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365 Ways to Reward Yourself (without Food or Money)

133 free ideas for rewarding yourself, plus loads more ways to reward yourself without food or money. 

Soooo…you’ve met this big, beautiful goal of yours and you’d LOVE to reward yourself…without derailing your efforts by spending lots of money.

woman enjoying listening to something in pink headphones, text overlay "365 ways to reward yourself"

OR, you have just set yourself some juicy goals to meet in the future, and you want to design what I like to call a “cookie crumb trail” of rewards to help you get there.

If you’re looking for a ton of low-cost ideas to reward yourself for meeting goals or building a new habit, then you’re in the right place.

First up? Let's look at the benefits of rewarding yourself. 

Benefits of Rewarding Yourself – Why Is it Important to Reward Yourself?

Rewarding yourself for goals you’re working on, and goals you’ve met is very important to do. Not only does it just feel dang good, but it also can help you achieve your goals (plus many more in the future).

In fact, there are many benefits of rewarding yourself (besides just enjoying the reward). 

When you reward yourself, you: 

  • Motivate and incentivize yourself to go after more goals
  • Reinforce and establish healthy, good habits
  • Reinforce building a new skill
  • Pamper yourself

That’s because a reward is anything that triggers the pleasure chemical in our brains (dopamine spikes) to make us feel pleasurable. These could be things and experiences that create joy, cause a smile, take us a step out of the norm, or perhaps something that reminds us of our childhood.

And when you feel pleasurable? You want to do more of that activity.

The reward activity, that is. But if you set up some rules around it – say, you have to meet X milestone before you get the next reward – then you’ll be more likely to do what it takes to get that reward.

The exciting thing about rewards for reaching goals is that in order for you + your mind to feel them, you don't have to spend next month's rent. So, when should you reward yourself?

Small Daily Self-Reward Ideas

I say, EVERYDAY…as well as special occasions, like each time you meet a milestone, every creditor you send packing, for sticking it out, for each semester you successfully complete, for losing weight, or as a prize in a group weight loss competition you set up at work, etc.

woman sitting back, relaxing in bath tub surrounded by candles as a small daily rewards

I mean, how can we resist frequent, small rewards for reaching goals when I've brainstormed 365 ways to reward yourself for $5-$10 or less?

Of course, $5 a day can add up quickly, so I've dedicated an entire section to free things that will trigger your reward response (plus sprinkled a few throughout).

Here are the different kinds of rewards you’ll be reading about below: 

  • Feel Good Rewards
  • Enlightening + Inspiring Rewards
  • Seasonal Rewards
  • Yummy Rewards
  • Free Rewards
  • Play Rewards

Whether or not these will give you that hit of dopamine is up to the type of person you are; so skip around and see what calls to you.

But before you do that? Keep reading.

How to Remember to Reward Yourself – My Cookie Crumb Trail of Rewards Setup

Remember how I said that rewarding yourself along the way toward your goals can actually help you achieve the overall goal?

It’s true – you want to set yourself up a cookie-crumb trail of rewards filled with things you will reward yourself with at various milestones towards your overall larger goal.

This is a wayyyyyy more fun way to get all the way to your goal than just waiting for one, big, juicy reward at the end.

What are Some Good Rewards?

Remember that with whatever rewards you choose to fill your cookie crumb trail with from below, you don’t want to derail your efforts.

For example, if you set goals to lose X pounds, then you probably don’t want to reward yourself with a gourmet bar of chocolate from Whole Foods.

Or, if one of your financial goals is to save X dollars for a family vacation to Colorado, then you should choose more rewards from the free section so that you can dedicate as much money as possible toward your goal.

Better yet, if you ARE going to pay for a reward, you could make sure it’s in line with your goal so that it will actually help you achieve it! Now that's the kind of positive reinforcement I can get behind.


  • Goal = Finish My Son’s Infant Scrapbook: Reward yourself with $5 worth of new scrapbook papers you wouldn’t normally splurge on, stickers, or a little scrapbooking tool that will make the rest of the job easier.
  • Goal = Upgrade to a New Car: When you reach a milestone in savings, buy a “New Car” air freshener to put in your current car to get you pumped up for that new one.
  • Goal = Lose 10 Pounds: Pick the free reward below where you take a belly dancing class on YouTube. Super fun, and you’ll help with the weight loss!
  • Goal = Family Vacation to Colorado: Splurge on a new set of luggage tags when you’ve saved up half the money.

You get the idea. Let’s move on to actual rewards to help you stay on track!

How to Reward Yourself Without Food or Money – Free Reward Ideas for Adults

Below, I’m dishing on FREE rewards that have nothing to do with food or spending money. These non-food rewards are particularly good for people needing cheap rewards that have nothing to do with eating (so if you have a health goal, for example).

red-headed woman leaning back on desk chair with big smiling, excited about ideas for how to reward yourself for studying

Build motivation without spending a ton of money!

Psst: want to actually spend money to reward yourself…but not with your own money? Download the Fetch app (for iPhone or for Android), and scan in your grocery receipts. Get points you can redeem for brand gift cards that you can then use to splurge on yourself. Love that!! If you go through my link and use the code “APREWARDS”? You'll get 3,000 points just for signing up.

How to Reward Yourself for Studying and How to Reward Yourself for Working Out:

1. Take the weekend off. Like, the whole weekend. No emails, no devices, just time spent doing whatever you would like.

2. Sit down in a quiet room to read a book you have been meaning to read.

3. Create a slideshow screensaver of your favorite photos, or of inspirational photos to reward you over and over again throughout the workweek.

4. Write in your journal. Don't have one? Start a new journal.

5. Listen to an inspirational TED Talk.

6. Sign up for free sample boxes (no credit card required, and no shipping costs!).

7. Get free products to review (without even needing to blog!). 

8. Create an “I'm Awesome” list to add some pep to your step (thanks to Courtney from Rule Breaker’s Club for this idea!).

9. Borrow an audiobook from the library and rev up your commute. Here's where else you can score free full-length audiobooks.

10. If you have a Netflix account that you share with others, put one thing at the top of the queue that is just for you (you could also sign up for a free two-week trial).

11. Browse a free digital magazine.

12. Give yourself the gift of completion – it will be SO rewarding to finish something on your to-do list. Seriously! Even more fun is getting to cross it off.

13. Turn off all notifications on your smartphone (we're talking email AND social media)…for the day, for the weekend, heck, forever! (thanks to Amber McCue from NiceOps for this idea!).

14. Light candles at your next meal to really elevate the experience.

15. Find a dock, take your shoes/socks off, and dangle your toes in the water.

16. *Actually* set an alarm or stay up to witness the next great astronomical phenomenon take over our skies: moon eclipse, solar eclipse, meteor showers, shooting stars, etc.

17. Create a responsibility-free zone for yourself for a set period of time. Some place where you don't feel like you have to do anything, your children don't need you, and you can just be.

18. Take a photo that represents the thing you are rewarding yourself for (reaching your debt payoff goal, savings goal, weight goal, etc.). Then hang it up in a high-traffic area. You'll smile each time you are reminded of what you have accomplished.

19. Download a free meditation app for your phone, like Smiling Mind.

20. Change your ringtone to something that makes you joyous each time it beckons!

21. Dive into a juicy, all-engulfing mystery a la Lifetime, Oxygen, or A&E.

22. Wear that outfit you only wear on special occasions, and strut around like a peacock! Bask in confidence and self-love all day long.

23. Take an extra-long, hot shower.

24. Take time for a five-minute meditation.

25. Soak in a bathtub.

26. Witness a sunset from a local natural point (beach, place in the city, up on a hill…).

27. Give yourself the gift of time: several hours of just whatever you want to do, or nothingness, quietness, etc.

28. Give yourself permission to spend an hour on Pinterest creating vision boards, perusing, or just daydreaming.

29. Find out when your area museum's free night/afternoon is, and mark it on your calendar for a date with yourself.

30. Arrange for someone else to pick your child up and bring them home (return the favor in the future).

31. Star Gaze (bonus: on Android smartphones, download the free Google Skymap App…it's addictive).

32. Download a free eBook on Amazon's Kindle (I’ve done the searching for you – this page is updated with free eBooks each day).

33. Let someone else do a task for you when they ask, such as the dishes or laundry.

34. Send away a free sample box with free shipping (no credit card required!)

35. Go to Amazon.com, plug in “Free” in the Movies department, and see what Amazon Instant Video downloads pop up!

36. Skip your next cleaning day. Just because! You can do it the next day or several days later.

37. Log into Overdrive.com and “Borrow” a new book you’d love to read for free.

38. Carve out some extra time and drive down a road you've never been.

39. Find a new series you'd like to dig into on Hulu.com.

40. Peruse the free section of Craigslist to see if you can score something for free.

41. Download free MP3 songs from Amazon.com from the ‘Artists to Watch' list.

42. Take photos off of your camera and/or phone, and make yourself a movie with a song. The process and the product will keep you smiling.

43. Look up your horoscope (and the ones of people in your life) for a good giggle.

44. Give yourself space and permission to read the salacious and hilarious “confessions” section of a Cosmo magazine (just like you did as a teenager!).

45. Find a local Shakespeare-in-the-Park outdoor performance (many times these are free).

46. Find some free fireworks, put them in your calendar, and enjoy the show.

47. Set an artificial deadline for whatever it is that you will be rewarding yourself for. Make the deadline a day, a week, or even a month ahead of time…then revel in the gift of completion and free time once the project is completed. It is such a reward not only to get something done but to get it done early and have truly guilt-free time on your hands!

48. Some cosmetic counters give free makeup sessions. Take advantage of this! You may learn a thing or two and will leave feeling great about your looks.

49. Turn your office, library, or living room into a belly dancing studio by taking a free lesson on YouTube. Bonus: invite friends over.

50. Change your screensaver and/or desktop background to something wonderful. Search online for free ones that will blow you away.

51. Look at your local library's website or call them up and see what free programs they offer. For example, at ours, you can take a free genealogy class.

52. Treat yourself to a free online tarot card reading (google this term).

53. Visit Freecycle.org and pick something out for yourself (it will be free, except for the gas to pick it up!).

54. Create a Wishlist on Amazon.com. Digital window shopping can be fun!

55. Sign up for a free mini-facial at your local Origins store.

56. Treat your feet to some self-reflexology.


57. Allow your body to wake up naturally by sleeping in tomorrow.

58. Set aside an hour of time (call in the troops if you need to) to do something that you never seem to have time to do.

59. Create a pantry face mask.

60. Take an hour and go through past photos; you will feel amazing + filled with love afterward!

61. Turn your alarm clock off.

62. Take a nap.

63. Check the air in your bicycle tires, and take your bike out for an un-timed joyride.

64. Light up a room full of candles, or just light your candlesticks at dinner tonight.

65. Take the night off from dinner by having your partner cook for your household.

66. Instead of running errands one Saturday, have your partner do so and take a day off. The next time they need a reward, offer to take something off of their plate!

67. Hit your major acupressure points on body parts other than your feet. These points can lead to happiness!

68. Pop in your favorite childhood movie for a lighthearted, carefree time (mine is The Little Mermaid!).

69. Visit a pet store and spend some time with the kittens and puppies (always a reward for me!).

70. Declare your accomplishment on Facebook and let the praise come in! You don't have to be specific if you'd rather not. Instead, you can just say something like, “I just met a big-time goal of mine! Yay me!”

71. Indulge in what the Japanese call shinrin-yoku (translation: Forest Bathing).

72. Crank up the radio or iPod to your favorite song and dance around the room.

73. Monkey around for an hour. Draw, dance, do headstands (or at least try), etc.

74. Take a delicious hour of uninterrupted, fantastic, video gameplay.

75. Put together a puzzle or play with a Rubik’s cube.

76. Google “free online game” and have some fun.

77. Build a sandcastle with or without the kiddos.

78. Record a really funny voicemail message (inspired by my aunt and uncle who came up with a rap for their message–so fun!).

79. Enjoy uninterrupted television time to watch your favorite sports team.

80. Attend a high school sporting event on a Friday night.

81. Try your hand at sudoku.

82. Research local haunted places and then visit them.

83. Sit on your back porch and blow bubbles.

84. Indulge in half an hour of uninterrupted play on your smartphone games (my favorites are Ruzzle and Words with Friends).

85. Take half an hour to sign up for freebies on your birthday so that on your birthday you'll get lots of rewards!

86. Take a fun (FREE) class online on a subject you are highly interested in, or anything that will make you beam from ear to ear.

87. Find belly dancing how-to on YouTube and get to it!

88. Participate in a flash mob.

89. Create a vision board for free on Canva.com or PicMonkey.com. 

90. Fly your kite.

91. Doodle on a piece of paper, or actually color in those adult coloring books you’ve got.

92. Invite your core group of friends over for a poker night. No poker chips? Use something else like pennies from your penny jar or coupons (a la the movie scene in Mr. Mom).

93. Delight in a Skype hour with one of your favorite people. Don't forget a glass of wine!

94. Spend an interrupted 20 minutes playing with your cat (bonus: buy one of those little laser toys for endless fun).

95. Go to YouTube.com, and plug in “Stand Up Comedy” in the search bar. Take your pick and enjoy the belly-laugh-inducing show!

96. Go to Amazon.com, plug in “Free” in the Game Apps department (I've done it for you by clicking here), and see what free Amazon games pop up!

97. Pick a series to watch and get lost in it by sending away for the first season or two on Netflix.

98. Get your karaoke on by downloading a free karaoke app on your smartphone and belting it out.

99. Test drive your dream car at a car dealership.

100. Rock out to your favorite new playlist you've made yourself on Spotify.com.

101. Get moving with a salsa lesson via YouTube.

102. Create a hangout on Google Hangout with a group of your friends from high school or college. This can be addicting! Everyone with a camera on their laptop can see each other and you guys can catch up together.

103. Solitaire, Jenga, and so many other games can be played alone. Set aside time to do nothing but play with whatever game you have on hand.

104. Search for fun smartphone apps on Amazon.com to download and play. You can sort from lowest to highest price (many are free) – check out the lefthand sidebar here.

105. Line up your husband, a friend, or a family member (grandparents would be great!) to watch your kids for several hours so that you can take the time for yourself.

106. Grab a salacious, delicious magazine, or a fun novel, and head to the beach for several hours. Listen to the beautiful rhythm of the waves as you lose yourself in a great story.

107. Play frisbee with your dog.

108. Dust off your rollerblades and head on outside!

109. Skinny dip wearing nothing but moonlight!

110. Call your local radio station and make a request for a song you want to hear.

111. Search your area for a local “movie in the park”. These are generally free showings of an older movie on a huge screen under the stars.

112. Cash in your random airline frequent flyer miles (if you don’t travel often enough to accumulate much, or had to use an airline you normally don’t) for magazines or other rewards of your choice.

113. Hoola hoop (you know you want to…).

114. Find another couple (or two) that you can swap babysitting with so that you can take a night off. In return give them a night off when they want one.

115. See if your area zoo has a free day (Houston’s zoo is free on the first Tuesday of every month, except for summer months) and play hooky.

116. Talk your beau into giving you a scalp massage. These feel amazing!

117. Head to the ocean and jump waves. Floating in the ocean is fun as well!

118. Bring up some well-known SNL (Saturday Night Live) clips on YouTube and be prepared to bust a gut.

119. Belt out your favorite show tunes! The louder and more boisterous, the better.

120. Walk around your home completely naked.

121. During the next rain, put on your rain boots (or not) and splash around in puddles like you used to do as a kid.

122. Learn a magic trick you can delight people with at your next get-together (search for magic trick tutorials on YouTube).

123. Meet your significant other for an impromptu Honeymoon Lunch at home (hint: you may want to bring something to snack on later at your desk).

124. Start up a Scrabble tournament with someone else (one of my favorite things!). Keep a pad of paper and pencil around so that you can keep a tally (and can pick up whenever you've got time next).

125. Skip to your next destination (down the hallway, to your desk, away from your desk, to bed, etc.).

126. Arrange for someone else to pick your child up and bring them home (return the favor in the future).

127. Skip your next cleaning day. Just because! You can do it the next day or several days later.

128. Change your screensaver and/or desktop background to something wonderful. Search online for free ones that will blow you away.

129. Watch a B-rated horror movie you either DVR’d or you netflixed. These can be SO funny.

130. Tell your Mom what it is that you’ve accomplished. It can be very rewarding to hear approval and praise from the ones we love and look up to.

131. The next time someone pays you a compliment, accept it wholeheartedly. Don’t think that you don’t deserve it, and don’t discount it. Just take it in.

132. Pajama day! Give yourself permission to lounge in your favorite PJs all day long. Heck, make it a Tuesday. Just because.

133. Take a carefree joyride in your car. Crank up tunes that make you feel great, roll the windows down, and let your hair play in the wind. Take it in.

134. Clean your home during a weeknight instead of on the weekend so that your weekend feels really rewarding.

135. Give yourself permission to stop watching the news for a while. The reward is taking a lot of negativity out of your day – you’d be amazed how good it feels to go on non-news binges.

136. Have someone else drive you somewhere so that you can spend the time to look all around. What do you see that you typically miss when you are too busy driving and commuting?

137. Eat your next meal using your finest silverware and pottery that you only bring out on “special” occasions.

104. Use one of these cheap ways to decorate your office at work to buy yourself a new office supply or decoration for $5 or less.

How to Reward Yourself for Being Productive – Self-Discipline Rewards

Do you use the Pomodoro technique? I do. It has really upped my efficiency and ability to get things done.

I use the free online tomato timer to do this. After each 25-minute increment of focused work, you’re supposed to take a 5-minute break.

Well…what if you rewarded yourself during those 5 minutes so that you are more motivated to complete another 25-minute work session? You might just make yourself happy PLUS up your productivity game at the same time.

Asian woman sitting on couch with leg up, smiling, listening to something awesome to reward yourself with

Here are 5-minute ways to reward yourself for being productive: 

1. Enjoy a 5-minute back-gasm. In prep, make a yoga back massager using a foam pool noodle at the dollar store + a dowel rod at a craft store. Squish the dowel rod inside the hole in the foam pool noodle. Place the noodle on the floor, lay your back onto it, and roll yourself slowly up and down (stopping when you'd like to melt into certain areas of your back).

2. Go to YouTube.com, and plug “EFT Tapping”(Emotional Freedom Tapping) into the search bar. Enjoy some of the expensive treatments stars do (in fact, EFT tapping was just used on one of Tori and Dean's reality television show episodes!).

3. Give yourself permission to bounce around on your yoga ball like a kid for at least 5 minutes (bonus: not only does this induce giggles, but it is a mini-workout!).

4. Swing in your porch swing. Don’t have one? Use the swings at your local park…who says they’re just for kids?

5. Slowly create an inspirational playlist made up of specific songs that represent a specific accomplishment or milestone. Start it off by purchasing 3 $1.29 tunes for this reward.

6. Open up a savings account specifically for a trip you want to take. Name the account something cool + specific, like Nom! Nom! Italy!, and every time you come to a point where you should reward yourself, put the $5 into this account.

7. Be present. Seriously. In whatever you are doing, simply remember to be in the moment. Engage yourself. This is hugely rewarding.

8. Rid your Facebook wall of negative commenters and posters by taking a few minutes to delete people who bring you down, (or you can hide their posts).

9. Order a free guidebook from the tourist board of a place you want to go to.

10. When was the last time you actually indulged yourself by sitting in a garden? Bring a chair to your nearest flower area, sit down, and smell the heady, natural aromas.

11. Lose a few moments in a warm mug of tea.

12. When was the last time you bought an actual coconut, cracked it open, and ate it out in the sun?

13. Look up your horoscope (and the ones of people in your life) for a good giggle.

14. Give yourself space and permission to read the salacious and hilarious “confessions” section of a Cosmo magazine (just like you did as a teenager!).

15. Treat your feet to some self-reflexology.

16. Declare your accomplishment on Facebook and let the praise come in! You don't have to be specific if you'd rather not. Instead, you can just say something like, “I just met a big-time goal of mine! Yay me!”

17. Spend an interrupted 5 minutes playing with your cat (bonus: buy one of those little laser toys for endless fun).

18. Putz around Google Earth. How rewarding to find hidden treasures on our earth, like the time someone found an uncontacted tribe or even when someone found a person shipwrecked and had them rescued! You'd be amazed at what you will find.

19. Pull out the ‘ol hacky sack (or buy a new one for a few bucks) and give yourself ten minutes of pure play.

How to Reward Yourself for Accomplishing Goals – Stay Motivated

Are you ready to get a list of things you can BUY to reward yourself, that all cost either $5 or less or $10 or less (mostly the $5 or less category)?

1. Five minutes at a chair massage place (typically $1 a minute).

2. Buy one new pair of VS panties.

3. Go wild on this Amazon list of deals, sorted from low price to high (hint: prices starting at $0.99).

4. Purchase a facial mask (single packet) from the store, turn on your favorite show, and use it.

5. Pick out a new fish for your aquarium.

6. Pay your child $5 to do something around the house you don’t want to do.

7. Buy $5 worth of stock in a company (hopefully even more rewards will come your way later!).

8. Deck out your smartphone with a new cover.

9. Try out a new lip gloss or lip color.

10. Shop the clearance section of your favorite store (thrift shops included!). You'll be amazed at what you can find for $5 or less.

11. Buy a new-car-smelling air freshener and put it under your passenger seat.

12. Purchase several pieces of gorgeous paper for your scrapbook, and make your memories pop!

13. Buy a pack of glow-in-the-dark stars, affix them to your ceiling, and sleep under the stars for a night.

14. Buy a nice pair of foot gels to put in your shoes and reward yourself with each step you take.

15. Buy a scalp massager and go to town.

16. Buy one bath fizz ball from a luxury soap place to spice up your next bath.

17. Buy yourself a cute new pair of socks!

18. Buy jewelry cleaner and add lots of sparkle to your rings (this will make you feel like a million bucks)!

19. Pick out some beauty products you’ve wanted to try from the travel section at your local Target.

20. Load up your Crockpot with water + flat, black spa rocks (hint: you might find these smooth river rocks at the craft store or pet store). Put these on your pain areas, or along your spine, sit, and enjoy. Add a drop of essential oils like lavender to permeate the room and stones.

21. Do you have an iPhone? Why not personalize it by choosing a home button sticker that sings to you? Click here for countless “Home Button Sticker” options.

22. Go to the artisan soap area of your local department store, and pick out something for under $5. Bonus: actually use it by taking a bath tonight!

23. Shop for beautiful sets of chopsticks on Amazon.com, such as bamboo, stainless steel, etc.

24. Search for an accessory (or two) to purchase from Forever21.com in their “Under $5” section.

25. Buy a cute, reusable coffee cup to sip all your future coffee with at a store like TJ Maxx or Ross.

26. Go bumper sticker shopping! Pick one that represents who you are…or keeps people guessing.

27. Purchase a trash mag or favorite magazine, right off the newsstand.

28. Rent a DVD from Redbox.

29. Find a community or donation-only yoga class and attend.

30. Make a $5 donation to a good cause that stirs your heart.

31. Pick one DIY project from your Pinterest board that will cost less than $5 to do (hint: it helps if you have most of the necessary materials).

32. Donate $5 to a person on the street.

33. Buy the kind of new bookmark that gets you excited to read.

34. Purchase several small stalks of bamboo and arrange them on your desk or other high-use area that may not get a lot of sunshine.

35. Open up a savings account specifically for a trip you want to take. Name the account something cool + specific, like Nom! Nom! Italy!, and every time you come to a point where you should reward yourself, put the $5 into this account.

36. Buy a new fishing lure and go fishing at your favorite place.

37. Take $5 to your local nursery and buy a new plant to freshen up your outdoor space

38. Give $5 to the neighborhood kid to rake your yard.

How to Reward Yourself for Meeting Goals with Yummy Food Rewards

I know, I know – there’s a huge movement right now to not reward yourself with food.

But you know what? I like to do it (there – I said it!). I find food rewards to be very effective, delicious, AND within the $5/reward range of spending we’re trying to stick with. And I'm okay with that reward system.

Yummy Food Rewards for Treating Yourself:

1. Order a Signature Drink (Frappuccino, girly drink, homemade strawberry lemonade, etc.).

2. Eat your ultra-deluxe, favorite candy bar.

3. Buy a craft beer you've never tried before.

4. Pop the cork and sit down to a glass of wine this evening.

5. Order a piece of cheesecake at a restaurant/chocolate bar/etc.

6. Visit a store with a candy counter and buy whatever $5 will get you.

7. Spend $5 at a food truck.

8. Buy a cupcake at a cupcake boutique.

9. Stop off after work (or before) and grab a donut.

10. Grab a glass of real lemonade from any place you can find it. How refreshing!

11. Buy a more expensive cooking ingredient you don’t normally splurge on in your normal grocery budget (like almond butter).

12. Buy several of your favorite kolaches on the way home.

13. Go through the drive-thru and get some McDonald's Fries.

14. Buy something indulgent from the bulk food bins at Whole Foods. Bring $5 to an Asian food market and purchase an interesting ingredient to attempt to cook with.

15. Find a free or less-than-$5 wine tasting.

16. Buy a carton of your favorite ice cream (mini-sized is allowed!).

17. Buy two cake pops from your local bakery, coffee shop, or cupcake boutique.

18. Order a milkshake.

19. Go to a real bakery (bonus points if you find a Parisian one), and buy something out of the case.

20. Order a root beer float.

21. Go to your local Menchie's and make your own yogurt or sorbet sundae (they sell them by weight).

22. Buy your favorite DQ Blizzard (chocolate chip cookie dough, baby).

23. Like things spicy? Purchase a new bottle of hot sauce or seasoning to try.

24. Set up a hot sauce tasting with the ones in your fridge, one or two mini-bottles from the store + some chips. Lay out the spread in several small bowls or a partitioned dish.

25. Pop some popcorn and make a Gourmet Popcorn recipe.

26. Make raw chocolate chip cookie dough (eggless – here's the recipe I use) and enjoy several spoonfuls.

27. Buy a container of your favorite, extra decadent, single-serve yogurt. For me? It's Brown Cow Greek Salted Caramel. Yum! Bonus: Shake it up and pop it in the freezer for a frozen yogurt treat.

28. Buy a pint of Ben & Jerry's ice cream just for you (picking one of these out is almost as fun as eating it!)

29. Purchase a “luxury” creamer to use in your coffee (hazelnut? toffee? Irish Creme?).

30. Purchase mini-shots in the pre-made drink section of your liquor store (they have some really fun ones).

31. Talk your partner into treating you to breakfast in bed.

32. The next time you cook something, double the recipe and freeze the second one. On a night you don't feel like cooking, pop it in the oven or Crockpot put your heels up, and watch dinner make itself (the reward of time + ease).

33. Make a batch of homemade chocolate chip cookies.

34. Forage for a batch of honeysuckle. Enjoy each sweet drop of syrup on your tongue.

35. Find a sushi place and ask if they have lunch specials. Ours has a $5 lunch special that I get to go to when I want to reward myself for a job well done. Superb!

36. Tour a chocolate factory (like Hershey's, which is free) and enjoy the free samples at the end.

37. Go to Whole Foods, and buy yourself any gourmet chocolate bar you want.

38. Give yourself a treat the next time you're around a vending machine. $5 will take you far!

39. Pop into your local Whole Foods and pick up a treat in the prepared foods section (my favorite? Belgian chocolate mousse…mmmmm). Enjoy a few samples while you're there.

40. Shoot for an upgrade the next time you purchase something. For example, get that whipped cream on your signature drink, splurge on the guacamole at the sandwich shop, or add the “spa” to the Pedicure you were going to get anyway.

41. Pick out three, almost-too-elegant-to-eat macaroons at your local bakery.

42. Treat yourself to a big ol' funnel cake at your next fair.

43. Go to an Asian grocery market or the Asian section in your grocery store and buy a box of Pocky sticks. They're such fun snacks!

44. The next time you hear that familiar jingle, stand in line and order something from the ice cream truck guy. Bonus: Order what you used to when you were a kid.

45. Hit up your local farmer's market. Talk with the vendors, stroll around the area, and spend your $5 on something tasty.

46. Find a bakery, order one chocolate chip cookie, and have them heat it up.

47. Head to your nearest 50s-looking diner, sit at the bar, and order a slice of any pie you’d like. Do you want milk with that? Go for it!

48. Not into alcohol (but still love all the cute drink names and creativity)? Google “mocktail” and choose a cool, virgin drink to make and try.

49. Grab a glass of wine with a buddy at your local wine bar.

50. Stop at your local bagel shop on the way to work and reward yourself with your favorite bagel + flavored cream cheese combo.

51. That, my dear, brings us to 240 ways to reward yourself for cheap…and you know what? This article is just getting WAY too big.

52. SO, I’m going to give you a free PDF of not only all of these cheap rewards but also 125 more. WOWZA.

And guess what? You don’t even need to opt in to get it. Just click the image below, and it’ll download straight away.

how to reward yourself without food or money (2)

I’d love to hear in the comments which reward you are MOST excited about trying.

woman in spa towel and spa towel on head with cucumbers on eyes, text overlay
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Amanda L Grossman

Personal Finance Writer and CEO at Frugal Confessions, LLC
Amanda L. Grossman is a writer and Certified Financial Education Instructor, Plutus Foundation Grant Recipient, and founder of Frugal Confessions. Over the last 13 years, her money work has helped people with how to save money and how to manage money. She's been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Kiplinger, Washington Post, U.S. News & World Report, Business Insider, LifeHacker, Real Simple Magazine, Woman's World, Woman's Day, ABC 13 Houston, Keybank, and more. Read more here or on LinkedIn.

Crystal @ Prairie Ecothrifter

Friday 23rd of May 2014

For short-term goals, I have anti-rewards. Like I would owe our mastermind group $5 if I fail in my weekly goals. That keeps me on track. For long-term goals, we weigh our spending against what we want long-term. That means that we don't travel unless our Roth IRA's are fully funded and any other savings goals are met as well.


Friday 23rd of May 2014

Neat--I like your idea of anti-goals:). Thanks for sharing with us!


Monday 19th of May 2014

Well, I have a specific reward that I'm working towards. New bedroom furniture! When we moved 3 years ago we taped the drawers on our bedroom set. We used the "right" kind of tape, but unfortunately it damaged the face of all our drawers anyway. We've lived with it because, hey, the drawers still worked! But now a couple drawers are messing up, and I am sick of looking at the ravaged drawer fronts. (One of the parts the tape peeled off left the shape of a man's face turned sideways... yeah, it's like seeing shapes in the clouds - I am rolling my eyes). So, as we pay off our debt, that's a side reward I am looking forward to!


Tuesday 20th of May 2014

Hi Sherrian! What a great reward you are working towards. I love how you are using the dresser for now (and man, that sucks that the tape did that!) until you have paid off your debt.

That new furniture is going to be sweet:).