How We Do Guilt-Free Splurging

Guilt-Free Splurging

I love that each new year comes with a new chance for goals, resolutions, and planning. But no matter how many resolutions you set or how many plans you make, the year never goes exactly how you imagined it. Johnny and I have managed to stay on track financially, but we haven’t done it the way we’d envisioned.

It seems like any mention of “splurging” is accompanied by a sense of guilt. But the beauty of personal finance is that you can splurge without an ounce of guilt if you just spend less than you planned in other areas of your budget. And that’s kind of what 2014 has been like for us. So without further unnecessary rambling from yours truly, here’s where we’ve splurged and then made up for it in our budget so far this year:

Splurged: Rock Climbing

Rock Climbing

Utah is a bit of a wintery beast between the months of January and April. So to help remedy that, we decided to take a rock climbing class in March. Our class included a private instructor and a month of climbing at our local rock gym. And it was worth every penny (to us). Johnny’s always been into rock climbing, but I did it more as a way to get some baby-free time with Johnny outside of our living room. But then I ended up loving it, and did I mention that Utah has all of these amazing places to rock climb? We have a canyon with dozens of climbs just minutes from our front door. So using some of our own money as well as some gift cards, we invested in some rock climbing shoes, rope, harnesses, and other gear. The only problem? None of this was originally planned into our budget for 2014. And so…

Saved: Clothing

This year we set aside a specific budget for clothing. But that all went to you-know-where when we started getting into rock climbing. If you’ll believe it, Johnny and I haven’t bought ourselves any clothes since Christmas. Okay, I did buy a new swimsuit, but that’s it. My closet is looking rather sad these days. But it was a trade off we were willing to make in order to buy all of our rock climbing gear. And come fall, I’m hoping our budget is feeling a bit more fashion-forward.

Splurged: Mini-Getaways


This year has been the year of short trips away. We’ve gone to Zion National Park once, Arches National Park twice, and now New York City. And we’re headed to DC in the next couple of weeks. They’ve all been relatively inexpensive, but we’ve gone on more than we’d planned. And we have at least a few more in mind before the end of the year. And so…

Saved: Vacation

Guess who once again hasn’t planned a summer vacation? These guys! Time gets away from us, and our mini-getaways have cut into our vacation budget. We haven’t completely nixed a vacation, but if we do go on one, we’ll be spending less than we originally planned. But I can promise you this. No matter what, there will be sand and sun to be had this summer if it’s the last thing I do.

So with a little shifting around, our budget is still on track, just not how we’d originally planned. What about you? Have you had any guilt-free splurges in 2014?

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  • Reply Heidi@krusesworkshop June 18, 2014 at 7:14 am

    Your budgeting plans sound a lot like ours! We save all year long for one big weeklong vacation to the Wisconsin Dells to stay at water park resorts. These vacations cost us less than $1500 and the kids have a blast and so do we!

    • Reply Joanna June 18, 2014 at 11:16 pm

      Awesome! It sounds like you guys have found your perfect family vacation!

  • Reply Julie @MillennialCents June 18, 2014 at 7:42 am

    I’d rather spend money on rock climbing than clothes any day. Although I’ve never been rock climbing…But it sounds awesome, plus the pictures are stunning!! I agree, I think as long as you stick to your overall budget, it just requires some rejiggering but you can splurge guilt-free. Great article!

    • Reply Joanna June 18, 2014 at 11:18 pm

      Thanks, Julie! You should give it a try. I recommend a rock climbing class to everyone because I loved it so much!

  • Reply Halsy June 18, 2014 at 7:44 am

    It sounds like you guys have been having a lot of fun without sacraficing your budget! This has been an expensive year for us…buying a bigger house and having a baby (both being more than we expected). So pretty much any money spent I have felt at least a little guilty about. However, things not happening are vacations. One item I haven’t felt guilty about since we have no summer vacation plans, is buying a pool pass for the family. One of the best things about our house is that it’s right across the street from a park and pool. It was $120 for a summer family pass and the pool has a splash pad, playground, baby pool and a pool that starts out at baby pool depth. We don’t feel guilty if we just go for 20 minutes. It’s $6 per visit per person if you don’t have a pass and I would feel guilty if we spent that and our toddler wanted to leave after 15 minutes! Enjoy your summer plans!

    • Reply Joanna June 18, 2014 at 11:21 pm

      Totally worth it, Halsy. As a parting gift, my work gave me a pass to one of our local attractions, and it has been a parenting game-changer for me. Sal loves it, I love it, and like you said, I don’t feel guilty every time we go. When it expires next summer, I’m planning to renew it!

  • Reply Becky @ RunFunDone June 18, 2014 at 9:32 am

    I first read this and thought, “I don’t DO splurges.” Then I realized that because I don’t track every single penny, little things like weekend getaways aren’t thought of as a “splurge.” They’re just part of life and spending. I’m actually pleased with this because the thought of splurging scares me!

    • Reply Joanna June 18, 2014 at 11:24 pm

      It sounds like your more laid back outlook is working for you, so keep on with it! 🙂

  • Reply Wade June 18, 2014 at 11:10 am

    This is the key to being happy. Save on things that are not important to you. Spend on things that are important. (within your budget). At 43 I could not buy another piece of new clothing. I do most of my clothes shopping at a thrift store about 1 mile away. It is filled with name brand, new or nearly new clothing for $5.00 or under. If I wear a Nike polo shirt that was $60 new in the store and I paid $4.00 for it, am I wearing a $60 shirt or a $4.00 shirt? Does it matter? Does anyone know if I don’t tell them?

    I think it was Mr. Money Moustache that basically said, he doesn’t go “shopping”. If he has a need, check Craigslist or a Thrift Store. next. Interesting concept.

    Fun topic.

    • Reply Joanna June 18, 2014 at 11:26 pm

      Good perspective, Wade! There’s nothing more satisfying than getting a great deal on an item. I love Craigslist and thrifting for that very reason!

  • Reply Hollie June 18, 2014 at 11:56 am

    This makes me so happy and a little bit motivated to read. I have a hard time splurging and spending money on myself. My goal is to save for our honeymoon and truly enjoy the experience, not worry about how much things cost!

    • Reply Joanna June 18, 2014 at 11:33 pm

      Glad to hear it Hollie! Just save a little at a time, and by the time your honeymoon hits, you can enjoy every second, guilt-free!

  • Reply Shannon June 18, 2014 at 2:41 pm

    I had an accidental splurge this year when tagging on a trip to New York to visit my in-laws at the tail end of a trip to Ohio to visit my family. However, after living across the country from both families for several years (and wanting to make the most of an already long flight), this feels worth every penny – now I just have to find out which part of my budget will have to bend in order to keep things on track. I like the way you guys “borrow” from other areas of your budget! That’s always been the strategy that’s worked best for me when life needs more flexibility in a budget.

    • Reply Joanna June 18, 2014 at 11:39 pm

      Splurges that involve seeing family are usually worth it! You have half the year left to make up the difference, so saving a little here and there should do the trick!

  • Reply Victoria @thefrugaltrial June 18, 2014 at 5:27 pm

    Yes, I bought a potato ricer this week, a completely unnecessary purchase! However, I now have awesome mash potato! Love the picture of you guys looking over the Canyon, one to treasure.

    • Reply Joanna June 18, 2014 at 11:40 pm

      I don’t think I’ve ever heard of a potato ricer! But if it makes amazing mash potatoes, I’m in. Johnny loves mashed potatoes, and I’ve never quite figured out how to make them just right!

  • Reply Aldo Rancier June 18, 2014 at 8:53 pm

    I love rock climbing. It’s a bit expensive at first, with buying the harness, shoes and chalk bag, but worth every penny. We live in NJ so we don’t have the climbing opportunities that you have in Utah, but there are a few places here we enjoy. Most of the time we climb at local gyms though.
    The cool thing about most gyms in NJ is that they have two-for-one deals (usually on Mondays) and some have meetup discounts. Rock climbing is my main workout so I think it’s worth it.

    • Reply Joanna June 19, 2014 at 12:04 am

      It’s Johnny’s main form of exercise too. He has kept his pass, and I go with him on Fridays (the two-for-one nights). For people who don’t like more traditional (or as Johnny would say, “boring”) forms of exercise, it’s totally worth it!

  • Reply Michele June 18, 2014 at 9:57 pm

    Great read! We save where we can (groceries, coupons, no cable tv, eat 95% of our meals in). I feel I don’t need to justify our splurges that way- a few drinks at happy hour ( a new concept for us since my husband now has Fridays off!) and the occasional getaway. We paid off a TON of debt this year with our marriage (wedding expenses, Hawaii honeymoon, new metal roof, refinanced the house, paid of all his credit card debt) so money is the tightest it has been for me in a long time. Granted, we have no credit cards or loans besides cars, mortgage, his school loans. We appreciate every splurge that much more when money is tight.-a dinner out, a new dress, happy hour. I will easily spend 3 hours a week couponing and meal planning to save money for a monthly night out or weekend away. My motto is save on things you need to buy the things you want!

    • Reply Joanna June 19, 2014 at 12:25 am

      Agreed…. when our money has been especially tight, every splurge has meant so much more! Good for you for finding the balance between saving and splurging right now!

  • Reply Melanie June 19, 2014 at 10:13 am

    I think I do this every month! Every month I donate the same amounts to gasoline, utilities, toiletries, pet food, etc, and it seems by the end of the month I’ve “stolen” money from each category towards “fun.” Maybe I should stop overestimating in those categories and stop underestimating in the fun budget… as long as it zeroes out in the end, I usually feel pretty good.
    But I am working on lessening my fun budget….because I’d like to own a condo or home in the next few years, and I certainly don’t want to find myself renting longer because I enjoyed so many happy hours/meals out…. that’s my budget weakness!! 🙂

    • Reply Joanna June 23, 2014 at 9:31 am

      Amen, Melanie! I think we’ve all got that weakness! We’re all about finding that balance. If you take all the fun out, at some point it will be unbearable to stick to your budget. So even if you give up some fun, don’t give it all up :).

  • Reply Little House June 20, 2014 at 12:04 pm

    Sounds very much like my year. We’ve splurged on two, short trips – however one was just me. 😉 But we make up for it in other places, saving on clothing (I really don’t like to clothes shop anyway) and making sure we are earning more than spending.

    • Reply Joanna June 23, 2014 at 9:32 am

      Awesome! It’s all about making up the difference, one of the things I love best about personal finance — customizing it to fit our lives!

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