Save. Spend. Splurge.

Millennials and their Small Pleasures

I don’t know what it is but people of my generation (Millennial) seem to complain a lot about not having money and yet have money for:

  • Tattoos
  • Piercings
  • Fancy cellphones
  • Fancy nails/hair/makeup
  • New outfits (even if they’re cheap pieces)**
  • Pets
  • Hair dye – wild or not
  • Fancy coffees and snacks
  • Designer sunglasses

… And then I realized it is because it is stuff that is (comparably cheap*) little luxuries.

All of the above is pretty mainstream and accessible at around a $200 or lower price point.

*Comparing to let’s say splurging on a luxury car or something that actually does cost a lot of money.

**Speaking of cheap fast fashion I had some clothing left at his mother’s so I wouldn’t have to carry a lot and I tried to wear it but the H&M and Forever 21 CRAP just stretched out completely or in awkward places, making it weird to wear. Goes to show it isn’t worth it to waste even $10 on cheap crap.

I only just started noticing this when we went on vacation and saw similarly garbed and coiffed younger generations; but we couldn’t help wondering where they got the money to do all of that from.

My partner and his family says it is partly them living off the pension of their grandparents or the money of their parents which if you think about it, makes sense — those folks have had a lifetime to work and save up their cash and are indulging their loved ones with an allowance or what have you because as people age they just don’t seem to spend like they used to (if ever at all).

My partner’s mother gets about €3000 a month as a pension plan, and at best, uses half and has her own garden for food.

This is why when we visit, the fridges are STOCKED, and Baby Bun got at least 2-3 presents from just one visit.

The rest of the money?

It is just sitting there, collecting in a bank account and she may dip into it from time to time to go on a trip (she wants to visit us and take a plane for the first time in her life) and fix the house when it needs a new roof or something.

She is the epitome of frugal.

I can imagine if she had a grandchild living with her, that kid would get anything he or she wanted because she simply has the disposable income to spend on them.

It got me thinking about what my own small simple pleasures are and my list is more edible:

  • Good loose leaf tea
  • Matcha green tea
  • Snacks when I go out
  • Pastries
  • Occasional meals especially vegan burgers from The Copper Branch
  • Starbucks, as overpriced as it is
  • Jewellery — although my “simple” pleasure cost rarely goes below $50 if ever

Then I just have actual pleasures — clothing, shoes, bags, electronics mostly.

What are some of your simple pleasures?


  • Tania

    Yes this. I’m generation X, got out of college in 91. I got a ‘good job’ at a cpa firm but most of my money went to rent (with roommates or a small studio). I had an old beat up rusted out car given to me by my parents. I did buy clothes (always been my weakness) but mainly business attire. I had exactly 2 designer items – a black and a navy Bally flat I bought at a sample sale with my employee discount (I worked retail in college). Those shoes got worn to death with my suits. I didn’t have a cell phone, a computer or a designer handbag/accessories. I drank coffee in the office and did get reimbursed for dinner for basically working until 9 pm every night (& all day Sat, sometimes Sun too). I had zero sense of entitlement at work, stayed until the audit supervisor said to pack up and did what I was delegated to do. I was keenly aware that I was still learning and didn’t know enough of the whole picture yet to question the way something was done. Back to college…I worked all the way through (I’ve had very little no employment time since I’ve been 15, maybe three months in total). My roommate worked all night at a full time job to pay her way through college. I had other friends who signed up with ROTC to pay for college. But all of our perspective isn’t that we had it rough, it was just accepted and we even considered ourselves fortunate. I don’t doubt that millennials have it rough financially but the perspective that it that generation x had it easier is not true. We worked very hard for everything we got and didn’t have a lifestyle that I see younger people living today (not all but definitely some). My parents generation were immigrants or children of immigrants so we never complained that they had it easy. I think it’s the perception that everyone has had it easier than millennials is what bothers me sometimes. But I have to say the student loan crisis in the US is out of hand, which has caused astronomical increases in tuition and I do think high school students need financial education including talking about the ROI of your degree. I intentionally went to an in state public university and majored in a marketable major (accounting) not to become rich but to be able to support myself in a state with one of the highest cost of living indexes in the country. The other challenge is lifestyle inflation, it is a different time now and there are many temptations for little luxuries that weren’t there when I was in my 20s. I’d also like to say not all millennials have a poor me perspective, I work with many and none of them are that way. Every generation has the poor me types but they don’t speak for everyone else. I recall being told by acquaintances who partied away their twenties that I was “lucky”. I do feel I’m fortunate. I had good parents and like to learn/read but I worked very hard in my twenties – opportunity met with preparation is not luck.

    • Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

      I’d agree with what you’re saying. I think every generation had it hard in some way, and easier in others. When my older siblings graduated it was a tough job market, and when I graduated it was slightly easier.. but we all ended up pretty much in the same place depending on our paths.

  • Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life

    I can’t indulge all my simpler pleasures because even they get $$$$: books, comics, good cheese, all kinds of cuisines, soft sheets, wool socks, chocolate (caramel or KitKat), cooking… but I know we have to cut back this year and next ohhhh decade? on many of those simpler things because we have Major Expenses now that we’ve moved.

  • PwedePadala

    Tea. Book. British series, and documentary. Trying plant-based recipe and buying vegan food in the grocery that I haven’t tried before. (Surprisingly oatmeal milk taste good.) Oh and that dehydrator and mirrorless camera. I’m not buying the latest iPhone because of the hefty price and size.

    • Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

      We still have the iPhone 4S. Someone made fun of me the other day (I share it with my partner) and I said: I don’t need another phone. This one works…. they thought they would shame me into wanting to buy a new one but the look on my face was: You’re the idiot upgrading each year, not me.

  • Jeannie

    My little luxury is eating out. I really love brunches and ethnic foods that I can’t make at home. A bigger little luxury is shows, musical tickets can run $100+ pretty easily.
    You reminded me of something my cousin told me when she worked in Hong Kong. She said a lot people there love to spend on food, shopping and fun because they can’t afford big purchases like cars or houses. Plus the rented apartment is often tiny and depressing so people rather stay out and thus leading to spending money than go home to their shoebox.

    • Tania

      Same here. Brunches and foodie are mine.

    • Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

      Oooo yes… I can relate to this. Eating out, trying new foods, things I don’t want to or cannot make on my own without a lot of time and effort.

      Mmmmm 🙂

      Well our home is not a shoebox, it’s still a good size at 2000 square feet but can you believe that people tell us that it’s too small for them!?… 😛

      • Jeannie

        That’s one thing I don’t really understand. How people I know NEED a 4 bedroom, 3000 square feet houses with a family of 3. It’s more common in Toronto. In Calgary, a nice house is 3 bedroom+, 1800 to 2500 square feet. Anything above 1500 square feet is pretty big to me.

  • Alice Lee

    Definitely food- I like to treat myself with tasty eggs. Low cost/low maintenance video games. I find that about an hour of sinking into a game feels as good as a hot bath. Plants for my fish tank since my fish tend to gobble them up.

  • Lori_Jean14

    I’m not a Millennial but I have many simple pleasures here are just a few of my favorites:
    * I take a nap on the weekends. I can fall asleep quickly and feel rested when I wake up and it doesn’t interfere with my ability to fall asleep at night.
    * Sleeping in on weekend mornings. I like to allow myself to wake up naturally – it is so restorative. As it turns out it’s usually on 45 minutes or so later than usual but it feels indulgent.
    * Mad Money – my budgeting technique with a capped amount per month that I spend on meals out, Happy Hour, movies and so forth.
    * Monday-Me-Night: the one night a week where I give myself permission to ONLY do what I WANT to do. Similar to Sherry’s Saturday afternoon to herself. It’s my way of extending the weekend and it makes Monday feel special.
    * Painting my nails. My mom taught me and she said we were “pampering ourselves” because then we HAD to sit still until they were dry. We would talk and I felt so grown-up. I still love to paint my nails.
    * When I fly, I always arrive early, get breakfast, and buy a book at the airport for the flight.

  • SP

    My dog, good coffee (made at home tho), wool socks, and buying almost whatever we want at the grocery store.

  • liteadventurer

    Pets can be expensive! I can never for the life of me understand why so many poor and lower middle class people own multiple pets, especially if they’re just going to complain about how little money they have once all the bills are paid.

    My cat had some weird issue come up earlier this year and had to have semi-emergent surgery that cost about 2000 bucks including all the diagnostic tests. I make decent money, so it wasn’t a big deal, but for someone who makes 50 grand a year, that amount would be significant.

    • Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

      I agree with this, but pets also provide an emotional support that they otherwise would not get elsewhere, from what I have seen. My 80-year old aunt with problems and no money? SHE HAS A DOG. I couldn’t believe it. But my brother convinced me that the dog is the only thing keeping her alive at this point, she loves the dog so much. So.. she pays for it. $100 a month for food, etc, plus taking it out at 3 a.m. to pee… I’m shaking my head but .. there are some things you cannot quantify.

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