25 Frugal Ways to Treat Yourself

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25 Frugal Ways to Treat Yourself

A few weeks ago, I found myself downright grumpy and irritable one evening. I was sore all over from an intense workout and running on only a few hours sleep. On top of that, I made the mistake of ordering a new window shade for my place from the wrong store. That would cost me extra to have it installed. Then I received a quote from a wedding vendor that left me absolutely deflated. Could I even afford to hire this person?

On top of that, I was ready to yell at my partner about every little thing. We don’t even have children yet, ha! And I had to clean up the dishes from a late dinner. I couldn’t have been more unhappy that evening. Have you ever felt this way?

I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s had days of disappointment or frustration one after another. But I knew this wasn’t a typical day and I wasn’t my normal self. I needed some self-care for my own sanity and to get back to a positive mindset.  So I put together this list of 25 frugal ways to treat yourself. Being budget-minded, I stuck to things that are relatively inexpensive or free. I hope you find something on the list that appeals to you.

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1)  Exercise

Exercise comes in so many forms. You can go for a walk or take a more strenuous hike. You can hit the gym or take a yoga class. One of my favorite ways to exercise is to follow Pilates and stretching videos that I find online. You don’t even have to change out of your loungewear and leave the house to get moving.


2)  Take a break

Go ahead and turn off your electronics, sit down, and relax. Take some deep breaths and focus on how you’re feeling.


3)  Read a favorite book

So often I find myself wanting to read my favorite books again, only to think I’m too busy. All yourself to pick up an old favorite book and spend a few hours getting lost in it.


4)  Chat with a supportive person

Sometimes all you need is a supportive partner or friend to lend an ear. Even writing in your trusty journal can be a good release.


5)  Get some sleep

Most people I know, including myself, put sleep at the bottom of their list of priorities after everything else that needs to get done. But sacrificing sleep can have detrimental effects on your job performance, your mood, and your health. Indulge yourself by sleeping early or sleeping in as much as you’d like one day.


6)  Have dessert

Did you know that tiramisu means “pick me up”? It’s hard to feel down when you eat a favorite dessert.


7)  Bake a treat

Similarly, some people love to bake sweets when things get stressful. Get lost in whipping up a cake or baking a batch of cookies. Then have a delicious treat at the end. I’ll gladly eat the results too.


8)  Look at pictures and videos of things that make you happy

Did you know that looking at pictures of things that you love can lift your mood? Try looking at family photo albums and scrapbooks to bring back positive memories. If you like to stick to the modern day, there’s always funny cat videos on the web.


9)  Get a massage

A massage can do wonders for tense muscles. No need to visit a spa for a fancy massage. You can get an inexpensive foot or back massages at the mall or small family-run massage shops. Check coupon sites for offers too. Even better if your partner is willing to give you a massage and can do it well.


10)  Do your own nails

You can have a whole spa day at home. Pamper yourself with a massage and bath followed by doing your own nails. You can make it more indulgent by adding a homemade facial or hair treatment.


11)  Have a glass of wine

Add a glass of wine to make spa day even more relaxing. Your local wine shop or even the grocery store will have some decent inexpensive wines.


12)  Use essential oils

End your spa day by cranking up the diffuser with some essential oils. The benefits are myriad. Lavender can help you relieve tension and sleep better. Other essential oils are reported to help with breathing issues, improve digestion, and improve allergy relief.


13)  Get dressed up

If you want to keep the pampering going, put on some makeup and dress in your fancy clothes. Go ahead and get dolled up. You’ll feel like a million bucks without having spent it.  


14)  Write positive affirmations

Spend some time thinking about yourself positively. Write down those affirmations and repeat them to yourself. “I’m a great cook!” “I’m strong and healthy!” “I treat others as I would like to be treated.”   You might be surprised at how good you feel about yourself afterward.


15)  Turn up the music

There’s no better mood booster than music. Turn up your favorite songs and sing and dance away. Or create a new playlist if your current music is feeling stale.


16)  Binge watch your favorite TV show

Do you have a show you’re dying to see? Cue up Netflix, sit back with a snack, and let the hours pass while you indulge in some good old TV.


17)  Practice gratitude

Thinking about those who have less than me always makes me see things in a different light.


18)  Try out a new hobby

Just about everyone I know has some hobby they’d love to try… if only they had more time, more money, they have a friend to bring along, etc. Let yourself pursue something you’ve been wanting to do. Say you like photography. Read up on some tips and go out and practice.


19)  Plant a garden

Tending a garden can be therapeutic and you get to eat the results if you grow your herbs and vegetables well enough. If you don’t have space or money for a full garden, you can create one with kitchen scraps. I’ve grown herbs in egg cartons and grown green onions from their leftover roots. Some other herbs and vegetables that you can grow in the kitchen include basil, bok choy, mint, and lettuce.


20)  Eat lunch outside

Just being outside in the sun for a few minutes can have a big impact on your mood. Plus you get some vitamin D. Try getting away from the office to sit outside for lunch or have a picnic outside with friends or family.


21)  Call someone you haven’t talked to in a while

Have you ever caught up with an old friend that you haven’t heard from in a while and ended the call feeling so good to have reconnected? It’s bound to happen. Give your friend a call to catch up and reminisce about old times.


22)  Play a game

I don’t know about you but I love board games. It’s a treat to spend even half an hour playing a favorite like Monopoly. If you don’t like board games, how about a crossword puzzle or Sudoku? Card games can be fun too.


23)  Visit a museum for free

Many museums offer free admission at different times throughout the year. In SF, you can attend most museums free on certain days of the year depending on the day (e.g., first Tuesday of the month) or your zip code or even if you hold a certain credit card. This is a great way to leisurely pass an afternoon while seeing some art or learning about a new subject.


24)  Do some crafts

There’s no shortage of frugal crafts to try. My favorite thing to do is make my own stationery using plain paper, rubber stamps, markers, and stickers. Check out craft tutorials online for more ideas.


25)  Make a vision board

Vision boards are great to help you keep focused on your goals, whatever they may be. The act of putting one together is fun too. You can make it with pictures from magazines, materials printed from the internet, and decorations from around the house. I’m planning on making one of my own soon.


After writing this list, I hope I don’t get carried away treating myself too much! I’m thinking of making treats a weekly occurrence so I feel good but don’t overindulge. I’m going to go for dessert right now!


What about you? When you’ve had a rough day, what do you like to do to treat yourself?

25 frugal ways to treat yourself
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