Sometimes It’s Good To Splurge

Katie Young
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Wednesday - July 23, 2008

Treating yourself to something special in these tough economic times can be a challenge, especially if you’re just trying to figure out how to make ends meet.

But recent research says that some “splurges” can actually be good for you in the long run.

Buying overpriced indulgences that are not necessities is something most people learn feels good in the moment, but you’ll end up paying the price (literally) in the long run.

These days many people are watching their spending habits more closely than ever before - planning trips to the mall around other errands so as not to waste any more gas than necessary and get everything done in one shot.

But don’t write off the big splurges just yet. According to two business school professors, splurging now might actually make you happier later. Not only that, but staying away from splurging all together may leave you with loads of regret.

Anat Keinan, an assistant professor at Harvard Business School, and Ran Kivetz, a professor of marketing at Columbia Business School, documented their findings in the Harvard Business Review.

According to an article in the Wall Street Journal that discusses the findings, one of the studies by Keinan and Kivetz polled college students and alumni on the subject of spring breaks.

It was discovered that regret about not having spent more money on traveling during breaks increased with time, whereas regret about not having worked, studied or saved money during breaks decreased with time.

Another study by the same professors looked at how business people perceived past choices between work and pleasure. Similar patterns were found among this group as well. Those who indulged felt less guilty over time whereas those who did not indulge had a growing sense of having missed out on life’s pleasures.

So is the choice then to live frugally or live well? Are those our only options? Can we be happy living a life with no splurging involved? Would you be happy if you never took that big trip to Europe you’d been dreaming of, but you lived out your days debt-free?

Sometimes in life I think you just have to go for it! Being frugal during these times is important, don’t get me wrong. You don’t want to go bankrupt over a splurge you could have done without or put yourself in a pile of debt over a pair of Gucci shoes and a whole new wardrobe from Neiman Marcus just because you felt like going a little nuts at the mall one day. (After all, living with the stress of loads of debt has emotional and physical ramifications on your health as well.)

But never splurging might also mean you’re missing out on some once-in-a-lifetime opportunities that could very well change your perspective or change your life. After all, who we become and how we think about the world is all built upon our life experiences.

I’ve decided there are some things worth splurging on, and shopping isn’t one of them. Even with the cost of traveling nowadays, I still hope I can show my children the world, just as my parents introduced me to new places and cultures while I was growing up. There are some things in life where the benefits definitely outweigh the high costs.

The article in the Wall Street Journal generated quite an online response from bloggers. One of them, I think, said it best. Mike from the U.K. wrote: “It’s easy to spend too much and have no future - it’s just as easy to spend too little and have no past - The difficult bit is to get it just right.”

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