It’s difficult, if not impossible, to draw a hard-and-fast line on when to spend a little extra for convenience foods and when to avoid prepared or prepackaged items all together. Individual financial realities are often in flux, or at least have the potential to be. Life is a series of seasons, and just as there is a time to laugh and a time to cry, there is also a time to spend and a time to save.

If you are making a conscious effort to save, that goal can also be a valuable guide as to when and how you ought to spend. Financial guru Suze Orman suggests that shifting your mentality so you enjoy saving as much as spending, if not even more, will help you be more successful in your savings.

When saving feels like a chore, and you have the sense that you’re missing out on something, you’re less likely to be consistent with it. But if you can celebrate each dollar put away for a bigger goal, whether that’s for your emergency fund, a down payment on a home, or even a vacation, the opposite is true and you may reach your goal at or ahead of time.

It follows, then, that this mindset will also help you gauge which additional expenses are worth it to you and which simply aren’t.

For argument’s sake, let’s say you’re in financial circumstances that make it possible to choose between a salad kit and a basket of ingredients, between eating out or cooking in, and between a cup of coffee at your favorite shop or brewing a pot at home. 

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