Treat Yourself.....And Still Save Money

May 31, 2018


It's trick or treat time! Before you shout that it's not halloween, you'll be glad to know that this blog is not halloween related, rather it focuses on the tricks we play on ourselves to persuade us to treat ourselves. When it comes to treats, there are really only two questions to answer -  How often should you really treat yourself and how much should you spend? As someone who's spent many years helping people to manage their money better, this is probably the number one question I'm asked. Can I treat myself? How much should I spend? Is life worth living if I can't treat myself? And the answer to all these things is, yes!  Of course you can treat yourself, but there just needs to be some kind of framework around it.

The first thing to say on treats is that we all treat ourselves and quite often, we do it to make ourselves feel better. There's nothing wrong with that, but the reality is that for many people the act of buying a treat isn't the issue, rather it is how much they're spending on it. And quite often, the amount we’re spending is disproportionate to the enjoyment we get from it! So it’s really important to take a minute to think about how you treat yourself because, if you're trying to build a solid financial future for yourself or get out of debt, treats are one of the easiest ways to derail your progress. Here's a few tips which will get you back on track:

  1. You are allowed to treat yourself! Many people think that treats are incompatible with improving your finances, but that’s not necessarily the case, provided you determine some ground rules.
  2. Link your treats to a goal so they act as an I don't want you to start groaning, "Oh no. He's not what one of those guys who goes on about goals!" Yes, I’m afraid I am, but the good news is that these goals don’t need to be very complex. All I mean is that if you hit certain savings targets, spend less than you plan or your debts are getting smaller, there's nothing wrong with giving yourself a little reward, but you should identify that goal in advance. That way, it will act as an incentive to keep you on track.
  3. Set yourself a monetary limit. And do this well in advance. Whilst you can treat yourself, the amount you spend needs to be proportionate. I can't tell you what that limit is because I don't know your finances, but it should really be a nominal amount (perhaps £20-£30), but I’m sure you'll come up with a level that's right for you. That is an amount you can afford to spend that isn’t going to derail your finances.
  4. Keep a note of all the treats that you are buying. It doesn't have to be incredibly detailed, simply the date, description of what you’re buying and the amount will be fine. Keep the list on your phone if that's easier. But the important thing is to check your list before you buy – By checking your recent treats, you’ll get the context which will help you better decide whether to go ahead and make the purchase. For example, if you look at the list and see that you’ve already treated yourself three times this month, then probably shouldn't really treat yourself again until next month.
  5. Limit the number of treats per month. I would suggest three would be tops, because if you're treating yourself all the time, to be honest, those aren't treats, that's just bad spending, and you’ll definitely struggle to keep yourself on track.

You may be thinking that these tips are simple. Like most of my advice, they sure are, but the point is, whilst they do work, most people don't follow them, so why not put these simple steps into action for the next 30 days and see what a difference they make to your finances.


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