23 Ways To Treat Yo’ Self Without Buying Or Eating Anything

Want to practice self-care without sabotaging your diet or budget? Looking for some ways to reward yourself without breaking the bank? Read on for 23 great ideas! #cheapselfcare #healthyselfcare #wfh #budgeting #workfromhome #moneytips #quaratinetips

Here are some ‘treats’ that I regularly give myself because I ‘deserve’ them:

* An entire block of Parmesan. Not on something, mind you. Just the cheese. Just the brick. I just hold it in my hand and take bites of it like an apple.
* Piles of $5 lady magazines
* Not brushing my teeth before bed (??!!??)

In case you’re keeping track, exactly zero of those things are good for me. In excess, each of those things is pretty detrimental to my physical and emotional well-being.

But here I sit, ‘rewarding’ myself with things that – if I’m not careful – will give me a stomachache, make me feel less-than,  and give me cavities.

Ridiculous, right?
And what’s even more ridiculous is that I’m often treating myself after a hard, frustration-filled day. And what am I frustrated about? Oh, you know, feeling less than or drained or urpy.

I am literally engaging in ‘reward’ behavior that will make me feel worse in the long run!

Stop it, self. Stop. It.

I want better for myself. And if you are human and occasionally treat yourself in not-particularly-healthy ways, I rounded up 23 ways we can reward ourselves that don’t involve buying or eating anything.

It's totally possible to 'treat yourself' in a way that doesn't undermine your health or your bank account. Click To Tweet

1. Take a nap
Sleeping is awesome and I bet about 99.7% of us aren’t getting enough of it. Make your nap even more treat-like by changing your pillow case (it gives you that ‘new sheet’ feeling with less work), taking off your bra and spraying a bit of lavender or eucalyptus essential oil onto your pillow.

2. Give yourself a mani or pedi
Add a few drops of essential oil and body wash to a pretty bowl of warm water and soak your extremities while you watch an episode of Broad City. If you don’t have a manicure or pedicure set, push your cuticles back with a wet washcloth. If you’re feeling fancy, exfoliate with a brown sugar body scrub and slick on a few coats of a color you love.

3. Re-read a favorite book
Resist the urge to treat yourself to a new book purchase! Trawl your local library the way you’d trawl a used bookstore or just re-read one of your favorite ‘comfort reading’ books. I’ve been reading a few chapters of this book every morning and I JUST LOVE IT.

4. Take a day off work for no reason at all
And then don’t run a single errand or go to a single appointment! YOU CAN DO IT I HAVE FAITH IN YOU. Use your day off to do awesomely unproductive things: sleep in, make yourself a big pancake breakfast, explore new parts of your neighborhood, Skype with friends in other time zones, write a letter to your Grandma. Nap.

5. Take a hot bath
Add powdered milk. Or flower petals. Or Epsom salts or bubble bath. Turn on your favorite mellow music, light a few candles, and stay in the tub so long you wrinkle and raisin.

6. Have a Netflix movie marathon
Now, this is a personal preference, but I think the best movie marathons are movies that you’ve already seen and/or movies that don’t require rapt attention. You need to be able to fall asleep halfway through or get up and make yourself popcorn! Suggested marathons: The Anne Of Green Gables movies, BBC’s Pride & Prejudice, all the Wes Anderson movies, all the Judd Apatow movies, everything Dolly Parton has ever starred in.

7. Listen to your favorite music
Make a playlist of all your absolute favorite music, choosing not to care if it’s thematically similar, segues nicely, or is ‘embarrassing.’ My favorite playlist goes like this: Dolly Parton, The Knux, Pharrell, Kasey Musgraves, Ke$ha, Flo Rida, Beirut. WUT.

8. Visit a pet shelter
So many snuggles and cuddles! And you don’t have to clean fur off your sofa or worry about that spot on the rug!

9. Take an aimless walk WITHOUT YOUR PHONE
Getting out into nature is lovely and calming and centering. Getting out into nature without the temptation to tweet, update, or Instagram about it is exponentially more lovely, calming, and centering. I’ll do it if you will.

10. Make a DIY face mask
It’s a cliché for a reason, that reason being: it’s awesome. You probably have everything you need for a face mask in your kitchen right now.

11. Go for a drive
Do you live near a body of water or a mountain/bluff/large hill-type thing? Go for a drive near it or on it. It’ll be sweet and relaxing and refreshing. Promise.

12. Watch a Youtube makeup tutorial and experiment
Do you, too, have a whole drawer of lipsticks and bronzers and eyeliners you’re not using? Have a search through Youtube and see if you can find some new ways to use them. Do you know how to contour? Do a real, serious cat eye? I don’t. Let’s learn!

13. Walk near some water with someone you love
Ahhhhhhh. Feel those shoulders come down from around your ears and your blood pressure drop.

14. Devote some time to self-pleasure

15. Go for a nice bike ride
Not to get exercise. Not to pick up some milk or tire out the dog. Ride someplace pretty and scenic and not overrun with other cyclists. Ride at a pace that feels easy and good and notice what’s happening around you.

16. Listen to an awesome podcast
No, but really listen to it. Lay down on the sofa, open your ears and just soak it up. Like everyone else, I love This American Life and Awesome Etiquette.

17. Go window shopping
This is almost as fun as actual shopping. Pack yourself a travel mug of something sip-able and then wander through your city’s swankiest shopping district. Peek into the windows and imagine where, exactly, you’d wear that avant-garde cape that costs $3,000.

18. Visit a free museum
I bet your city has heaps! Or at least they have a few free nights each month. Here in Minneapolis, The Walker is free every Thursday evening and The MIA is always free!

19. People watch
One of my all-time favorite activities is watching people and making up stories about them. Second favorite activity: going for ‘house walks’ with my BFF and making up stories about the people who live in said houses.

A few of my favorite people-watching places: the airport, any public transportation hub, any downtown area during lunch hour or after work, flea markets, farmers’ markets, anywhere near a stadium on a big game day.

20. Take time to do your hair and makeup
Even if you’re not going anywhere. Every time I take the 10 minutes required to apply eyeliner and curl my hair I’m floored by how different I look and how confident I feel.

21. Watch a Youtube yoga or dance tutorial
Youtube dance tutorials are The Actual Best And Most Fun. No one ever has to know what you look like when you’re twerking! You can just keep rewinding and re-trying till you either a) get it b) collapse from laughing at yourself.

22. If you already have a gym membership, go there and take advantage of the non-athletic stuff
I mean, you can also go to the gym and work out but I don’t think that’s much of a treat, do you? Does your gym have a sauna? Or a hot tub? Go have a soak or a steam!

23. Shave your legs and put clean sheets on your bed
This is probably the best any of us will ever feel in our entire lives.

Do you ever find yourself ‘treating’ yourself in ways that aren’t actually …. beneficial? What are your favorite non-buying, non-eating rewards?

P.S. How to figure out what makes you happy (so you can add more of it to your life) 

P.P.S. Did you know I have a (free) private Facebook group dedicated solely to the topics of money and happiness? And the stuff we talk about has helped members change jobs, save thousands of dollars, and fight less with their partners? Join us!

Photo by Katie Harp – Pinterest Manager on Unsplash


Sarah Von Bargen

Yesssss! A few years ago I splurged on really nice sheets and spent some time finding The Perfect Pillows and they make such a difference!


Please share your sheets and pillow choices! I keep delaying because I get paralyzed by choices and the fear of not exactly knowing how the sheets will work out until they are on my bed.


Fleece sheets. They are so cuddily. I’ve always been a lover of nice crisp sheets but the fleeces are greay


I have some flannel sheets from Restoration Hardware – O.M.G. Worth the splurge for sure!


If you dry them in fresh air the smell will bump that up a huge notch.
I don’t care about shaving or makeup, but there are a lot of great suggestions on here.


Or better, what I do often (yay for having a small chest – though you can also with bigger breasts, but some people find it uncomfortable and stupid boys/men might stare esp. in America, here in Europe, not so many people care tbh), not wear a bra at all! Best. Feeling. Ever. And besides, screw society, I like them free if that means they can’t be antigravity perky then so be it. haha.


I love not wearing a bra. I’m going to try it more often now that I’m retired. It should be interesting, esp. since one breast is much smaller than the other due to breast cancer. Glad to be alive though.

Sarah Von Bargen

I raise my glass to you, Kristen! You’re a better, more fit woman than I 😉


Number 23 is golden. So true.

I bake to treat myself and then take the baked goods to work so I don’t eat them all and get a second treat when everyone tells me that what I baked is delicious. Total win-win.


Love this. Me too! I might not eat any just share them some where. Nursing home visits is another reward go sit and listen to someone tell you a story.


Clean out a drawer or two in your dresser. Toss old t-shirts and socks, refold clothes you love, and donate things you don’t wear anyore. It was a huge treat to open that drawer later and find everything organized and de-cluttered! It gave me a sense of peace and accomplishment all at once.


Oh, yeah, that’s the best! I do a major clothing purge about twice a year, and it’s sooooo satisfying!

Sarah Von Bargen

Isn’t it?! I had to poll my Facebook friends because I could only think of, like, three.


Getting back into bed around 1pm, with a mug of coffee, a few cookies and a really good book is my idea of heaven, and my ultimate treat. I don’t seem to get around to doing it as much as I’d like, which makes the once or twice a month I do get to do it, feel really special and luxurious. 🙂
See also, taking a book to a nice coffee shop that does nice drinks and even better cheese toasties.
Also, drinking a tasty soup in front of the latest episode of Downton Abbey.

I’m seeing now that my “treats” mostly revolve around hot beverages!

Sarah Von Bargen

I loooove getting back into bed! I really feel like I’m taking care of myself 🙂


Totally agree on taking a book to the coffee shop! I like to do work in coffee shops sometimes, too, but some of the best places discourage working – spending an hour reading over a fancy drink feels super luxurious.

On a nice day, I like to pick up a bubble tea and take my book to the park instead – it reminds me of lazy summer days reading in the backyard as a kid.


I absolutely love this list because I’m SO guilty of using food and purchases as “treats.” Now that I’m about 10 pounds over weight and $2k over budget because of car problems, those aren’t really options right now…

I will say, YOU CANNOT JUST “GO VISIT” AN ANIMAL SHELTER. That’s how you walk away with a dog. I know this, because it happened to me. Danger, Will Robinson, danger! Maybe consider actually volunteering instead 🙂


These are seriously good tips! I am always spending money to ‘treat myself’ but you’ve reminded me I really don’t need to. Taking a nap has probably got to be the best one! xx

Sam // Samantha Betteridge

Rachel Marie Quintans

A decent-sized block of aged sharp cheddar cheese. The sharper the better. 😉

And when I make jewelry, I keep the very first version for myself. Its a treat, a test-run, and a way to self-promote!

Tess Graham

1. Lying in water, preferably outside and looking at the sky. 2. Coloring with crayons and then doing the free Crayola animation app to make your pictures awesomeness.


Loved this list so much! So often we reward ourselves with monetary things, so it is so awesome to see this list of rewards all based on experiences, not things.

Rae | Love from Berlin


The 11 ! I can spend HOURS (like 10) in a car without getting bored (if I’m not the driver of course). It just cleans my head up and I suddendly have new ideas for everything.


I went for a hike in the woods this weekend with my husband. 5 hours with no cell phones and just enjoying nature is so refreshing!


Looking up karaoke versions of my favorite pop songs on YouTube and singing my heart out. Sometimes I even make videos and send them to my friend to spread the love/ridiculousness.


I would like to think a bubble bath sounds like a good treat, but given I need a grab-bar and my apartments will not give me one, it makes for showers only for now. I just started treating myself to Red Box and Netflix and flowers every other week. Not very expensive and they live two weeks. I liked the book and music idea and will add those. Walking is not fun for me due to health issues, so wouldn’t be a treat. I do take naps, I’m glad to know I can consider that one of my rewards for completing my day the way I had planned.


You can purchase a suction cup grab bar and enjoy that bath! My mom has one, it really sticks and works!

Jade Taylor

With 22, a lot of gyms do free day passes if you just take a look at their website. My other half and I did it one day just to use the sauna, steam room and pool!


Find an awesome new book without wasting money. Your handy-dandy local library probably has an app that will let you read your choice from hundreds of books on your tablet. Or, of course, you could go in person.

Kelly Peeples

The only thing about this is that you have to return the book, sometimes before you’ve read the whole thing. I don’t know why but it weighs on my mind–“I have to return that book, I have to return that book”–and it becomes such a hassle that I would much prefer just to download the thing to my Kindle and read it at my leisure. I bookmarked the bargain Kindles link and they often have good books for under $4. I just bought Neil Gaiman’s “Neverwhere” for 1.99.


You can sign up on this site: https://www.bookbub.com/welcome and get free or inexpensive books for your kindle. I have gotten many free books that have been really good. I hope this helps to give those that need it some free relaxation and entertainment. I love to read

Nikki Der

Hellll yeah Sarah! These are super awesome.
Most of my “treat yourself” moments tend to involve buying myself fancy coffee or bath products l, so I really needed this list!
I’m going to add: put on some comfy but cute sweatpants and a hoodie. Put the hood up. Lay on grass in the sunshine with a book. Or if it’s cold out, sit near a window with a warm pet and read a book.

Whenever I get home from work it’s like, bra off sweatpants on.


Man, at this point in my life none of these are possible. Bath??? I tried to take a shower the other night and The baby tried to play with the toilet brush, tried to dive into the toilet, and then tried to join me in the shower, fully clothed, with a dog we had visiting.

This shower was not a treat!!!!!


What I’ve learned, now that my kids are grown, is I wish I had those moments back, and I wish I had laughed through them. I really love the adults they’ve become of course, but it all goes by so fast!

Lena Duffin

I was sitting here thinking about having some (more) chocolate, then this list got posted by a page I follow on facebook…. instead I’m going to turn on Netflix and do my nails!

Gina Marsh

This is so so so brilliant!!!! I always want to reward myself with food, and if I resist that temptation, then I feel like I “deserve” buying something even more! I’m bookmarking this page!!!


I do the exact same thing! “I’m so awesome for exercising every day this week. I’m going to stop at Krispy Kreme for a reward–wait! That will ruin all of my hard work–I’ll just buy some new booties, instead!” SMH …


I love this post and was just trying to think of ways to treat my wife without buying something or getting her chocolate when we’ve just started shredding it with Jillian Michaels in the regular.

One more idea: we are NOT health freaks, so one thing that I have recently discovered is really relaxing, yet beneficial, is chopping veggies. Cabbage is so darn satisfying!!! You think it’s going to be hard, like squash, but it’s super easy and looks like confetti and great in stir fry or soup.

I also like chopping cucumbers and celery – carrots are just not as relaxing because I have to pay more attention, but a 20 minute chop session and I’ve got veggies for our lunches/snacks and my mind has wondered and I feel alive again.


Can I politely recommend altering #8. Pet shelters aren’t puppy video arcades for recreation and amusement. The animals at the shelters have feelings, and many have been there for weeks, some months, some even years. Receiving a few moments of attention and then being passed on is traumatic and leads some animals in the shelter to sincere depression. Shelters shouldn’t be treated as half-hour rent-a-puppies to play with and then move on. Might I suggest, if not outright removing #8, altering it to “Volunteer at a pet shelter.”


Thank you Mat for that comment. As a long time animal shelter volunteer though I will have to say that it was never relaxing..actually quite stressful.

My favorite treat is sitting out in my backyard with my cats & enjoying the sunshine. Another suggestion is writing an actual letter to a friend or relative. Starting a small herb garden or other gardening is also therapeutic.


My favorite “treat” for myself is to go out for a drive in the country with my camera for a photo shoot day. Unwinding with nature and some creativity is great, even if it’s not a blue sky sunny day.


I LOVE this list. THANK YOU! I would also add meditating…there’s a great (free) app called insight meditation. I would also second coloring books…I love doing mandalas. Oh and TED talks.


Yes! Ted talks are my favourite. And i often do drawing tutorials on youtube with my daughter.


1. sleeping with my contacts in (muy bad) so that i can wake up with perfect vision…whilst ruining my vision…

2. buying and lighting every candle ever sold so my apartment looks like goddamn dracula’s castle.


Please do not sleep with contacts. Very dangerous to your vision. I do understand though. The first thing I do when I wake up is reach for my glasses. Wish I didn’t have to.


Treat yourself by saying NO to requests, even social ones, if that’s what you really want to say. I like affirmations too. Recently one of mine is “I deserve the best life and love have to offer.”


Great suggestions y’all. I also get a kick out of getting rid of some of the junk I’ve collected. Even getting rid of one useless dust collector can seem like a step in the right direction, or a good excuse to shop again.


One of my favorite things to do is service. yesterday we got to donate some items to a homeless shelter. I took my kids with me and they got to understand that some kids aren’t as blessed with more then enough clothes and a warm place to sleep. It warmed my heart that they were so willing to give and I felt extra grateful for my blessings.


And I also have a hard time brushing my teeth at night, sometimes I just want to rebel against something in life..but the metal in my mouth is shouting that there isn’t much more room for that habit:)


I was actually nodding as I was reading the last one like “oh yeah I´m gonna do that tonight, that´s my favorite” and then you write “This is probably the best any of us will ever feel in our entire lives.” and I cracked up laughing. Love all of these items on this list, thanks lady!


The first paragraph of this article made me laugh so hard that I had to read it out loud to my husband…well, try to read it out loud because by the time I got to the toothbrushing part (my favorite) I was nearly in laugh-tears. Thank you for the funny start to my day — Love the tips and looking forward to exploring the rest of your site!


I especially love the visit a free museum suggestion, something that I should absolutely do more often as I LIVE IN DC! There (obviously) so many free museums here, and all of them are amazing. I’m going to work on seeing more throughout the spring and summer.


Nothing like a good nap on Sunday afternoon. I also like to go to the public library and read the magazines I don’t buy or subscribe to.


I’ve been trying to do this list for myself and not really working – Thankyou for this great list (and all those extras in the comments – great article


I’d also add plucking my eyebrows which brings me a feeling of total renewal (similar to shaving) and watching culinary videos on YouTube (like ‘Laura in the kitchen’).
By the way, today I have a day off for no reason and I was going to change my sheets – and then I read this article! Thank you very much!


This is an awesome list. Reminds me of the simple pleasures, things I need to start back doing and new things to try.


Oh wow, this is a good list! My favorite is to re-read a fab book (A Winters Tale, Born To Run, Blood Bones Butter, State of Grace…), or a movie (The Proposal) and popcorn. Here’s my fav recipe: date sugar, powdered sea salt and chipotle powder. So good!


Get out into your garden, if you have one. Hang around and read a book or listen to music, or pull some weeds or eat a fig or a tomato right off the plant.


Another treat I like to give myself is doing an oil treatment for my hair. I will admit I do typically buy mine, but there are homemade recipes that you can do either for over night or for a set amount of time. If I’m really looking for something thick to leave in all night I use this all natural product http://www.zayedellaessentials.com/beard-products.html and just sleep with a towel on my pillow. I shampoo twice the next morning but usually the amazing smell still stays and I love all the repairing it does to my hair. Definitely a treat.


Amazingly enough, I already do a lot of the things on your list! Thanks for sharing, I gleaned a couple of new ideas. Such as Watch a Youtube makeup tutorial and experiment and People watch. I like the part about making up stories while people watching. Is that more fun with a friend?


I think you should add “Color in Johanna Basfords Latest Adult Coloring Book” fabulous de-stresser and gets you in touch with your inner artist 🙂

Lizzy E

Love this list! My treat is sitting down and reading a book I haven’t had time for otherwise, or making new jewelry for myself (I sell handmade jewelry). I also love trying to baked goods recipes! Someone said they like baking and sharing it at work – I share with our gaming group every Friday night =) And honestly, though two years ago I never would have thought I’d enjoy this, getting up to work out before anyone else is awake. Working out when the family is awake is a pain because everyone’s asking you for something (I still do it, committed to daily workouts one way or another).


THIS IS AMAZING!! If you have a second list formulating in your brain please share! I know I know, greedy.


Yeah, I think breaking that seemingly subconscious link many of us have between having fun and spending money is a key part of living below one’s means. Having fun does not equal spending money! Experiment: think of the most fun times you’ve had in the past 5 years. I’d bet the reason these experiences were fun had to do with being with friends and family, not spending money, per se, right? 🙂

Dividend Diplomats

Thanks for the great list! Many great ideas here. There are a ton of ways to enjoy yourself without forking over cash!

Bert, One of the Dividend Diplomats


My workplace is near a highway. Sometimes, after work, I like to go on the bridge and wave to the cars driving by below. There is always someone who waves back.


I love this article so much! Because A. It’s super useful and B it’s also hilarious and C. It’s just what I needed. Thank you for being awesome, awkward, and so amazingly real.

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5 Ways to Better Accomplish Your Health Goals – Sharion

[…] Setting rewards can be a great way to give yourself a little extra motivation to keep going even when its hard. Becoming healthier can be a huge challenge, but by keeping things positive and being kind to yourself you can help ensure that you have the best and most effective experience possible. Allowing for the occasional cheat day or break as a reward for work well done can be a great way to stay enthusiastic and have more fun with your process. […]


WE did this long back. my husband left us. we were broke.I was a mother, determined to give a good life for my son. my teenage and me together we came up such simple solutions, which really made our life wonderful !!!


All good ideas and doable except possibly the one about taking a day off from work. I’m retired now, thank Heaven. By the time I escaped from Corporate America, there was no such thing as a day off. Even when you were technically “off” you were actually “on”. Woe betide the serfs who failed to answer their cell phones.


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