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Smart Cookies

The social club that demands guilt-free splurging Add to ...

Ashleigh Mackling, a mom of two in Winnipeg, gets together with 11 of her girlfriends once a month.

They catch up, drink wine, and engage in some friendly competition to win $240. It’s all a part of belonging to the “splurge club.”

Here’s how the club works: each woman brings $20 and an appetizer or a bottle of wine. The host for the month brainstorms a theme and a competition (one month it included karaoke on the Wii). The winner takes the cash. The only rule of the club is that the winnings are only to be spent on you.

Once you win, you’re out of the running for the year. Ms. Mackling hasn’t won yet, but already she’s thinking about what she’ll do with her win. Last year it was a mini shopping spree. This year, she’s thinking maybe she’ll invest in a yoga membership, an expense that usually doesn’t make the cut when you’ve got kids in expensive activities as well.

There are 22 kids among the 12 girlfriends. Ms. Mackling says that aside from this once a year splurge, there’s not a lot of personal spending going on.

“If you have to ask why you would belong to this club, then this club is not for you,” she jokes. “If you get it right away, it’s likely because you don’t spend much on yourself and would love a guilt-free splurge once a year.”

Angela Self is one of the founders of the Smart Cookies money group. Read her weekly column on managing debt and saving money at globeinvestor.com.

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