The Unintentional Splurge (And What to Do Next)

The Unintentional Splurge (And What to Do Next)

This whole thing started with a text from my friend. She told me that Rick Springfield is playing at the Concord Pavilion this summer, and isn’t he one of my bucket list artists? I have been a fan of him for such a long time, I was definitely going to go! At this point, tickets were only available for pre-sale, and with a little searching online, I found the code.

Lawn tickets—the cheapest and farthest from the stage were still relatively pricey at $63. But since I unlocked the pre-sale tickets, now the VIP section was available to me. I couldn’t help but check it out!

I have never bought a concert ticket remotely close to the stage before, but when I saw front row seats including a Meet and Greet with Mr. Springfield, I went ahead and did it. Credit card number, hit enter, done.

Then What?

I was elated after I bought those tickets and still am. But now I’ve got this ginormous purchase on my credit card I hadn’t planned for, so now what? I admit, there was a moment where I asked myself:

“Should I spend this much? Can I even do this?”

Well, I thought about my own goals and what I value most—experiences over stuff—and I decided it was okay, I just had to be responsible about what to do next.

It is important to note that this purchase does not fall under the parameters of an emergency so my savings account will not get touched.

I also didn’t want to tap into my other high yield savings accounts designated for specific short-term goals, like home repairs and travel. I already made plans to use these funds later in the year, and if I reallocate cash to pay for this splurge, I’m only robbing Peter to pay Paul and am in no better position.

Leveraging a “Slush Fund”

As it turned out, my slush fund had roughly half of the cash to cover my splurge. I call that savings account that came with my checking account my slush fund. It barely earns interest, but it’s a good parking spot for a small amount of cash that acts as a cushion.

The monthly figures in the spending plan are an average—some months I spend more on variable expenses, some months less. But since I’ve now used up that cushion to pay for the tickets, I now had to look at my spending plan and see where I can make some cuts. What are the trade-offs for my Rick Springfield tickets??

Making Compromises

If this was a splurge where I was experiencing buyer’s remorse or regret, I could always resell the tickets. For most of my shopping, as a habit, I hang onto my receipts in case I realize later I ought to return something.

That’s not the case here—I’m keeping these tickets! Next, I looked at discretionary spending listed under ‘Entertainment’ in my spending plan. I reviewed my subscriptions and made some hard choices and some not so hard choices.

HBO Go had to go, at least for a while until John Oliver’s show returns, and cutting out the Hallmark Channel was probably a good call in general. I realized I had an online subscription trial offer deal that lapsed back to its full price. I wasn’t reading it anyway so that was an easy cut to make (and a little unfortunate that I didn’t notice that earlier). I could do without buying so many movies on Vudu and declared a halt on new movies for a while. Everything else in that category I wanted to keep in.

Within ‘Personal Services’ I needed to cut back a little in that category. I decided I would cut off my nails so I wouldn’t need to get them “done” at the nail salon. Update: that was a mistake—I miss having my long nails so I’m putting that one back in my spending plan and I’ll sacrifice something else.

Within the ‘Eating Out’ category, I have completely stopped ordering from GrubHub, which I’m pretty proud of, and eating take out for lunch is now very minimal. Some other reining in general ‘Purchases’ still needs to be done to make up the difference.

The Results

With these changes, my annual budget balances again in just 5 months! This exercise reminded me that even with this non-emergency curveball, the solution isn’t found by shifting money between various accounts or leaving debt on a credit card. It came down to the prioritization of my goals and understanding where I put my dollars. It also told me that I need to create a new high yield savings sub-account for more bucket list concerts or the periodic surprise opportunity!

Cynthia Flannigan
Cynthia Flannigan

Cynthia made the shift to financial planning to guide clients through making good financial decisions through both grim and exciting changes in life. More than anything, she thrives on helping people. She obtained her CFP designation in 2008 and completed a masters in financial planning and taxation at Golden Gate University.

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