For me, the greatest reward of leading a frugal lifestyle is the peace of mind and reduced stress I feel, knowing that I live comfortably within my means. I sleep better at night knowing I don't spend more than I earn. Spending smart and consuming wisely gives me a sense of control over my life. That feeling is truly priceless.
But as I said at the start of the Savings Challenge, being a "cheapskate" doesn't mean leading a life of deprivation or sacrifice. Being a cheapskate just means choosing your splurges wisely. After all, if you gave into every temptation—if you were to indulge every urge to splurge—pretty soon the rewards and special treats in life would lose their value, wouldn't they?
As America's cheapest man, I'm often asked what kinds of things I splurge on. I always have a hard time answering that question. That's not because I don't occasionally buy things that are frivolous, but because the definition of a "splurge" is pretty subjective. For example, a cheapskate neighbor of mine is aghast that I pay a service $85 every couple of years to clean out my septic tank. To him, that's a splurge. He cleans his septic tank out himself, by the bucketful. (And he wonders why we never have him over for dinner).
So, I say, now it's time to splurge a little. It's time to pry open our purses, dust off our wallets, and spend some of what we've saved.
My splurge doesn't sound very exciting, but for me it truly is. One of my most beloved possessions is my 10-speed, classic road bike, which I bought brand new in 1980 and have ridden nearly 30,000 miles. (By the way, this is my "new" bicycle. My first serious one I retired after more than 60,000 miles.)
No, my splurge isn't a new bicycle—banish the thought—but rather a new coat of paint. And not an out-of-the-spray-can, do-it-yourself paint job, either, but a professional repainting of my trusty steed by a custom painting and restoration company based way down in Georgia. It's a splurge that will cost me…gulp…nearly $200 by the time it is all said and spent. A luxury, I know, but I owe it to the old gal for her loyal service, and I'll post a picture of the "after shot" in the Savings Challenge group when she's done.
So break out the billfolds. It's time for a splurge.
Jeff Yeager is the author of the book, "The Ultimate Cheapskate's Road Map to True Riches." His Web site is www.UltimateCheapskate.com.