Four Things I Can’t Believe People Buy (And Two of Our Guilty Pleasures)

Vanity PlatesDiscretionary spending. Fun money. Call it whatever you want, it’s an important part of any budget. Last week, I highlighted all the luxuries that masquerade as needs on grocery lists. This week, I thought it would be fun to talk guilty pleasures. There’s no way any of these are needs, but that doesn’t seem to stop some of us from indulging in them.

Four Guilty Pleasures I Pass On

I may have shelled out $700 on a pair of wedding shoes, but when it comes to guilty pleasures, these are four that just make me shake my head.

Vanity Plates – Don’t get me wrong. Puzzling over a vanity plate is a fine way to while away the time at red light during my morning commute. More so, one of my favorite episodes of Starlee Kyne’s Mystery Show podcast is dedicated to one particularly cryptic ILUV911 vanity plate. But with personalized passenger plates clocking in at $76 and vanity plates ringing in at $123 before fees in my great state, I think I’ll pass.

Bottled Water – Why is bottled water even still a thing? I can still remember where I was the first time I saw bottled water for sale in a vending machine. It was 1999. I was in 7th grade playing on a club volleyball team, and the gym was selling Dasani in its Coke machine. It seemed ridiculous to me at the time. Why would anyone spend their dollars on water in a bottle when there was free water coming out of drinking fountains that I could put in a bottle I already owned? Didn’t they know about the Funyuns for sale at the concession stand? Now that I’m more environmentally conscious and less fixated on junk food, I think bottled water is ridiculous for a whole new slew of reasons.

Gum – Here’s the thing: I like chewing gum for about one minute. Then, the flavor goes, and I’m done. I could chew on eraser and end up with the same amount of flavor. Aside from the occasional eardrum saving usefulness while flying, I can’t remember the last time I bought a pack of gum.

Expensive Candles – I do burn a candle occasionally in the winter months. I’d say we go through one a year. If I can scoop up a great soy candle at Target for well under $10, it hurts my heart a little bit when I see a half dozen Diptyque candles strewn about in a lifestyle blogger’s Instagram photo. At $60 a candle, that’s like literally lighting hundreds of dollars on fire.

Guilty As Charged

So it’s confession time. Mr. P and I have diligently chopped away at our spending over the course of our marriage in an attempt to maximize our savings and slay our mortgage. Still, we both have one guilty pleasure each that would make most personal finance bloggers shudder.

Cable – We still have a basic cable package. It pains me to admit this, but in the grand scheme of the great give-and-take that is marriage, I’m still giving in to Mr. P on this one. For now.

Highlights – I get my hair highlighted 2-3 times per year, and I shell out $70 on each session. Logic suggests that I just go au natural, but brightening up my dirty blonde hair makes me happy. And there was this one time with a box of drugstore hair dye that still sends shivers up my spine.

So Tell Me…What is your guilty pleasure? Have you given up gum? Highlights?


Four Things I Can’t Believe People Buy (And Two of Our Guilty Pleasures)

17 thoughts on “Four Things I Can’t Believe People Buy (And Two of Our Guilty Pleasures)

  1. I’ve never liked gum – in fact, it’s kinda a pet peeve of mine. Listening to people chew gum, even when just sitting in the car with them, can be excruciating! And then you gotta do something with it once it’s lost all of its flavor. I want to meet the guy or gal who invented gum, then punch him or her squarely in the face. Bad, bad!

    I must admit that I LOVE Yankee candles. When we’re ever in a store like Walgreens (or any other store that sells candles), you will usually find me in the candle aisle sniffing all the candles. I love smelling candles, and I’m always amazed at how intoxicating those smells can be.

    Honestly, I don’t know if I have a guilty pleasure any more. I have a massive sweet tooth and can eat pure, sugary frosting straight out of the can (if store-bought) – I guess that’s a guilty pleasure. Mmm, frosting.

  2. I have only recently kicked my bottled water habit. It started when I was trying to lose weight and went from drinking no water to 48 ounces a day. The water where I worked tasted awful, and I also loved the convenience of knowing exactly how much more I needed to drink to reach my goal. So I embarked on an almost 20 year habit of drinking mostly bottled water, even after I no longer was trying to drink so much of it or spent so much time in places with gross-tasting water. I’ve only kicked it in the last 6 months.

    I get my hair dyed professionally every 6 weeks. Home dye jobs give me a rash, and I’m awfully gray without the dye job. Before I started getting it regularly dyed, people were asking if my daughter was my granddaughter.

    1. Good for you for kicking the bottled water habit. I hear you on the hair dye. Friends ask me if I notice any grays yet – my plan is to just keep going, so I don’t notice 😉 It’s a really light blonde hair, right?!

  3. “It makes me happy”, is a great reason and really the only reason you need for a discretionary spend. However, how do you know where to draw the line? For me it’s always been a mindful understanding of my income and bills. If I know I’m financially “solid”, then I can go ahead and go to a nice dinner or splurge on other “it makes me happy” purchases.

    What are your thoughts on where to draw the line? What’s the best way to find balance between saving, budgets, and still taking some money to simply spend?

    1. I try to never spend just to spend. But I think it’s so important to carve out some fun money every month. It makes sticking to a budget easier. I’m thinking more and more that’s what I’ll use my tip jar at Tip Yourself for!

  4. Ha, I actually talk about this in my post today. One is a fair amount of discretionary spending.

    A couple of suggestions (which may or may not work for you). Look into beauty schools. Definitely check into reviews or whatever. I chose one because they used higher end products, which I considered a good sign. Sure enough, I’ve been going there for 5 years now. I get a cut and color for $30, and they don’t allow tipping.

    That said, I did try another school, a little closer to our house. I was just getting a cut. The one I got was cute, but it came to my ear lobes when I’d asked for an inch or two above my shoulder. So all schools aren’t created equal, and you need to research.

    And if you’re not comfortable with a beauty school, that’s totally understandable. Just a thought.

    Inre: cable. If your husband watches a lot of sports on cable, you can probably disregard this one. But when we were trying to decide whether to move to Hulu, I wrote down a list of our favorite shows/channels. (It was long. We’re at home most of the time.) Then I checked Hulu to see which ones were on there. We lost out on USA shows, which is a shame. Walking Dead comes on Netflix streaming, so that’s just a matter of patience. Otherwise, there was no difference.

    So if you want to convince him, show him a list of what you’d actually lose out on. Assuming ESPN isn’t one of his favorite channels. In that case, keep indulging him.

    1. Trying out a beauty school is a wonderful idea! There is one animal/history/swamp people channel (I forget which one…because they’re all the same?!) that we supposedly would miss out on. That’s his big sticking point. Since we’re Chicago fans, sports has been an easy thing to ignore this year (womp womp).

  5. Rue says:

    At 70$ for highlights, that’s a great price. I lucked out by keeping friends at a hair salon I apprenticed at, so most times my hair is done at a great discount (I overtip though…I feel less guilty about that.)
    I follow a lot of beauty/lifestyle blogs. I’ll admit to spending a lot on makeup and such, but these guys take it to the next level and then some. The haul videos? Omg.

    1. My hope for those haul videos is that they’re c/o products. That’s a lot of cash to shell out otherwise. As for leaving a big tip, I wouldn’t feel guilty about that either. What an awesome resource to have a friend at a hair salon.

  6. Even though I’ve cut out the vast majority of my routine Starbucks spending on the weekends, my past staycation was a much, much much different story. Like a $6-drink-every-day story. That new toasted graham latte is gooooood.

    All in all, I probably spent upwards of $35 on coffee that one week alone, but it was SO good and SO savoured and made the vacation feel like a true vacation, even as I went back home to work on my website, haha. Every once in a while, I’m all about the guilty pleasure lattes.

  7. I did actually give up gum! And I know what you mean: it loses its flavor so quickly…which for me meant that I could go through a whole pack in an afternoon!
    I’d say right now my “guilty as charged” recurring purchases are: 1) expensive mascara, and 2) yoga classes.

  8. Hah! I love that you included gum. I visited my mom this week, and the first thing I asked was for a piece of gum. She always has two flavors in her purse. I haven’t bought any since my first year of college. And even then, I think I bought one pack before realizing, “Holy crap, that’s a lot of money to spend for something you chew for 5 minutes!”

    My guilty pleasure is high quality dessert. Basically, I’ve spoiled myself by eating Godiva. Now Hershey just doesn’t hit the spot. Luckily, the Godiva store in the mall is pretty far from where we live, so I don’t splurge often.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *