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What’s Worth Splurging On?

By Christine.Coppa |

Life as you know it changes when you’re a parent. I don’t care if you’re married, in a relationship, single or have a village rearing your kid. One major aspect of life that changed for me is spending money. Prior to getting pregnant I worked to pay my insane NYC rent. I was a full-time editorial assistant making under 30K. I eventually got promoted to an assistant editor and crept over the 30K mark, but still I took a job reporting for a small downtown newsletter for extra money.

Then I got pregnant. Then I was pregnant and single and everything regarding what I earned and spent took on a new life. However, I can’t deny there are things worth splurging on. After the jump, five no brainers … in my book. 

Sneakers for JD. I recently spent $80 on two pair of sneaks for my son. I bought him Nikes and Converse. $80 is a lot of money period, let alone for sneakers for a kid whose foot grows every six months or so, but here’s why I do it. There’s this local mom and pop shoe store in the town of Wayne where I grew up. It’s called Richard’s. When I was a little girl my parents took my brothers and me there for our shoes. Richard, the owner is like a fixture and I like to support local businesses. Plus, the staff doesn’t BS you.

If JD measures a 12, I’m sold a 12.5 so he can grow and get use out of the shoes. I’d be lying if I said this didn’t have anything to do with (my) style, because it does, but there’s another reason I splurge on good footwear for JD.

I once bought him a pair of $12 sneakers from a big name retail store. They lit up and he begged for them. In the store they fit and he was happy. After one day of wearing them his feet hurt and he refused to wear them “ever again, mom!” I returned them. Sometimes quality does count. And tip: Once I get a new pair of sneaks at Richard’s, I go to this place called “Famous Footwear” and buy JD another pair of brand name shoes at a discounted price.

Health Insurance. As a self-employed writer, health insurance for me is considered a splurge. (JD’s coverage is secured through the Child Support Guidelines of NJ and he has and is entitled to “Cadillac coverage” that his father and I both pay for). As for me? I wish I didn’t have to pay for a policy. It’s truly an expense I just cringe about every month.

Knock on wood, in the four years I’ve been self-employed I’ve never been hospitalized or badly injured. This is a good thing, but it kind of makes me just want to pay my OB-GYN her fee of $175 and not pay monthly insurance, but as a mommy, I just can’t not be covered. If I got sick, or injured and needed 911 services or surgery, I would get slapped with thousands of dollars of  medical bills and that is frightening. So, I suck it up and pay for a plan that suits my needs. It certainly isn’t “Cadillac” but if my appendix blows … I’m good.

Electronics. In 2007 I sold the proposal for my book Rattled! and bought a Macbook. I wrote Rattled!, Storked! and every other piece on that baby. But I recently invested in a new MacBook Pro because I run my business off a computer and my computer was truly dated. It still works and I got a good five years out of her, but she was slowing down and my workflow was speeding up.

The good news is, I kind of made my old computer JD’s. I added a ton of educational games to it and bought a mouse which is good for his fine motor skills. But, yes, I splurged on a tool that produces income for me—and that I can write-off. :)

School. JD is currently attending a Private Kindergarten program that has age appropriate before and after-care from 7 AM to 6 PM. There is tuition. It’s not cheap, but it does give me peace of mind when I’m sitting in traffic at 5:30 PM and I have until 6 PM to get to him, or pay a little extra if I’m late.

As for me, I’m currently looking into finishing my MFA in Creative Writing because I want to teach at a college like The New School or The University of the Arts one day. I started my MFA in 2003 and have about 12 credits to go. I’ll be paying for this, but I think in the long-run, it will be paying me.

Entertainment. JD and I love being out and about and some of the stuff we do costs cash money! We love the zoo, shows, movies, local carnivals, the beach in the summer and vacationing somewhere once a year. When we visit museums I always donate to the arts if the admission is free.

Same is said for JD’s extra activities: Soccer, Karate and Tee-Ball—this is all part of childhood.













Some may disagree with my choice to throw a birthday party for $400, but in our area, this is normal. We actually have a hayride, apple-picking, pumpkin-themed birthday on Sunday at a farm. I don’t skimp on fun. And I don’t skimp on fun for me. If I want to go out, I go out. If a non-family member isn’t loving JD up, I pay between $12 and $15 an hour for a sitter—and this splurge is OK in my book, because it keeps me sane. It’s healthy to have time away from your kids. 

Looking back at my “splurges,” I’m laughing a little. Maybe you expected to read about designer bags, but I haven’t bought one in two years and I do in fact have a nice collection. I’m not a new season, new bag girl. I’m a buy a designer bag every now and then because they last. I don’t buy trendy, logo bags. I’m currently rocking a Marc Jacobs from 2006 (GASP), but I doubt you’d know it. I buy jeans at Zara for $30 and drugstore makeup. My best friend cuts my hair for free (she’s JD’s godmother). I’m a fan of the designers that work with Target and have a collection of tops from Calypso and Tucker. I’m also a proud TJ Maxx shopper. I’m pretty low-key. My money is better spent on my son’s 529 college plan, my IRA and the dentist (since neither JD or I have dental insurance). Splurging is not really in my vocab and frankly I’m a better woman for it.

PS: I just spent $28 on Honor Bound: My Journey To Hell And Back With Amanda Knox. By Raffaele Sollecito with Andrew Gumbel. As an author, I support the sale of books and I like the way books smell. #Splurge!

What do you splurge on? Please share!

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About Christine.Coppa



Christine Coppa is the author of Rattled! (Broadway Books, 2009), the creator of's Storked blog and a freelance fashion market editor. Her son, Jack, is 5 and they hail from North NJ. Her work has appeared in Glamour, First for Women, Redbook and Parenting among other publications.

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17 thoughts on “What’s Worth Splurging On?

  1. Mindy says:

    from day one we always have splurged on shoes for our son (us too!) i am a firm believer in spending on a good pair of shoes as you are on your feet all the time. i spend less on clothes that i know will get stained etc…
    we so splurge when we are on vacations as we think of those as once in a lifetime experiences. we want to have fun while we are young. and we like to eat so we splurge when we go
    out, which is not that often anymore :)

  2. Jules says:

    Seriously a great article. And the shoe store totally reminds me of my mom who bought me salt water sandals 2x a summer when I was a kid because she loved them, I loved them, and we both loved the store (and also because they were sold at a cute little shoe boutique in a shopping center in our hometown)

  3. Lisa says:

    I love Richards shoes. I went there as a kid and now its my splurge for my son. They are one of the few stores that carry wide with shoes for my 2 1/2 year old, and they are really knowledgeable!

  4. AshleyP says:

    I agree! This is a great article. We don’t have much money, but there are certain things I can’t go cheap on. My son’s shoes. We, too, have bought cheap shoes before. He ran right through them. He plays hard, and is hard on his clothes. He had holes in the $12 shoes within a couple of weeks (also ran through New Balance and Nike). Now we only by Stride Rite. We have to pay $50 or $60 per pair (unless I find clearance specials..SCORE!), but it’s worth it. He can wear them until his feet grow. We also can’t go super cheap on his jeans. Same principle, he rips holes in the knees of the cheap ones. We buy the kind with reinforced knees. Somethings are worth splurging on.

  5. DeathMetalMommy says:

    There’s nothing at all wrong with occasionally slurging on yourself. It gets harder the more kids you have, though. I read once that a something as simple as a new lipstick can make a woman happy. I totally believe it.

  6. Tara says:

    Christine ~ I am intrigued by your comment about buying books. As an author, what are your feelings on e-readers? I am torn. I love the convenience, the environmental savings, and the fact that I have less “book clutter”. But I definitely hear you on that new book feel/smell.

  7. Heather says:

    My husband is a bankruptcy attorney and you wouldn’t believe how many of his clients are struggling with creditors over large unexpected medical bills. And yet he doesn’t have health insurance! Drives me bonkers! Glad to see that you’re coughing up for ins. even though it feels unnecessary.

  8. Lisa says:

    I love Richard’s shoes! My mother would take us there when we were very young, and now i take my 2 1/2 year old son there as well. They really are knowledgeable, and they are one of the few stores that carry wide width shoes for my little man. Due to daycare expenses, shoes are our only splurge. I think i only own one designer bag, which i received on my 30th birthday!

  9. Crystal T says:

    My splurges are all about my little boy. He has big wide feet so we do spend on good shoes. Also, traveling and day trips. My splurge is prolly on books as well. I try to wait until they are marked down or come out in paperback. I’m like you, everyone tells me to get a Kindle and I am tempted, but I love to hold a book in my hands! Can’t wait to read Honor Bound, it looks really good. Let me know what you think of it.

  10. Christine.Coppa says:

    @Tara, I get quarterly statement on Rattled! My book sells more e-books than paperback. I appreciate any sale at this point. I like the way books smell. I like holding a book. I like going to bookstores with my son and drinking coffee while he browses books. I’m not ready to read via the iPad. One day … xo

  11. MamaBear says:

    Very wise to have insurance! I know it’s like paying a mortgage :( but one major health crisis could bankrupt you. My parents are retired business owners and their insurance is a freaking house payment ::sigh::

    off topic, but wondering how your name is pronounced?

  12. Ashley says:

    Christine- I totally get the birthday thing. It can be overwhelmingly expensive. As a matter of fact, I’m throwing a bday party for my daughter next weekend at a park, although her birthday is not until the end of November. The prices for a Bounce U/Pump it Up/gymnastics party were crazy! (The price you pay for having a kiddo with a late fall bday in DC) I was able to rent a spacious room at a lovely park near our home, for $140. Decorations are home/WalMart made. In the midst of all of this, it can get tricky to “splurge” on yourself, but you rock that MJ bag, just like I’m rocking my Urban Outfitters tote from three years ago! BTW I’m so excited that you are considering going back to school to complete your MFA! I’ve been procrastinating on this for I don’t know how long, I even sent my transcripts and personal statement but not a writing sample…and that was two years ago! I go back and forth doubting it all the time. I’m so glad you are going for it!

  13. H says:

    I wouldn’t consider it a splurge, but I hope that in addition to health insurance you have invested in life insurance. My husband and I both have policies for ourselves, so that in the event of anything tragic happening to either or both of us, our future children will be taken care of.

  14. Christine.Coppa says:

    @H: A will is a given. Yep, I selected a guardian for JD. As for life ins: Not a splurge at all. I’m young and healthy. $20 bucks a month for a substantial policy. Plus, JD’s dad is required by law to maintain same (though his is smaller than mine – his choice), with JD as beneficiary in the event of his untimely demise – JD has rights to his Social Security too. Know the laws single parents and USE them!!

  15. jones says:

    Christine-good for you for having life insurance, but JD should not be named as the beneficiary. Minor children cannot receive proceeds of life insurance policies directly and many states require a court appointed conservator to manage the funds and distribute proceeds when a beneficiary reaches age 18. It is better to have a trust set up for a child in your will and then name the trustee of that trust as the beneficiary.

  16. Colleen says:

    I just love hearing about your career aspirations…I think you’d make a great prof one day! Way to take on a difficult subject. We splurge on ballet for our daughter and four year old preschool. We always talk about how we could pay a mortgage on a second home with what we pay for school for two kids!

  17. Click to see pat mcmanus and rock in prevention says:

    I do not even know how I stopped up right here, however I thought this publish was great. I do not recognize who you’re but definitely you’re going to a famous blogger for those who are not already. Cheers!

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