A Worthwhile Quote
I was reading another financial blog and came across this quote:
“The rarity of a luxury’s occurrence truly does make it all the more special. If we do something all the time, it loses the luster of novelty and becomes a rote chore. Constantly treating ourselves numbs us to the luxury of something like dining out. Conversely, when we save treats for special occasions, they’re more amplified in our minds and we get a higher return of happiness on our investment.”
That blog post is here, which is referencing this post – and reminded me of this throwback post I wrote back in 2015. Basically, this topic seems to come up enough that I think it’s worth discussing again.
If It’s Routine, It’s Not a Treat
When things become part of our routine, we become accustomed to them and they no longer feel like a treat or luxury. Here are ten possible examples:
- Going out to lunch during the workday
- Dessert after dinner
- Seat warmers in your car (or seat coolers, which I recently learned is a thing now)
- Paying someone to do your yard work
- Using a cleaning service
- Parking your car in a garage
- Turning quick Target runs into shopping trips – for things you didn’t even know you needed
- Checking social media, often constantly and mindlessly
- An afternoon soda or trip to the vending machine
- Getting the newest cell phone or gadget as soon as it comes out
Why This Matters
As we get used to these things, they become our new normal – our baseline expectation. And it can be hard to go back!
Now, none of these things are bad, but if we surround ourselves with too many luxuries and consistently allow ourselves instant gratification, we may find we are constantly looking for the next thing. Rather than intentionally enjoying a rare luxury, making it even more special and worthwhile, we find ourselves going through the motions of fancy meals, cars, toys, and vacations without fully appreciating or benefiting from them.
There’s a financial benefit, too. As we become accustomed to the latest gadget or the premium features in our cars, it’s likely we won’t want to downgrade in the future. We can find ourselves stuck in the never-ending cycle of consumerism, needing to outdo each car, phone, birthday, vacation, anniversary, gift, holiday, meal, outfit, etc.
We don’t need to deprive ourselves, but we should be aware of the trade-offs and recognize the added happiness a true luxury can provide.
Try One Thing – A Challenge
Is there something that has become a routine, an expectation, the norm that you could move back into the luxury category, which would improve some aspect of your mental, physical, emotional, and/or financial life?
Try identifying and changing just one thing. Here are some examples of how you might do this:
- If you want to go out for lunch less, try packing your lunch Monday through Thursday and then rewarding yourself by going out to eat on Fridays.
- If you want to spend less, try waiting at least one week before buying something (except for basic essentials like groceries, gas, and toilet paper). Then make sure you still really want it.
- If you want to consume fewer sweets, reserve them for special occasions – and be specific about what defines such occasions.
- You might also try replacing expensive luxuries with some of the free luxuries you can enjoy guilt-free now but might not be utilizing, such as your public library, nature trails near your house, or free events in your town.
These are just a few examples. Pick the thing that will have the biggest benefit to you personally.
What Am I Missing?
I’m probably so used to some things in my life that I haven’t even thought of them as possible examples, so I need your input. What examples can you think of? How might we turn some of our basic expectations back into luxuries?
Thanks for sharing!