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How to Stop Feeling Guilty About Spending Money

August 7, 2015

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As a frugal person, do you ever have trouble parting with your hard-earned money? We can’t blame you if you love seeing your bank balances go up, or if you thrive on staying within your budget.

However, aren’t there times you wish you could actually enjoy spending your money — without feeling guilty? After years of saving and living within your means, that can be hard to do, especially if you’re in a scarcity mindset.

It’s important to step back and focus on the bigger picture. Money is a tool — a means to an end — that we should use to accomplish our goals and enjoy life. While some of the best things in life are free, that doesn’t mean we can’t plan for a thought-out splurge once in a while.

If you want to break free of feeling guilty about spending money, consider these tips to help you develop a healthier mindset.

Relax Your Grip on Your Money

If you watch your balances and expenses like a hawk and check in with your budget every day, you might be focusing too much on the numbers and not enough on what your money is actually doing for you.

For example, let’s say you’re nearing the cap on your grocery budget — but there’s a really great sale on your favorite food at the store. You refuse to buy it, because it will put you over budget for the month. You don’t take into account that you have enough of a buffer in your accounts, and an extra $10 won’t derail your financial situation.

It’s important not to go overboard with frivolous expenses, but there are times when spending the extra money is worth it. Being so uptight about your money and your budget can make for a stressful time if you never allow yourself to spend just a little outside your strict budget. As per our example, purchasing your favorite food should make you feel happy, not guilty!

Put Things in Perspective

You don’t have to do a 180 on your financial beliefs, but it can help to step back and look at the bigger picture. If you’re someone that gets caught in the details (like your net worth, or your expenses), it can help you gain more perspective.

Take a deep breath and realize spending a small amount for a splurge is worth it from time to time. What’s not good is the stress you’re putting on yourself to have a perfect budget every single month.

It’s okay to reward yourself for the progress you’ve made. Since you’re following the Money Guys, we’re sure you’re great at saving. If that’s the case, you have nothing to worry about! Put it in perspective: if you’re on track with your retirement savings, have a healthy emergency fund, and normally stick to a smart budgeting plan, a $10 to $20 splurge is absolutely worth it from time to time.

Take Action to Stop Feeling Guilty About Spending Money

Convinced you need to relax a little when it comes to letting yourself spend? It’s time to take baby steps.

Let’s start with the $10 to $20 splurge idea from the last section. Create a list of things you’ll enjoy spending your money on, and attach a price to it. Remember, you’re more likely to be happy when you spend on things you value, so keep that in mind when creating your list.

When you’re done, order your list of splurges from least to most expensive. This allows you to start off small and work your way up, and it also gives you time to budget for some of the larger ones. Then organize the list by priority. This will help you create a plan to reasonably work your splurges into your budget so you can stop feeling guilty about spending money on things that you enjoy.

You don’t have to stay small, either. When’s the last time you let yourself live a little? We’re talking vacations, a spa day, a trip to see family, a date night, or a play. These are all experiences we can, and should, enjoy.

Budget for It

Again, make splurging and spending without guilt make financial sense — simply plan for it ahead of time!

If you’re a budget-oriented person, have a line-item specifically dedicated to “fun money.” Pick an amount you’re comfortable with spending each month (you can start off small and increase it). Use this to spend on anything your heart desires as long as it’s within the budget, no questions asked.

This should keep you saying “yes” to fun, spontaneous opportunities, instead of shooting everything down because you “can’t afford it.”

You Don’t Have to go Overboard

We’re not recommending you throw caution to the wind and completely abandon your budget. There’s value in using your budget as a tool to help you save and accomplish your financial goals. But it shouldn’t hold you back from getting to enjoy life. Your budget is working to allow for these occasional splurges.

The bottom line is don’t live and die by the numbers. There’s more to life than spreadsheets and budget software. We know how it’s easy to get caught up in saving and working toward financial freedom, but there’s a balance to be achieved in the meantime. You don’t have to sacrifice everything today for early retirement in a few years. After all, you can’t take your money with you. Enjoying a little bit of it now — without guilt — is a good thing.

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