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RioI remember it well. It was a beautiful afternoon in Rio de Janeiro as I stood atop a massive mountain overlooking the ocean, beaches, and stunning Brazilian landscape.

I had been working on a cruise ship for two months and was reveling in my brief time on land, but that day I was craving something more- I wanted to fly. And so I took the leap, literally, and went hang gliding over the Atlantic.

About 15 minutes and a whopping $225 later I landed on the pristine beach below, but not for a moment, then or since, have I ever felt a twinge of buyers’ remorse. There are some splurges truly worth splurging for, the question is, how do you figure out which ones are worth it ahead of time.

Here’s what I’ve found to be most “worth it” in my experience…

Experiences. The experience of hang gliding in Rio de Janeiro is one that will stay with me forever. Even though $225 would typically be a lot for a 15 minute tourist activity, my expenses otherwise were just about zero. I had traveled there with work, I had free housing and food on the ship, and I was making good money. To have missed out on that once in a lifetime opportunity, well within my budget, simply because of high cost would have been silly.

I’ll gladly cut back on the other basic travel elements like housing and transit so as to free up more room in my budget for the truly unique experiences. Realizing that trade off has allowed me to enjoy everything from champagne tasting in France to lugeing down the Great Wall of China.

Quality. I buy a lot of lululemon clothing- typically on clearance or through my friend who works there- but still, it’s lululemon, which means big money for workout clothes. I used to scoff at the lulu prices until I got tired of replacing my old yoga pants year after year after year. My lulu’s have far outlasted any other brands I’ve owned, and as a professional actress and every day fitness buff, I essentially live in them.

The same goes for all of my attire. I’ve got some great shirts from H&M, but the threads start popping out within a week. My mom likes to call it “disposable clothing”. Better to get some higher priced, quality items that can be worn again and again. The cheapest item doesn’t necessarily translate to the best value- for clothing and otherwise.

Prevention. Splurging on prevention- from regular dental cleanings to eating whole, organic foods- can pay huge dividends. Two years ago I had to shell out $1200 for a dental implant. That, plus the extraction to remove the old tooth, never made me question the value of regular healthcare check ups again. $100 once or twice a year far outweighs the physical and financial pain of the countless cavities, root canal, and other tooth drama I’ve had to contend with over the years.

What splurges do you find most worthwhile?

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About the Author: Stefanie O’Connell is a New York City based actress and freelance writer. She chronicles her struggle to “live the dream” on a starving artists’ budget at thebrokeandbeautifullife.com.

Afterword From Brent

You haven’t lived if you haven’t worn a pair of lululemon pants.

The first pair I ever owned was a gift from my fiance after I pointed out that she owned closed to $1,000 worth of workout pants. She’s a really smart cookie and instead of trying to explain it to me, she just went and bought me a pair.

My first reaction was “great, now we’re into these lululemon pants for $1,100” but then I put them on… wow. I haven’t worn another brand since and will not be reveling how many pairs of lululemon pants, socks, boxers, shirts and jackets I now own. 100% worth the splurge.

This post also reminded me of when I used to live and work in Europe. It brings be back to a Wednesday and I had just learned that Oktoberfest was actually in September and had nothing to do with October. I immediately started looking into flights and accommodations where I learned that, since I was going to be booking a flight for the next day and that the REST OF THE WORLD had already booked nearly every single room in Munich, it wasn’t going to be cheap.

I decided that “it would be unlikely that I would be this close to Munich during Oktoberfest for the foreseeable future” and that “in 10 years I won’t remember how much the flight and hotel cost but I wouldn’t always remember the experience.

Well, it hasn’t been 10 years yet and I still remember that my 6×9 room was 399 Euros per night. Criminal. But it was a great time and I have some awesome memories and a sweet hat that looks like a beer stein to show for it.

If you work a “splurge” category into your budget and put a little bit of money towards yet to be determined splurges, you won’t have to worry about breaking your budget or feeling guilty about buying or doing something that the money ninja that you are wouldn’t normally do.

Photo Credits:  Rafa Bahiense

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