skimp or splurge
Saving Money

Skimp or Splurge? 10 Rules I Use to Decide

Support a content creator, share this article :)

Most of you probably tried a variety of methods to save money, with varying results – some of them worked, some didn’t. But what you may not realise is, while every little bit counts, a big splurge can easily offset those savings.

This happens to me way more times than I care to admit. 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 thumb 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

These are things like:

  • A mattress. You spend a quarter of your life sleeping. Might as well get a good one.
  • 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. The specialised Scholl sandals I bought for everyday walking was expensive but worth it, immediate improvement.
  • A car that runs well, with well-fuctioning safety features. Ensure tires are still good, make regular check-ups especially before long drives.

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:

  • Phone. Yes, it’s OK to get expensive phones – just use them for as long as possible before replacing. It’s better to use a RM5k iPhone for 5 years than replacing a RM2k smartphone every year.
  • Computer. Once, I stupidly bought a RM1000 laptop. It was useless for work purposes, so I sold it at a loss and bought a RM2000 one – not the best, but it works. Later, when I could afford it, I bought 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. Related: Save Money on Fashion: 5 Steps I Use to Optimise My Clothing Budget

Actually, 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 coffee almost every day, and I still buy cheap coffee. I don’t have fancy water dispensers. I have cheapo glasses.

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

mussellistefano / Pixabay

I’m an introvert; I like to be alone in my head, it recharges me. 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.)

Therefore, assuming one’s budget is limited and they have to pick one, introverts should prioritise making their home a sanctuary and extroverts should add socialising costs in their budget.

Which is better? I think in the end both advantages cancel out. Introverts may find it easier to save money (since going out can be expensive and all), but extroverts tend to do more networking, which helps them in the workplace.

Rule #4 – Splurge on experiences, not things

The two biggest purchases people tend to make in their life is (1) a house, and (2) car. However, as covered in How to Buy Happiness: 5 Science-Backed Principles to Know TODAY article, they don’t actually bring that much happiness. You’ll experience a spike right after the purchase, then it goes back to normal.

This is a very common phenomenon, called hedonic theadmill. It also happens when you buy those clothes or shoes or whatever, then desire new ones.

Hedonic Treadmill: Stoicism

Experiences, however. Those stick around. We even remember the sucky ones – the trip where it rained all day, the trip where you missed your flight, the trip where you had food poisoning – with fondness.

So get more of those instead of stuff.

Rule #5 – Splurge on quality advice and services

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 – SKIMP 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

It started innocently, with one purchase. Before you know it, you have a collection that you constantly feel the need to add to…

I consider these as splurges: accessories (including tudung/hijabs), perfumes, expensive watches, designer handbags, designer shoes, designer shades and the likes.

They have their functions and can be useful,  and I understand the appeal of having a collection, but you have to know – there are too many items in the world that collecting is a never-ending quest. So you must know when to stop, or at least pause.

If you must have a collection, 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. For example, it is common for clothing shops to mark up their items 3x or more.

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

Rule #9 – SKIMP if the marketing is manipulative

If you have not read my article on manipulative marketing, please do so. This is considered self-defence, against the many, many advertising attacks you see as a consumer.

Let me just share with you one type of manipulative marketing. The scarcity tactic. The one I hate the most. It comes in many forms: Limited edition. Countdown timers. ‘Today only’. Only 1 left. ‘Get it fast before it’s gone’. Only 300 in the world.

All these are designed to encourage you to spend without thinking about it

#10 – SKIMP if it exceeds my budget

This might be the most important rule of all. Unless it’s a matter of life and death, if the purchase will exceed my budget, then I will be skimping or doing without it, no excuses.

And why not. Sales will happen again, it’s not like it’s a once-a-year event. Nothing is worth getting into credit card debt. I like Future Me too much to burden her with buy now pay later option.

This is common sense, but worth repeating: It’s ok to not get what you want, when you want. It’s ok to wait.

In fact, I encourage you to wait before doing any purchase. You can also turn this into a game:

What do YOU Skimp and Splurge on?

Well, those are my ‘rules’. I don’t mind splurging on things that matter to me, but for everything else, I 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 🙂

Support a content creator, share this article :)

Similar Posts


  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!

  2. Under rule#2, splurge on everyday things, phone being on of them. TBH, ever since i converted into an Apple user phone, i have been using free phones. Hand me downs from my sister, mum and currently a lucky draw gift from the company i work for. Heck, if this one goes kong also, i’ll go back to another hand-me-down from relative. Quite new phone, THEY can afford to upgrade their phones as often needed. Hence, lagi expensive the item, lagi the cheapo option i go get.

    1. You know what Nadia? That is so refreshing. It’s common to see people loving gadgets, that I forgot some people just don’t particularly care about them, they just use whatever’s available as long as functions well.

      I hope this arrangement of yours with relatives continues. They upgrade, and you get to change phone, win-win (only cos you say they can afford)

  3. I agree with your list!

    I skimp on MANY things and opt for DIY solutions for home detergents, furnitures, clothes, accessories, pet houses, many more. These have given me good time well spent for the DIY projects too. If I can MacGyver something, I will not replace them. I even ration my needs based on sale periods.

    This pandemic – I have so far splurged the most on preventive items (N100 filter for masks, a decent-grade sanitizer spray gun, etc.) and delivery riders (sending care packages to loved ones).

  4. I splurge on my health/wellbeing! Psychotherapy, regular medical check-up, flu shot, dental etc. Used to think it’s a waste of money, but diagnosed with major depressive disorders changes that.

  5. Hello! My first time here, i am definitely guilty in spending so much on fashion (fast forward type mostly, u know those She**, Sho***), but recently i got into thinking how these clothes doesnt fit me well – low quality material, too long, too sheer or simply just dont fit asian typical body type- and i ACTUALLY dont need it at the first place.. so instead,i buy quality ones and altered it to fit me! And i make sure i wear it like every week so can get ROI haha still a shopaholic 😥but definitely slowly converting myself to mindful shopper. I start selling unused NWT clothes on Carousell – best feeling ever!

    1. Hi Att, thanks for your comment. Can definitely relate to trying our best to transition into a more mindful shopper, and also trying to calculate the ROI on clothes!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *