How Not to Blow Your Budget: Avoid Unnecessary Splurges

Hoildays come with temptations to splurge, but some things aren't worth the money. Unless you have extra cash lying around, here are a few things you can cheerfully skip

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Don’t blow your budget on wine tastings when you can get them for free

These five indulgences might tempt you to blow your budget; here’s why you shouldn’t

I’ve posted before about the little and not-so-little indulgences that are, in my opinion, worth your cold, hard cash.

Now it’s time for the other side of the coin. In the quest for better living, what sort of experiences can you avoid without missing out? Here’s my list.

1. Wine tastings. Don’t get me wrong: I love to swirl and slurp with the best of them. But when local wine shops offer complimentary tastings, art openings usually come with a glassful and end-of-season potlucks bring another range of bottles, I’ll save my pennies for indulgences I can’t get elsewhere for nothing.

2. Winemakers’ dinners. Certainly, if I had more than a hundred bucks to drop when I went out to dinner, I’d enjoy the experience. But with Whopper Wednesday constituting my idea of a dining highlight, let’s just say I’ll have dinner with a winemaker at home, where I can concentrate on a single vintage rather than being dazzled by the range.

3. Buy-one-get-one deals. Spend a hundred bucks and get a $50 gift certifcate? Only a fool would pass up a deal like that, right? Sure. Except when you reflect that you wouldn’t be spending $100 at the store in question otherwise, you’ll forget about the credit until after it’s expired, and the teeny tiny print lists a whole bunch of terms and conditions nobody in their right mind can keep straight. Pass!

4. Spa services. You can make a case for pedicures and manicures, which bring skill sets to places you can’t reach. But facials, paraffin hand treatments, detoxifying wraps and the other oddities peddled by spas? Expensive, time-consuming and occasionally, despite the relaxing rep, painful – three words that add up to N-O in my book. Even massages are better (and cheaper) when booked with specialists.

5. Novelties on the sale shelf. What a great idea to get the kids those deep-discount robot dogs for Christmas – except the batteries cost more than the toys, the kids lose interest after playing with them once Christmas morning, and you’ll take their broken, littered parts with you to your grave. Sustainability is in style this Christmas, so let’s get each other fewer but more durable experiences, treats and all-natural toys. Happy Yule!