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Life's "Little" Luxuries Add Up to Big Spending

Little indulgences are often a part of life, even when you’re working your way out of debt. While you’re learning how to stay on track financially, it’s also important to give yourself the freedom to enjoy an occasional treat, whether it’s a new pair of shoes, a nice dinner out, or a day trip for the family.

It’s when life’s “little” luxuries become the norm rather than the exception – or when those luxuries come with a hefty price tag – that spending can get out of control. So, how do you learn to enjoy some special treats from time to time without breaking the bank? Start by creating a budget and sticking to it.

The Importance of Budgeting

As you’ll learn when researching debt relief, creating a budget – and really following that budget – is one of the first, most important steps in solving the debt puzzle.

When developing your budget, it may be easiest to start with your needs – food, mortgage or rent, car payments, insurance, utilities and other monthly bills.  Once you determine how much money, if any, is left at the end of each month or paycheck, you can then give yourself some spending cash to enjoy a few “wants.”

Remember to allocate a certain amount to paying off debt and saving every month. While it’s best to start saving even while you’re paying off debt, make getting those bills paid off your primary goal. That means devoting a larger portion of your budget to paying off debt for now, and ramping up your monthly savings goals once you are debt free. That also may mean sacrificing some luxuries now in favor of getting out of debt more quickly. And as you reduce your debt, you can go ahead and enjoy a few more treats here and there.

Defining What Matters to You

What’s a luxury to you? Is it something that’s never within reach because of the cost? If so, it may be time to redefine what a luxury or indulgence means to you.

While some people don’t consider it a luxury unless it’s the best of the best – a four-star hotel, the newest technological gadget, or high-end designer sunglasses – it’s important to put things into perspective.

Little luxuries don’t have to cost a lot; there are a lot of ways to make them happen on the cheap. Consider the following:

  • “Daily Deal” promotions: Are you a member of Groupon, Living Social, Eversave, or other group discount subscriptions? Growing in popularity every day, they send daily emails to their fan base with a “deal of the day.” Often these promotions offer substantial savings of 50 percent or more off goods and services, such as spa and hair treatments, restaurants and hotels, kid’s clothing stores, and more. Not only can you buy the day’s deal at a significant discount, you may also find hidden treasures right in your own neighborhood. So if you’re not already a subscriber, check them out and start saving today.
     
  • Freebies for kids: Be on the lookout for great deals for your kids. You can save a bundle eating out at restaurants where kids eat free or finding hotel deals that provide free breakfast and entertainment for your family. In addition, you can plan a number of family activities that are absolutely free – do something outdoors, play in the park, and visit free museums.  The deals are out there, it’s just a matter of finding them.
     
  • Make budgeting a family affair: Enlist the help of your family when creating and sticking to your monthly budget. It’s a great idea to get kids in on the action and teach them at a young age to spend wisely. Give them a budget and have them plan the trip. It’ll not only help you save time and stick to your budget, but it’ll help your children understand the cost of entertainment, the value of a dollar, and how to prioritize wants vs. needs. And who knows – they might even have fun doing it!

Regardless of how and when you decide to enjoy a little indulgence, remember that needs and wants both have a role in your life. Pre-planning can go a long way in maintaining a healthy financial lifestyle. Allow yourself to spend once in a while, as long as you’ve saved for it. Check out CareOne’s online budget planner and financial calculators for more help creating and sticking to your monthly budget. Or check out our other helpful online services today.

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