As someone who’s borderline obsessive compulsive about money, sometimes I find that I have a hard time spending it. I can’t enjoy spending money without feeling guilty because it means I’m taking money away from savings and investments. However, what good is money if it’s not enjoyed? By finding the right balance, money can bring you joy and security. Here’s how I’ve learned to enjoy spending money without feeling guilty.
Choose Experiences Over Things
It seems cliché because we hear it so often but I truly believe that experiences tend to leave more lasting memories than things. I still remember the trips I took with hubby 5 years ago, but I wouldn’t be able to tell you anything about the clothes I bought 6 months ago. It’s not just that I have pictures and souvenirs from the trips. Experiences leave more lasting memories. Hubby and I still think back on our vacations together and remember how much fun we had.
Going on a trip is usually more expensive than buying a new shirt, but I think the money spent is worth it because experiences provide everlasting memories. I’m not saying that you should stop buying things. However, what I advocate is that when you’re in the mood for rewarding yourself, think about picking experiences over things. By spending your money on something more permanent, you can derive more pleasure from it.
Emphasize Quality Over Quantity
It’s human nature to want to get the most bang for our buck. We want to buy the cheapest thing possible so that we can have more of it. You know what the downside is to buying cheap stuff? They don’t tend to last very long. When you get only one use out of the cheap pan you bought, you’ll face regret and guilt over the money you spent.
How can you avoid the guilt? I recommend spending your hard-earned money on better quality items. They’ll last longer and the cost per use will actually be much lower than buying cheap items. I used to have a rule of spending no more than $20 on purses. It was an arbitrary number I imposed on myself. I had no problem finding purses in that price range but the problem was that they never lasted long. The lining would rip or the seams start falling apart. I ended up having to replace them every year or two.
Make Mindful Purchases
I believe that we can enjoy spending money without feeling guilty by making mindful purchases. Don’t shop out of boredom or stress because you’ll likely regret your purchases. Go shopping when you’re looking for something specific. In other words, buy what you need. Shop with a purpose instead of to kill time.
When I was in high school and college, I used to go to the mall every weekend because I was bored. I didn’t really need anything but I would browse the stores and buy whatever was on sale. The immediate rush was great because I love scoring bargains. But, I end up regretting my purchases because I didn’t really need those items and they just end up sitting in the closet.
I’ve learned that trying to shop with a purpose in mind instead of filling an emotional void is much more satisfying. Recently, I decided to update some of my sauté pans because the non-stick coating was wearing off. It felt great to go to the stores looking for a specific item and then bringing it home. As an added benefit, I learn to appreciate and take better care of my stuff because they fulfill a need in my house.
Bring Joy to Others
If you tend to feel guilty when spending money on yourself, try using your money to bring joy to others. Perhaps you feel guilty when spending money because you don’t really want for anything. If you’re in a position to do so, consider using your money to help others.
When I finished law school, the job market wasn’t so hot. This was during the last economic recession so jobs were hard to come by. I made a vow that I’d sponsor a child in need as soon as I found full-time employment. I was fortunate enough to secure a job and I signed up to sponsor a child through Children International. Eight years later, my “child” has graduated from the program and I took up sponsorship of another child.
What started as wishful thinking during my job search has turned into an expression of gratitude. I’m very thankful to have a job, a roof over my head, reliable transportation, and it makes me happy to be able to provide aid to those who need it. It really feels good knowing that my money is going towards good deeds. I think that’s one of the great purposes money is good for – helping others.
Do you ever feel guilty about spending money? How do you find the balance between saving and spending?