my own ten fabulous things

I love Dan‘s concept of ten things to splurge on when money is tight! I want to tell you about mine, with the caveat that I am actually satisfied with simpler, slightly more necessary things than he lists. I really and truly don’t like steak, and the poor maid would take one look at my house, turn tail, and run. I also know that for some people, even these small luxuries are beyond reach, and I am so lucky even to afford my little list.

1. A dress. Not a fancy one, necessarily, but one good everyday dress will not break the bank. This year, I bought a gorgeous, long blue knit with a deep v-neck (and, okay, a couple of cheap belts to go with it). I think I need to take it in about two inches in order to be able to wear it with flats and not soak the hem; other than that, it is perfect and I feel fantastic when I wear it.

2. Good boots. I like to evaluate my collection for gaps, and this year I noticed I lacked a pair of knee-high heeled boots in any color. I began, therefore, with a good, neutral black. Over the next year, I’ll probably look for something similar in brown. I get miles of wear out of them; I picked up an inexpensive (but not cheap!) pair of black flat boots at Kmart, of all places, that’s served me well, and let us not forget the Victorian-looking ankle boots with the low chunky heel, the first pair of which broke — so I bought it again.

3. Netflix. Because what could be nicer than getting an obscure film in the mail? Especially one you’ve picked yourself? 🙂 Added bonus: it works with my TV and my laptop (and probably my phone, but I don’t use it there), so pretty much whenever and wherever, I can find something to entertain me. We don’t have a good rental within a logical distance anymore, and those red boxes only have what’s popular, so for my mum and me this was a logical move.

4. Nails and hair. This is not as much of a splurge as you think if you have a beauty school nearby. When I went to see Lady Gaga, I got everything done for under $50 and it was just as great as if I’d gone to the fancy-dancy salon in the mall. This is for when you want results, not necessarily the spa experience, but honestly?

4a. The spa experience. You can do that instead. Most smaller salons have small packages for small budgets. Browse before you buy. Where will you get the most bang for your buck? (That’s an idiom! Spa experience, not porn experience.) Me, I can run a hot bath and get Darling to do my back, but you might not have a Darling or a bathtub.

5. Good lingerie. For me, this was my suspender belt and two pairs of stockings. I wanted to feel comfortable wearing hosiery, so I went for hosiery that didn’t pinch around the middle. For you, it may mean a bra that really and truly fits, instead of a cheapie off the rack (no pun intended). Or it may mean a pretty set that makes you feel like a tiger underneath your street clothes.

6. Quality bedding. No matter how miserable my finances look, I need a comfortable bed. In winter, I sleep under a duvet because Western New York gets COLD. I’m also big on sensation, which means I aim for at least the middle of the road when it comes to thread count. I don’t care so much how it looks as how it feels. My sleep also improved drastically when I got new pillows. A pillow makes a huge difference. Not having to toss, turn, squish, and fluff all the time leaves more time for, get this, sleep!

7. A light box. Please, please, if your moods swing with the seasons, get a light box and use it. I don’t have one — yet. Next year, I will. Be good to yourself.

8. Your favorite scent. Whatever it is, if smelling it makes you happy, make sure you smell it and smell like it. I am all about the lavender, and as luck would have it, I can get my favorite lavender from my local herbalist. I also keep a tiny pot of solid ylang ylang and a bottle of Flower by Kenzo in reserve.

9. Your best jeans. I don’t necessarily agree that you have to spend a full hundred bucks on them. My best jeans are a pair of Rock Star skinnies by Old Navy. The cut works well on me. My second-best come from Delia’s. My third are American Rag from Macy’s. They may well have cost that hundred dollars all together — but they’re perfect, I live in them, I love them. So whatever fits you the best? It’s worth your while.

10. A good coat. I have never, ever regretted making a good wool coat part of my wardrobe. Again, if you choose well, this will last and last. Mine is a decade old now and still intact. My go-to coat is black; my backup is gray. Absolutely invaluable given the climate up here, though I’ll note that it was a great garment for Washington, D.C. in February when I went. Would probably have caught my death without it.

I believe it’s possible to live well at almost any income. (Some incomes ought to be abolished, as they are not much better than slave labor.) When in doubt, save up for quality. I guess the word “splurge” is misleading; while I think these purchases can freshen up your life, only a few are truly splurges. My perspective is also skewed by my particular tastes and interests. I can’t do sunglasses and most desserts are a little too epic for my stomach. I think it’s worth your while to do what helps you feel better. It’s not my place to say how — these are just my priorities, and they have made a huge difference for me.

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