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How to Treat Yourself When You’re On a Budget

The other day I walked into my office and the receptionist asked a question about how to go about treating yourself on a budget. The idea being that the very nature of a budget gets in the way of having fun.

Treating Yourself on a Budget

As with anything in life, finance should be a balance. Just like it’s not good to overspend, it’s also not good to be so strict that you don’t enjoy the fruits of your labor. The latter mostly causes rebellion anyway and before you know it you’re back at square one.

Fortunately, there are ways that you can maintain a budget while still treating yourself to something like a night out, a massage or some travel.

treating yourself on a budget50/20/30 Budget

The 50/20/30 Budget is a popular one among enthusiasts of financial balance. The reason is because it helps you maintain a responsible budget while still allowing some wiggle room for fun stuff. It’s a proven way of treating yourself while on a budget.

It basically works like this:

  • 50% of your after tax pay should go toward needs like rent and food.
  • 20% of your after tax pay should go toward savings and debt repayment. (This is actually the savings rate recommended by experts.)
  • 30% of your after tax pay can go toward your wants.

That 30% is the money allotted each month toward the stuff you want to do. Want to get a massage? Go for it. Want to put it in a travel fund? It’s fair game. Want to go shopping? Have at it. The important part is that you take the rest of the 70% off the top first and then enjoy what’s left over.

Have a Savings Account for Fun Stuff

You can have all the fun you want you just need to properly plan for it. The problem is most people don’t. Use the below options to start treating yourself on a budget.

One helpful approach is to set up a savings account specifically for treating yourself. In Money: A Love Story, Kate Northup calls it a Money for Me account. The way it’s funded is by tricking yourself into saving. For example, if you had a $10 coupon at CVS that you used to save some money, put those $10 you saved into the Money for Me Account. At the end of the month you can do whatever you want with the money in the account.

I personally use my Digit savings account as my “Fun Money Fund.” It’s literally spare change that Digit collects over time and puts into a savings account for me. Granted, the reason I’m able to use a service like Digit as my Fun Money account is because I’m already very good about saving for retirement and emergencies. If you’re still trying to sort out your savings, then this approach may not work for you.

treating yourself on a budgetFind free stuff and deals.

One of my favorite approaches for treating yourself on a budget is to find free stuff and deals. For example, I went to a spa opening near my office because they had free food and massages. I didn’t pay a dime to treat myself to a good time.

You can also find deals. Don’t be afraid to shop around for treats to make sure you’re getting the best deal possible. The same spa had a membership program where I get a treatment from a menu at more than 40% off. It was cheaper to go there for a monthly massage than my yoga studio, and it’s a fraction of the price of what it would cost anywhere else.

Final Thoughts

While money is meant to support us, it’s also meant to be enjoyed. It’s okay to enjoy the fruits of our labor – hence treating yourself while on a budget. The key is you have to do it responsibly and within reason. It’s a balancing act that isn’t always easy, but it’s the only way to meet your financial responsibilities while still having some fun.

This post was written by Amanda Abella, a business coach for millennials, speaker, and best selling author.

Battle of the Mind Budget Money


My name is Derek, and I have my Bachelors Degree in Finance from Grand Valley State University. After graduation, I was not able to find a job that fully utilized my degree, but I still had a passion for Finance! So, I decided to focus my passion in the stock market. I studied Cash Flows, Balance Sheets, and Income Statements, put some money into the market and saw a good return on my investment. As satisfying as this was, I still felt that something was missing. I have a passion for Finance, but I also have a passion for people. If you have a willingness to learn, I will continue to teach.

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