Affordable Little Luxuries for the Tightest Budget

by Reader Contributors

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Does your current financial situation have you feeling down? You can enjoy these affordable little luxuries even on the tightest budget. And they can make you feel special during those tough financial times.

We all know that we’re not living in boom times. It seems like every article on the internet and every report on the evening news begins with a comment about how hard things are.

We’re not going to harp on the negatives, but instead, we will focus on some positive solutions.

We’ve all cut back, but that’s no reason to feel deprived. We asked our readers to share some inexpensive luxuries that have replaced the more expensive things they have had to give up.

Here are a few of our favorite affordable “Little Luxuries.”

Mom’s Night In Means Luxury

I love how GNO (Girls Night Out) is being moved from fancy restaurants to homes so everyone can save. My Mom’s Night Out (MNO) group has recently done something similar.

We’ve been friends since our teenagers were toddlers, and schedule two nights out a month. Recently, we made one of those nights out a “night in,” so we have MNOs and MNIs. Twice we’ve done movie nights, and once we had a Wii night. The hostess provides a cheap box of wine and simple snacks.

We’ll each take a turn hosting during the year and we’ll still have our nights out once a month, too.

Go “Resorting”

My friend and I go “resorting” for a little luxury. We live in the SW so luxury resorts are many. We go to a resort’s restaurant for a glass of soda or tea and perhaps a dessert and then just leisurely absorb the atmosphere. We walk around the grounds before we head home again.
Janet in AZ

Enjoy a Good Read

My favorite “little luxury” is a book (purchased at a thrift store or checked out of the library), a nice tall cold drink and quiet time in the backyard to read for an hour or so. The time allows me to unwind, enjoy a good read and costs next to nothing.

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Do You Really Have to Give It Up?

Our local movie theater (a nice one with about eight screens and some stadium seating) offers greatly discounted shows on Tuesdays. What a gift! Many I know, myself included, had written off going to the movies, but for the Tuesday night price, we no longer have to give up the movies. I would encourage fellow readers to check out local theaters. Or maybe even suggest something like this.

To help its local customers, our cable company has a program called Lifeline. It includes local channels, PBS and a few others, and they are charging very little. There are no bells or whistles, but it’s enough for me.

Just wanted to encourage people to re-visit some of their local companies, etc. for really great deals on “little luxuries.”
Joan in AZ

The Luxury of Premium Chocolate

There are times when a girl just has to have chocolate and the more smooth, rich, delicious and fancy chocolate is so much better.

Premium chocolate (even when purchased at the grocery store) can be very expensive. I’ve started hunting through the “Manager’s Special” (a.k.a. Discount Bins) at the grocery store. This week I found a huge stock of premium brand chocolate bars with delicious fillings at 50-75% off. I stocked up and now I have a stash in a cabinet for when I need a little chocolate luxury.

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Back to School

Get your hair done, nails done and a good massage at a local school. In my area it is usually around $10 for a hair cut, $15 for a color or perm and just a few dollars for a blow out or set. You can usually get your nails done for around $5 too. A good massage runs you about $25, depending on the school.

Also locally we have a culinary school that has dinner nights where they serve a three or four course meal for $15. There is a waiting list and you don’t get to choose your food, but it’s generally an amazing meal.

And lastly, the town I grew up in had an automotive program at the vo-tech school. You could have your car worked on for the cost of parts only. It did generally take a few days to get it back (if they had an opening), but it was great, especially for the more labor intensive repairs.
Amy in Mississippi

A Yummy, Yet Affordable Splurge

My little luxury is a Mocha Caramel drink from the Bob Evans restaurant. Rather than going in for a meal, which for a family of four is rather expensive, I treat my daughter and me to a Mocha Caramel, which is half coffee and half hot chocolate with caramel and cream topping. It is delightful and affordable.

My son loves their sweet tea, so when we need a little splurge, we head there after school for our little luxury.

Mini Vacation for Free

My favorite little luxury is staying at a friend’s or family member’s home while they are out of town. My daughter lives nearby and she has a spa tub, an in-ground swimming pool, and satellite TV, all little extras that I do not have. I love going to her house and sleeping on her clean, cool sheets. I feel like I am at a luxurious hotel without the expense!

I also enjoy swapping places with my brother. He is a city dweller, and I am a country girl. Somehow it just seems to feel like a mini vacation at someone else’s house!

Have a Hairfest

I am sharing a way that my sister, myself, and a couple of friends have a fun night for ourselves and get our hair colored for a lot less than at the salon. We call it Hairfest!

Three or four of us get together on a Saturday or a Sunday night every five weeks or so. We all bring our box of store bought hair color. The hostess serves a quick dinner like pizza and a dessert. We watch a “chick flick” and we color our hair.

We each take turns in the chair as a friend or sister puts on the color and then we swap places. We set the timer, comb through, and rinse accordingly. After all is done, we have dessert and set up the time and place for the next Hairfest!

It is a great way to keep in touch and have some quality “chick” time. Plus, we get to see all the “chick flicks” we want without dragging along the guys!

Fun does not have to go because you need to cut your budget!
Pamela in Des Moines

You Can Still Go Out

Happy Hour is a great inexpensive treat if you find the right restaurant/bar. You don’t have to drink alcohol to enjoy. We like to go to a local seafood restaurant that has half priced drinks and appetizers. We have a beer, a soft drink, a cup of clam chowder, two very generous appetizers, and complementary wings for less than $30 for two. It fills us up and we even take a doggy bag home.

We also like the fact that this gives us the chance to support a local business.

Savor Your Favorite Scent

Don’t give up your favorite scent. Just don’t buy it in the spray bottle and waste it spraying it through the air.

Instead, buy the regular bottle and dab it directly onto your skin. Your dollars spent on fragrance will stretch a lot farther this way.

Reviewed April 2023

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