Since the pandemic, Americans are much more likely to spend on things they enjoy. The typical American makes an average of 12 impulse purchases per month, at an average cost of $276 total, according to a Slickdeals survey taken of 2,000 shoppers in 2021. That's up from a monthly average of $183 from last year.
"Most people work very hard to enjoy their downtime in whatever way works for them, whether that's through experiences and material things," says Douglas Boneparth, a certified financial planner and the founder of Bone Fide Wealth in New York City. "The biggest trick to personal finance is finding balance between a subjectively comfortable lifestyle and consistent savings."
"I personally am not a fan of going through life without getting a chance to enjoy yourself," says Boneparth.
People interviewed on the streets of New York City for Grow's new video series "Streetwise" shared some of their biggest splurges. Yamaris Bonilla, a business owner from Puerto Rico, pointed to houseplants as something she has splurged on. "And I will keep doing it," she says.
For Stefanie Uy, a 21-year old student, good bedding is a worthy splurge: "I spend what, like a third of my day on a bed and a nice pillow? I think good sleep quality is really important."
To keep purchases in check, Boneparth advises being mindful of your spending. Be intentional, rather than impulsive. "It's OK to buy things you like as long as you know how that spending will impact your ability to save, invest, and achieve your goals. It's when spending is out of control that bad things can happen," he says.
It's important not to rush into purchases — but avoiding all of them isn't healthy either, says Pamela Capalad, a CFP and the founder and CEO of Brunch & Budget in New York City.
Designate one shopping day per week, she says. It's a way to slow down and find out what you actually want. "Put things in your cart throughout the week and then on your designated shopping day, spend 20 minutes going through your cart deciding on [what] purchases you actually want to make and get rid of the rest," she explains. That way you are spending intentionally.
"Don't resist the urge to splurge completely," she says. "Let it happen. Stock your shopping cart, plan that trip, but when you get to that checkout page, take a long hard look at the price. Ask yourself: 'What am I giving up or delaying to make this purchase? Is this worth the sacrifice right now?'"
Resisting buying things you enjoy is likely to end in what Capalad calls, "the eventual binge spend," which can be more damaging for your finances.
"If you review your bank statement and see that you have a number of purchases you don't even remember, those are likely things you don't value," she says. "But if you see purchases on your statement that make you feel guilty, embrace these purchases as something you truly value."
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