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Jul 142012
 July 14, 2012  Posted by  Money

Does absence make the heart grow fonder? Yes. Researchers have found that taking breaks from pleasurable activities makes us appreciate them more. I learned this the hard way when I split open and broke my big toe. For more than a year, I couldn’t get a pedicure. Finally healed, I treated myself. At the spa, I sank back into the buttery leather spa char, relishing the cool, rose-scented lotion massaged into my feet. Around me, other spa-goers frowned over their smart phones or complained to other customers that the polish never lasts. Some women flipped through magazines avoiding eye contact with the estheticians carefully working at their feet. I sighed. A year ago I, too, might have been so bored.

Unfortunately, often the more fine things we have or can do, the less we enjoy them. Adaptation is a fact of human nature that can cause us to enjoy life less. On the good side, fighting adaptation can save you money, and bring you more joy.

My forced pedicure hiatus saved me more than $400, and relearning to take care of my own feet feels empowering. Instead of taking what’s become routine for granted, an occasional spa pedicure will be fun – – so money well spent.

What are you taking for granted? On what can you cut back and perhaps appreciate more? Here are a few money-saving pleasure-building ideas:

  • Shop less. You’ll save money and have more closet space. With fewer choices, you’ll simplify getting dressed, so will save time. You’ll also be less adapted to shopping, so you’ll appreciate the occasional shopping trip more.
  • Eat out less. These days, restaurants are everywhere. As a result, we may empty our wallets and stuff our faces but enjoy food less. Simple foods cooked at home save money. Plan restaurant outings with some forethought, and choose places you really want to try. You’ll spend less day-to-day, and take more pleasure in meals eaten out.
  • Break the routine. Whether it’s a yearly vacation to a specific locale, attending a monthly club meeting, a weekly phone chat with a long-distance friend, breaking the routine brings more appreciation. Even washing your hair becomes a treat if you skip a day or two. Studies have found that disrupting your experiences makes them more pleasurable. In some cases, you’ll also save money.
  • To what do you sometimes feel enslaved? Is there a group of friends, a hobby, or a habit you no longer look forward to seeing or doing? Feel empowered as you learn to say “no,” and protect some time for yourself. When you resume the activity, it may be more fun. If it’s not, then consider letting go for good.

Learn from research findings and my painful experience. You don’t have to break a bone to dip your toe into a better, cheaper, happier life.

Want to learn more about how your thinking and psychology affect your spending? Read:

Sheri McGregor

Sheri McGregor is grateful for the freedom of expression she enjoys as a writer. Lately, she's settled into writing about what most interests her: psychology, business, people, and nature for nonprofits, magazines, and at her joyful living and homesteading blog: Balance and Joy. As a native San Diegan, she also publishes San Diego Hikes, the subject of her three latest books, 60 Hikes Within 60 Miles: San Diego, Day & Overnight Hikes: Anza Borrego Desert State Park, and Easy Hikes Close to Home: San Diego. As a mother of five, Sheri learned from necessity how to live well for less, and calls this smart lifestyle "the new swank."

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