Splurge Without Sacrifice: How To Pamper Yourself on a Budget

Chang Fu
Jun 11, 2021

Pandemic fatigue has created an increase in discretionary spending, cueing an entirely new form of expenditure: revenge shopping. Nearly 51 percent of American consumers intend to splurge either immediately or after the pandemic ends. While you deserve to be pampered, your wallet doesn’t deserve to be drained. Your loans should build credit, not chronic overspending habits.

In this post, we’ll explore the psychology behind splurging, how to pamper yourself on a budget, and a printable to help create a plan for pampering.

Table of Contents:

The Psychology of Splurging

The urge to splurge has a psychological connection to emotions. As people spend, save, and budget their money, their state of mind is impacted. On a high level, studies show that splurging can actually ease a bad mood, and the effects are seen long after the initial purchase. 

The danger, then, is when splurging affects other areas of your life. When pampering becomes habitual, it can lead to chronic overspending.

The study shows that chronic overspending habits give a sense of control if these splurges go beyond what you can afford — the same spending that traps celebrities in cycles of debt. Shopping can lead to a feeling of control, which, if not managed, can become a coping mechanism for sadness in our lives and lead to more serious financial problems.

Pampering Yourself on a Budget

Simply anticipating a treat releases dopamine, also called the happiness hormone. That means you don’t have to blow your monthly budget to pamper yourself. A simple pampering plan can release the same happiness hormone as a costlier treat.

When planning what you’ll splurge on, consider your budget and your physical and mental needs. It’s unlikely you’ll be able to treat yourself every month, let alone every week, so a realistic budget can set boundaries on how much you’re able to spend each month on these extras. 

Next, consider what you need. Whether that’s a physical or metaphorical need, think about the long-term benefits of your splurge. If your long-term happiness or health will be influenced by pampering yourself, it’s a good indication it may be worth it. 

Print the weekly planner below to splurge without sacrifice and learn how to pamper yourself responsibly.

planner on desk with face masks
download pamper planner button
  • Step 1: Print your pamper planner.
  • Step 2: Fill in the correlated month and your overall goals in the notes section.
  • Step 3: Each day, cross off the amount of water you’ve drank and write down the ways you’ve exercised, spent “me time,” and given yourself a treat. 

Looking for some me time inspiration? Learn how to pamper yourself and spend only pennies with the self-care ideas below.

Spoil Yourself Spa Day

There’s nothing quite like fresh herbal tea in a serene, temperature-controlled room. From entry to treatment, every moment of a spa day is pure luxury. That is, until you’re faced with the bill. If the idea of splurging on a spa day sends serenity out the window, consider indulging in a DIY spa experience.

To recreate a spa experience without the spa spend, start by blocking off at least four hours for your day. Turn off your phone, alarms, and any other distractions that may come between you and your luxe experience. Prep by purchasing some herbal tea leaves to steep and a budget hair mask from the drug store. 

Put on the kettle, light a candle, and let the treatment begin. Do your skincare routine, apply your hair mask, and head to a dimly lit room with a comfortable seat. Practice self-massage by gently rubbing from the nape of your neck to each shoulder. Hold pressure on any points of tension. Finish your day of relaxation with a warm towel on your back to release any leftover tension. 

Benefit: Studies have shown that massages increase serotonin and dopamine by up to 30 percent.

  • Estimated time: 4 hours
  • Estimated cost: $15

Give Yourself a Treat

Retail therapy, in moderation, can improve happiness. Even the most financially frugal person will make a purchase outside of necessity every now and again. The key to indulging in a treat responsibly is being sure you won’t regret the purchase after the fact. The buy should entice a sense of reward for an accomplishment, not guilt. 

A well-deserved treat helps build a good relationship with money. Consider your income, your expenses, and your existing budget. If factors allow, splurge on a meal out, a good book, or even an item of clothing you’ve been eyeing after accomplishing something difficult.  

Benefit: The Journal of Consumer Psychology found that retail therapy can help fight feelings of sadness. 

  • Estimated time: 1 hour
  • Estimated cost: $5-$20

Create a Floral Arrangement

It’s essential to stop and smell the roses from time to time, but a professionally made bouquet can be pricey. Creating a DIY floral arrangement will not only add a pop of color to your space, but will spark your imagination and boost your creativity.

Make your own bouquet with four simple tools: flowers, scissors, floral tape, and decorative ribbon. Prep your flowers by trimming them evenly, then arrange them to your liking. Secure the stems in place with your floral tape, and tie some decorative ribbon to finish your work! 

Benefit: Studies indicate that receiving flowers gives an immediate boost in happiness and overall excitement.

  • Estimated time: 1 hour
  • Estimated cost: $25-$40

Find a New Path

The positive impact time outside can have on your mental and physical well-being is underrated. Research has shown walking at a leisurely pace can reduce the risk of chronic disease, increase creativity, and improve your overall mood. 

The best part? You’re not limited to walking in nature. Taking a stroll in your urban neighborhood has also been proven to show the same positive effects. 

Get outside, take a long walk, and turn left where you would normally turn right. Whether you’re on a trail or in your neighborhood, try to spot three things you haven’t seen before. If weather allows, find an elevated location to watch the sunset and reflect on each new feature you saw on your journey. 

Benefit: Stanford research explored the effects of walking on creativity, and found idea generation increases with a stroll.

  • Estimated time: 30 minutes – 1 hour
  • Estimated cost: $0

Organize Your Clutter

The effects of clutter go beyond a visual distraction. Studies reveal that a cluttered space increases procrastination. From your car to your desk and your kitchen, organizing your space can have a huge impact on your well-being. Pamper yourself by clearing your clutter. Try your hand at organizing like a true professional using the four-box technique. 

The four-box technique involves — you guessed it! — four boxes. Label each box with one of four categories: trash, give away, store, and keep. Once your boxes are labeled, go room by room categorizing each item. The key to the success of this method is the action after the items are separated. When the boxes are full, do as the label says and repeat. 

Benefit: Decluttering can improve your mood. Research found that women who categorize their home as stressful have a decreased overall mood.

  • Estimated time: 1 day per area
  • Estimated cost: $0

DIY an Aromatherapy Treatment

Similar to when you come home from a long day and smell the comforting scent of home, aromatherapy has the potential to change your mood. Surrounding yourself with calming fragrances in a dimly lit room can induce a sense of relaxation. 

If you have a diffuser, fill it with distilled water and essential oils such as lavender or eucalyptus. Alternatively, pick up a budget-friendly candle from the store — check out the clearance section for an extra discount. Head to a quiet  room in your home, close the door, light the candle, and allow your eyes to get heavy as you become conscious of your breath. 

Benefit: Aromatherapy is an effective treatment to unwind when coupled with other activities that improve well-being.

  • Estimated time: 10 minutes
  • Estimated cost: $5-$15

Wear Something Daring

In times when we’re in the most need of pampering, it’s easy to resort to sweatpants or completely skip your beauty routine. Instead, when you are in need of a pick-me-up, try putting on a colorful or daring outfit that makes you feel confident.

Evidence from chromotherapy, or color therapy, suggests that there are physical and mental benefits when wearing certain colors. Take a look at your closet and coordinate your colored clothes to the mood boost you need. If you need a confidence boost, try red. If you’re in need of energy, orange. To feel renewed, wear something green. 

Benefit: Enclothed cognition is the study of how clothes impact our interactions with people and the world. The research shows an overall improvement of everyday tasks and therefore, mood.

  • Estimated time: 30 minutes
  • Estimated cost: $0

Create a Vision Board

Visualization is the ultimate form of pampering. When you create a vision for your future, you’re creating a road map of what you want life to look like. Not to mention, it can improve coordination and motivation. 

Create a collage using images from magazines around the house, old books, or your own calligraphy. Map out your goals for the year by journaling. Then, create a list of priorities. Your top three priorities should inform your vision board. Think about the micro-steps you need to accomplish that goal, then paste it on your vision board. Hang your inspiration where you’ll see it daily and watch your mantras manifest themselves.

Benefit: The neuroscience behind vision boards suggests that these visualizations help train your brain to recognize opportunities easier.

  • Estimated time: 2 hours
  • Estimated cost: $20

Read From Cover to Cover

Reading is both a form of relaxation and mental exercise. Whether you’re reading a novel, a magazine, or playing an audiobook, flex your mindful muscles and take a comfortable seat. Take your time and read every word, from cover to cover. A sense of accomplishment is an unbeatable way to pamper your mind.

Benefit: Studies show that adults who read frequently are more apt to combat depression, stress, and other challenges. 

  • Estimated time: 30 minutes – 8 hours
  • Estimated cost: $5-$20
how to splurge without sacrifice infographic

The best form of self-care is pampering that fits into your lifestyle and budget. By focusing on planning your treat versus the immediate gratification of an in-the-moment splurge, you’ll get the same mental effects without the negative impacts on your budget. If you’ve felt overwhelmed with a pattern of chronic spending, create a modest budget and consider a credit-building loan while you get back on your feet. 

Chang Fu

Chang is an avid writer, among other things. He grew up loving reading and writing, creating his own poems and even a book he's now hidden in an old closet, unpublished. His financial experience at a large bank along with his passion for technology to help underserved communities inspired him to write for Possible.

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