Luxuries have a special status in our lives. Unlike the bread and the butter that form the bulk of our existence, luxuries are the cherries on top and the icings on the cake – not essential, but certainly lovely. Of course, if you are budget-conscious, you may not think that luxuries have a place in your life. But I’d like to argue the contrary. I do believe that there are some little luxuries in life that deserve a place in your budget, no matter how money conscious you are. Below are some of such items in my world. On which ones do you agree with, and which ones can you live without?
A nice slice of cake from the local bakery instead of a big generic cake that is on sale
I have a little bit of a sweet tooth. I know sugar is bad for you, but sometimes I still cave in. However, whenever I have such a craving, I prefer to buy a nice slice of cake instead of getting myself a generic one, even if it has a big exclamation mark and a sale sign in bold red colour. For me, quality definitely outweighs quantity when it comes to cakes, or any fancy pastries in general. A slice of beautifully decorated cake is a like a small piece of sweet cloud that exudes luxury, whereas a big generic cake, while delivering a lot of flour, sugar and butter, falls short in making-me-feel-good.
From a more practical money-saving standpoint, a single slice of cake also wins.
Even though it is more expansive per portion compared to a whole cake, it is, in general, still less expansive in totality than the latter. If you only crave one slice of cake, why are you purchasing a whole cake just to save on dollars per unit? You might end up throwing the cake away, which is a big waste. Or you might feel bad about food waste and proceed to finishing the whole cake, and then feel bad (still!) for consuming too much sugar. To me, anything that doesn’t satisfy a genuine need or want that you have, is not worth spending money on. So let’s not waste money on calories that do not bring you joy.
Of course, if you crave a whole cake, then go ahead and purchase it, and eat it without guilt. Soft warning: let’s not do it too often though.
Shopping at a nearby grocery store instead of going to a discount grocery store far away
This one may be a bit controversial, especially in the couponing community. However, time is something that money cannot buy. I’d much rather spend my time doing something productive or meaningful than being stuck in traffic for thirty minutes only to save a few dollars. This is especially true if you are only buying groceries for one or two people, as the cost differential is really not that significant. Would you rather spend an extra $0.50 on a tomato or walk/bike 20 minutes for the same tomato? I’d take the former in a heartbeat.
Of course, if you derive genuine joy from shopping around at different stores because you like to experience different environments and meet different people, then go ahead and shop with a smile on your face. If you have a big family and maybe you only shop once every two weeks, then maybe going a bit further out is worth it.
Having a bank account with a reliable major bank with many branches, and can serve your needs when needed, even if it means paying a bit extra.
I know, I know, I know. The personal finance community has been long advocating for converting to no-fee online banking solutions, and I personally also take advantage of them. However, I personally do not think that online banks can completely replace traditional banks, at least not yet. I still see a lot of value in banking with a well-established and reliable bank with many branches. This is especially true if you ever encounter a complex transaction, or an error resulting in a financial loss.
Of course, I am a fan of discount banks as well, because I do not like to see my money sitting in a bank account earning no or even negative interest (because I have to pay a fee!). As a result, I recommend that you do a hybrid between the two systems: have enough cash in your main bank, and store the rest away in your online high-interest bank.
If you are a Canadian resident, you may be interested in opening an EQ Bank’s Savings Plus Account. It offers 1.70%* everyday interest rate with zero Everyday Banking Fees.
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Candles for a relaxing or romantic atmosphere at home
This is for the sentimental ones out there, including myself. For me, candles are such magical items that can transform a simple dining table into something on a completely different level. The amount of happiness I can derive from a candle significantly outweighs the cost that it bears. My favourite scent is sandalwood for some mysterious and musky flavour, or good-old vanilla for a hint of sweetness. Unscented ones are also my cup of tea if I want to prioritize other smells, especially during dinner time.
From a practical budgeting perspective, candles are also a great item that exudes luxury without breaking your bank. They are also on sale quite regularly, at your local Winners or Indigo. If you purchase them through an online portal like Rakuten, you can also get extra cash back in addition to the discounts.
Additionally, with candles at home, a self-prepared candlelit dinner no longer seems out of reach.
Find a few recipes online, make a few nice dishes, light up the candles, and there you have it! Sometimes, your desire to dine out is linked to the specific atmosphere a restaurant conveys. By creating it at home, you may derive just the same amount of enjoyment at a fraction of the cost.
Candles are also a fantastic accessory for your DIY spa at home. Put on some light background music, light some candles, immerse yourself in a warm tub of water with epsom salt or a bath bomb, and you can enjoy some relaxation that can calm you down and boost your mood.
Fancy pantry items
This is somewhat related to the candles above, at least in the realm of dining. Fancy pantry items elevate meals without costing you an arm and a leg. For example, instead of generic spices, you may opt for spices that are organic, or are of better quality. A small pinch of high-quality nutmeg or cinnamon can really add the magic touch to a meal. Or, instead of regular pasta, why not blend in some whole wheat pasta, or even spinach and tomato pasta that can instantly brighten up your plate? Instead of peanut butter full of hydrogenated oil, why not choose natural peanut butter, or, if you are feeling even fancier, almond butter or even pistachio butter?
Having nice ingredient at home really makes your kitchen a more inviting place to be. They may induce you to stay at home and cook more, which inevitably will be a win for your budget.
Asking someone to assemble furniture for you if you aren’t an expert
This one may be a bit more controversial with the DIY trend populated by none other than IKEA. However, furniture is an important household item that should last a long time. Given its importance and usage frequency, I think it is important for us to take good care of our furniture, and that starts with proper assembly.
Professionally assembled furniture also looks much better.
I am too embarrassed to tell you how many times I did not fully understand the instructions only to discover later that I had the wrong side of the door installed facing the front, or how many random tapes I had to place on my own IKEA furniture just to somewhat maintain its structural integrity. With professional assembly, even the inexpensive furniture can look and feel neater and more elegant.
In addition to having better looking furniture, having a professional do the work also helps you avoid injury and save time. It can also help you save money because you don’t need to buy extra tools only to use them once and leave them in a shelf collecting dust.
Of course, if you only plan to live in an apartment for a really short period of time, you only need the most basic furniture, and you don’t plan to keep the furniture long-term, then feel free to skip this piece of advice!
Select home decor
I love nice home decors, because they make my home feel cozy and lovely. Home is a cornerstone of our lives, and it really is our responsibility to show our love to our home. After all, having a nice cozy home can really have a positive impact on our self-perception, confidence, and even our productivity. Home decor is another category of little luxuries that can brighten up your day and change how you feel.
Note the importance of “select”. After all, I don’t recommend that you purchase every single piece of home decor that catches your eye. Like what I said in this article, balancing consumption and savings is the key to financial success. But what if you have been eying that nice bright yellow pillowcase for over ten days, or a super cute owl sculpture that you will lovingly display on your otherwise empty coffee table? Go ahead and purchase them. I strongly believe that in these instances, money can buy happiness.
Lounging in Starbucks (or an indie coffee shop) with a nice drink in hand
I love Starbucks, for its consistency across all stores, its ambience, its background music and its clean bathrooms (who knows this could be such an important factor!). I love bringing a book with me to my favourite Starbucks with super high ceiling, and just spend an afternoon immersed in the story with a cup of brewed coffee in hand. I may also bring a journal and write my thoughts down. If I ever feel fancy, I will upgrade it to a latte and sprinkle some cinnamon, vanilla and chocolate on top, or venture out and try any of the Frappuccinos.
If you are curious about how I am able to save money at Starbucks, check out my article Starbucks Free Drink: 25 Ways to Get One!
Amazon subscription services
Over the past few years, Amazon has really started getting into subscription services, many of which are super useful for our lives. Head to my blog post to find out about all the Amazon subscription services that offer a free trial period, so it won’t cost you a penny to give them a try!
Although luxuries are not necessities, they are an integral part of a happy and satisfying life. No matter which one of the above you choose to adopt, the key is to find the little luxuries that resonate with your heart and can keep your heart content.
As Thomas Aquinas said,
Man (and can I add, woman) cannot live without joy.
An appropriate amount of little luxuries can enrich your life, and nourish your mind and your soul.
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- … and more Money Tips and Tricks
*Interest is calculated daily on the total closing balance and paid monthly. Rates are per annum and subject to change without notice.
Bella Wanana is a freelance writer. She is the owner of bellawanana.com, a personal finance and lifestyle blog. She loves sharing with her readers the best tips and tricks on personal finance and how to live a balanced but fulfilling life. She has been featured on sites like MSN.com, Reader’s Digest, The Financial Diet, Yahoo Finance, and GOBankingRates.