Saving Money

8 Rules to When You Should Splurge and When You Should Skimp

Many people try a variety of methods to save money, with varying results. But what they don’t realise is: while every little bit counts, a big splurge can easily offset those savings. I don’t know about you, but my brain justifies it like, “I’m already saving money via X, Y and Z. I can afford to make this more-expensive-than-average purchase”.

So I made a few rules of thumbs when it comes to where to splurge and where to skimp.  It’s a very individual decision, everyone values different things but here are some of my ‘rules’.

Rule #1 – Splurge on what keeps you OFF the ground

pashminu / Pixabay

These are things like:

  • A mattress. You spend a quarter of your life sleeping. Get a good one that provides enough support for your back.
  • Comfortable shoes. Get pairs that won’t hurt your feet. I wish I invested in comfortable shoes sooner – been wearing cheap flats for years and the constant impact to my heels makes walking painful. I just bought specialised Scholl sandals for everyday walking. Expensive but immediate improvement.
  • A car that runs well, with enough safety features. Ensure tires are still good, make regular check-ups especially before long drives.
  • Basic but comfortable furniture. Especially if you’re sedentary and work on computers like me. Make sure you don’t slouch or you’ll get back pains soon enough.

This is the first rule for a reason. It’s solid advice, you should follow it before splurging on anything else.

Rule #2 – Splurge on things you use every day

These are things like:

  • Underwear. Good underwear, especially bras make a big difference and last a hell of a lot longer than average-quality ones.
  • Phone. When I say splurge, I don’t mean RM3000 phones. You can get decent smartphones for under RM1000. Note: it’s OK to like expensive phones, just use them much longer than usual before replacing. I used to shame people using Apple products, but they always tell me that it lasts so much longer and works better.
  • Sunscreen. I’m a big believer in sunscreen – Mum passed this tip to me. Whoever said I have nice skin, yeah this might be the reason.
  • Computer. I stupidly bought a RM1000 laptop once. Useless for work purposes. Sold it at a loss and bought a RM2000 one. Not the best, but it works. Ended up buying a RM8k laptop.
  • Clothes. Note: I didn’t say fashion. Clothes. Like basic jeans and good-quality top that will last you years instead of two washes in the washing machine.

To be fair, I don’t like this rule so much because there are so many things that you technically use every day, it’s hard to draw the line. I drink tea almost every day, and I still buy cheap tea. I don’t have fancy water dispensers. I have cheapo glasses.

I don’t even splurge on things that save me money. Well, not all. This is a whole post – see 50 Ways to Save Money in Malaysia, From Easy to Impossible.

Rule #3 – Introverts – splurge on home comfort. Extroverts – splurge on social activities

mussellistefano / Pixabay

I’m an introvert, I like need alone time for my sanity to be in optimal productivity mode. Extroverts get their energy from socialising, so ‘stay at home/go out less’ advice don’t work so well.

It’s not black and white though. Most of us are actually ambiverts – intro/extroversion is a spectrum, not a binary state.

The good thing is you should be able to identify which you value more – alone time or socialising time – fairly easily. For me, I know I’m an introvert because while social activities are fun and all, I feel drained and happy to be by myself for a few days without physical, face-to-face interactions.

I really do think that introverts have it easier when it comes to saving money. Going out is a luxury nowadays kan. Extroverts should date introverts, super win-win solution. #suddenrelationshipadvice

Related: [PERSONAL] How Money Affects My Dating Life

Rule #4 – Splurge on experiences, not things

Easy to say, hard to implement because some things allow good experiences and some experiences need things to go along with it. For example, I went on a caving trip recently and really should have bought a RM7.90 headlamp.

The best tip I’ve gotten to navigate this area is to simply be content with what you already have. That way you’re not addicted to new things and experiences all the time. Sparingly splurging on both is fine, as long as you don’t need a new headlamp or equivalent every other week.

Experience-wise, I have a big weakness for traveling. Have never regretted them. Events a decade ago still brings me happiness.

Rule #5 – Splurge on quality advice and services

pixel2013 / Pixabay

Yes, you can probably save hundreds of ringgit by doing your own home repairs, but if you don’t know the know-how, that can easily turn into thousands of ringgit on future repairs. This advice applies to:

  • Home and furniture repairs
  • Car repairs
  • Accounting services – especially for businesses, you don’t want to get into trouble when it comes to taxes
  • And more

Surprisingly, I found the lessons during Kemahiran Hidup very helpful. I’ve successfully fixed leaking taps with the white tape thing. YouTube is awesome as well – I managed to replace a flat tire instead of spending on tow truck services. So I guess, check first if you can DIY, but if you can’t, shell out the expense.

Rule #6 – Do NOT splurge on trinkets

I like the idea of trinkets – things that remind you of positive memories.

What I don’t like though are things that try to capitalise on those memories.

These are things like Pandora bracelets. Why the hell does one need 100000000 charms for? And those forceful pictures that theme parks like to take that costs RM20+ with paper frames *insert angry emoji*

Trinkets should be free or cost minimally. Pictures. A funny-looking stone from the spot you met your significant other. Your mum’s ring that she gave you before you leave to study overseas. A framed picture of you as a baby making your dad laugh. Stickers from a child as her sign of approval. These are the best trinkets.

Rule #7 – Don’t turn splurges into a collection

CFDirect / Pixabay

I consider accessories (including tudung/hijabs), perfumes, expensive watches, designer handbags, designer shoes, designer shades and the likes splurges. They each have their functions and can be useful,  but I never understood why one would need a collection of them. Is there something I’m missing out?

If you must, buy in basic, neutral colours so it matches with everything. Or use Rule #8

Rule #8 – Splurge at small businesses, skimp at big businesses

Many big businesses have large profit margins. They invest it in marketing and advertising and in turn get more popular and get more profit.

Small businesses, on the other hand, have much smaller profit margins even if the items are similarly priced. They don’t get as big bulk discount on raw materials they purchase. They also spend more, percentage-wise on overheads. If you must splurge, pick smaller businesses.

At no point you should ask for discounts. They need the profit margin to survive. I have a whole rant about this in my Asshole Shoppers who Haggle Aggressively with Individual Sellers & Small Businesses article.


That’s pretty much all my ‘rules’. I love it when people are passionate about their hobbies.  I have no judgement whatsoever for people who buy expensive toys or equipment – you do you, you’re still awesome and human and oh-God you have such brilliant smiles when your faces light up when asked about your passions, be it fashion or hiking or makeup or gaming or *gulp* even car modifications.

Splurge smartly and only to things that matter to you. For everything else, skimp. Do you agree with the rules above? Any additional rules you go by? What do you personally splurge on? Please share with me in comments 🙂





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  1. Rule #6 got me nodding my head repeatedly. Seriously, still can’t understand the rationale behind those photos taken in theme parks – some when you’re riding a roller coaster with ugly hair and screaming big mouth (and I see them being bought by so many people – whyyyy). And they cost more than RM20 sometimes.

    Good piece Suraya. Loving your articles!

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