1. Buy the coffee you really want.
… not the homeless latté you fix up at the milk bar so you don’t blow your whole paycheck on a coffee habit, but the extra-large, extra-whip, 5 pump hazelnut with two extra shots. Doing this one day a week might be a little extravagant, but hey, sometimes you need that.
2. Alternatively, order the pastry that’s calling your name from behind the glass case.
I’m still convinced my coworker is being sponsored by the almond croissant industry to hawk their wares, but pick your poison and ask for it on a plate. Take a few extra minutes to sit down with it (and your fancy coffee with all them bells and whistles) and really savor that cupcake-for-breakfast.
COST: $3, but priceless if your coffee shop also has a garden or patio or even a little bench outside and the weather is nice.
3. Nab a new nail polish color…
… and give yourself a DIY spa session, cuticle pushing and base coat and all.
COST: $2 will nab you the best quick-dry I’ve ever seen on the market, but I’d also be remiss to not tell you about the $8 magic that would survive a nuclear bomb explosion and scrubbing cheese off of your mom’s porcelain.
4. Browse Spotify or Pandora for a feel-good playlist.
Spotify refreshes a really good #throwbackthursday mix every (duh) Thursday, but if that isn’t enough for you, this playlist never does wrong by me.
COST: FREE on webplayer, subscriptions vary.
You get tons of high-quality samples for a really low price, AND it’s like Christmas every month in your mailbox. (And everyone loves to get presents delivered in the mail.)
COST: $10 + tax
6. Rewatch a favorite episode from a TV show on Netflix.
I’m a bit of a masochist, but the episode of The Office when Jim ambushes Pam with how much he loves her? I swear I just happen to get something in my eye every time, but it’s like a 20-minute concentrated dose of #FEELS.
COST: $10 a month, but hey, you already have one of these subscriptions anyway, so it feels free now, doesn’t it?
7. Go on a shityoucanafford.com k-hole.
There’s tons of stuff you can afford, nothing you need, and everything you never knew your life was completely empty and pointless without.
COST: FREE to look, but then you’re going to see something and well, I can’t stop you from placing that order, my friend.
8. Online window-shop at a store that you have absolutely zero business shopping in…
… not because you want to torture yourself over the fact that you can’t afford it, but because lol like in no way is that your life right now and that is the whole point. One of my best girlfriends windowshops on BHLDN regularly because it’s fun to browse pretty, vintage-y sparkles even if her strongest relationship is with the grocery store cashier.
COST: FREE, if you don’t have your credit card memorized and accidentally do something you know you shouldn’t.
9. Go for a run. Go for a walk around the block. Get some air.
Move that booty of yours. Dance around (see the playlist for song ideas) in your underoos. Get your blood flowing somehow. Because in the Gospel according to Elle, it is said that:
COST: FREE, with the added bonus of less stress, a better looking backside, and all them other add-ons in the name of #health.
10. Go to a thrift store and spend a dedicated 25 minutes really looking for the uncommonly good stuff.
Sometimes it takes no time at all to find really awesome things, but any self-respecting thrifter (or Forever 21 aficionado) knows it takes a few surveys of the store before you go in for the kill.
COST: Prices vary, but if I once found a pair of nearly-new Manolos for $48, God knows what other untold magical treasures thrift stores contain.
11. Volunteer at an animal shelter for an afternoon.
You get to snuggle puppies and kittens and give back to the community.
COST: FREE, my friends — unless you decide you need to take home a furry forever friend, in which case that love is worth every last cent.
12. LIBRARIES. THE ORIGINAL NETFLIX, BUT FOR WORDS.
COST: FREE, just watch out for overdue fees. Stick a reminder on iCal, babies.
13. Give yourself a mini-makeover at lunch.
I am not telling you to walk into Sephora and go absolutely crazy with all the testers you can reach before waltzing right back out without buying anything, but I mean. If you’re really just indecisive and don’t know what you want, and then decide at the last minute that you shouldn’t spend any money….
COST: FREE, but you might feel a little guilty for it afterward.
14. Remember the days when you had to beg your mom for a box of Gushers as a kid?
Go on, buy yourself a box of Gushers. Have them with lunch every day. Feel like your inner child finally won.
15. Dollar pizza.
No toppings, just unfettered cheese and unparalleled joy.
COST: $1, unless your pizza place has a very skewed interpretation of what the phrase “dollar pizza” means, in which case I humbly suggest you get a new pizza place.
16. Go to a matinee showing of a movie you really, really want to see but nobody else will go to with you.
Sure, you have to get up early, but you can sometimes get the whole theater to yourself the way a billionaire would. (I have a very skewed perception of what I would do if I was a billionaire, because I am never going to be a billionaire, but I would very definitely do this anyway.)
COST: typically always less than $10.
17. Google “Free Stuff In ________”.
Here’s lots of suggestions for New York and Los Angeles for starters — but any given town is bound to have something, and chances are good it’s being advertised somewhere online so that people actually, y’know, take advantage of it.
COST: FREE because let’s face it, you’re Googling this at work and not on the home Internet for which you gladly hand over crazy amounts of money.
18. Grab a box of crayons from the school supplies section of your local drug store.
Print out a few coloring templates, and doodle your heart out for the rest of the afternoon.
COST: $5, but the 120-crayon mega-pack with sharpener — yeah, remember that bad boy? — is still less than $9.
19. Call your mom or your brother or your boyfriend or your best friend or…
It doesn’t matter who you call, so long as you actually use your voice and minutes instead of texting them — and tell them you love them. And that, my friends, is absolutely PRICELESS.