How to be Extravagant without Feeling Guilty

Last week, on a blazing hot day of over 30 degrees centigrade, I suddenly craved something icy, sweet and refreshing.  The sun was beating down my back as I crossed the road and entered the cool air-conditioned comfort of Chinatown Point shopping mall.

I made a bee-line for the gelato stand that was beckoning to me seductively and ordered a Passionfruit Gelato without even looking at the price tag. So I was startled when I heard the words “$8.80 please.”  WHAT???? I shrieked inwardly – $8.80 for a @** Gelato?

I slunk into my corner and savoured my delicious icy treat with great reverence – after all, the stuff that was melting quickly in my mouth cost the equivalent of a more substantial and nutritious Vietnamese sandwich. Or a bottle of shampoo. Or a bag of fresh oranges. Or an afternoon movie!

My experience illustrates how we can be so easily lured into spending more instead of saving more. Here are some of the external and internal forces at work:

  • I was feeling hot, bothered and angsty. I wanted to soothe and treat myself and my emotions kept me from making a rational decision – like choosing a less expensive option. Why didn’t I walk into 7-11 and buy a can of $1.50 ice tea instead? I listened to my heart instead of my head.
  • The gelato display right in the middle of the mall was simply captivating with its many flavours and colours. It was a Sunday and I was at the mall alone, surrounded by families and couples. Retailers certainly know how to seduce and push my emotional buttons – making me think, “It’s Sunday – so what if I enjoy some ice cream and feel a little less alone?”
  • The reality of inflation is especially acute when we shop and dine in the city. Sky high rentals in Singapore have driven up the cost of eating out to ridiculous levels. Has our income kept up with the ridiculous price increases? If you’re in the fortunate 1% of wealthy ‘high net worth individuals’ then you have nothing to worry about.  But the rest of us have to be more mindful.

I’m not guilty for spending $8.80 for an ice cream because I’ve made a commitment to myself that frivolous extravagances are OK once in a while – just not every day or every month! It all boils down to choices. Will I feel poorer if I don’t eat out at every meal and buy premium brands? The answer is a resounding NO!

Because I feel great that my spending is not like a runaway car. My foot alternates between the brake and pedal and my hands are firmly on the steering wheel. I know my destination – which is living a purposeful and meaningful life with no financial stress, With enough money to enjoy the things that are truly important to me – like investing in myself and travelling.

Following this road map, I’m largely immune to bright, shiny objects that beckon my wallet. That $8.80 passionfruit gelato was an enjoyable impromptu excursion.  Now I’m back to my healthy home cooked brown rice with stir fried vegetables. Life is good!