Sanctioned Splurges and Financial Independence
F or 2017, I’ll occasionally document the sanctioned splurges I permit myself as a reminder that we should all have mad money purchases built in to our lives so that we can experience joy. This month, I’ll be discussing two recent purchases: a session with an astrologer and a private hour in a modern bath house. How can I justify such extravagance you say? Read on!
Categorizing Your SpendingE ach person will have sanctioned splurges that make sense in the context of his or her budget and value system. Of course, these sanctioned splurges only make sense if you have a grasp of your overall spending. A useful framework that I’ve found to guiding my spending is the freedom quadrant. You ask yourself if something is either one of these four categories:
- Essential (rent, utilities, food, debt repayments)
- Productive (education, business investments, travel, athletic)
- Protective (insurance, savings, literal protection in the form of physical safety safeguards), or
- Destructive (smoking, excessive drinking, drugs, etc.)
T he first category is obviously the most important as you will always need a roof over your head and food, and the final category is obviously one to be minimized. As with the occasional drink that does not need to be logged under the destructive category, you could ask yourself how to categorize lifestyle expenses like clothes which don’t fall neatly into the quadrant. The answer is that you probably already know what is necessary and what is excessive. Maximizing spending that falls into these gray areas is a luxury only if we’ve managed the essential expenses well. When tackling new budget plans, I think it pays to optimize your recurring expenses first before tackling the question of how to maximize the gray areas.
P revailing financial advice focuses on this gray zone as the “latte factor” discussions indicate. The lattes do not kill you – increasing monthly housing costs either due to rent or property tax hikes is what kills you. So the more time and effort you put into minimizing the recurring outlays, the better. What can you do about rent hikes? Take the time to find rent-controlled, rent-stabilized, or preferential rent landlords. You may have to use a broker to find these units, but you’ll recoup that money in the long run with manageable rent increases. Property taxes aren’t something you can control, but you should know what you’re getting yourself into at the time of your home purchase.
Sanctioned Splurges and Our SanityT he problem with sticking to strict budgets is that you still need to live in the present, and you need a reward for actually being diligent with your finances. This is where sanctioned splurges come in: knowing that you have the latitude to do something nice for yourself, especially during times of need. While money can’t buy happiness, it can facilitate temporary peace of mind and joy, which forms memories that eventually enable you to overcome dark moments in your life. On the flip side, if you’re in a great mood but are still deserving of a reward, sanctioned splurges enhance your carefree attitude.
Seeking Divine InterventionI n the past few months, what I found myself needing most was divine intervention and tranquility. While neither of these can be purchased, there are proxies for this. For divine intervention, I ended up booking time with Virginia Rosenberg, an astrologer whose monthly forecasts I enjoy receiving. Sometimes, we find ourselves unable to explain why things don’t work out. It happens – this is life. However, I also like to understand what astrological forces are impacting me at the moment.
I firmly believe that timing matters, so this is why I place so much stock in determining auspicious times for certain activities (like weddings) or in determining when to undertake the start or end of something. Astrology can’t give you a clear answer, but it can provide timelines that help put action into perspective. If you were thinking of quitting a job for example and weren’t sure when to do so, a reading would provide you with some potential timeframes and a forecast for what’s going on celestially which may impact outcomes. It’s still up to you to have a plan and to select the timeframe forward, but at least you have another point of reference with which to make a monumental decision.
Finding TranquilityW hile massages and spas are a standard way to find tranquility, what isn’t so standard is reserving a private session at a bath house. City Well, a sanctuary in Brooklyn whose pictures are shown above, was my favorite sanctioned splurge to date, and certainly the best imaginable way for me and the hubby to have started out the new year. Having both had bruising years behind us, we enjoyed the peaceful atmosphere at City Well and were pleased to spend time separately from each other either in the steam room, sauna, soaking tub, relaxation area, or showers. Liz, one of the co-owners, was the perfect host, even treating us to mimosas from some extra champagne she had on hand. Her attitude and pride in what she has built is the icing on the cake. I can’t wait to return when the weather is warmer and avail myself of massages under the pergola and more time spent in the hammock.
S anctioned splurges that support small businesses are my favorite kind. There is something whole about being able to treat yourself and simultaneously ensure that entrepreneurs who are fulfilling their dreams are supported. In the end, I think many of us are trying to follow our north stars, and entrepreneurs lead the way in inspiring us to find our paths in life. City Well is beautifully designed, fairly priced, and packs a lot of punch for its size. It embodies tranquility and I highly recommend it if you need an in-city getaway.
Choosing Sanctioned SplurgesT he point of sanctioned splurges is that you need something extraordinary in your life, something out of the normal universe of purchases you make and something that provides a soothing balm to a troublesome situation. Readings with astrologers are a perfect example of this rare purchase, and what’s nice about readings is that you control how much you want to lean in. Private bath house hours are too because it’s rare to move around a space of your own at leisure with so many delightful experiences to plunge into.
I firmly believe that we owe it to ourselves to invest our resources first and foremost, but second on the list of financial priorities is making room (and a plan!) for sanctioned splurges. I’d love to hear more about your splurges – drop me a line in the comments section:)