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Monday, April 03, 2006

Big indulgences on little money

The Bargain Queen likes a treat every now and then, but not all treats are created equal. One fashionable impulse buy - a trendy jacket, a new tech toy, even a couple of cocktails - can completely break the budget. And while everyone deserves something special occasionally, if it goes on the credit card, it'll be making you miserable months after you would've otherwise forgotten about it.

So, here's some of The Bargain Queen's favourite budget-friendly treats:
  • Fresh air and sunshine. There's a certain type of frustrating experience that can quickly drain your will to live: say, being locked in a meeting room with certain managers for a few hours. Or writing graduate school papers. The Bargain Queen's favourite remedy is to get outside, breath the fresh air, bask in the sunshine, stretch your legs and come back renewed. While not all regions or neighbourhoods offer a reliable supply of either fresh air or sunshine, if yours has either, make use of it! A few minutes of enjoying the great outdoors can put the day's trials and tribulations back into perspective, for absolutely no financial outlay.

  • Time to yourself. Next on the free-but-brilliant list is to take some time out to do something you really enjoy. It could be anything from meditating to reading the paper to going for a jog to giving yourself a home pedicure - whatever feels most like a treat. The Bargain Queen can't tell you much about how to do this though, because she's pretty hopeless at taking time off.

  • Sleep. There's a reason why sleeping in is such a cliched luxury: even a little extra sleep can make a huge difference, and to time-poor people it's the ultimate treat. (The Bargain Queen is extra spoilt: when she sleeps in, but Mr Bargain Queen has her breakfast ready by the time she wakes. Brilliant!)

  • Chocolate. OK, if you've ever watched television, you've heard about what a great indulgence chocolate is. But like most indulgences, it's best when you only have it occasionally. A daily chocolate bar quickly becomes routine... and leads to further expenditure on a gym membership. The Bargain Queen's strategy is to trade quality for quantity. She can only justify a $13 box of Lindt Petite Desserts once or twice a year, but those are the happiest days of her year. Even if she can only manage 2 or 3 chocolates before she feels seedy...

  • A nice hot bath. This is a treat The Bargain Queen often forgets all about: hopping in a nice hot bath and soaking until she feels all floppy and relaxed. When she gets organised with bubble bath and candles kept in the bathroom, it quickly becomes a favourite thing to do. Then she runs out of bubble bath, forgets to buy more, leaves the candles burning til they're misshapen puddles of wax, forgets to clean the tub for a few weeks, and it's back to showers-only. Oops.

  • A stiff drink, mixed at home. When no other form of 'relaxation' will do, The Bargain Queen mixes herself a nice stiff drink at home. While it's not the recommended way to make yourself feel better after a tough day, keeping a spirit and a mixer at home is much cheaper than buying drinks at a bar. That is, as long as you don't drink more because it's right in front of you.
So now that you've heard The Bargain Queen's favourite ways to unwind after a tough day, how about you? What are your favourite cheap treats? How do you make yourself feel better when life's treating you rough? Add a comment below...

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  • At 11:57 am, Blogger Henri-V said…

    I had no idea you existed! I've been employing similar techiniques to prevent the usual spring mini-splurge.

    Window-shopping on the net relieves the shopping bug, and indulging in crafts and naps make life so much tastier.

    Nice to see your blog!

  • At 12:11 pm, Blogger The Bargain Queen said…

    Ooooh, I am so jealous! I'm on a self-imposed eBay ban because I always end up bidding on things. I really wish I could just window shop!

    I've been meaning to post some budget crafting tips for a while, might try to do that today :)

  • At 2:23 am, Blogger Frugal Homemaker said…

    I just found your blog, and I love it! I'll be back.

    I'll add to the list- a few hours "shopping" at the library. You get to look at tons of books and videos, and you can take home whatever you want without paying a dime!

    The dollar theare is also a thing I do to relax sometimes. (Actually, it's up to 2.50 here, but that's still a deal for a picture on the big screen!)

  • At 2:42 am, Blogger Rebecca said…

    Nothing beats going to bed at 7:30 in my book, although I love all your other suggestions and frugal's too. (Going to the bargain theatre this afternoon, actually.)

  • At 7:56 pm, Blogger The Bargain Queen said…

    Love the library suggestion! Gotta spend more time at mine. I lost access to the university library when I graduated and still haven't got around to joining the community one. Oops!

    We don't have anything like dollar theatre in Australia unfortunately. All the movie theatres cost a packet... $15 to see a film sometimes. We do have half-price Tuesdays though, which are pretty good.

  • At 12:52 pm, Blogger Slughorn said…

    Well ... I get a real rush out of a thrift store hunt. Today, I spent $11, and I came home with fall jackets for both kids, a book for DH, and a cardigan for me.

  • At 4:37 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Do your universities offer the services of a "box office" where they sell tickets to things like theme parks, city attractions and such? It's a treasure! At least in the States (sorry if this does you no good at all, then) they do not require you to be a student or employed by the university to purchase discounted attraction and movie tickets. The savings for the movie tickets is substantial: $5.75 (AMC) for any movie that has been out for 2 weeks, versus the $9.50 that adult tickets go for these days.


  • At 8:35 am, Blogger The Bargain Queen said…

    Hi Miniducky, thanks for the tip!

    Many universities in Australia offer discount movie tickets from the Student Union office (although student unions have just been legislated out of existence, so I guess that won't be the case for long). In my experience, that's all they offer though.

    But a lot of the people who read this blog are in the States, so they can take advantage of all the other things offered over there :)


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