How to get the most for your money
Spending and splurging both require a little planning and some budgeting, but it's worth it when you spend wisely and splurge happily.
Researchers at the Harvard Business School did a study to find what most of us know instinctively: keeping your nose to the grindstone can make you feel you've lost all the pleasures life can offer.
The trick is in learning how to splurge without blowing both your budget and the retirement account. The most simple way to do this is to build some splurges into your budget, or at least, into your budget planning. This way, when you see an irresistible object or activity, you will have some notion of exactly what impact it might have on your budgeting.
You also need to remember that, for some things, a higher price tag can signify a worthwhile investment. Most often, these items tend to be thought of long-term items such as appliances or vehicles.
Learning how to spend and splurge wisely can take practice. Fortunately, it's easy to gain experience in learning spend and splurge techniques by focusing on two simple items in your everyday budgeting. Food and clothing both offer ample opportunity to spend wisely with splurges that can brighten your spirit on an almost-weekly basis.
Shopping for clothing & accessories
"I tell people to spend as much as they can on the important, core pieces of their wardrobes," says Marilyn Gregorin, a personal shopper with Macy's in Phoenix, Arizona.
For women, this means "an amazing two-piece black suit, a classic 'little black dress,' good jeans and a great white dress shirt," she says. For men, Gregorin suggests upfront investing in at least two classic suits (black, blue or pinstripe), good dress slacks, a jacket and good jeans.
"Men and women both should invest in good quality shoes, and women shouldn't be afraid to spend on a really good handbag," she adds. "Shoes and bags are where quality shows – and lasts."
After those investments, you can think about fun and frivolous pieces that can update your classics. "Accessories and costume jewelry, ties and casual shirts go on sale often."
Remember, too, personal shopper consulting services are free, and can help you evaluate your wardrobe so you'll know what things you can splurge on and what items to practice good savings habits.
Kids are another matter, Gregorin notes. "Remember that they're growing." Spend more on good coats, and splurge less on up-to-the minute tops, shoes or shirts.
"Or, invest in creativity and bedazzle a top or jeans. Make the outfit fun and unique and your child can be a trendsetter."
For a thoughtful approach to food splurges, Chef Amy Ahrensdorf with SunWest Appliances in Tempe, Arizona, suggested, "Make dinner out a special event, not a quick night out because you
forgot to get something out for dinner. For birthdays or special events, invest in some great steaks or a lobster, and really make it a memorable occasion at home."
"Or, invite your friends over and let everyone share a hand in cooking. After dinner, you can bring out a fabulous dessert in which you've invested your time and high-quality ingredients. Remember, your guests will remember the fun first - and also whatever they ate last," she suggests.
One other thing: a top quality chocolate bar may be a little splurge, but if it brightens your spirit and completes your day, then it's a wise investment, too!
Ignore gender labelingConsumer Reports just released an interesting study where they compared products targeting women against equivalent products directed at men. They found that most often than not, product targeting specifically women will cost up to 50% more than simular products targeting men!
'You're paying for the perceived value of the package,' says Adam Gorman, owner of Brandspa, a company that helps make brands more desirable.
The reality is that most often than not it is the same product labeled differently to appeal to a certain gender. ConsumerReports.com suggest consumer to try to ignore the gender labeling and buy the cheaper version.
Visit ConsumerReports.com to find out more about their product pricing study.