The hustle and bustle of everyday life sometimes can get in the way of our self-care, but it’s so important to take the time to do nice things for yourself every once in a while. And treating yourself doesn’t have to mean splurging on expensive spa treatments, luxury vacations or shopping sprees. If you want to make 2020 the year of a better, happier you, try these tips to treat yourself and have fun experiences on a budget.
Have an At-Home Spa Day
This year, don’t go to the spa. Instead, bring the spa to you. Make yourself a batch of spa water with lemons and cucumbers, light some candles, and give yourself a hair mask and facial. Use coconut oil as a hair mask to leave your strands silky smooth and create your own face mask with ingredients you already might have in your kitchen: 1/2 of an avocado, 1 tablespoon of organic honey and 1 tablespoon of vanilla yogurt.
Buy Yourself a Grocery Store Bouquet Every Month
Fresh flowers can be an uplifting addition to your home — and you don’t need to spend a lot to give yourself this treat. Grocery stores typically sell bouquets for $5 to $10, so add a bunch to your shopping cart once a month as a treat.
Make Fancy Coffee at Home
Ditch your Starbucks habit by bringing the coffee shop experience to your own home. Flavored syrups and a milk frother on Amazon cost less than you might think — some handheld frothers sell for less than $5 — and can help you to save big money on gourmet coffee.
BYO Lunch — and Eat It Outside
We all know that you save money by packing your own lunch for work, but when you do, try to skip the temptation just to eat at your desk. Make an effort this year to pack a lunch and eat outside at a nearby park or another outdoor area whenever the weather permits.
Give Yourself At-Home Manicures
Treat yourself to a new nail polish color every month and do your nails at home. A bottle of polish costs significantly less than a trip to the nail salon.
Set a Reading Challenge
There’s nothing quite like curling up with a good book, but many of us fail to set aside the time to read. You might be more motivated to turn the pages this year if you give yourself a reading challenge. Try aiming to read 12 books this year. Even if you’re pressed for time, you can set the goal of finishing one book a month by setting aside a few minutes each night to read before bed. And this challenge doesn’t have to cost a thing — take advantage of your local library to borrow books for free.
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Try a New Workout Class Each Month
With boutique fitness studios popping up all over the place, there’s always a new class to try. Many fitness studios will offer a free class or even a free week for new members, so why not try a new one each month?
Watch More Sunrises and Sunsets
Watching the sunrise is an uplifting way to start the day, and seeing the sunset is a beautiful way to end it. Make more of an effort this year to watch the sunrise or sunset whenever you can. This is another way to treat yourself that costs nothing at all.
Get 7,500 Steps a Day
Walking is good exercise, but it’s also a great way to unwind and get in some “me” time. Put on your favorite podcast, audiobook, playlist or walking meditation and get moving for a long walk at least once a day. Harvard Medical School shared a study in 2019 that said 7,500 steps was a good daily target for optimum health benefits.
Use Your Vacation Days
If you don’t have plans to take a trip this year or don’t have the resources to do so, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use your paid time off. Use a vacation day to spend time doing whatever you want, even if that just means sitting on the couch and binge-watching the TV show your co-workers rave about.
Sleep In More
According to the Sleep Foundation, the average adult should sleep seven to nine hours each night. However, that goal isn’t always possible every day between work and family demands. Even if you can’t get seven hours of sleep nightly, make an effort this year to sleep in when you can.
Set a Monthly Gift Budget — for Yourself
Even if you’re trying to save money this year, that doesn’t mean you have to deprive yourself. Set yourself a modest budget of $10 to $20 a month to buy yourself a “just because” gift. This will prevent you from spending too much and still allow you to scratch your shopping itch.
See a Matinee
As of July 2019, the average cost of a movie ticket was more than $9. That means it would cost more than $36 for a family of four to see a movie — and that does not include snacks and drinks.
Although seeing a movie in theaters costs more than watching one at home, it’s always more exciting to see a film on the big screen. Instead of cutting out this entertainment indulgence entirely, go see a movie at a matinee time when tickets are cheaper. And if the theater doesn’t forbid you to bring in your favorite snack or candy, do so to cut out the concession stand costs.
Find New Experiences on Groupon
You don’t have to spend a lot to try something new. Search discount sites such as Groupon for cheap tickets for activities and attractions near you. You can score deals for amusement parks, zoos, comedy shows, indoor rock climbing, museums, surf lessons, beer tasting and more.
Eat Breakfast in Bed
Weekend mornings are the perfect time for this treat. Cook your breakfast of choice, put it on a tray and eat it in bed for a relaxing start to your day. For the greatest enjoyment, take turns with a family member to provide this treat to each other.
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Host a Monthly Wine-Tasting Night
Avoid the insane markups on wine at restaurants and bars by opening your home for a wine-tasting experience. Have friends each bring their favorite bottle so everyone can taste a bunch of varieties. If you want to turn it into a competition, make it a blind taste test to see who can identify the most wines. The winner hosts the next month’s gathering!
Get a (Cheap) Massage
Search for student massage clinics in your area to score massages for much less than what you would pay at a spa. Some clinics and massage schools also have coupons and other promotions that make their massages even cheaper. If you can find a massage location near you that offers massages for a price that fits into your monthly budget, consider making it a regular part of your 2020.
Make Time To Meditate
Meditation has a host of benefits, including reduced stress, decreased anxiety, increased emotional well-being and improved sleep. Best of all, this doesn’t have to cost you anything. The Insight Timer app has a free seven-day meditation course as well as an extensive library of free meditations. Aim to meditate every day this year, even if it’s just for 10 minutes.
Get Your Makeup Done — for Free
Next time you have a special event, book yourself a complimentary makeup application for the occasion. Ulta offers free makeup touchups, Sephora has free mini makeup applications and Nordstrom offers free makeup services as well.
Bake Your Favorite Dessert
When was the last time you baked something from scratch? Baking ingredients are relatively inexpensive, and while you’re baking, your whole home will smell amazing. Plus, you’ll have something sweet to show for your efforts when all is done.
One of the best ways to treat yourself is to treat someone else. Your volunteer efforts benefit those you help, but they also can decrease your feelings of loneliness and depression by keeping you more socially connected. Studies have shown that volunteering also can have physical benefits, including lower blood pressure and a longer lifespan.
There’s no shortage of ways to get involved, so you can volunteer with a new organization every month or even every week, or build a relationship with a group with which you feel connected.
A pen and a notebook could be the key to a better 2020. Journaling has a number of benefits, including managing anxiety, reducing stress and coping with depression. There’s no right or wrong way to journal — you simply write down whatever thoughts come to mind or note what you’re grateful for that day. Try taking a few minutes to journal at the beginning or end of each day.
Learn Something New
Thanks to the internet, you can learn something new for free and without leaving your home. Sites such as Coursera offer a number of free online courses on a variety of topics that can help you succeed at work or just in your everyday life, including courses on how to negotiate and how to be a better learner.
Get Your Groceries Delivered
Grocery delivery typically comes with a fee, so it’s probably not something you’ll want to splurge on each week, but when you’re in a pinch it can be extremely time-saving. Enjoy the occasional service, which typically costs in the $6 to $12 range.
Set Up Repeat Orders on Amazon for the Year
Save time — and money — with Amazon’s “subscribe & save” feature. Amazon offers this option on a number of essential items, such as laundry detergent, paper towels and trash bags, and you can have them sent to you in predetermined increments. Not only will you never have to worry about running out of your go-to household products, but you’ll also save up to 15% off the one-time purchase price.
Save For Something Fun
While it’s important to save money for retirement and have funds stashed away in an emergency fund, it’s OK to save your money for fun things, too. If your goal is to go on a tropical vacation, buy a designer handbag, take your family to Disneyland or something else entirely, figure out how much it will cost and how much you will need to save each week or month to be able to finance your goal by the end of the year. Set up a savings account specifically for this goal, and contribute to it in regular increments. If you stick to the savings plan you decide on, by the end of the year, you’ll really be able to treat yourself!
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About the Author
Gabrielle joined GOBankingRates in 2017 and brings with her a decade of experience in the journalism industry. Before joining the team, she was a staff writer-reporter for People Magazine and People.com. Her work has also appeared on E! Online, Us Weekly, Patch, Sweety High and Discover Los Angeles, and she has been featured on “Good Morning America” as a celebrity news expert.