I have waltzed with riches more than once in my life. I have tangoed with poverty a time or two as well. Usually I find myself dancing along somewhere in the middle, definitely not rich enough to spend a ton on the finer things, and not poor enough that I can’t enjoy life at all.
In 2011, I was really, really down (financially). I could not, for the life of me, figure out how to make money blogging and I had become so obsessed with my money problems that I began clamping down on everything so tightly that there wasn’t much fun to be had anymore. Things got very depressing.
I mean, I would wake up and use less toothpaste than I wanted just to save money, and then I would brush my teeth without water to save money. I would take a luke-warm shower in the morning to save money. While in the shower, I would wash my hair with the dollar per bottle shampoo, and barely use any of that so that I could save money there, too. For breakfast I’d pour myself some cold cereal from a giant bag. Getting it in a box was too expensive. Getting any healthy cold cereal was definitely too expensive. At one point, I ate my cereal with water instead of milk for a week straight before I finally couldn’t choke it down anymore. And so my day went on.
All day, every day was spent thinking about how to save money, literally worrying about how pennies here and there would stack up. I got more unhealthy, more down, and more desperate as time went on. It seemed my financial life was spinning down and down and down. I couldn’t help but go to bed at night and think, I’m too poor to even sleep.
And then one day, one of my equally poor friends started telling me about this incredible facial she had received the day before. It sounded really expensive.
“How can you afford that?” I asked her.
She just laughed. “I can’t. But I just started this thing where I’m forcing myself not to live like a poor person every once in a while so that I don’t forget what I’m working toward.”
And that’s when it hit me. I had somehow begun living the life of a chronically poor man, instead of the life I personally wanted to be living. My energy and time was being focused into making it possible to be poor, and not into making things better for myself. And for me personally, that wasn’t okay.
So I decided to follow her lead and make a list for myself. I went home and thought of all my favorite things I used to barely be thankful for when I was “rich.” Things I’d just toss money toward any time I had the chance. I came up with about fifty or sixty items, and then I narrowed it down to ten, and I hung it on my wall with the title (scribbled at the top), 10 things I will force myself to splurge on at least once in the next year.
I promised myself that I would find a way to do each of those things, even if it meant washing cars or mowing lawns or cleaning up dog crap to make them happen. And over the next year, I did them. All of them.
10 Things I Make Myself Splurge On At Least Once a Year
1. A hundred dollar pair of jeans. Having a pair of jeans that actually fits you, is sexy, and that you love will make all the difference on your tough days. And the best part is, they don’t shrink and they don’t wear out in less than a year like other pants do. Just make sure you wait to wear them for the first time until you have a day that you just don’t want to get out of bed. Then watch how quickly new, sexy jeans will turn your day around.
2. A nice steak. And I’m talking $50-$100 per head steakhouse nice. Food is usually the first thing we start trying to save money on when we’re poor, and after being neglected, your body and your tastebuds really need some love. And have you ever had a premium steak like that? The kind that is sizzling even as you take the bite toward your mouth? The kind that you can practically rest your knife on and watch it sink through? The kind that somehow actually melts against your tongue? The kind you chew incredibly slowly because your mouth literally will not move any faster? Yeah, get that kind of steak and remind your palate that the Top Ramen and canned meat is only temporary.