The word "splurge" may call to mind a large, unplanned, impulse buy, and many splurges may occur under those circumstances. But splurges can be planned, prepared for, and worked into your spending plan. Let's look at how:


If you've decided that a Valentino dress needs to join your wardrobe, do loads of research on available styles, materials, colors, sizing variations, possible outlets for purchase, and return policies. Then evaluate when, how often, and with which accessories you'd wear the dress. Think carefully about how your purchase will be used. Often times, the item that sparks your initial feelings of object lust - be it a frock, handbag, piece of jewelery, or pair of shoes - may not actually work for your wardrobe, figure, or dressing needs. A splurge needn't be an item that sucks loads of money out of your bank account, then languishes unworn. Do your research first.


The Internet is your friend. Truly it is. Once you've researched what you want to buy, start sussing out from whom you'll be buying it. In this day and age, you should generally have access to at least three sources for nearly any luxury purchase.* Check shipping rates, size range availability, exchange and return policies. Do a Google search for the style and brand name and see what comes up in terms of material and color variations. In some cases, you may be limited to a single outlet, but it's worth checking. You may find a better deal or more appealing version of your splurge-target.


This is the hard part, if you ask me. Retailers have done their best to create a climate of urgency in the shopping market these days, and it may be tempting to splurge on your splurge. But resist the urge. Unless you've got a surplus of money that is meant specifically for fabulous, spendy fashion items, make a budget plan and follow it. Break the total amount into weekly chunks and figure out how you can accumulate the dough quickly and efficiently. Cut back on entertainment so you can save faster. Carpool to work to conserve  gas money. Find ways to get the cash together, but don't spend your rent on it and don't charge it. And if you're really worried about scarcity, ask about layaway. In this economy, more vendors than you'd expect are offering that option.


You know what you want, you know where it'll come from, and you've got the cash in hand. FINALLY, the time has come for the splurging part of your splurge. In my opinion, the best way to purchase a spendy and long-lusted-after item is to make a day of it. Take the day off, get a pedicure, order a fancy brunch, spend some time in the store before you plunk down your moolah, and maybe schedule something fun so you can wear or start using your new purchase right away. Not always logistically possible, especially if you're ordering online, but definitely adds to the splurge experience.


You've made an informed, big-ticket purchase. Use it often and proudly, knowing yourself to be a savvy splurger!

How do YOU splurge?

Image is a Reed Krakoff bag. Isn't it divine? I'm not saving for it myself, but I daydream of it ...

*Brand name luxury, that is. If you're splurging on something handmade, your options will be considerably more limited.

Sally McGraw is the author of Already Pretty, a daily blog about the intersection of style and body image. 

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