Treat or Habit - From Rags to Reasonable

I deserve a treat.”

Do you know how easy it is for my brain to justify that sentence??

So. Easy.

I just ate two donuts because I felt that I deserved a treat (ya.. that’s right… TWO… cause one donut isn’t treat enough!).

The personal finance handbook comes down pretty hard on ‘treats’. It’s not so much in favour of them. I should be investing that money in a low MER ETF with a half-way decent dividend yield instead!

But… um….donuts…

You seriously do deserve (sweet) treats…

In my personal finance world treats are essential. Especially if you’re living on a tight budget.

In my most frugal times, even having just ten dollars a month to spend on a lottery scratcher (yes, I buy them, and I think they’re awesome), or a tasty pastry makes all the difference.

I’d argue that a donut never tastes as good as when I’ve been looking forward to it for a week, and finally sit down to savour its goodness.

Of course, the treat has to be in the realm of your financial reality. If you’re barely paying your bills, a trip to Hawaii is probably not an appropriate treat… so don’t you go emailing me with the ‘you TOLD me to treat myself’ line.

When you’re living-on-less it takes a while to feel like you’re making any financial headway. It takes a long time to save, it takes a long time to pay off debt, it takes a long time to build up some real wealth…. So you’re in it for the long haul.

Too much deprivation means that the chances you’ll snap and abandon the whole financial thing, whip out that credit card and have some fun, start rising to dangerous levels.

It’s a balance thing, and it’s going to be different for everyone. How much ‘treat’ money do you need to throw out there to stay sane?

A habit is a good treat spoiled

There’s a place near my apartment that has a tasty tasty treat. It’s a homemade apple fritter, but they make it with a slice of apple in the middle so it’s basically a battered-apple-fritter-onion-ring with donut goodness and cinnamon sugar on top.

Hot damn it’s a tasty treat.

At first, I would look forward to it all week. And then when I finally got it home and we were alone together, oh what a time we’d have….

And so I started dropping in more often.

Maybe… once a week.

Then, one week, it was twice.

Before I knew it I was eating that thing in about 15 seconds – barely a blip in my day.

My treat had become a habit.

Habits vs Treats

When it comes to money, treats aren’t the problem, habits are the problem.

Habits are things we spend money on without really thinking about it. They’re the lunches we grab without any thought to what they are, the coffees we buy that we don’t really want, and the donuts we buy two of only to forget about them fifteen minutes later.

Habits suck. Not only do they suck the money out of your account, but they suck the pleasure of spending that money on something special. Something fun. Something that you actually want!

So take a look at your habits. Sometimes buying something less often isn’t just good for the bank account, it’s also an awesome perk of smart-money living.

Because when you don’t have a lot to ‘treat’ yourself with, you’re forced to really cherish the moments you have.. be that the bliss of a freshly made apple fritter, the ten minutes in heaven spent with your made-to-order mini donuts, or that truly special moment when you get to dig into your Boston cream.

I promise that less… really can be more.