One thing people often get wrong about frugality is thinking that it will be a long slog of painful denial. Since you’re attempting to spend less money, that means all luxuries are off the table.
There are two problems with this way of thinking: First, if you believe that frugality is a painful struggle, then you’re much less likely to stick with your penny-pinching ways. Second, it’s simply not true that treats have to cost money in order to feel luxurious. If you’re stumped for ways to treat yourself without breaking the bank, here are some free and low-cost treats you can plan for yourself or your loved ones.
1. Drink a cup of tea or coffee. Even if you already start the day with one of these beverages, you can still make drinking a nice cup a luxurious event. Take your drink to a comfortable spot and simply enjoy the solitude and the drink.
2. Buy a favorite candy bar, and save it to enjoy during a relaxing moment sometime that evening or the next day. Believe me, the anticipation of eating the chocolate will make it taste that much better. Eat it slowly and savor every bite.
3. Make a date to take a long nap. Even if you’re not much of a napper, clear your schedule one afternoon to spend it lazing on a hammock (or on the couch) with some good reading.
4. Buy a bouquet of supermarket flowers to brighten up your home or office.
5. Call a friend you haven’t spoken to recently and enjoy 20 minutes of catching up and laughing.
6. Go on a Netflix or Blockbuster binge over the weekend. I love to get caught up on entire seasons of my favorite shows all at once.
7. Take a walk during your lunch hour. This makes for a great way to break up your day, and it can also help improve your mood and your concentration at work. If you can find a walking buddy, it’s even more of a boost.
8. Create an at-home spa. Taking a nice relaxing bubble bath is just the start. Search for a couple of make-at-home facials to pamper your skin, and then take the time to paint your nails with a new shade of nail polish.
9. Get dressed up for no reason. You may remember Billy Crystal as Fernando Lamas telling people “When you look good, you feel good, and you look mahvelous!” There’s definitely some truth to it. Wear your nicest clothes one day, just to feel “mahvelous.”
10. Watch a movie you loved as a child. It’s amazing how the nostalgia will take you back — and how much of the humor went over your head when you were a kid.
11. Be crafty. Many of us haven’t connected with the creative part of ourselves since we were children. You could go back to an old favorite craft project from your childhood — like making friendship bracelets — or simply spend an afternoon at a paint-your-own-pottery store. Letting yourself enjoy the corniness of it will make it even more fun.
12. Hire a housecleaner for a single top-to-bottom cleaning of your home. You can find housecleaners who charge reasonable hourly rates (I’ve seen as low as $10 per hour in my neck of the woods) or flat rates for a one-time cleaning. Shop around until you find a service within your price range, and then enjoy the feeling of a completely clean home.
13. Go to a matinee or the dollar theater. Movies used to be a cheap treat, but with tickets at upwards of $10 each, that’s no longer the case. But if you’re willing to watch a second-run film or go the movies in the daytime, you can still get the awesome theater experience without sacrificing your frugal habits.
14. Make a picnic lunch. Eating outside on a beautiful day is enough to brighten anyone’s mood. It feels even better if you have to hike through some beautiful countryside in order to get to your picnic destination.
15. Plan a game night with friends. You’d be surprised to find out how much fun old-school games like Monopoly and Clue are now that you’re an adult.
Indulging in luxuries doesn’t have to ruin your frugal intentions. Treating yourself is all about doing something you normally wouldn’t do for yourself — not about spending money.
What are some other cheap ways to treat yourself and your family? Leave a comment!