By Lori Bongiorno
More from The Conscious Consumer blog
(Photo: Getty Images)Tired of scrimping? You're not alone. The recession has been dragging on for way too long. Many of us are feeling frazzled and just plain sick of worrying about saving money.
There are plenty of little things you can spend your time or money on that will make you feel pampered without breaking the bank. Just taking the time to reconnect and spend an hour or two with family and friends can feel luxurious.
Below are some suggestions to get you started. Many are experiences or little splurges so they're light on the planet as well as your wallet. Please share your ideas for simple luxuries in the comments below!
1. Go out to brunch. Enjoying a meal in the middle of the day can be just as much fun as eating dinner out and a lot less pricey.
2. Get a foot massage. A good foot massage might not be quite as relaxing as a full-body rub, but it's pretty darn close and easier on your wallet. Just walking into a spa can lift your spirits.
3. Have a themed movie rental week. Clear you calendar. Pick a time period or a genre and watch a movie every night. Don't forget about the local library as a source of free movies. In fact, more people borrow movies from the library than rent from Netflix, Redbox, or Blockbuster.
5. Download some fun apps for your phone. It seems like the number of new apps multiplies on a daily basis. Why not spend some time updating your collection? Here's a list to get you started.
6. Go to a tasting at a local wine store. And while you're there, buy one good bottle of wine. Savour it.
7. Treat yourself to some good chocolate. It's a healthy and delicious way to lift your spirits.
8. Make a candlelit dinner. It doesn't have to be fancy or time-consuming. You can create a delicious meal with a few simple, in-season ingredients. Turn off the ringer on your phone, light a few candles, and enjoy a quiet evening.
9. Have a themed weekend "away," but stay home. Go to Paris (or anywhere else) for the weekend without leaving your town. Indulge in chocolate croissants, French movies, dinner at a bistro, an Impressionist art exhibit, and more.
10. Pay someone to do a big chore. Take a break from cleaning your home, mowing your lawn, or weeding your garden.
11. Enjoy a pastry at your favorite bakery. Better yet, ask a friend to join you.
12. Take a leisurely walk in the park. Or visit your local botanical garden for an uplifting dose of nature.
13. Download new songs. Spend time previewing music and buy a song or two from a hip, new band. And while you're on iTunes, subscribe to some free podcasts.
14. Go to a movie, lecture, or concert at a nearby college. Events are often inexpensive or free and open to the public.
15. Take your family to a sporting event. It's always more fun to watch a baseball, basketball, or football in a stadium than in front of the TV.
16. Treat yourself to fresh-cut flowers. It's such a simple pleasure, and one that lasts all week, particularly if you remember to add a crushed up aspirin to the water.
17. Take a nap. You'll wake up feeling refreshed and relaxed.
19. Eat your lunch outside. Sometimes, simply taking a 20-minute break from in the middle of the day can feel like a luxury.
20. Curl up with a good book. Swap books you no longer want for those you do, visit the library, or download a new eBook (some are free!).
21. Take a long, hot bath. Choose one of these luxurious, natural bath products for a relaxing soak. Spread on some scented cream when you're done for another layer of pampering.
22. Visit a museum. Many have free-admission nights and other fun events. Or splurge on tickets to avoid the crowds.
23. Bake a cake. Take the time to bake a cake or tackle a time-consuming recipe you've wanted to try. Remember to take the time afterwards to sit back and savor each bite.
24. Go on a walking tour. It's such a fun way to learn more about your city and get outside. If you can't find a nearby tour, download one to your MP3.
25. Treat yourself to a good cup of coffee. We know you've been making coffee at home to save money, but it's fun to splurge on a latte or other specialty beverage once in a while.
26. Sleep in. Forget about your To Do List and take a morning to yourself.
27. Give yourself a facial. Here are eight DIY facials to choose from.
28. Take a cooking class. There's no time like the present to learn how to bake bread or prepare delicious home-cooked meals.
29. Go to a matinee movie. Somehow an afternoon showing feels like more of an indulgence than going in the evening. And it's often less expensive.
30. Add a new wallpaper or ringtone to your phone. It's such a simple, but fun way to brighten your day.
Environmental journalist Lori Bongiorno shares green-living tips and product reviews with Yahoo! Green's users. Send Lori a question or suggestion for potential use in a future column. Her book, Green Greener Greenest: A Practical Guide to Making Eco-smart Choices a Part of Your Life is available on Yahoo! Shopping and Amazon.com.