When you’re looking for budgeting tips, there’s a lot of advice out there around cutting down your personal budget and sacrificing things you don’t ‘need.’ But one tip that’s not always on the agenda might just be our favourite: Treat yourself.
Financing is hard. Especially in times like these. So, if you’ve been sticking to your goals, keeping up with your bills and managing your debts over the past few weeks, you might want to think about giving yourself a break. Buy that croissant you’ve said no to so many times this year. Order those new running shoes. Pay extra for the premium version of your favourite subscription. And enjoy it.
Giving yourself positive affirmation isn’t hedonism - it’s healthy, and can motivate you to keep working towards your goals. Think of it like a loyalty card to yourself. Every time you go a week meeting all your expenses and debts - and without overspending on extravagances! - punch a hole in the card, and at the end of the month you get a bit back.
Just remember to do what's right for you and your financial circumstances.
Here are some steps you could take to become your own rewards program:
1. Make a wish list
What are some simple things you’ve refrained from splurging on in order to reach your savings or debt repayment goals? It might be an item of clothing you want, but don’t really need right now. A takeaway feast may be on the cards. A couple of gifts for your friends or family. Maybe a few barista-made coffees are all you’re craving. Go wild with your ideas at first, and then shortlist the things that would mean the most to you.
The beauty of building a wish list to treat yourself in the future is three-fold: it acts as motivation to keep you on track, makes you aware of things you may have impulse bought and could even end up costing you less as a small wait might be all you need for a sale to start.
2. Build treats into your budget
You could just wing it with the money you have left at the end of the month, or you could build rewards into your monthly savings plan and put a little aside each week. Organise your accounts with few different purposes (such as rainy day funds, everyday spending) and consider setting up automatic direct debits as soon as your pay goes in to keep you on track.
You could even set up a separate account just for treats, with a small amount going in there every week (remember to compare accounts to find the features that suit your needs and be sure to check for things like monthly or annual account fees, other charges and restrictions on withdrawals). This means you’re not pulling from your main savings accounts when it’s time to reward yourself.
Remember, not all rewards have to break the bank...
3. Choose cosy over cost
What you consider ‘rewarding’ may be different for the people around you, and not everyone may see a new jacket as a worthy achievement. For some busy parents, a sleep in might be the thing you want to work towards. Or time to take a class you’ve always wanted to.
Consider choosing comforting, simple rewards instead of purchasing something just for the sake of it. In fact, the art of simple indulgence is how the Danes stay sane.
“Hygge” - a practice employed by many Scandinavians - involves indulging in ‘cosy’ rewards that bring you lasting joy and comfort: soft new linen, a steaming cup of coffee, a bunch of flowers for your bedroom. It’s all about taking time to appreciate the little things, and enjoy a bit of mindfulness.
You could even combine these concepts for long-lasting rewards, like buying yourself a book, a fancy bottle of spirits or a skin treatment. You might have an upfront cost, but you can use your reward bit by bit when you find the time to enjoy it.
Whatever you choose to indulge in, make sure you relish every second. You’ve earned it.