Spending for happy: What purchases give you most joy?

Guest post by Kathryn Welch

Spending money on board games? Spending money on haircuts? What kind of things make you feeling awesome to give away your cash. By: Philip TaylorCC BY 2.0
When I saw the Offbeat Bride post “What do you wish you’d spent more money on?” I had initially assumed it was an Offbeat Home post! I got super-excited about the possibilities. I’m usually so focussed on spending less money in general, that it’s actually really liberating to think about spending more money in some areas, and to make cutbacks in others without affecting my overall happiness.

I’ve recently come to notice that some of the things I buy bring me a massively disproportionate amount of happiness (let’s call it a happy-for-money rating), whilst other — more expensive — purchases just leave me feeling meh. I had the (admittedly, blindingly obvious) realisation that thinking consciously about which purchases made me happiest means that I can choose to focus more of my spending in those areas, and cut back on those areas that weren’t pulling their weight, happiness-wise. Obviously everyone’s priorities will be different, but I bet there’s areas where loads of us are spending money without actually seeing the happiness-benefit.

For example…

New pajamas: Worn every night (and most days, to be honest), and make me feel great every time I put them on, even though I got them for peanuts on sale. Very high happy-for-money rating.

The veg box that gets delivered to my office every fortnight: Actually not that expensive at all, but I get a massive hit from seeing what’s in there and figuring out what I’m going to do with it all (and also from not having to go to the supermarket, which I hate).

Plants for the garden: Digging up potatoes feels like panning for gold.

On the other side of the fence… Haircuts: I seem to have gotten sucked into a cycle of spending £50 a pop on a haircut (yes, I know), when in actual fact I hate getting my hair cut — awful awkward conversation, staring in a mirror examining my flaws, leaving feeling self-conscious and over-styled. TERRIBLE happy-for-money rating.

I could easily go to the local cheapy hairdresser, and save myself £40 for spending on vegetables and nightwear. No net change in spending, massive increase in happy.

So, my question is, what purchases do other Homies consider to have the highest happy-for-money rating? What can we spend proportionately MORE on, to make sure our money’s working for us, and where can we cut back without noticing even a dint on our happy-ometer?

Comments on Spending for happy: What purchases give you most joy?

  1. Definitely food. I buy the best quality food I can afford, because it makes me happy and it makes me feel like I’m taking care of myself and my boyfriend. Oh, and the occasional fun thing, like LEGO. Yeah, at 27. w/e don’t judge me

    On the flip side, I haven’t bought a stitch of new clothing in about 7 years. Not even from the Goodwill! I just can’t bring myself to do it.

  2. I love the idea of this post! The problem is that, for me, happy-for-money ratings tend to vary so much. I love buying books, but the happy-for-money rating is obviously way higher if the book turns out to be super excellent, and not so much if the book leaves me feeling ‘meh’ in the end. The same goes with clothes and music and lots of other things that I spend my money on.

    • Yup. I’ve been avoiding buying physical books since I did a massive purge of the ones I was keeping in storage (ahem, in parents’ basements). But $5 MP3 albums? Many of my favorite albums came from that, but there were plenty of duds too.

    • One thing I rarely regret spending money on though: experiences. Concert tickets, travel, a movie with my husband or drinks with friends. I guess that means I should cut back on buying unread books so I can save for more travel. 😉

  3. Weekend trips to the coffeeshop. From start to finish it brings me pure joy. Walking holding hands with my husband. Laughing about how my twin 2 1/2 year olds always walking looking up so they can spot ‘pwanes’. Saying hi to our neighbors who are working in their front yards. Watching my kiddos press their face against the display case glass salivating over the pastries I won’t let them eat. Chatting with the barista. Always ordering: unsweetened ice coffee, mocha, 3 croissants and a pain au chocolat.

    Every week it’s the best money we spend.

    • I agree! Sometimes I feel like I’m crazy for putting coffeeshops so high on my happy list … but they are! The warm, the cozy, the full … just … the happy. Often this is by ‘by myself’ break, but sometimes with friends, and sometimes with toddler in tow, and sometimes, like on a trip or special visit to the city, with my slightly reluctant warm-beverage-eschewing husband.

      Of course, these can be enhanced by other happy things like good books or good conversation!

    • You know, I like to think that someday your children will have SUCH great memories of going to the coffeeshop with their parents. I hope that when my honey and I have children that we’ll remember to make lovely rituals like that a priority.

  4. Paint! Whether it’s low sheen interior paint for a room, spray paint for a new project, or acrylic to play with on canvas; buying paint makes me much happier than I expected.

    As does adding to my fabric stash and rescuing ‘dead’ plants from the cheap/write off stand.

    • I just had to reply, because I never thought of paint making someone happy. What a cool and productive thing to have on your good spend list!

      • Thanks! I think its a combination of change, colours, and anticipation. Plus paint stays ‘done’ unlike the dishes and the laundry! Those things never seem to end and it unduly irritates me.

    • Hey fellow paint buddy. I love me some paint. I get a high just looking at the mistint section in the hardware shop, let alone actually buying some. Love love love it. I’ve painted every room and door and frame in our house over and over again. I’ve painted the floor, tiles, concrete and the garage wall. Any bit of wooden furniture has had a touch of paint. Gives me such a buzz! And you’re right, such a feeling of satisfaction, completion, and change when a paint job is done. (sounding like someone you should be avoiding now I know, I can hear the whispers – beware the crazy paint lady haha)

      • Hahaha I’m not quite there yet, but I’m definitely an apprentice crazy paint lady. 😀

        *high fives* Yay for being a mistints buddy!

    • Paint HAS brought me great joy in bringing color into my previously vomit colored house (seriously, previous owner, WHAT WERE YOU THINKING).

      Buttttt after painting 6 rooms in 8 weeks and sacrificing all of our weekend activities to painting, I’m quite glad to be done for a while and to enjoy my colors and labor!

  5. New mugs make me stupidly happy, even if they were a buck each and absurd looking. Especially if they were a buck each and absurd looking.
    also: coffee. it’s my big expense as i buy one on the way to work each day, but it makes SUCH a difference to how i go through the whole work day, so I give myself that treat happily.
    I am so with you on the new pajamas thing though. I’m about due for some too hmmmmm
    as for things that don’t make me happy? well I tried very hard to cut them out of my life and now i can’t really think of anything i hate to spend money on, other than medical bills :/

    • When I got my first apartment, I really wanted to buy stuff for it, but all I could afford were mugs at the thrift store. I still have a green mug with a yellow chick on it that I bought for 50 cents. Fifteen years later, in my apartment full of beautiful, handmade ceramic dishes, it’s still my favorite mug. Lots of happy for just 50 cents!

      • Mugs are my guilty pleasure. I buy oddly shaped ones in Prague every single time I go. We have mugs shaped like chickens, a raven, mugs with 3d spiders on them… The upside is that when we invite family and friends for brunch, everyone gets a different, odd mug. 😀

  6. Tickets – to anything, or anywhere. Obviously for the experience, but, literally just the *anticipation* of the coming experience makes me happy too.

    Also, when i replace something i have of low crappy quality with a nice solid well-made version. I have been really reducing my ‘stuff’ (reading a lot of minimalist blogs and Scandinavian design blogs makes you want to throw away EVERYTHING YOU OWN), but, then the stuff that is left is really noticeable. So I like it to be nice. My most recent make-me-happy purchase was a ceramic colander which replaced my ancient beat up plastic one. Boring, but true.

    • I was about to write the same thing about upgrading pieces! We’re not quite minimalists, but we’re trying to make sure everything in our home is of heirloom quality. In addition to that we’re also trying to source products from non-exploitative companies. So usually we’re hunting down vintage, upcycled, or refurbished items. These pieces might cost more than what you generally find at a Goodwill or Salvo but it’s worth it. Even if I have to do the work myself I get really excited about the find.

      • Thirding this! I recently spent a large chunk of money replacing my old (refurbished) laptop with a new Mac mini. A gigantic investment for me – I was just about having a panic attack at the store – but it’s one of the best purchases I’ve ever made. It’s also the very first truly new computer I’ve ever had, and I’m in love. 😀

        • I hate buying new computers, actually, but I don’t regret a cent I put into them. My real dislike comes from the effort to move everything over and start a clean slate, so the longer my computer will last, the happier I am.

          • just a tip- especially if u are buying amac- u can literally move all of your old computer files and set up onto a new computer- u just sync the two computers- full syncing takes a few hours (or u can do this with your backup drive as well)

          • I’m definitely a PC girl, I think there’s better bang for your buck. Part of the problem is more settings, and just taking time to reinstall and clean up old files.

          • Seconding the PC love. I used to spec out the Macbook Pro I would buy if I had unlimited funds, and for the performance I wanted, it would have been twice as much as an equivalent Windows laptop, and both noticeably degrade after a couple years anyway.

            Best solution (and my best investment)? Build your own PC! I sourced a bunch of parts on Newegg using how-to guides online (hmm, article idea for OH&L?) and now I can upgrade piece-by-piece. It only cost about $650 up front for a decently powerful machine (including accessories), and in 3 years I’ve only replaced the CPU heat sink and added more RAM. Since I only have to replace one component at a time, instead of the whole machine, it really cuts down the cost and the e-waste in the long run!

  7. Books! I know libraries give me access for free, but it feels so good to own books, to see them on my shelves or in my Kindle collection, and to lend them to friends. I love the idea of building my own personal library.

    • I’ve gone the other way in the past few years: it feels good for me to minimize my collection of books and use the library and swap more… even though I’ve probably read more new-to-me books in that time than I used to. Definitely helps when I don’t spend money on them. 🙂 I did just make an exception the other day, and bought (used, through Amazon) a book I haven’t been able to locate at any nearby library. I’m very excited to have it arrive!

      • I do confess a twinge of guilt in saying this, but books (physical books, anyways) are on my least valuable purchases list. Asides from some cookbooks, I really can’t stand to have them in the house. I’ve gotten rid of most that I own and I stopped buying any others a long time ago. My kindle, however, has given me much return on investment, satisfaction-wise! Love the Prime lender’s library. I read so much more without the angst of having ‘book carcasses’ hanging around the house or having to drag it on the train or figure out what to do with it when I’m done.

        Putting all this out there makes me feel a bit sheepish, since I do appreciate the written word and the experience of holding and reading a book. Loving books and getting satisfaction from owning them seems like a noble pursuit to me. But… I need to go with my gut. Books just don’t do it for me.

        • I’m with you, Naphtha. I buy maybe one book a year — if I know I’ll be wanting to write / highlight / underline in it.

          The realization came to me when I looked at my bookshelves and realized there were books there than I hadn’t read or even touched (beyond dusting) in years, or maybe ever planned on reading again. Or books I had received or purchased with the anticipation of reading someday but still hadn’t read. And every time I moved I was dragging all of these from place to place.

          I narrowed my collection down to my most-loved books, and the rest I borrow from friends or get from the library. Like PlanningAhead, I find I’ve read many more books since then. 🙂

    • Very much this! I love being able to reread favourite novels without trekking to the library and hoping they still have it when I get there. I could move to an e-reader, but its just not the same.

      Oh, there’s another one: Adding bookcases to the house – finding just the right one for the right space makes me really happy, especially if its an interesting one.

      • Not to debate your larger point, but as for “hoping they still have it” — does your library have a hold/request system? I almost never go to the library “just because”; I go when a book that I’ve requested is ready for me to pick up. Our system lets you have up to 10 holds at a time (they drop off when you check out the book) and you get to select which branch you want them delivered to. If they don’t have an online setup, you might try calling ahead if you’re in search of a particular title.

        • Thanks for the suggestion 🙂 They do have a hold/transfer system, but since I don’t know when I’ll be able to make a trip, I don’t use it. (I currently don’t drive, my area’s public transport is awful, and it’s a little too far to walk.) When I do manage to sort out a semi-spontaneous trip, I check the online catalogue before I leave but I seem to share favourites with lots of people!

    • Definitely books! Books have been my number one indulgence since I went from poor student to adult with a salaried job. I don’t get brand new full price books, but I love trolling the clearance section at Half Price Books. I do head to the library on a fairly regular basis, but I love owning.

    • Definitely books…and bookshelves. Yeah, the library is free, and I know a lot of people like to declutter their books…but for me, my books are my ultimate collection. I don’t want just one book by that author…I like to have ALL of that author’s books (withing reason). I like to have all of my favorite books that I read as a kid. I have a dream of having a personal library good enough that my nieces and nephews can come over and find some new favorites to borrow.

      In addition to all of my favorite novels and my collection of beautifully-illustrated fairy tale books, I’ve begun to deliberately collect awesome books on some basic science stufff: Princeton’s Field Guide to Dinosaurs, The Magic of Reality (by Richard Dawkins), the Complete Idiot’s Guide to College Biology….that sort of thing. I want to be that awesome aunt who is really good at answering inquiring questions with, “I don’t know, let’s look it up!” Somehow it feels like learning about dinosaurs from a book is so much better than just Googling a quick answer.

      Anyway….books. Definitely more books and space to put them.

  8. Firstly, food, especially fresh veggies. I’m a vegan who LOVES to eat.
    Secondly, anything for my adopted bunnies and foster dogs. I spoil both to death! I’m not supposed to spend any money on my fosters (the rescue covers food, vet bills, basically everything but our apartment’s pet fee), but I spend so much on treats and toys for them. They make me happy!

    • Seconded!

      I love the CSA veggies we receive every week, and I get a huge amount of pleasure splurging on high-quality specialty foods at the supermarket. The anticipation of cooking and eating them is as enjoyable than the actual taste.

      I also love splurging on our dog, a rescue we adopted recently. It’s exorbitantly expensive to make her dog food from scratch, but it’s SO worth it. She loves her food so much that her whole butt wags at meal time. Best money-to-happiness ratio ever!

        • CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. Oftentimes this is more like a farm subscription, but every farm has its own model. A common model is that residents do work on the farm in exchange for produce harvested throughout the main growing season. Other farms offer something more like a pre-paid farmer’s market, where the shareholder picks up a prepackaged “box” of produce at a certain time and place each week.

        • CSA stands for community supported agriculture. With a CSA program, it’s kind of like buying a subscription to a farm (though there are varying models). Rather than them having no money to start the year out (sometimes taking out a loan to purchase seeds, fertilizer, etc), then they grow veggies, bring them to farmers’ markets, and then you buy them there so that now they finally have a return on their work….A CSA is the opposite: you pay up front (or in installments) a certain amount like $500 for the year, and then as produce is harvested, you go every week or so and pick up a box of whatever’s ready. It’s good because the farmer’s have money to live on during the growing season, it’s convenient for you, it’s generally cheaper than buying at a farmers’ market and definitely helps to support local agriculture. It also forces you to eat more vegetables: you’ve already paid for them, and they just hand you a selection of veggies that you might otherwise never have tried before, so you’re sort of forced to try new things.

          Here’s the CSA that we signed up for next year (there was a waiting list for this year). http://crystalspringcsa.com/about-csa/

  9. Books are right up there for me. I am picky and pretty much stick to buying books by authors I know I will like these days. Thankfully, I have a pool of authors who keep putting out solid novels fairly regularly. So I get to reread these many times!

    Also, clothes. I am not always successful when I go shopping so coming home with something that fits that I like does make me happy.

    Presents. Not always an expense, but I happen to love giving gifts. Just talked about that with a friend yesterday. So if I find the perfect gift for someone, that really does make me happy.

    “Treat” food makes me very happy. I admit it, veggies rarely make me excited to spend money. But tasty ice cream? Yes! Or special cheese. Or going out for sushi or an awesome meal.

    I like craft stuff and sewing things do make me happy but not quite high enough. Same with any material for a project. Despite how insane I can be about taking on projects. The work involved takes some of the shiny off the purchase, even if I love the outcome.

    • I second the presents thing. I splurged and bought my little sister a nice camera and a nice lens. She is kind of aimless, but she has some natural talent for photography. It makes her happy, so it makes me happy. And she is awesome and captures fantastic images of our family, our pets, our vacations, and the area around my parents’ house. It’s something that she uses over and over again, and it brings us closer together as a family sharing those pictures. Very high value!

      • I third the presents thing! Buying the PERFECT gift for someone makes me happy twice: first when I find the gift, second when I see their face when they open said gift. It’s also why I love making so many gift guides and shopping posts for Home and Bride. It’s like giving you all virtual gifts (only you have to buy them yourself). But I do enjoy finding them for you!

        I also love buying anything using Amazon Prime. Even cleaning supplies are more exciting when I don’t have to go out to buy them, and they arrive with free two-day shipping.

        • Yes to buying presents! I think my happiness-rating is even higher for cheapy, little presents than big ones. I love finding little things I know someone will love, just little stuff like a cute tea strainer or post-it notes with a fun design.

  10. THERAPY!!! It’s super expensive, but it’s easily the best investment I’ve ever done. I’m investing in me. 🙂

    I’ve heard so many time people saying therapy is expensive and they could not afford it. It might seem a lot at first, but seriously, it’s totally worth the extra mile. Plus, you’ll carry what ever you’ll learn there for the rest of your life: your return on investment is huge when you think about it!

    • I have to double my THIS vote. I’ve been in and out of therapy for years (sometimes just for the talking) and longtime friends have noticed a difference. Moreover, I found it’s made me a much better partner. We’re better at identifying bad habits and communicating tough issues.

      If you do try therapy give it your full attention and ask your therapist for tips on how to make the most of it! Most therapists love it if you come in with some goals and spend your “off time” chewing over the previous sessions.

  11. Food at the Farmer’s Market makes me happy, because I love going to the Lancaster County Produce stalls and letting them choose what is ripest for me.

    A cup of Starbucks coffee for my Mom on my paydays/a beer at the bar for my Dad if I can convince to let me pay/Some treat the spouse really likes but hardly ever gets for himself/Gatorade with my brothers at Wawa. Basically buying something small for someone that is just an everyday item.

    Chiropractor. The right chiropractor, the one that has me do rehab stretches and exercises at the office where EVERYONE is so nice and dedicated to getting me back to how strong I was pre-back injury.

    Yarn, good tea, books. ‘Nuff said.

    • I live in Lancaster County, and I gotta say, our produce is SO worth the return happiness investment. (Farmers markets in general are just awesome happy money-spending times. Walking around with a cup of fresh apple cider or munching on a hot donut? Best couple dollars I’ll spend all week.)

  12. High happy for money rating: Sparkly earrings! I take ridiculous joy out of the sparkly pirate skull/crossbones earrings I’m wearing right now. Also happy clothes – like business clothes I look great in or bright colors to go see friends in. I have more of a skip in my step from day to day if I feel like I’m looking my best.
    Also – my giant microbes collection and my pac-man coffee mug – both make me smile every time I look at them.

    Low happy for money rating: For me, even though I’m a rabid book lover, I put (most) books in this category. I hate dragging around a lot of books and prefer to keep my collection down only to THE most beloved copies – I just end up resenting how much stuff I have if I have any books that aren’t ones I adore. Otherwise, I prefer the library or my Kindle.

    • I totally second the low books happy-for-money rating thing. I love reading, and I love the joy of opening up a new book/file/whatever. But I seem to acquire many more books than I want, and I am not a big re-reader, so I really try to buy only what I need (for academic work, for example)

  13. Mine would have to be new clothes and books. I usually never buy new clothes for myself (I’ve been the same short height and size since highschool), so the times I actually get to go clothes shopping are kinda fun. Plus, it’s kinda fun to pair up outfits to wear over the weekend.

    Also, I love shopping for books in used bookstores (like McKays). I’m a total bookworm, and it’s used so it doesn’t hurt my budget too much (they’re usually under $5 each – cheapest was 60 cents!). Still nice to crack open a new-to-me book before bedtime. =D

      • Nah, I’m in northern Georgia. But, my parentals and most of my college friends are in Tennessee so I tend to visit often. XD

        Oh my gosh, I can spend forever in that store. It’s a super easy time killer.

  14. Steam sales! Sometimes I’ve bought blockbuster games that are a few years old, and other times I’ve bought fairly new indie games that I like as much as the big titles if not more. I’ve never paid over $5 for one game.

    • Between Steam Sales and Humble Bundles I have amassed a huge library of mostly awesome games. Love it.

  15. For me, the highest money/happiness ratio is video games (avid gamergirl here), craft supplies and home improvement items. It can be decorations, furniture, new doorknob, whatever but even though I rent, it never fails to make me happy when I have something to create or work on. I love making new things, getting new ideas and constantly improving life for me and my family.

  16. Zines and Art: I love being able to cast a vote with my money, to say “What you’re doing it awesome, and I think you should keep doing it.” Plus, I get really awesome stuff that almost nobody else has. Winnn!

    Stuff from Trader Joe’s: We visit probably less than once a month and we always spend about $25. Even when we’re disappointed with a product we get, we’re always just delighted with the good stuff we find. He loves the coffee, I love the frozen macarons, we love the frozen Indian dishes.

    Cooking Tools: My boyfriend definitely uses our cookware far more than I do, but it’s always pure joy. We just bought a pizza stone and you’d think we just invented fire. Delicious eats and new experimentation to be had! I never invest in one trick ponies, so I’ve never regretted anything I’ve bought for the kitchen.

      • That’s so funny! I hate new socks because the little balls of cotton fluff get caught in my toes. I’ll wear my socks into holes and hide them from my husband to avoid getting new ones.

  17. There are two things I can’t walk past in the store without buying.

    For my kid, it’s books. Even though she’s already got a huge collection, and even though she’s barely a toddler, I have to buy her books. I was a big reader as a kid, and I get such a kick out of building her library and anticipating how much joy we’ll both get out of sharing them.

    For me, it’s nail polish. I suck at painting my nails, and haven’t even used some of the polishes I own, but oooh I love to buy them. So sparkly and pretty. I just like having them. I like to line them up by color and rearrange them in their box. OCD much?

  18. More Happy than Money:
    -Getting my hair dyed. It’s kind of a big expense for me, but seeing my hair when it’s all freshly dyed crazy vibrant electric red-orange is so worth it!
    -Fruit! I have a juicer, and have discovered no drink makes me feel so good as fresh veggie and fruit juice. Fruit is more expensive in NYC than other places, but still not a huge expense.
    -Pot. Come on, one of us had to say it. Relax at the end of a day, start a weekend out right. Varies in price (and quality) according to your financial ability. It’s great.

    Not Enough Happy for Money:
    Going to bars- I live in NYC where people my age (25) regularly spend atleast $100 on a weekend night out. $200 is not uncommon. Bars in NYC are typically loud and crowded. Not worth it, to me.
    Expensive Shoes- And I mean shoes that cost more than $60. My shoes all seem to get trashed so quickly living in the city. I only buy shoes on sale now because otherwise I get so bummed when they get scuffed to high hell.

    • Ah, I have the opposite shoe story! I’m in Toronto, and I always used to buy cheap shoes on sale, like, nothing more than $30 TOPS. But they would end up BROKEN within 2-3 months with all the walking I do in the city, so then I’d be replacing them, and eventually spending way too much… so I’ve switched to buying well-researched, well-made, high quality expensive shoes for regular wear, because I find they hold up so much better! Last pair of shoes I bought a year and a half ago, and they still have their arch support, and they still pretty much look like new after a wipe-down and buff, and that makes my feet happy. 🙂

      Fancy or impractical shoes, though, I still buy on the cheap!

      • Ah, same! I just treated myself to a pair of really well-made leather boots (on sale, so not totally crazy, but still about 5x more than I normally spend on shoes). Every time I wear them I feel so adult and polished. The other shoes I’ve been wearing lately are falling apart after just a season, but these are the kind that will hold up for a long time and I will actually bother to take care of and get repaired when they need it some day.

        Bonus: now I’m really excited for fall and winter because I will be wearing them almost every freaking day.

  19. I love spending money going out to eat. I don’t even care if the food isn’t that good. I just really like going out to eat. Also, sometimes my husband and I will make a really special, complicated meal and I love shopping for that too since I get to splurge on ingredients that I don’t normally buy.
    Additionally, I love buying baby/kid clothes for my son. It’s all the fun of clothes shopping without the hassle of trying things on and being disappointed if things don’t look good or fit. Plus, baby clothes are adorable and since I refuse to spend more than $10 on clothes that my kid will only fit in for a few months (and it better be awesome if it’s $10), I don’t usually end up spending too much.

  20. Food and experiences!!!

    I was raised on very natural foods and it’s now impossible for me to eat many processed things (or much of them) because they taste like crap to me! Sure, I’ll buy a bag of Doritos now and then, but a grocery bag full of fresh fruit, veggies, and natural meat (and a bag of chocolate chips ;D) makes this girl super happy!

    I’ve found that what makes me happier than buying “items” is using that money on experiences instead! Whether it’s going camping, going to the park, going to a concert, going skiing, or planning a trip to Europe (honeymoon, here I come!), I’m much happier than if I buy excess clothes, shoes, and general “stuff” I don’t need. That’s not to say I don’t have stuff, though! I don’t want to sound high and mighty because I really have too much stuff! I’ve severely limited the amount of stuff I will let myself buy, though. 🙂

  21. Well, previous commenters hit on two of my most joyful ones: good food and books (though I’m scaling back on my buying habits on that one–it’s a literally heavy problem and I’m still getting over packing up and moving all of our books a month ago).

    I happen to have a great love for handmade/natural body products: moisturizers, masques, cosmetics. I don’t often splurge on myself, but whenever I do, it’s usually on these products. Especially soaps. I have a major soap addiction, but I actually USE them, so I feel as though it’s not such a bad thing. If you stock up on soap, you don’t run out, right?

    Since we have a pretty tight budget, usually I get my joy from gift shopping for others: birthday gifts, holiday gifts, shower gifts–finding things I know someone I love will really enjoy makes me happy. To be honest, it’s probably better that we do have a tighter budget, otherwise every time I saw something that someone “would absolutely love,” I would probably buy it for him/her, and it would get out of hand.

  22. Funny thing about priorities. Haircuts are one thing that I spend a lot of money on (about $100-150 but only about twice a year) and pretty much never regret. Most of the time, they practically re-invent my hair, give me layers back that had vanished for 4 months, dye it a new colour (which can backfire, I hated the blonde highlights they did last time) and straighten the whole curly mess, and I leave feeling like a brand new person.

    I’ve never really regretted anything that makes my house look nicer. Stick on backsplash for the kitchen, shelves to help my boy organize his stuff, vinyl stickers, even a string of solar lights shaped like dragonflies with fake ivy leaves that I hung around the window.

    On the other hand, I almost always regret shoes I buy. No matter how hard I try, I can’t find a pair that won’t leave me with blisters after 2-3 hours. Which is a shame, because I need shoes.

  23. Ditto food. I buy the best we can afford, and we subscribe to a local food delivery service that provides things like milk and cheese and eggs and meat that are sustainably grown locally without hormones or antibiotics or chemicals. My ultimate goal is to produce our veggies and our eggs and chicken in our own backyard, and I want us to be a self-suficient and free from chemical nast as possible. So any money spent on that goal or on things like canning equipment/stuff to make my own soap/ingredients for natural cleaning products has a high happy for the money ratio. I got super excited over a feather duster the other day, and I’m pretty sure my FH thought I was losing my mind.

    New shoes. I always buy the same brand of tennis shoes, have for years; I try to make each pair last two years, and by that time they’re gnarly looking and loosing their support, and the company has issued new color combinations of the classic style. They’re not cheap, so I spend a couple days deciding what color I want, and then I order from Zappos. I’ve got a cool green pair on the way right now and I’m like a little kid, checking my tracking email every 15 minutes to see what state my shoes are in now.

    It’s a little expense, but pens and notebooks. I love them, something about them makes me think of being a little kid and starting school in the fall. I do most of my writing on my computer (another expense that has a high happy ratio, because it’s a spectacular machine) but I still crave neat notebooks and good pens, so sometimes I splurge. And magazines. Yes, I know there are blogs and pinterest, but I tend to enjoy lots of visual stimulation especially when I’m tired, and nothing is quite as pleasant for me as a cup of coffee and a great magazine. I even love the way they smell. And I can write them off on my taxes as research materials, so there’s that.

    I have discovered that I can cut corners on lots of things that aren’t necessary. For instance, I buy all our towels at estate sales. They’re typically a quarter, and I buy the nicest white ones I can get because then I can clean them with oxygen bleach. I also use towels for cleaning and wiping up spills and no longer purchase paper towels. We get most of our clothes from thrift stores because we’re not fashion plates and we destroy clothes with our lifestyle. Because we have cats, I don’t buy new furniture. Everything I have in the house came from the Sally, a yard sale, or the curb. This lets me feel thrifty, indulges my love of old things, and means we’re not out lots of money when the cats inevitably destroy the furniture.

    And if I can replace any cheapish new thing with a built to last vintage version (I’m talking things like knives, dishes, bakeware, etc) I’m a happy camper.

  24. Definitely high quality food is a big one, there is nothing I love more than popping into the farmer’s market, butcher or fish shop to buy something delicious.

    Yarn, fabric, yarn and more fabric. I love sewing and knitting, making things is a big de-stressor for me. Nothing makes me happier than grabbing a new ball of yarn or yard of fabric and thinking about what to make.

    Sketchbooks, pens and pencils… total architecture nerd time. There is nothing that feels better than cracking open a sketchbook and a new pen and just going to.

    Used furniture, my husband and I moved from a small apartment to a two story house. It has taken us time to furnish it and it’s a constant ongoing project. I love finding a weird piece of used furniture and seeing what I can do with it to make it work for us. It’s kind of like we get to make our house one big piece of art.

      • Totally with you on the tattoos and piercings. Nothing is better than going to your piercer or tattoo artist and coming away with some new body-bling or body art.

        I’m also addicted to actually just GETTING piercings. My husband doesn’t understand it, but it totally makes me feel great getting one done.

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