In praise of extravagance

4 min | 04 March 2024

The Chase team

Much is made of saving, but why not celebrate spending? We're sharing the stories of some major purchases and how they can help you plan for your next ones.

Admittedly, extravagance is not at the forefront of most people’s minds right now. A survey carried out by McKinsey in December found that European consumers are spending less across all categories, and 8 out of 10 reported trading down to save money.

Yet, in the same survey, 37% of the 5,000 respondents said that they intended to splurge in the near future, especially on non-essentials – fashion, travel and dining out being the most popular.

It would seem out of touch – irresponsible, even – to advocate reckless spending. Yet, when the emphasis is so often on saving, why not celebrate some of the memorable ways we’ve spent?

Retail therapy can get a bad rap, but as human behaviour specialist Claire Brummel told (Opens in new window), perhaps it’s undeserved. 'In those moments when we feel helpless to change a situation, retail therapy can help us feel that we at least have a hold on at least one concrete outcome. It can remind us that we are still able to create some pleasure for ourselves in the midst of the challenges we are facing,' she said.

In this article, we’re sharing positive stories of purchases, as well as tips on planning and dreaming for future splurges.

A relative extravagance

Often, the purchases people consider their most extravagant aren’t merely the things that have cost them the most money.

Instead, their greatest extravagances tend to have cost a little more than they’d normally spend and also hold a personal significance.

'I was on minimum wage at the time,' Stuart, a former bookseller, recalls, 'but when I found a signed first edition of B S Johnson’s Travelling People at a charity shop for £100, I had to have it. It’s the only one of his novels that’s never been reissued, so I knew it was a fair price – and almost certainly my only chance to own it.'

An investment in future enjoyment

Lucy, a vintage clothing lover, cited an Edwardian necklace as her most extravagant purchase.

'I’d been going through a tough time,' says Lucy, 'so I decided to buy it as a gift to myself.'

Accessories are the second-most popular category for splurges, according to Deloitte. Just over a fifth of Brits bought themselves clothing and accessories in the last couple of months of 2023.

Treating yourself to something you’ll wear regularly can help justify the purchase as well as remind you of its significance.

'I take good care of it and wear it often – it’s definitely been worth it,' she explains.

Small purchase, big indulgence

In the same Deloitte study, food and beverages topped the list – 43% of the Brits surveyed had recently splurged on the category.

An obvious choice for those in search of a little treat, a splurge on food and beverages doesn’t have to mean a Michelin-starred meal – it can be as simple as a nice lunch or an iced latte.

'Drinks from a certain coffee chain, especially the seasonal ones, are easily my biggest extravagance,' says Nikki, a dilettante gourmand. I know they’re a totally unnecessary expense, but £4.70 is a small price to pay to feel like the fancy 16-year-old I never got to be!'

Saving while splurging

Extravagances don't have to come at exorbitant costs. Depending on what you’re purchasing, you may be able to bargain or work out a savings plan.

'I spent a few weeks talking with the seller,' Lucy explains of her vintage necklace splurge, 'and negotiated a price that made the purchase more justifiable – from around £360 down to £230.'

That 36% discount was the result of patience and a willingness to work with the seller.

Similarly, if you’re hitting your favourite shops, it can be a good idea to browse with a budget in mind or even withdraw that amount in cash.

You may be less tempted to overspend – and still have the chance of finding something incredible.

With Chase, you can open extra current accounts in seconds, for free. Use them to spend from, pay bills with Direct Debits, budget and set aside money in a way that works best for you.

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