Dumb Splurge Ideas
October 3, 2017 1:18 PM   Subscribe

I (hopefully) quit smoking today. Come this Monday I'd like to follow the advice of my therapist and take the money that would have gone up in smoke and treat myself with it. I'd like to use it to buy one or several utterly frivolous things. I'd like your ideas. Snowflakes inside.

Amount to spend: $70

Demographic: I'm a 37 year old mom with a full time job and my husband has been working out of town, which is challenging. Introvert. Reader, enjoyer of podcasts. Few friends, life revolves around child, housework and work. Likes crafting but not super artistic.

I'd really like to this not to be a well thought out "intelligent" purchase, which is how most of my purchases go. I'd like this to me more like a gleeful kid with more money than she's ever had to buy candy with kind of thing, if that makes sense. But I just can't come up with anything.

thing(s), not experience
probably wouldn't normally 'waste' money on it
not chocolate or tea, I'm meh about those things
I don't have a sweet tooth
not alcohol - tempting, but a super bad idea
no novels - I have enough, and very little time to read
makeup - no, I have my staple brands and items
nail polish - don't wear it, don't want to

Yarn - I'm a knitter but I haven't finished a project in years, so buying yarn I probably won't use seems a bit TOO silly
Cookbooks - I do very much like cookbooks, and cooking magazines
Things from Michael's?
Decor stuff - we just bought a house

Yeah, I'm pretty short on ideas. I appreciate your help!

Caveat - I'm in Canada, so I have no Target, CVS or Trader Joe's
- no Amazon Prime, so no Amazon, please
posted by kitcat to Shopping (48 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
If it were me, I'd give myself permission to not cook for a few days and get takeout or take the kids out.
posted by hydra77 at 1:23 PM on October 3, 2017 [20 favorites]


Something fun from etsy for your house or kitchen? (I am partial to vintage kitchenware and linens and artsy tea towels)

1 or 2 expensive, good quality t-shirts, or good quality underwear?
posted by vunder at 1:27 PM on October 3, 2017 [4 favorites]

Open an E-trade (or similar) account and buy some shares of a company you like.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:28 PM on October 3, 2017 [5 favorites]

Fancy cheese and fancy crackers?
posted by jabes at 1:28 PM on October 3, 2017 [4 favorites]

- You said cooking magazines, but what about other magazines? My mom (in Canada) likes House & Home, Style at Home, and Ricardo Magazine
- Home stuff: plush towels, fresh flowers, a fall wreath for the door
- I dunno if soap counts as makeup but Aveda Rosemary Mint stuff sends me over the moon and it's way too expensive to buy normally
- Clothing? I am always salivating over scarves but definitely don't need any more!

on preview: omg cheese so much cheese
posted by quaking fajita at 1:29 PM on October 3, 2017 [1 favorite]

Yarn - I'm a knitter but I haven't finished a project in years, so buying yarn I probably won't use seems a bit TOO silly
What about a nice set of needles? My wife, also a knitter, also loves yarn and has a bunch of unfinished projects. it seems to me that the more she likes the needles, the more likely she is to finish the project. Possibly there's a ChaioGoo interchangeable circular set that would fit the price range. (She loves those.)

Also, in the home decor line, maybe something small you can hang on your wall. I have a couple nice sort of impressionistic beach/ocean/sky paintings, and I love seeing them when I wake up. It can help shoo away a bad sleep.

Well done quitting smoking. I quit, I don't know, it's gotta be at least 8 years ago. The first weeks are hard. Watch out for your brain messing with you. You can do it. I'm proud of you.
posted by curiousgene at 1:30 PM on October 3, 2017 [4 favorites]

I think that decorations for the house would be nice, since you can look at it every day and think, YEAH ME! Like a duvet for your bed, or new towels in the bathroom, or a small rug for next to your bed.
posted by clone boulevard at 1:30 PM on October 3, 2017 [3 favorites]

takeout/fancy kitchen equipment/cooking classes. especially things that are difficult to bake or take time and concentration.
you might want to pick up the knitting again - friends of mine who have quit smoking have really missed having things to do with their hands.
take half the money and use it on yourself, and with the other half, support some of your more well loved podcasts.
posted by koroshiya at 1:30 PM on October 3, 2017 [1 favorite]

Fountain pen & ink. Canada has a great store. A starter Lamy Safari is $35, the converter is cheap, and you can get a bottle of nice, serviceable blue-black ink from Lamy or Pilot for $20-$40. Writing with a fountain pen is pleasurable to me, and I found writing and doodling to be a great way to keep myself from lighting my next smoke.
posted by xyzzy at 1:31 PM on October 3, 2017 [5 favorites]

Massage. Ex smokers deserve Swedish massages. Fun tip: cheap high quality Swedish massages can be found at many community colleges.
posted by parmanparman at 1:33 PM on October 3, 2017 [13 favorites]

A couple of lovely orchid plants in pots with really nice blooms from a local shop. Then once the blooms fall off (after a while) you can learn how to care for them until they bloom again. It's something nice to look at every day and if you're so inclined, you may find a new hobby too.
posted by strelitzia at 1:40 PM on October 3, 2017 [1 favorite]

This isn't makeup, but you could get a lot of serums, antioxidants, and hydrating oils from The Ordinary for that amount of money. Side benefit: undo some of the damage done by smoking.
posted by ancient star at 1:45 PM on October 3, 2017 [1 favorite]

Congratulations! Do you like jewelry at all? You could buy a great necklace for that amount of money and have fun shopping for it too. If you don't have fun jewelry stores near you, you could look for something on Etsy..
posted by FencingGal at 1:51 PM on October 3, 2017 [2 favorites]

Love the takeout meals idea!

My first thought was either a massage appt when your H is home so you can leave the house.

Alternate idea: Babysitter and go to a movie alone.
posted by CoffeeHikeNapWine at 1:51 PM on October 3, 2017

i like to do an at-home spa day once in a while. So, bubble bath or a bath bomb or something? Trial sizes of body lotions and shampoos and all that stuff you wouldn't normally splurge on. Body scrub to exfoliate. A single-serve of a moisturizing face mask. You don't have to wear nail polish to get some nice cuticle oil and a manicure set with new clippers and files and buffers. You said no alcohol, but get some fancy mixed nuts and soda or tea or whatever. Spend some money on whatever of stuff appeals to you and use the rest for a baby sitter for a couple of hours.
posted by Green Eyed Monster at 1:52 PM on October 3, 2017

you can still get manicures and pedicures without polish, just nail buffing. otherwise what about massages, facials, etc?
posted by poffin boffin at 1:53 PM on October 3, 2017 [1 favorite]

If I had $70 to splurge, I'd take myself to Homesense for a browse and a wander, I can always find something frivolous.

Then I'd hit Chapters and buy 3-4 magazines, and a coffee shop for a treat.

That's my standard happy take a break from my kids activity.
posted by Ftsqg at 1:54 PM on October 3, 2017 [4 favorites]

I came in to suggest something fancy in the stationery department as well. I like Wonderpens on the web, but if I lived where you do, I'd head here and spend a happy hour browsing. (I'm in Calgary.)

Do you collect anything? I love and haphazardly collect glass paperweights and on significant occasions have bought a piece of glass as a memento.

I would also spend the money on silk or silk-like scarf. I got one of these for a milestone anniversary.
posted by angiep at 1:56 PM on October 3, 2017 [1 favorite]

What about perfume? $70 will get you something nice from Sephora, and as a bonus it's so much fun smelling all the little tester strips!
posted by Tamanna at 1:57 PM on October 3, 2017 [4 favorites]

I might buy myself a doll house or the plans and supplies to build one and then add furniture and accessories the weeks and months and years following until I had the most awesome doll house ever, decorated just the way I want.
posted by Sassyfras at 2:01 PM on October 3, 2017 [1 favorite]

Well, this may not float your boat, but when I quit, I took a great deal of pleasure in drinking water and brushing my teeth. So I would buy myself a nice electric toothbrush. I like Sonicare, it gives me the feeling that I get from having my teeth cleaned by the dentist. And then every time you brush your teeth, think about how clean your mouth feels and bask in the contrast.
posted by janey47 at 2:14 PM on October 3, 2017 [5 favorites]

Oh my gosh, seconding vintage Etsy kitchen finds. Or fun Etsy yarn ideas/supplies. Or vintage Etsy cookbook finds!

Erm... Etsy makes me feel like a big kid in a big candy store. I can't tell you the delight I've felt upon receiving in the post my vintage English teapot festooned with yellow roses, my hand-knitted "deer horns" headband, and various other weird, delightful playtime-for-me fun things.

Enjoy! And congratulations!!
posted by pammeke at 2:14 PM on October 3, 2017

Personally, I'd stuff the take-outs, get a baby-sitter, and take myself out for a fancy-fancy meal. You're getting back your taste-buds!

(But I'm OK with eating alone so I know ymmv).
posted by AFII at 2:24 PM on October 3, 2017

I got a Lodge cast iron dutch oven that I love. They are about $100 USD, so maybe it would be a prize for 2 weeks of not smoking?
posted by TomFoolery at 2:30 PM on October 3, 2017

$70 would go pretty far at a secondhand clothes place like thredup if you enjoy clothes at all.
posted by redorangeyellow at 2:39 PM on October 3, 2017 [1 favorite]

Flowers. Orchids if you want long lasting, peonies if you want showy and fragrant, roses if you're a fan of classics, gerbera daisies if you want festive.
posted by Mizu at 2:47 PM on October 3, 2017 [1 favorite]

Nice (as in expensive and subtle) scented candle? A silky robe and plush slippers? A big bouquet of flowers? A vase to put said flowers? A piece of art for your walls? New bath towels and bath accessories?

Would the experience of shopping for something - anything - that struck your fancy, with no guilt, be enjoyable or a bother? I'm picturing going to HomeGoods (or Canadian equivalent) and just wandering, enjoying it more simply because I know I can indulge.
posted by ohsnapdragon at 2:48 PM on October 3, 2017 [1 favorite]

I'd jump on the HomeGoods/HomeSense bandwagon, but while you are there, put a delicious smelling hand soap in your basket. I love washing my hands and getting a little blast of scent.
posted by sarajane at 3:00 PM on October 3, 2017

when I was quitting smoking I did this and I splurged on things that smelled good:

fresh flowers
custom scented body lotion

I also took myself out for a sushi lunch occasionally. as your taste buds recover you'll be appreciating flavors more so food is a great reward too.
posted by supermedusa at 3:14 PM on October 3, 2017 [3 favorites]

is this $70 a one time splurge, or weekly, or what? If one time:
- winter is coming... so, a nice pair of gloves?
- fleece lined jeans.

- Buddha Board. $30ish.
- Electric Tea Kettle, clear so you can see the water boil. $60

You say no experiences, but I'd maybe go for board games and puzzles you can experience with your kids: Cadoo, Jenga, Khet, Backgammon. Also cookbooks for kids? Or this looks interessting: _Simple to Spectacular: How to Take One Basic Recipe to Four Levels of Sophistication

Riff'ing on Burhanistan's suggestion: buy $15 each of 4 different cryptocoins (bitcoin, etherium, litecoin, ripple, ...).
posted by at at 3:17 PM on October 3, 2017 [1 favorite]

Since you want things, not experiences, I have a twist on what I normally recommend. I hate working out, so I'd spend it on a personal training session. It's experiential, it's social, it's healthy, and it'll remind you of the things your body can do to make you feel strong and powerful. Since you want a thing, how about good sneakers for walking outside the beautiful autumn fresh air, or workout clothes that make you feel strong and powerful?
posted by The Wrong Kind of Cheese at 3:22 PM on October 3, 2017 [4 favorites]

When my elderly aunt quit smoking, she spent the money she was going to save on a beautiful $700 coat. That's in 1987 dollars. It worked for her. She never smoked again.
posted by artistic verisimilitude at 3:24 PM on October 3, 2017

I did this very thing and I “audited” my sock drawer, throwing out every holey, stretched-out, mismatched thing I’d had forever, and replenished with socks that keep me happy and comfy. All killer, no filler. Real wool, fun knee socks, house socks. This was years ago and I’m still happy about it. With that kind of cash and a store like Burlington or the Rack or TJs, you could get some nice stuff. If socks aren’t your jam, maybe undies? One incredible bra?

Congrats on quitting. You can do this.
posted by kapers at 3:26 PM on October 3, 2017 [9 favorites]

Just me, but I wouldn’t do house stuff. That’s separate and something you have to do anyway. Treat yo’self.
posted by kapers at 3:28 PM on October 3, 2017

Also came in to say sock drawer upgrade! Could also do underwear.
posted by justjess at 3:55 PM on October 3, 2017

When I quit I bought really fancy hair things and nice gloves. (Also Taco Bell, because yeah.)
posted by stormygrey at 4:30 PM on October 3, 2017

I did a similar thing, except I used an app to track my savings, and didn't cash in until I was around $500 or so in money-not-spent-on-cigarettes.

The much bigger amount made the splurge even more fun! Just a thought, your money and personal finances may vary.

I ended up buying a minilogue synthesizer, despite not knowing how to play keys or anything about synthesizers. I'm not sure if buying a musical instrument on a lark is right for you, but it does give an idea of things that become available the longer you stick to quitting and delay gratification.

No matter what you decide: you can do this, stay strong, the worst parts are short lived!

(P.S. I did end up loving my new instrument, learning how to play it, etc. I'm still at it ~1.5 years later and it still helps me stay quit.)
posted by SaltySalticid at 4:33 PM on October 3, 2017 [5 favorites]

I agree with SaltySalticid about saving your smokes-dough for a few weeks, and then really indulging, if you want to be a kid in a candy store. Unfortunately, candy costs more than it used to.

These suggestions are all things I would class as both frivolous and practical -- they're the upgrade you'd never bother to make from whatever you might normally buy that's merely functional.

Doubling down on plush towels (or spa towels) and fresh flowers for your home.

A river stone bath mat is a super treat for your feet.

You say you've just bought a house -- is it new, or could a few things do with replacing -- not practical replacements, but fancy-schmancy replacements? Maybe a way cool shower head?

Winter is coming, and that means big, fat, fluffy down pillows and comforters.

Bath Bombs from Lush. Get one that has your favorite frangrances -- indulge that returning sense of smell!

Cheeeeeeeeeese. Just find an upscale cheese place near you and go nuts. Try ALL the cheeses. Buy a lot.

(If you really want to commit, do what my friend David did: put all of his smokes-dough in a drawer for a year, and then took his ass off to Paris for a whole week--round-trip ticket, hotel for six days/seven nights, the whole package.)
posted by tzikeh at 4:44 PM on October 3, 2017 [3 favorites]

I am going to recommend things that smell GOOD! Candles (you can drop a ton of $$ in a short amount of time) Perfume, bath smellies, fruits for canning project.... smells good AND you can eat it..... Smoking dulls your nose - and can linger in your home..... so make things smell pretty...
posted by Gyre,Gimble,Wabe, Esq. at 5:24 PM on October 3, 2017 [1 favorite]

A number of the suggestions above are contaminated by purpose, whether moral or practical. Don't get something that you think you're supposed to want, or something you need, or, God forbid, something that's symbolic of a new start or Healthy Living, or any inspirational tripe like that.

If it were me? I'd go get one of those large Mag-Lite flashlights. Because they are expensive and I just want one, for no good reason.
posted by thelonius at 5:35 PM on October 3, 2017 [1 favorite]

This might be a bit on the 'too practical' side, but I'm the sort to browse The Sweethome or The Wirecutter reviews and buy something there that catches my attention (but that I don't really need). Might be a bit over the $70 for most items though.
posted by Aleyn at 5:38 PM on October 3, 2017

How about a battery case for your phone and some fun mobile games, for something to do with your hands during nosmoke breaks?

That's probably only half of $70. I'd probably spend the other half on really swank lotions and hand creme, because the thing that really kept me on the path when I quit was how much my hands (and hair) stank of smoke before.

Also, if you're Canadian, go sniff your most-used coats and see which ones could use a trip to the dry cleaner. You don't think it's luxury until the first time you get caught out in the rain or snow and that nasty-smelling stank comes up off your coat.

If you smoked in your car, a thorough interior hand-detailing and have the air filter changed.
posted by Lyn Never at 6:09 PM on October 3, 2017 [2 favorites]

Hire a babysitter and take yourself out for a drink (or ice cream, or browse at your favorite store, or whatever you like to do by yourself). Or go out with a grownup friend, and if you can manage it, treat your friend too.
posted by chickenmagazine at 6:47 PM on October 3, 2017

A really nice pair of slippers? (my feet are always cold in the winter and fleece lined slippers are so expensive, but SOOOO, cozy) A super soft throw blanket to cuddle up with when you watch movies on the couch? A nice insulated travel mug/water bottle? After I quit I found I loved fruit and herb infused water. I take water with me everywhere I go now, and I love my fancy water bottle. A really nice hairbrush?

Good luck! You can do this. Believe it or not (I never would have believed it) there does come a time when u don't even miss it.
posted by WalkerWestridge at 7:30 PM on October 3, 2017

what about one of those monthly subscription boxes? then you get a periodic reminder of the great thing you're doing. they have them for almost any interest but since you mentioned cooking, here's an example.

I *personally* would go with luxury bed/bath linens but that's me. Is there something you've been wanting to upgrade? A better coffee maker, massaging showerhead?

I also like the scented candles idea because your sense of smell (and taste) will become much, much better the longer you don't smoke.
posted by AFABulous at 8:43 PM on October 3, 2017

I'm a fan of Uncommon Goods for "slightly spendy, frivolous, charming" shopping like this -- about 1 item in 5 strikes me as more charming than frivolous.

Some possibilities: this yarn bowl (or there are others), this weird nightlight (ditto), and this snowglobe (ditto).

Or, if you like jewellery as others have mentioned, I recommend something you'll wear every day so you can remember your promise to yourself -- a locket, a ring with a symbol you like, or a wristwatch.
posted by armeowda at 9:36 PM on October 3, 2017

Your body is a temple... do something to celebrate your most precious asset (spoken from out of a wad of tissues -- man, allergies!)
Massage. Mani / pedi. That extra hair treatment that you've been putting off.
Some thing physically pro-active and stress-relieving.
posted by TrishaU at 10:49 PM on October 3, 2017

woot.com has some nice comforters on sale today...
posted by bricksNmortar at 6:40 AM on October 4, 2017

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