Posted December 26, 2011
Last week, I took an amazing yoga class. I hadn’t been to my favorite yoga studio, Laughing Lotus, in a while and I was waaaaay overdue for some serious downward dog!
By the middle of class, I was my usual sweaty mess. And starving! So by the time class was winding down, and while the rest of my classmates were chanting “Om shanti shanti shanti” I was doing what I usually do during the chanting. I was planning lunch.
I finally decided on noodles–Thai noodles to be exact–and I knew exactly where I could get my grubby paws on some. There’s a place in my neighborhood, on my walk back from Laughing Lotus, that has the best lunch special. Here’s the problem: I really really really wanted a heaping plate of greasy generic pad thai. But I knew that trillion-calorie dish would erase all the sweaty poses I just endured in yoga.
So I compromised. I decided to get the shrimp fritters appetizer—deep-fried minced shrimp and chicken in a won-ton wrapper and slathered in a spicy sauce—and follow it with the “healthy plate”- steamed greens and tofu with brown rice and a side of black bean sauce. Pretty bland and a far cry from the slop of pad Thai I really craved, but it was a good compromise. I could satiate my greasy craving with a few bites of shrimp fritters but stay on track with the healthy plate. And with enough hot sauce, it wasn’t so bad! Plus at $7.50 was a bargain!
This idea of compromise can also translate to our personal finances. So many times we want to indulge—in a mani-pedi, facial and back massage; a fancy dinner at a steak restaurant with cocktails at the bar to start and a full-on meal; the sleek dress at the Madison Avenue boutique that makes you look like a million bucks; a new haircut, color and highlights with a deep-conditioning treatment thrown in at the fancy hair salon that offers tea or champagne as you enter. How many times have we pushed doubts aside and given in, reasoning, “I deserve it!”?
I’m not saying to never indulge in any of these fantastic treats; once in a while, we should splurge on ourselves. A little special treat can lift our spirits, boost confidence and can sometimes inspire real change. But it’s important to balance a splurge with a saving. Here are some quick and dirty tips:
– Plan ahead. If you’re hankering for some red meat and cocktails on the weekend, plan it with friends and make it an event. Then, for the rest of the week or month, pack your lunch or go easy on the outings.
– Stagger the beauty services. Instead of getting your nails done every week, make it a monthly thing. Other weeks, invest in a couple cool nail shades and face masks, and give yourself some beauty treatments. That could also be a cheap night-in, catching up on “The Train Wrecks of Beverly Hills.” (My guilty pleasure.)
– Make room for necessities. Keep track of when your car is due for a tune-up, oil change or necessary repairs and make sure to cut back on extras that week.
– Add gifts, weddings, birthdays and holiday expenses to your monthly budget. Be aware of those costs and cut back when you can. Make sure to meet you commitments but also pay bills and save a little.
– Lunch specials can be AWESOME! Same with Groupons, Living Social and other coupons. But don’t go nuts. Take advantage of deals, especially for your favorite restaurants and make that your big splurge.
– Decide on a cut-off time. If you live in a city with public transportation, use it as much as possible. But give yourself a cut-off time so that if you’re out late, you can be safe and take a taxi home. But don’t go taking taxis willy-nilly.
These are just a few ideas, but you get the picture. The important thing is to be aware of your present and future expenses and plan for them. Make sure your priorities—paying your bills and saving—are in check and then compromise on the splurges. It will make you look good AND feel good too!