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Determining When to Spend on Myself

As I write this I have a new toy I’m playing with, a little handheld game console I purchased for Christmas for myself. This post is not really about what I bought so much as it is about the act of spending money on  yourself from time to time.  Our household is fairly frugal. Variable expenses, those not reoccurring, are less than $1000 a month. These include food, clothes, entertainment, and anything else we’re not paying as an auto pay bill. Considering we’re a family of 4 it should be obvious we don’t spend on ourselves very often.  So how do i determine when to spend on myself?

Few Splurges Beyond Tavel

Probably our biggest splurges each year are travel. Just in November we spent 2,500 dollars on a trip to Barcelona. But even with these we usually travel hack it so ultimately we spend little to nothing. Beyond that the second biggest expenditure is on kids education and entertainment. Way down at the bottom of the list is our most frequent self splurge, a Netflix subscription. Yes, we’re cheap dates.

In fact if I take a step back typically the only time we buy entertainment items for the adults in the household is when we buy gifts for each other. This isn’t some deprivation plan where we want something but pass either. The simple reality is neither of us typically need much more than a TV (multiple years old), a laptop (purchased with points years ago), and Netflix to be happy most of the time. That being said occasionally something special comes along that one of us wants.

Spend on Myself In My Budget

In my case I wanted a very particular handheld device, one which my dear wife would honestly not be able to order on her own. So getting it as a gift was out. But, honestly the cost was well within our budget. Our investments move more in a normal trading day then the cost of this device. It’s also one I know will provide me with hours of enjoyment. Add the two together and there was no reason not to make the purchase.

Which brings me to my point. It’s very important to start down your financial path. Save, invest, and increase earnings. They are also very important to continuously work at.. But… Money is just one aspect of a well balanced life. If something that comes around that you know will bring you great enjoyment and is well in your budget, go get it! Just remember you can have anything you want, just not everything.

How do I make a Decision on What to Spend on Myself?

In my case once I made the decision to make the purchase I let it simmer for a few weeks. This time gap allowed me to determine if I really wanted the device in question, or if it was just a case of the latest or greatest thing. Here we are 3 weeks later and I even found a better deal by waiting and pulled the trigger.

Find What You Value

Which brings me really to the key in your financial future. It’s not depriving yourself. It’s not even budgeting. It’s figuring out a way to determine what you truly value in life. What things truly bring you enjoyment, fill an untapped need, or even a strong want. Then ignore the rest. It’s really that simple.

Start Spend Decisions with Needs

But how do you determine the values from the marketing pull? Well for me it starts with , does it fill a need? A need is food, shelter, water, and education for my kids. Everything else are wants. In this case the answer is no so we move to the next question.

Then Consider Goal Advancing Spend

Does the item fill something that helps me to my goals? Investing in education, a business, or something else is also an obvious expenditure. Again though this is a no In this case. So the third question obviously deals with my wants. It’s also the hardest question to answer sincerely.

The final question is What do I truly Want?

Well first any time I ask the third question I instill a waiting period as I did in the example above. Marketing and other such processes tied to poor purchasing decisions tend to be fleeting. Waiting a month to make a purchase increases the changes that I’ve thought it through. It also ensures I’ve answer the questions truthfully for myself.

I actually break out the third question into a series of sub questions:

  1. What will spending provide me that I don’t already have?
  2. In spending on similar type items have I found them of use or have they ended in the back corner of the basement/garage/shed/good will?
  3.  Can I get it cheaper some other way?
  4. Will spending the money impact our budget?

Only if I can answer all 4 in a firm and positive manner do I make a purchase. So in this case:

  1. Yes as I have no other gaming device.
  2. I use to play video games all the time. I’ve had a hiatus for a few years, but after visiting a friend’s house I have the bug again.
  3. A post for another day perhaps on the device, but I’m definitely on the budget side of gaming so there are few options that I could get my fix cheaper.
  4. I answered this question before, but definitely not.

Hence I made the purchase.

How do you determine whether spending money makes sense?


  1. Moose
    Moose January 8, 2018

    Let me guess, Nintendo Switch? Mario Odyssey for life! I don’t have one but one of my good friends does.

    This is a great thought process for thinking through the occasional splurge.

    • FullTimeFinance
      FullTimeFinance January 9, 2018

      Actualy no. Much more obscure, a Chinese Android based game pad called GPD XD. It’s for Android games and emulation. My gaming interests seem to end around the late 90s.

  2. Caroline
    Caroline January 8, 2018

    Wow that is a lot of questions but I think I could thru a similar thought process!:) You have to enjoy the journey and treat yourself once in a while.

    • FullTimeFinance
      FullTimeFinance January 9, 2018

      Exactly, what fun is life if you can’t enjoy it from time to time.

  3. OthalaFehu
    OthalaFehu January 9, 2018

    One of the factors I use in determining whether or not it is ok to drop some dough, is how much time do I spend with this proposed purchase? Hence I have an expensive bed, a good TV, and a lot of tattoos.

    • FullTimeFinance
      FullTimeFinance January 9, 2018

      Ha, the tattoos would definitely be high usage.

      Then again I spend most of my day on conference calls for work but I’m not splurging on a bluetooth headset.

  4. fiberguyr1
    fiberguyr1 January 9, 2018

    All of that typing, and the question still remains…..which gaming system did you buy? I am currently going through a similar process right now with golf clubs. I have been playing with the same clubs for over 15 years now, and got the chance to play with some rental clubs in Hawaii that had me hitting the ball really well. I have researched it to death, and now I just need to go hit them again in a store to make sure that it was the Hawaii golf effect that made them hit so well.

    • FullTimeFinance
      FullTimeFinance January 9, 2018

      Always leave them wondering… 😉 See above.

  5. Doc G
    Doc G January 9, 2018

    My wife uses the same tactic with my kids…wait a week and see if you still want it. Works 1/2 the time.

    • FullTimeFinance
      FullTimeFinance January 11, 2018

      What works for the little kids tends to work for us big kids;)

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