Because you have to have them, even if you’re on a smaller budget than me. HAVE to have them. If you don’t, you will either go crazy or you will spend your phone bill money, electric bill money, gas money, etc. on a 5-minute guilt-ridden pleasure binge. (DON’T ASK ME HOW I KNOW. I JUST KNOW.)
So, my splurges are:
- 6-pack of the mini 12oz Coke bottles per week
- ice cream and chocolate syrup
- some brand name items (cream cheese comes to mind)
I buy the Cokes because I drink one every morning as my “coffee.” I know this is very unhealthy so just fucking save it, all right? Anyway, I pretty much have to have a Coke in the morning or I will have a bad day. I used to spend $1.10 in the vending machine every morning for a 20oz bottle of Coke, and didn’t think much of it. But, the thing is, I never finished the bottle. I drank about half with breakfast and then took a few sips over the next few hours, but by then it was warm and not good anymore, so anywhere from a third to a half of the bottle would be wasted.
So, one day I was in Wally World (where I do my grocery shopping) planning to buy a 12-pack of cans to take to work in the mornings - inferior to bottled Coke, by FAR, but I couldn’t afford my $5.50/week habit anymore and didn’t know what else to do. Lo and behold, there were the cutest little mini Coke bottles, 12oz, that came in 6-packs and were $3.88 a piece. The price was right, the size was right… it was a match made in heaven.
The nice thing is even though usually when you buy miniature portions of something you pay a lot more per ounce (or per whatever unit of measurement used for that item), in this case, I still come out on top! $1.10 for 20oz of Coke is $.055 per ounce. $3.88/6 = $.646 per bottle. $.646/12 = $.0538 per ounce. I know, that is an infinitesimal difference. But, I’m drinking the WHOLE bottle and not letting any go to waste, plus my upfront costs are less, and when you’re as broke as I am, sometimes it’s not about true cost but about cash flow.
I splurge on the ice cream because I like sweet things, so having a bowl of rich vanilla ice cream and Hershey’s chocolate syrup (one of my name-brand splurges) is much cheaper than spending $2 on a candybar from the convenience store (I’m not using hyperbole! That’s how much candybars cost both at the 7/11 and at the Sheetz in my town!) or $4 at Dairy Queen for the same thing. I spend about $4-5 every two weeks or so instead of every two nights. For the small pleasure it brings to me to say I had dessert that night, it’s totally worth it.
What do I buy brand name? Well, Hershey’s syrup. And Philadelphia cream cheese - you could not possibly persuade me to eat off-brand cream cheese. Some kinds of chips (puffy-style Cheetos, I’m looking at you). Feta cheese - only Athenos for me. Sour cream, gotta be Daisy brand. Coke, obviously. I probably spend $7-8 extra per twice-monthly trip based on name brand usage, not an insignificant amount when you consider that that $16 is more than 10% of my grocery budget. But for me some things just don’t substitute, and I’d rather eat a few smaller meals, or a few of the same very low-cost meals in a row, than skimp on my favored brands. You don’t have to buy brands - no one is making you. Take that $16 you save and buy more groceries, or go to BW3’s on wing night. It’s your money!
What don’t I buy brand name? Pretty much everything else. Bread, pasta, milk, butter, eggs, cereal, canned or frozen veggies, meats (except bacon & sausage), and on and on. All Walmart brand. Don’t pay for the packaging, and don’t pay for the manufacturer’s advertising.
Small splurges are important so that intense feelings of deprivation don’t make you do stupid things with your money. Like come up short on your car insurance because you went to wing night at BW3’s. Again… that’s never happened to ME PERSONALLY, but, yanno… I’ve heard it around or something.