20 Under $20

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You can still treat yourself on a budget! Here are my favorite 20 treats - all under $20 each!As many of you know, my birthday was the highlight of my weekend and I had a great, cheap time! Today’s post is inspired in part by the ideas I shared yesterday where I treated myself for my birthday, but mostly by KK at Student Debt Survivor who recently shared a great list of 20 treats under $20. If you need some ideas for treating yourself, or others, be sure to check it out!


While I’m in debt payoff mode, I’m not really taking the time or money to indulge as much as I used to. Still, it is important to have build in rewards for your hard work. For some just seeing the debt progress toward $0 and savings increase may be enough, but for me I need some additional little rewards along the way for my sanity and as incentive to keep going.

Here are my 20 under $20:

  1. Take a bubble bath. Carve out some time in your evening or weekend, lock the door and draw up a hot bubble bath. I did this over my birthday weekend and I think I’m going to make them a more regular occurrence. When I moved into my house in October 2012 I was so excited to have a tub/shower combo in the master bathroom. I could FINALLY take bubble baths whenever I wanted! But alas, I just took my first one this past weekend.
  2. Enjoy a glass of wine. I drink my wine at home and I don’t buy the expensive stuff, I usually only spend about $8-12 per bottle. Have wine with your supper in the middle of the week just because, or enjoy it before bed while reading or watching a movie. You can also substitute beer, or another liquor you enjoy.
  3. Have a meal out with friends. Most places in my community are under $20 per person pretty easily, even with one alcoholic drink and a meal. Enjoy the time with friends and make sure you don’t have something to rush to right afterward.
  4. Rent a movie you’ve been wanting to see. If you still have a satellite dish you can rent a movie from the comfort of your couch. If not, you can hit up a Redbox or movie rental store in you community. Some public libraries even have fairly recent movies you can rent for free, as long as you return them on time.
  5.  Even more extravagantly, Go to the Movie Theatre. As long as you aren’t paying for others and just for yourself, this should be under $20. I went to a movie with a friend a few weeks ago and with snacks it cost me $12. I realize some theatres cost more than others so use your discretion. You can choose to have supper at home before hand to avoid the call of popcorn. Your theatre may also offer a cheaper matinee price for the early movie.
  6. Buy a book you’ve been wanting to read. Again, mine are usually easily under $20 a piece, especially when I buy used. You can also decide to just borrow one from a friend or the library and instead treat yourself to some un-interrupted reading time.
  7. Buy a CD or song you like. You can do this from the comfort of your couch as well. I haven’t had to do this for years, as my parents always give us I-Tunes cards for Christmas and I use Pandora radio quite a bit as well.
  8. Make your favorite meal. Or better yet, have someone else make you your favorite meal. Enjoy it at home and use your “good dishes”. Don’t rush through your meal and if you make it yourself, enjoy the process of cutting, cooking, and mixing the ingredients.
  9. Go to a restaurant ONLY for dessert. When I was growing up and money was tight, sometimes my family would eat dinner at home and only go out to get dessert.
  10. Buy a new accessory. You can usually find cute “costume” jewelry, scarves or sunglasses for under $20. As long as closet clutter isn’t one of your problems, introduction a new accessory is a great way to treat yourself.
  11. Get a pedicure. This may or may not be within the $20 budget for treating yourself. At my local salon the basic, minimum pedicure is $25 so for me it is over the limit. I still treat myself with these, but I do it more sparingly than the others. If you treat yourself with something free or very cheap a few times you can probably afford to spend $5 extra one time. 🙂
  12. Go to bed early or take a nap. This is the ultimate treat for me! I usually have so much to do that I can’t find the time to go to bed early or take a nap. This one is also FREE which is a great bonus!
  13. Get a trim. As long as you don’t add all the extras, a haircut should be fairly inexpensive. In bigger cities you can even go to a budget cut place for a trim and it will definitely be under $20! When I was in college, my haircuts cost $12!
  14. Meet friends for coffee or ice cream. Both options will be less costly than a meal out. Sometimes I even do these activities solo and just enjoy the peace and quiet with my coffee or ice cream. I do love Starbuck’s and I treat myself with Starbuck’s at least monthly, when I have an early, early morning meeting.
  15. Paint your nails/toes. Get your feet sandal ready yourself. Again, this is a cheaper alternative to a salon pedicure. Nail polish is less than $20 and can be used many, many times. You can make this activity essentially free by using polish you already have, or you can make it more of a treat by buying and trying out a new polish color.
  16. Give yourself a “facial”. Use a mask to treat your skin. There are lots of recipes for homemade masks from regular kitchen staples or you can a mask fairly inexpensively.
  17. Work on a craft you have started but haven’t taken the time to finish. This may seem like “work” but it will feel liberating to have the project finished. Also, crafting should be fun, if it feels too much like work, maybe you should give up that particular craft.
  18. Order in. Treat yourself by having a night off from cooking. Order a pizza, sub sandwiches, or Chinese food. Anything that delivers and eat supper in you pajamas. Trust me, it’s fun! Now, if you have a large family, this will probably be over $20, but for me it’s not.
  19. Have a family game night. Pop some popcorn and have a “snacky” supper. Spend the whole evening playing games together as a family.
  20. Tour your city. If you live somewhere big enough, you can spend the day going to the touristy locations, local parks, etc. (only the free ones) If you pack a lunch this should be under $20.

There you have it folks, my list of 20 under $20. Let me know if you treat yourself and how you keep it frugal.

Check out my Pick My Brain page if you want to get a hold of me and talk!

You can still treat yourself on a budget! Here are my favorite 20 treats - all under $20 each!


  • Hi Shoe!

    I have recently introduced “bath bombs” to my baths. I bought one that smells like roses and actually has peices of roses in it! I was amazed and just sat and watched it come to life for a good 2 minutes Lol. They can get a bit much in terms of cash but they are a treat worthwhile with a book, and wine.


    • Jen, that’s a perfect idea! I basically inherited 2-3 bottles of bubble bath, 2 boxes of bath salts, and about 10 bath bombs from my mom. She had gotten all of it as gifts and she’s not a bath person so she gave them all to me! 🙂 I will be set for a while, which is good for my budget! Enjoying my bath with some wine and a book was perfect!!

  • These are all great ideas. I love naps, or sleeping in. I’m really hoping to get a tub in our next apartment; I haven’t had one in a while!

    • Sleeping in, that’s a great idea! I don’t get to do that often as my dogs are ready to go out first thing in the morning and then they insist on eating as soon as they come in. Sigh! The things we do for our pets, but I love them! They are like my babies 🙂


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