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Resolution 5: Spring for a splurge
A sensible game plan for getting the things your family really wants.
December 27, 2005: 11:17 AM EST
By Carolyn Bigda, MONEY Magazine
Do it now: 10 resolutions

NEW YORK (MONEY Magazine) - Everyone deserves an occasional indulgence. What's more, says April Benson, a psychologist who specializes in compulsive shoppers, "if you deprive yourself too much, you're set up for future binges."

In other words, rewarding yourself with a planned purchase now helps stop you from blowing your budget with impulse buys later.

1. Pick the prize

Sit down as a family and write an uncensored wish list. Then for each item ask yourselves:

  • Will we still want this a year from now?
  • Do we want this more than anything else on the list?
  • Can we buy it without going into debt? If you can't agree right away, give everyone time to think over the options, but set a deadline.

2. Make it real

Once you've identified the goal, keep it front and center. "If it's something we can feel, touch and taste, it's a whole lot easier to stay on track," says Gary Foreman, editor of, a budgeting newsletter.

Put a price tag on it Figure out the specific product or destination you want and find out how much it costs. That way you'll know just how much you need to save.

Keep your eyes on the prize Cut out a picture and keep it in a prominent place, like on the refrigerator, so you're constantly reminded of what you're working toward.

3. Create your game plan

Strategize with your family about how you'll come up with the cash you need.

Start with a bang Have a garage sale. Or save every $1 bill you receive for a month.

Open a dedicated account Agree on small economies you can live with for a short time, such as brown bagging lunch. Calculate your weekly savings and have that sum automatically transferred from your checking.

Collect spare change in a coin jar (it adds up fast). Encourage your kids to contribute by promising to match any amount they put in. >>Save windfalls like your year-end bonus, income tax refund and FSA reimbursements.

4. Stay on track

Tell friends and colleagues about the goal. "You'll be more likely to succeed if failure isn't an option," says Foreman of

Track your progress Keep a chart of how far you've come and how far you need to go.

5. Buy it

When you hit the goal, bring the whole family along for the purchase. Make a big deal of it. And then, of course, enjoy it.  Top of page

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