Yesterday, our family saw the musical ‘Hamilton’ on Broadway.
I know what you’re thinking: You guys are rich…or reckless. Yes, Hamilton is a hot ticket – $1,385.20 for four passes to be precise, for less than 3 hours of entertainment. That sounds like a lot – and it is – but it’s a one-time splurge for us.
Full-time-austerity family budgets are not practical or desirable even. If there is nothing to work for – no reward – then frugality for its own sake becomes joyless and difficult to police.
What about the joy in giving? Couldn’t we have been just as happy putting $1,385.20 in the offering plate or donating it to a homeless shelter?
Yes, I think we probably could have been. It’s a matter of balance, I guess. We tithe to our church and other charities. It’s OK to give yourself permission to treat your family to an occasional fun (and expensive) bonding activity too.
I doubt if most people will argue that point; I say it more for my own sake. I’ve been blessed – cursed? – with an elevated level of empathy, so sometimes high spending on myself goes hand-in-hand with a heavy dose of guilt.
If you’re going to splurge, you want to do it responsibly, so that there will be more opportunities to splurge – and give – in the future. Here are my 6 rules for splurging responsibly:
1. Everyone in family should know what you’re working toward.
This is highly motivating, and keeps everyone on board the USS Ship Frugal.
2. Don’t splurge unless you can afford it.
Going into debt to splurge will raise the cost of the splurge and delay the next one. There are lots of low-cost splurges for smaller budgets that are equally fun. I have really fond memories of a low-budget road trip to the Grand Canyon when I was a kid that featured a baggie of granola for lunch every day. Just granola. Every lunch.
3. A splurge shouldn’t include monthly payments.
Related to #2. You might be able to “afford” the purchase of a summer beach house, but you’ll be much happier (and richer) if you rent one via VRBO.com or Airbnb. Or, even better, make friends with someone who owns that house already, and visit on occasion, being sure to reciprocate in some way.
4. Save money on the splurge wherever you can,
without draining too much joy from it. For Hamilton, we were in the cheap seats, but a step up (or down, in this case) from nosebleed. We attended the Wednesday matinee to allow us to go up and back in one day – avoiding an expensive hotel, and a 2nd day of missed work.
5. Splurge should be redemptive.
If you have kids, you have a responsibility to not corrupt them too much. 🙂 Hamilton definitely has some adult themes and explicit lyrics, but it’s suitable for a PG-13 audience.
6. Enjoy the splurge.
Leave the guilt at home – there is a carry-on fee for that baggage and it will only weigh you down anyway.
What do you splurge on? Any guilt associated with it?
For some fun, check out this video of Pippa and Grey opening the Hamilton tickets at Christmas.