear that others value travel like I do.

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Dr Dean July 19, 2010 at 10:10 am

I agree that we all need downtime. The problem is some use that as an excuse to overspend.

My rule is to save for the trip before you go. No credit cards. If you can’t pay with cash, then stay home!

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Bucksome July 19, 2010 at 12:27 pm

Dr. Dean, good point. Our vacations now must be prepaid and that does help us make our selection and stay on target with the budget.

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Roshawn @ Watson Inc July 19, 2010 at 11:24 pm

There’s nothing wrong with budgeting some fun/luxuries, especially after hitting some of those savings/investing goals. The thing that scares me are people who spend $90 a month on those lattes but don’t invest for their retirement.BTW, the smart phone certainly is a luxury that I don’t feel bad about either. It definitely does keep me connected to the world and productive when I otherwise would have to be waiting.
Regards, Shawn
P.S. I think I will be switching from a Palm to a Droid as well.

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Bucksome July 20, 2010 at 3:55 am

Good point Shawn about priorities. It’s okay to have budgeted luxuries as long as you are taking care of the basics including retirement.

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Money Reasons July 20, 2010 at 3:33 pm

I like most of your luxuries! Especially the Starbucks once a week idea!

We usually eat out for dinner at least once a week. Personally, I prefer breakfast (because it’s cheap and gets me out of the house early on the weekends).

I’ve been trying to play golf once a week, but it’s really been averaging once every 2 weeks…

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Bucksome July 25, 2010 at 8:16 pm

Golf is something I want to learn in retirement. We live in a community with a lot of retirees and are surrounded by golf courses but I don’t play!

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Donna Freedman July 21, 2010 at 3:58 pm

Massage. Definitely massage. I have some back issues and as a full-time freelance writer I get pretty achy sometimes. I use the social buying sites to get the best possible deals.
The other one is travel, mostly to visit friends and family — which cuts the costs since I have a place to stay and sometimes am even loaned a vehicle.
This is why I’m frugal: So that I can live my life the way I want to live it. I save where I can so I can spend where I want.

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Bucksome July 25, 2010 at 8:12 pm

Donna, I’m with you girl. I don’t need a lot of things but do want to spend money on travel and would give up a lot to make sure I can continue to do so.

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Monroe on a Budget July 21, 2010 at 4:29 pm

My luxury item is probably my dishes. They are not plastic or mismatched items, or Wal-Mart picks. It is Pfaltzgraff stoneware. And yes, I do use those dishes every day. I’ve had only three glasses and one plate break in the past six years.

BTW I got my first smartphone a month ago. Best $100 I’ve spent in a long time. I’m trying to train the phone (via apps) to earn its maintenance fee LOL!

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Bucksome July 25, 2010 at 8:12 pm

Paula, if you can train the phone please do tell! I have a set of Pfaltzgraff stoneware that is 30 years old now. I bought it as a newlywed (the first time) and it just won’t go away!

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Barb Friedberg July 28, 2010 at 7:31 pm

Hi Bucksome- I loved this article. I totally get all of you luxuries! I’m in on the travel and occasional massage. I’ll have to check out groupon, pedicures in my area are 50 bucks! I agree that you have to splurge once in a while! Or else, what are we working for?

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Bucksome August 1, 2010 at 11:25 am

Barb, subscribe to the various daily deal sites. Ours have a lot of spa type services which can save you a lot.

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Pay day uk August 5, 2010 at 4:57 am

Its not bad to ahve these luxuries in your budget as they offer entertainment and comfort to you. Always keep a track on them and avoid from any overspending due to these luxuries. They should not affect your budget.

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