Have You Ever Been Made Happier by a “Modest Splurge?” Of What? For Me, Magic Markers.

I’m an under-buyer, and for the most part, I dislike shopping, errands, and buying stuff.

In fact, one of my happiness-project resolutions is to “Indulge in a modest splurge.” I remind myself that sometimes, it makes me happy to indulge in a modest splurge — to buy something that I don’t absolutely need, but that makes my day brighter in some way.

I indulged in a modest splurge a few days ago.

I was early for a meeting (I’m always early), so I decided to spend the time wandering around an art store. I love just looking at the things in art stores. This store, sadly, was going out of business, so prices were slashed.

As a result, the shelves were fairly bare, but I happened to notice a giant box of beautiful, high-quality, double-ended magic markers.

These particular markers hold special memories for me, because when I was in college, my roommate had twelve of these markers, and she prized them highly. She never let anyone borrow them, and we could use them only under her supervision. (Very wisely–she knew that we’d lose them, or leave the caps loose.) We had so much fun with those markers.

I looked at the price. For a box of markers, it was still expensive. At the same time, it was an extraordinary bargain. But I didn’t really need the markers–we have lots of good markers already. But this was a really good set of markers. It would make me very happy to use them, and my daughters would also use them. But couldn’t we use the markers we already had? Well-made tools make work a joy; having these terrific markers might boost my creativity. Looking at the markers brought back happy memories. But if we didn’t make good use of the markers, I would feel guilty.  Etc., etc., etc.

I bet the other customers thought I was a very odd person — I stood stock still, gazing at the box, as these questions played out in my head, for several minutes.

At last, I remembered my resolution to “Indulge in a modest splurge.” And I thought, well, I’m going to get them! I love them.

I got them home, my daughters were delighted with the markers, we all tried them out — and my older daughter asked, “Can I take some to school tomorrow?”

First, I said “No way.” I was thinking–I want to keep the set nice, I don’t want to risk losing or spoiling one, I want to “save” them to keep them nice, etc.

Then I remembered #7 of my Twelve Personal Commandments. Spend out. I tend to hold things back, so I have to remind myself to spend out. Use things up! Put them into circulation, put them to work! Better to use the markers all the time, and risk losing them, than to save them on the shelf, and never use them at all. (Plus my daughter is fairly responsible.)

Have you ever made a “modest splurge,” where a purchase made you happier? What did you splurge on?

  • statmam

    Forced spring bulbs from the grocery store in January and February – the life, growth, and colorful blooms cheer me up on dark winter days. Then, when the weather warms up, I plant the spent bulbs in the yard so they can gather strength and make me happy again next year.

  • Natalie

    I bought a lovely set of markers last year with a new colouring book for myself. And let the kids use them. One went missing the very first session after they all rolled onto the floor – not even found when we moved house not long after and removed all the furniture it could be hiding under – and several are dried up. So when I was given art pencils I kept them for myself only. The kids have plenty.

  • Mimi Gregor

    Only earlier this week, I had been having a bleah kind of day. And it was raining for the thousandth day in a row. On an impulse, my husband suggested we stop in a Goodwill that was on our way to dinner, since we were early. I found three books that sounded like my sort of thing, and that made my day so much better. Books probably make me consistently happier than any other purchase — especially if they are really, really cheap.

  • theshubox

    All I can think of is … Want. Those. Markers!!!!

  • Paria

    I’ve loved stationary since I was a kid, and my modest splurge is often a pretty notebook. I also splurge on colored gel pens that come in a 5-pack with purple, green, red, etc.

  • Paria

    Last Christmas I asked my husband for this beautiful brown leather purse I had been coveting. It was only a couple of hundred dollars, but I had hesitated over buying it for a long time. I’m so glad I finally asked for it, though, because using it is such an aesthetic pleasure — I love the way the leather looks, feels, and smells. It really adds joy to my days!

  • The Splurge Surge: so true that a modest splurge can bring about a disproportionately exciting surge of happiness and pleasure far greater and longer lasting than would be expected: fresh flowers arranged in a whimsical Simon Pearce crystal vase I just had to buy while visiting my daughter in Oakland; a small white porcelain figurine of a young girl, her skirt hem flipped up, her hair blown forward as if caught by a sudden breeze, while a small butterfly balances on her delicate fingertips which I bought impulsively at an antique show and display in my bathroom so I can enjoy it every day; and my “Questioner” mug which I just ordered, a modest splurge which, even in anticipation of its arrival, is already providing a delightful surge of happiness. Oh, the list could go on and on as I gladly remind myself that to give more to myself allows me to ask more of myself, and indulging in a modest splurge, even on a regular basis, like fresh flowers, satsfies that condition.

    I just love how you carefully you unpack the many aspects of daily living, guiding us on the path of recognition, realization and appreciation for all the happiness opportunities, both large and small, accessible to us all every day. Reading your books, reading your blog posts, including readers’s comments which I so enjoy, and listening to your podcasts invites my mind to romp among a curated collection of ideas in which I discover more nuanced aspects of myself. Oh the pleasure of recognition and the satisfaction that comes from integrating and applying all I glean from the universe of ideas you bring to our attention. Simply genius, Gretchen.