The phrases “as a treat” and “a little treat” have lived on the internet for years. But, as it is known to do, TikTok has breathed new life into these concepts with the #LittleTreat trend.
The premise is simple: when you feel literally any emotion, you deserve a treat. Had a bad day? Get a little treat. Had a good day? Get a little treat. Minor inconvenience? Major inconvenience? Celebrating? Commiserating? You get the point.
i don’t make the rules #treatyourself
It gets me through the day
Everyone deserves a little treat ✨ #littletreat #littletreatculture #tiktoktrending
This is Gen Z’s version of the #TreatYourself craze of the 2010s. To be honest, I never really got that phrase out of my vocabulary and now it’s being bolstered by my constant insistence to myself that, yes, in fact, I really do deserve a little treat.
To be honest, I was probably indulging myself in my passing whims just as often before this trend. But now, every time I stop by a bakery for a sweet treat or a coffee shop for a little drink, I hear the voices of a thousand TikTok creators in my head, cheering me on.
But, a buzzkill as always, the ration part of my brain keeps asking: should I really be getting all these little treats? Let’s do the math.
Of course, the little treat trend is also an answer to the ubiquitous latte logic in personal finance communities. Remember when finance gurus were insisting that the reason young people were so broke and could not buy houses was because of lattes and avocado toast? This has become somewhat of a joke. So much so that the latte is a symbol of defiance to that logic or any hyper-restrictive approach to personal finance.
However, it’s obviously true that if I bought fewer treats, I’d have more money. So I’m stuck between a rock and a hard place.
To justify all these little treats, a complimentary trend on TikTok has formed called Girl Math. Girl Math is the kind of logic that justifies things like little treats as necessary. Also on the Girl Math curriculum? Saving money by buying on sale, making money by returning an item, and getting something for free by paying in cash.
somehow it makes sense #girlmath 🤷🏼♀️
And so while Girl Math obviously advocates for little treats, does any other finance framework support this habit? Surprisingly, yes.
Most modern personal finance advice aims to be empathetic. Studies have shown that, more than anything, emotions drive our money decisions. Yes, emotions. Not heartless logic. And this is true for all genders. Though women have a sexist stereotype attached to them of being frivolous overspenders and bad with money, men are just as likely to spend on pleasure and “non-essential” items.
This means we’re all in the same boat: battling the desire to buy a little treat.
But it doesn’t mean there’s no hope for saving money. In fact, by removing shame from your buying decisions and giving yourself permission to buy a little treat, you can actually save — and make — more money. Sounds too good to be true? Here’s why it’s not.
Think of it like a restrictive diet. If you deprive yourself of anything but super clean, super boring foods, you’re going to end up binging on way more unhealthy food than you would have eaten otherwise. That’s because by obsessing over something you can’t have, your brain fixates on it even more. So by giving yourself permission to indulge, you take yourself out of your scarcity mindset.
All of this to say: treat yourself. You really do deserve it.
But if you are looking for some ways to reign in your spending on little treats without guilt, here are three tips to consider.
Plan your little treats
I plan my treats in advance when I know I’m going to have a busy day or to go along with a new episode of a TV show. By scheduling my little treats, I know I have them to look forward to so I am not tempted to buy random things along the way.
Add little treats to your budget
Though budget can seem like a dirty word, it’s actually just another word for ‘spending plan.” So make a plan with your money. Tally how much you typically spend on your little treats every week or month. Are you happy with that number? Do you want to be spending less? Maybe more? Give yourself a realistic goal and stick to it. By prioritizing treats in your budget, you know there’s always room for some self soothing Starbucks.
Save somewhere else
I saw a girl say that once every week she walks instead of taking public transit to and from work. With the money she saves on her commute, she puts those funds towards a sushi dinner at the end of the month. Genius. If you can trim away in other places in your budget, you can give the remaining funds to your little treats. After all, if little treats make you happy, they deserve to be a priority.