We have a premise with which many will disagree but we present it as a thought-provoker. The premise is that it's a good thing to indulge yourself a bit once in a while. Not any kind of immoral indulgence or anything that violates any life principle you live by — but the kind of occasional indulgence that makes your ongoing discipline and responsibility a little easier.
For example, many nutritionists and even the authors of very structured diets agree that going ahead and eating what you want once in a while does not destroy your diet. In fact, it can be the little change of pace that actually commits you even more to the ongoing diet.
It can work a little that way with money, too. Maybe a story will illustrate what we mean.
When we were just married and still in school, we were poor as church mice. We shopped every Saturday at an outdoor vegetable market in Boston called Haymarket, and our budget for the week was $15 (you could get a surprising amount of food for that in those days). We scrimped and saved on everything.
Once in a while, maybe every couple of months when we just couldn’t take it anymore, we would go out and have a nice dinner at a “real restaurant.”
This was hard to justify quantitatively, but it sure felt good qualitatively, and we always felt afterward we were going to be OK with tightening our belts for another two months.
After all, it was our money. There wasn’t much of it, but it was money we had earned, and it was OK to have a wee little splurge periodically.
We think the principle still applies, particularly in a romantic couples context.
Go on a “real date” periodically, no matter how old you are or how long you have been married. You can go out on some kind of a date every week, and we recommend it, but once in a while, it is so refreshing to do something really nice.
The problem is some young couples get so conservative early in marriage when they have no money that they can’t break loose from the extreme penny-pinching mode even when they are earning decent money.
Those who read this column regularly know how much we preach budgeting and saving and prudence and provident living. The point is you can do all that and believe all that and still occasionally go out and have a really nice time.
Another example: A couple we know well, very financially conservative folks, needed a getaway and a relationship recharge. They were both so busy that they had only one day to spare. They decided to spend it (double meaning) in Las Vegas. The point is, they made it a big day and a fresh and different day — one that took them out of their usual world and gave fresh perspective and energy.
They stayed one night at the brand new and spectacular Cosmopolitan Hotel because they wanted modern architecture and clean lines along with their brief luxury. They went to the new and spectacular Cirque show "Zarkana" because nothing gets you out of your usual world as quickly and as creatively as Cirque du Soleil.
Before the show, they had dinner at the restaurant just outside the theater, American Fish, where the chef creates gourmet delights. After the show, they watched the Bellagio fountains from their room and stayed up late. The next morning, they had brunch at the not cheap but marvelously varied Wicked Spoon buffet at the Cosmo, and then headed home refreshed and recharged and with a little added romance in their relationship.
Was it worth what it cost? That is a judgment call, but I think they would say yes.
Would they do it very often? No. Did it make their regular life back home seem dreary and boring? No, just the contrary; it made them more capable of seeing the good in the normal and confirmed the lifestyle choices they had made. It was a break, and a good one. It allowed them to celebrate some creativity and excellence and to look a little harder for their own completely different brand of both.
Of course, you can indulge yourself without spending much money, but every couple needs a perspective-refreshing, romance-rekindling getaway now and then. It does not have to be an indulgence in the negative sense of the word, and we don’t need to feel guilty about occasionally rewarding ourselves by splurging a little from the norm of “keeping our noses to the grindstone.”
Richard and Linda Eyre are New York Times best-selling authors who lecture throughout the world on family-related topics. Visit them anytime at www.EyresFreeBooks.com or www.valuesparenting.com. Their latest Deseret e-book is “On the Homefront."