My Luxuries

Source: via Rachel on Pinterest


Talking about spending this week. Yesterday it was a year of tracking our finances. Today: my luxuries.

Sometimes I think people get the impression that because I’m trying to live with less stuff I’m also living with less luxury in my life.

If you think of luxury items as being expensive jeans and designer handbags and shoes… then yes, I don’t have those luxuries in my life.

But we do have extras. Since we paid off all of our non-mortgage debt we’ve made room for some little and big things that we really enjoy.

My Eyebrows

Sara made a comment on yesterday’s post about our grooming spend and that she was happy to see we had little luxuries mixed into our budget. My husband gets a goatee trim and I get my eyebrows waxed and tinted every 4-6 weeks.

This is a luxury but I really hope we always have the funds for these little things. As you can see from these photos, an eyebrow shape and tint really helps me look awake. It gives my face more expression. I don’t wear a lot of make-up so having defined eyebrows let’s me wear even less.

I spend £15/$22 every six weeks on this luxury.

Cherries. Strawberries. Organic Milk. Organic celery.

We’ve actually been spending more on food in the last few months. I’ve been buying organic when I can and splurging on sausages made from pasture raised pork. I’m trying to eat wild salmon once a week.

Some of these groceries are noticeably better in taste. Some aren’t. We don’t have as many organic or locally produced options here on the Isle so I just do my best with what is available.

It’s a luxury to buy the best quality food I can for my family but I think it’s worth it.

We spend a lot on groceries. A lot. But we make it work in our household budget and, most importantly, we try to have almost zero food waste. Now that we have a freezer we almost never throw anything out. Vegetables or fruit that are about to go bad are chopped up and frozen for soups, stews or smoothies.

Personal Training

Two months ago we hired a personal trainer to come to our home two mornings a week and train my husband. This is a big expense. But we know it works and I can’t think of anything better to invest money in than health.

After a few weeks I decided to join in and now we’re both lunging and lifting together while Henry eats breakfast and laughs at us.

I’ve had a lot of guilt and bad feelings around my fitness in the last year. Despite many attempts – a gym membership, buying a kettle bell – I haven’t found a strength training program I can stick to. It’s always been easier for me to go for a run than to push myself to do 100 burpees. This post from One Fit mom made me feel a bit better. If she can’t do these workouts alone I shouldn’t feel too bad about having the same struggle.

As I get older I need the strength training more and more. My lower back is shredded from my years as an athlete and I need that core strength and leg strength to keep it all together. I’m already feeling less back pain after just a few weeks of training.

In the future we’d like to cut down to one training session a week and then do another 1-2 workouts one our own.

Cost: very high. But, surprisingly, for the service we are getting we would probably pay twice as much in Vancouver. Gotta look at the upside, right?


I mentioned that we are considering cutting way back on travel in 2013. We’d like to not only save a bit more but also see if we can enjoy life without an off island trip every three months. Of course we can! It’s just so tempting being so close to so many interesting places.

But this year we have taken full advantage of direct flights off the island. As a family or on solo trips we have been to Dublin a few times, London, Liverpool, Manchester, Edinburgh and have a few more trips planned for this summer. We also went to the Dominican Republic in April for a sun vacation.

This is by far our biggest luxury. While it’s easy to convince ourselves that we need to see everything now, while we’re in such close proximity to Western Europe, I think it’s too easy to justify these trips. We have financial goals and responsibilities. Do we want to see it all or knock a few years off our mortgage?

The old wants vs. needs question.

The great thing about all of our luxuries is that we know they’re just that. They’re not needs. We’ll be able to easily cut them if our circumstances change or we decide we want to buckle down for bigger savings.

What are your luxuries? Do you think you could easily cut them if you had to?

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  • Thanks so much for writing about finances this week. It’s perfect as my husband and I are re-evaluating our budget because we want to save more and due to newer, higher insurance premiums.

    For us, our luxuries include ice cream and hobbies. We love our ice cream–especially in the summer. Our hobbies (Lego & yarn respectively) aren’t cheap, but they are cheaper than therapy! We not only spend money on our hobbies, but also our time. Time, I am learning, is a luxury I often overspend!

  • Thanks for your posts, I really enjoy them and am inspired by them to do better. I have to disagree however about buying organic as a luxury. Yes, its more expensive, but cost doesn’t necessarily make something a luxury. Why should eating something that does not contain pesticides be a luxury? Isn’t that a necessity for our health, especially our children’s heath? Not to mention the overall benefit to the environment as well. I hope that one day the cost won’t be as much, and the way to ensure that is for everyone to demand healthier food as a norm, as a human right, not as a luxury.

    • It’s something I would cut if we were really strapped for cash so that’s why it’s on my luxury list. It’s probably the last thing I would cut and our finances would have to be really tight to make that decision.
      That said, I agree with you, organic and quality food shouldn’t be a luxury. We should all have access to quality pesticide free produce and humanely raised meat.

    • While I totally agree with you that organic, pesticide-, chemical-free foods *should* not be a luxury, they are not always affordable in a tight everyday budget. I can buy 2 1/2 gallons of regular milk for the price of 1 gallon of organic milk. The same goes for eggs, and I can almost buy 3x as much in produce if I stick to regular over organic.

    • Another Jennifer here, agreeing that clean wholesome nutritious real food should not be a “luxury”. What makes me so sad is that for most of human history, this was something no one had to worry about. Nowdays it is challenging to find/afford/eat truly healthy food. This is often a hot topic in my household! Personally, I think it’s an investment in your future health. And you can’t buy back your health later.

  • Quality food and fast Internet service. We shop at the fancy grocery so we can get grass fed, pastured meat and organic produce. I use a fancy foundation (Bobbi Brown) because I’m really self conscious about my size XXL pores. This has motivated me to toss my un-used makeup…I think I have two extra makeup bags full of crap shoved in the back of a cabinet. I’m also curious about brow tinting…I’ve never had them waxed or shaped because they’re so puny I’m afraid they’ll disappear!

    • I don’t have much eyebrow myself. They are very light and not much there. I only get the lightest of clean-ups for waxing and shaping and then a tint in dark brown (vegetable based dye).

  • I just wanted to let you know that I saw you guys on House Hunters International. What a lovely bunch you are!
    Unfortunately, we must’ve had a power surge, because it stopped taping after 13 minutes! You did a great job and you are as charming in “real life” as I imagined you to be through your writing. I know you picked the first apartment since I recognized your kitchen. That was a gorgeous view you had. Now you’ll just have to show us the new apartment, since I can’t imagine anything better than that spectacular view you had. All the best to you guys.

    • Aww, thank you. We won’t get to see it ourselves for another month or so. Fun to hear all these “I spotted you on tv” comments today. My husband is on Facebook and woke up to a lot of comments about it.

      Our new place has a similar view – maybe even better? I’ll do a house tour one of these days to show it off. Furnishings are pretty bland but we’re really enjoying it. And we have a freezer!!

  • I saw your House Hunters show last night. Very cool. I especially enjoyed seeing bits of the Isle of Man, as I had no idea what to expect of it.

  • Little luxuries are nice and I’ve found necessary for me when living on a tight budget. Sometimes I get raspberry chocolate bars for myself and go read alone for an hour. For us organic food isn’t a luxury, growing up I lived in a rural farm community so I had easy access to organic foods without the organic label. A lot of it actually came from our own backyard. When I moved out on my own and started eating nonorganic to save money the oldest and I started having allergy issues and I was having more asthma attacks. We went back to organic and things cleared up for us.

    I like helping others have little luxuries too. For the past 13 years I’ve done in home, any many other locations, personal training for many people for very low cost or on a barter system. I’ve done a lot of online training for free because the people couldn’t afford a trainer as well. I think that health is such an important thing. With my knowledge from my life experiences and my degrees in Exercise Physiology I’d feel horrible if I knew someone was highly motivated but lacked the know how and I did nothing to help.

  • My husband and I were sitting down to house hunters international last night and when they said Isle of Man, I immediately thought of your family. As the show went on, there were just too many coincidences (being from Canada, son named Henry, etc),it had to be you! So I get on your blog and re-read your about me section (it’s been awhile) and lo and behold, it really is you! We really enjoyed the episode. The sea views and the magical forest were incredible, what a special place to live! Anyway, just thought I’d let you know that the episode turned out really great!

  • I’m going to be honest here. My hair. If I don’t get a touch up every six weeks, I’m VERY grey. Could I cut it from the budget? I’ve tried doing it at home myself with awful results. I’m embarrassed to say – I’d cut a lot of things before my hair. Is anyone else super vain about their hair?

    • Oh… I didn’t even put in my hair colour as a luxury spend. I get highlights and sometimes low lights (for the grey) every 3-4 months.

      I’m 34 and I hate the greys. :( Make me feel old before my time.

  • I tend to be SO frugal that I often abstain from any & all luxuries for myself. I guess for me, it would be ensuring we have the budget to buy quality organic & natural food. I have no qualms spending more at the store to get better food. Otherwise, I do get my hair cut and highlighted about 2x-3x a year, which is about $80+tip. I choose to spend a bit more too for natural, healthier skin & body care products and cosmetics. I think my final luxury is pets! Since I scrimp on everything else, we are able to afford our pets and were even able to take a new cat in a week ago. Pets are definitely my favorite luxury–I’d give up most of the other stuff to ensure they stay in my life!

  • We spend quite much on groceries too, buying organic and free range. I also buy natural cosmetics, but we really don’t use much. I have quit dyeing my hair and I cut it myself, as well as my daughter’s hair (and my husband’s sometimes too..) Buying anything organic and fair trade should not be a luxury, I agree on that. Because those purchases affect other living beings so much.
    I guess for me
    -travel is a luxury. We don’t travel much but it definitely is not a necessity, but a luxury to be able to do so.
    -a car is a luxury. We have only had one for a year, when we bought MIL’s old car. We were getting by without one, but now we definitely visit family more often, as borrowing a car was always a bit of a hassle.

  • Hair. Yes, I’m too vain to be full-on grey at 38. It’s expensive. It’s a luxury but it’s OK. (This is what I tell myself every time I go!)

  • I think, if you live a minimalist/simple life out of abundance and not pure deprivation, spending on ‘luxuries’ will be something you can afford and that power will contribute to your happiness.
    Also, to some, spending over €200 on a light coat is a luxury. They do not know that I absolutely love my €200 coat, I wear it very often and that I have been wearing it for six years and it still looks new. :)

    • Your coat comment brings up a great point: value. Something may seem to be a luxury (like quality food) but has more value per dollar. I’m all about value! I don’t care if something is cheap if it’s not good. It’s still a waste of whatever money it did cost. Quality items that last a long time and you actually use a lot, or things like food that positively contribute to important things like health long-term (rather than damaging it like typical cheap food), have VALUE.

  • Re-read what I said earlier…it might need clarification. Spending on ‘luxuries’ will be something that you can afford, because you are conscientious about spending, not waste and buy items that last. Those of us who are (at the moment) minimalist out of deprivation, well, we also need ‘luxuries’ here and there for our sanity. My luxury these days is taking a long shower. :)

    • Apple, Awesome clarification (though I totally understood where you were going in your first comment) :) And I very much agree with the luxury of a long bath/shower, especially one that is uninterrupted.

  • Our luxuries…cable TV (half of that bill is paying down what we owe on our home), a second car (though we live far. FAR. from the city and my husband works over an hour away from home so having a second car is almost a necessity), dining out (WAY too often, on cheap junk food), smartphones (no justification here). Those are the things we “love” but could totally live without if we *had* to. Letting go of the second car, maybe that’s not an option right now, but everything else? Certainly optional. We are not willing to let go of the internet unless it is ABSOLUTELY necessary. I chose to stop coloring my hair last year. I am pleasantly surprised that I am not as grey as I thought I would be (whew!) and just last week, I had someone comment that she thought I was younger than I am when I told her my age (bonus!!)…of course my husband had a snarky comment about it being my lack of maturity rather than my looks o.O

  • Pretty much anything beauty-related is a luxury for me because I technically could do all those things myself: pluck instead of thread the brows, do my own hair dye instead of at the salon, my own nails, etc. I treat them as such so I actually don’t get them done regularly, making them a nice treat for when I do :)

    Other than beauty, the regular luxury we have is spending a bit more on groceries and organic food. We shop at a farmers market so that probably makes our grocery bill higher.

  • This is regarding your comment that you are hoping to reduce your travel. Each of has priorities that differ from others so I do not mean this as an ‘I’m right your wrong’ comment but for us travel of all kinds – local, countrywide and international is a HUGE priority. I believe that it has significantly altered the way we and our children view our place in the world. It has made us far far less materialistic. We never purchase ‘souvenirs’ -only very select handmade items we can actually use if anything at all. We don’t travel with a fancy camera but rely on actually experiencing other places in the moment. We prioritize talking to people not just anonymous sightseeing and enjoy poking around the more remote and lesser known places (safely of course!). I know you have small ones so its a bit early for extensive travel but I do encourage you to see how travel affects your world view and if you find it positive for your and or or children that you please don’t shun it. We travel from exploring our local creek on a Saturday afternoon to halfway round the world – one is not better than the other but rather it’s just nearer and farther. Affording to travel is why we keep our life downsized…… I love your blog and am envious you have an opportunity to live in such an interesting locale!!

    • That’s great that you have found travel to be a worthwhile investment for you family. We really enjoy travel as well and are lucky to have the means to do a handful of trips a year to cities near and far.
      While we have cut back the amount we set aside for travel we’ve been stretching those dollars a bit farther in the last year. My husband travels for work so we have tagged along on some trips buying airline tickets with points and staying in his hotel room. 2013 was a quiet travel year for us (as we expected with a new baby) but we still made two trips to North America and three trips within the British Isles.

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