A splurge, almost by definition, is only a splurge if you don’t do it all the time. If you did, it would be something else – bankruptcy. But for many couples, there’s an insidious middle ground – that one-time splurge that begets other mini-splurges. Gadgets are prime examples. Buy a pricey one and soon your mind will drift to the gadget’s accessories. They’re not cheap, but their price points may be just enough below the radar that you don’t feel compelled to get your partner’s permission to buy them.
Adam Baker makes the latter point when discussing how he manages financial vices in his life, using as an example a martial arts class he takes to the tune of $168 a month. He notes that both he and his wife, Courtney, are on the same page about the expense: “Even though the training expense is for only me, I have Courtney’s full support. Without this type of support from a spouse or significant other, vices of this nature can stir up a ton of resentment.”
Being able to control the vice – going to the point about accessories, above – is also important, as is a notion in Baker’s article teased out by blogger Lisa Hoover about whether the purchase is consistent with your other goals. Baker observes that the cost of his class isn’t consistent with his household’s financial goals, but since the class helps him blow off steam, it has the ancillary benefit of helping him keep calm when he’s under pressure.
This whole notion of ancillary benefits is a slippery slope – almost every expense, good or bad, has an ancillary benefit – but the fact that Baker’s focusing on fitness makes his example accessible for a lot of consumers during these uncertain times. If your job was eliminated, do you cut the recurring fee for your gym membership out of your budget? Staying in shape during your job hunt seems like a good ancillary benefit, but couldn’t you stay in shape at a less expensive gym, or by running around the block? Baker’s points are an excellent starting place for these discussions, especially when confronting vices in your budget that weren’t necessarily vices last month when you had the income to support them.
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